A few weeks ago I made a pledge to myself. To take care of myself as much as I take care of others.
In the beginning it was easy. I got back to a regular routine of acupuncture, herbs, supplements, and healthy food. But then I realized that those things weren’t enough.
Yes, I was feeling pretty darn good and my health had never been better. The acupuncture and herbs were lowering my stress and balancing my hormones, while my diet of healthy, real food was keeping my blood sugar in check. But I still felt like there was something missing.
He tells a story about how he came to understand self care as not just habits for your health, but habits for your sanity. This was my light-bulb moment. He writes:
There’s a personal balance based not on time management or multi-tasking but on inputs and outputs (what feeds us versus depletes us) that we can develop over time. The attention to this balance and the choices that exist in alignment with it constitute self-care.
So, after almost a month of figuring out my own inputs and outputs, I’ve landed on my sweet spot. The things that feed me and my sanity the most.
EATING THE SAME BREAKFAST EVERY WEEKDAY.
Have you heard of decision fatigue? Basically, it’s a theory that we only have the brain energy to make a limited number of decisions over the course of the day. This explains why it can be so hard to decide what to make for dinner after a hard day at work. Or why I get huffy at my mom when she presses me to make wedding planning decisions at 9pm (sorry mom!). Making a loaf of my favorite grain free banana bread every Sunday and eating a slice of it every weekday morning frees up just a little more space in my brain to make bigger and better decisions throughout my day.
WALKING AND BIKING MORE.
Sometimes I feel like an introvert living in an extrovert’s world. So, I’ve been spending more time on my bike or walking home along the the river to give me the peace, quiet, and solitude that I need to recharge my batteries. Sometimes I’ll listen to a podcast to pass the time, but often time I just enjoy the silence. Our lives are so noisy (and our brains chatter so much) that it’s nice to just hear the birds sometimes. The exercise is nice too.
READING BEFORE BED.
I’ve been a book worm since childhood. My parents used to have me keep tally of how many books I read each summer and then gave me a small allowance based on that number. Even though the money was a worthy incentive, my love for books and stories soon trumped the tiny windfall that would show up in September. Somewhere along the way I stopped reading as much. I don’t know if the internet age just started to shorten my attention - pulling it to shorter articles or blog posts - or maybe I spent less time with my nose in a book and more time with it in front of the Netflix screen because it was an activity I could enjoy with my partner.
Either way, I decided a few months ago to start reading more again. I started a health and wellness book club with a friend, pulled out my tattered library card, and got lost in the stacks. Now, I spend at least 20 min before bed every night reading a chapter or two. Sometimes I’ll even find a spare hour or more on the weekends to dive in deep. Cultivating this ritual has increased the quality of my sleep by centering myself at the end of my day and I love it.
WRITING LESS AND PHOTOGRAPHING MORE.
I’m a visual arts person at heart. I have an undergraduate degree in art history and I spent the majority of my youth immersed in the art world. While it’s exciting to hone my writing skills more and more on this blog, I came clean with myself recently that my passion and talents lie elsewhere. Does this mean that I won’t be contributing my two cents on health care, or my favorite new recipes, or answering difficult questions about acupuncture on this blog anymore? Nope! - I absolutely will. It just means that I’m not going to beat myself up about not posting as frequently as most bloggers. It also means that I’ll be putting more of my “social media energy” into my Instagram account. So please feel free to go over there (my handle is @amykacu) to follow along with my continuous search for self care (and the best grain free donut in the world).
More than anything, self-care as I see it is less than a list of behaviors and more a mindset that you’re going to do what serves you rather than what upholds the typical routine and others’ infinite expectations. If that sounds selfish, I’d offer you the seeming irony that when we let go of the obligation to react to others’ expectations, we can actually be more present to their needs as well as our own...When we take care of ourselves we slough off less stress and projection onto other people. The impact is easy to underestimate.
Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple
How about you? What’s your self-care?
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