Sometimes things come at you, kinda like weather systems. Some of which you can prepare for and others which can catch you off guard or blindside you. That being said, so much of our experience actually is in our control. The way we think, the words we speak, the things we focus on... Having a solid self-care practice is a life-raft; a support system. It helps keep you afloat, even through life’s stormy conditions.
For me, a sick kid or an issue with the house, or a surprise at work, can sometimes be the thing that starts to put me over the edge. I start to feel my body tighten, I crave junk food and my fuse gets shorter. That’s how I know when my self-care balance is slightly off and I need to take a bath, walk the dog or go have a chin-wag with a friend. Sometimes I hear the whisperings of my body “taaaake a naaaaap” or “go for a walk.” Other times I hear my body scream, and then when it’s really dire, my body will shut down. The well runs dry and there is no more to give.
Self-care is an absolute necessity. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great support system: a hands on husband who is the primary breadwinner but also helps tidy up and plays with the kids. I have a business partner who pulls her weight and some. I have 4 kids who help in varying degrees depending on their age and willingness to serve. At the end of the day though, the buck stops with me.
Taking good care of myself looks like this:
- Getting good sleep
- Eating well
- Dry Brushing/Oil Pulling
- Reflection (journaling, self-help books, inspirational writing)
- Being in the moment
- Energetic Protection
I’m not a saint. I, like most others, struggle with keeping the delicate balance. Sometimes if I’m too ‘good’ I get bored, though this seems to happen less as I get older. It also helps that I don’t think of it so much as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ anymore but more about being on-track or off-track.
I’m not perfect and I’ve learned through working with different alternative practitioners to acknowledge and embrace my shadow-self and give her a seat at the table too. I am a work in progress, I figure we all kinda are. This business of living can be pretty tough. For me, when I start to feel like I’m drowning I know it’s time to practice extreme self-care and get myself back on track.
I love to sleep and if napping was an Olympic sport...
I love to go to bed early. As soon as I feel tired, I turn in. This can be as early as 8:45 but almost always before 10:30. I used to push past the feeling but now I honour the signs. Sleep is so important and when taking care of yourself, sleep is a key element to remember.
- Eating well & Hydration (for me this is vegan, gluten-free, low sugar, no caffeine)
How I’m eating is a great reflection of how I feel. I eat a plant-based, gluten-free diet but sometimes I am much better about creating well-rounded tasty meals for myself than others. When I’m eating soups, green smoothies, or grain-bowls I feel well cared for. When I’m on the run and not brown-bagging it I may head to The Goods for a Be Well soup and a Nori Salad (yum!).
My digestion used to get really bogged down when I ate heavy, non-plant based meals so switching to a 100% plant-based diet was a natural progression for me. 15 years ago I was raw-vegan and that was the most incredible I ever felt. Right now I am doing well with gluten free and vegan - low-sugar too, most of the time anyway ;) .
Food is very individual, what works for one person may not work for another. I would never suggest that everyone remove all animal products from their diet but no one ever said ‘don’t eat your veggies.’
Water is also incredibly important. I really focus on staying hydrated. I like to drink water out of a mason jar, usually 500ml size, (1L size when i’m feeling craaazy) and I have one by my bed, on my desk, at the counter… I also have a 1L Kleen Kanteen bottle that I take with me when I am heading out.
- Dry brushing/Oil pulling
I dry brush* my body in the morning and oil pull with coconut oil (not usually at the same time, although that is a hilarious visual. ;)
The oil pulling ritual is about a 10 min mouth swish of coconut oil that helps to pull out bacteria and other unwanted things from your mouth. An old Ayurvedic tradition. I like that I can’t speak while I’m doing it and if my kids are up it means pointing to things and other pantomime jokes. (*if you’re not familiar with dry brushing you can find out more here)
Exercise makes a world of difference in how I feel so I work out.. I go to HIIT classes 3 x week , the classes are one hour, small and lots of fun. I box on Sunday and I do yoga 2 x week usually a Yin Class and a Restorative class.
Also, walking. This varies a bit depending on the weather, but walks to High Park with my dog are always revitalizing. Getting outside and interacting with nature helps me keep a clear head.
Right now with the change of seasons, I’m really into acupuncture and have been going weekly. Typically though, I go monthly or bi-monthly.
Massage is always beneficial. I like to go once a month for a 2 hour deep-tissue massage. Lately though I have been putting my massage money into my acupuncture.
I devote a lot of energy and resources to self-care which I recognize is a huge privilege. Putting in whatever you can, can make a difference. We are so lucky to have so many acupuncture clinics in Toronto where pay what you can is an option.
Baths, baths and more baths. I had to give this it’s own subsection because they are a lifeline for me. Epsom salts with essential oils, sometimes if it feels like I’m going to lose it, I send myself for a bath timeout. I truly love our Epsom salts because they’re therapeutic and aromatic, and of course, completely natural. They’re just what I need to help me reset and feel rejuvenated.
Positive thinking (and speaking) plays a huge part in my life. I’ve done a lot of work on this. Our words have so much power; power to create and thwart us. My intention is to find the positive wherever possible.
Journaling, re-reading self-help books, inspirational writing and oracle cards are all super helpful tools for me to remind myself who I am and where I want to be. They are like the bread crumb trail that lead me back when I have lost my way.
Finding silence. School days when I am working from home or alone in the office I like to have large stretches of time when I speak to no one. This quiet can be heavenly.
- Being in the moment
Whether it’s playing in the sand with my littlest, card games with my boys or cooking with my eldest I really focus on being present and enjoying where I am and what I’m doing. There is nothing quite like spending quality time with your kid to make you feel open-hearted and lucky to be alive. This also really helps keep me grounded and if I don’t want to play another round of crazy 8’s I’ll say so.
- Energetic Protection
The old adage ‘You are the company you keep’ is so true, guess that’s why it’s a saying that’s been around for so long. Being selective about who we spend time with is a powerful form of self-love and self-care. Some people, without meaning to or being conscious of it, can suck our energy.
As an empath, I have to be extra careful and have learned to create boundaries to protect my energy from getting siphoned. It’s about setting boundaries but still having an open heart. Again, finding the balance.
I have a strong desire to be the best that I can be. I really want to let my light shine and inspire others to do the same. Bringing my 'A' game starts with taking good care of myself.
What are some of your self-care musts? We’d love you to share your experiences/suggestions in the comments below.
Vicki is a plant-eating, long-standing self-help junkie. She’s an intuitive who is very open to different healing modalities and has tried most alternative therapies available. She also has an intuitive spiritual healing private practice and sees clients by appointment.