I use to cringe anytime I heard the words “self-care.” I thought it was merely an attempt to justify lazy or self-indulgent behavior. Of course, that was when I was much less aware of what my body actually requires to function at its optimum levels.
I have since come to understand, through life experience and the study of wellness, that “self-care” is absolutely essential to maintain overall health and longevity. Sure we can go hard and fast with no thought of ourselves, but depending on the individual, that will only last so long. We will either crash and burn hard, or begin to notice overall declines in performance, whether physical or mental.
In Ayurveda, we learn that self-care boils down to caring for the body through daily and seasonal routines, the food that we eat, and mindful activity. What I love about Ayurveda is that it helps bring awareness to the natural rhythm and flows of nature and our body, and teaches us how to move with it. It is all very intuitive, if you are willing to slow down long enough to notice.
So, then, what does self-care look like? It can be a bit different for each person. It does not require a great deal of money or even time. Rather, little daily activities that bring a sense of balance. For me, it varies from day to day. But I always find some time to stop, check in with myself, find the underlying rhythm, breathe, and carry on. Here are some suggestions from Ayurveda, try one or two on, see how it feels.
- Set a morning routine
- Mediation time (maybe that looks like sitting still with a cup of coffee – no phones/computers!)
- Breathing exercises
- Exercise (80% exertion)
- Prepare a cup of warm water with lemon, sit still and sip.
- Time in nature, even if its 10 minutes sitting outside
- Maintain consistent meal times
- Avoid processed foods, choose fresh and organic as much as possible
- Take breaks every 2.5 – 3 hours (even if it’s just standing up and walking over to say hello to a coworker)
- Set a consistent pace, avoid over-tasking
- Social time with friends/family in the evening
- Take time to wind down before trying to sleep (tech free)
- Something that signals bed time for you (cup of tea, light stretching, journaling)
I no longer see self-care as self-indulgent, rather as necessary to be my best, and most able to serve those around me. I encourage you take the time and effort to create healthy habits that promote your highest potential.
*Leigh Anne Strong is Studio Manager at CorePower Yoga. As an E-RYT and a Certified Integrative Nutrition Coach, she is passionate about helping people live a mindful life, and discover the highest version of themselves. With a focus on the principles of Ayurveda, Leigh Anne prioritizes alignment with the rhythms of nature, and the use of proper nutrition and movement, to create overall wellness and vitality in everyday life. Learn more at www.livestrongandflourish.com