I love this term. I’m not sure where I got it from, perhaps Steve Chandler, as he’s a purveyor of many forms of wonderful wisdom for me, often without him even realising it. Either way, Radical Self-Care has been my theme for the past year, and let me tell you, it’s been quite a wonderful ride. I don’t often share online about my personal journey, but this one is so special to me and I think you might get something from it too, so here are some thoughts from my year.
“But”, I hear you whisper, “You’re a coach and a therapist, so surely you have that stuff sorted, right?”
Ah well, but my slightly yucky little ‘What I don’t want you to know about me” is that I’m really great at holding a space for others, but after a rather difficult year last year, I found myself coming second, or worse, third, fourth or even fifth in the race for love and attention from myself. Of course I had all the greatest excuses, I’m a single mum, I have relatives who are in need, I’m running a business, I’m managing a building project, I honestly have no time, etc, etc… crappy stories ad nauseum…
It was almost convincing, even to me. But not quite, because I know different. For others I know better, so what about for myself?
So I stopped with the limiting stories, because on a plane they don’t tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first for a joke. Looking after yourself is so essential, I know this. So I made it a project for the year.
It became my mantra for a while. Radical self-care. Remember to remember that radical self-care thing. I walked in the world asking ‘If I were radically caring for myself, what would I be doing right now?’ and I found some really great answers to the question of what that would mean for my life.
It’s been quite a ride. Sometimes successful, sometimes not so much. It’s been a continual pulling up of my socks to remember to slacken off and smell the roses as I go (so many mixed metaphors available here!). So many of my clients, from senior executives to stay-at-home mums, from MDs to award winning actors, have trouble with putting themselves and their wellbeing first so I thought I’d share some of my journey throughout the year with you. Perhaps it might also get you thinking about what else you can do to support your greatest asset – you.
There are many ways we can pay more attention to ourselves. It’s very individual what works for you and I would encourage you to think about what areas you could tweak for yourself. Some of the things that I have gone into my particular self-care basket of love this year include:
- Yoga of all kinds – Hot, Hatha, Yin, Ashtanga. Cultivating a deeper practice. More still needed!
- A fasting and detox trip to Thailand.
- Canoeing on the lakes in Canada – exploring new lands and swimming in lakes.
- Releasing an old love.
- Asking for help. I don’t have to do it all myself. I am learning this all the time, over and over again.
- No alcohol. Caffeine is going next. Poisons and my body don’t mix.
- Bubble baths. Lots.
- Allowing emotions of all kinds in a greater way. Darkness is as essential as the light. Putting a movie or some music on with the point of releasing a heap of crappy feelings is a wonderful way to take care of ourselves.
- Movies. I had stopped going to the movies. For me, films in a cosy, comfy cinema are the most healthy way to check out and switch off to the world. In the evening they’re lovely. In the afternoon they’re a naughty pleasure like (almost!) no other.
- Finding ways to giggle – with friends, on my own, in a class. I have found laughter to be an easy essential self-care tool.
- Dancing. At 6am with glitter on my face, in a hot sweaty salsa club, in my kitchen with my children.
- Long walks in nature. In fact lots of long walks. It’s great head-space.
- Taking time to sit in the sunshine. My body needs vitamin D like you wouldn’t believe. I’m learning this only now!
- Poetry. It feeds the soul. Enough said.
- Falling in love. This is a biggie for me. Allowing someone else to love me fully and loving back is the ultimate form of self-care for me. I’m just opening to the possibility of doing that again.
- Singing and music. An ultimate pleasure is spending money on music and plugging in as I travel. I have a playlist for every mood.
- Learning to say no to things that aren’t essential. Detoxing tasks as well as the body. Still more work needed.
- Taking photos. I love to do this as it helps me stop and pause. I take a picture and literally stop to smell the rose. It feels so good.
I love to learn as I go. This life is endlessly facinating. So some of the things I have learnt during this experiment are:
- We are already at the destination we seek. The more I explore, the more I realise in different forms that being happy, free, content is all about the stripping back, not about the doing of more.
- And, there’s always more you can do (to do less. Think about that one!), but anything more than nothing is worth-while.
- It doesn’t have to be in the big things. Yes, a spa, or holiday somewhere warm is lovely, but taking 5 minutes to breathe deeply, or read a poem is also more restorative than you can ever imagine.
- To enjoy any self-care activity stillness must be present in some form, at some point nearby. Magic lives in the pauses from which you can notice the details of the good things around you. Busyness fogs the magic. As Bob Newhart said: Just Stop It!
- Basically, it’s once again about connection. Connection to self, to others and to the world around us. If we are connected to these things we cannot fail to be in a radical form of self-care.
- It’s so, very easy to forget. Even when the task is pretty much entirely pleasure-based I have found myself slipping back into habitual patterns regularly. It doesn’t take long before I’m back on the treadmill of a too-busy life, forgetting to pause. And I do this stuff for a living. Honestly, it’s infuriating sometimes!
- And the final learning, for now, is that this is a continual journey and lovely for it. How delightful to come up with so many ways to enjoy more of life.
So what’s up next for me? A few things that I will be diving deeper into over the next 12 months include:
- No tech in bed. This one kills me. That blue light thing is stealing my mellow, man. It shall be banished.
- Fitness. Next year is all about the body for me. Next year I shall get stronger, fitter, more supple. Getting younger is not an option, but creating a strong, fit home to live in certainly is.
- Reading for pleasure. I did this a wee bit this year (Shantaram, anyone??!), but there’s more to come. Reading for no purpose is a great love of mine and I rarely do it as there’s so much great stuff to get through for work.
- A greater focus on what goes into my body. I am the queen of spirulina, chia, wheatgrass, maca. I don’t eat meat and I make a mean green juice. And I also lose focus on what I eat through the day as my energy dips and I get busy. I intend to pay more attention to eating foods that my body responds the best to (see fitness – above!).
- Writing as a form of expression. I write for work all the time, but I love how writing for no particular purpose is a such a head-clearer for me. Yes please, more of that!
I know from talking to hundreds of my clients over the years, that self-care is an area that by it shifting in a more positive direction creates incredible personal change. So I wonder, how can you remind yourself regularly and often to put yourself first and nurture a little more? Or even a lot more. Radically more!
I found my patterns changing throughout the year the more I brought focus on them – I would recommend keeping a journal of what you do as a reminder to take it seriously and congratulate yourself for self-care well done. And enjoy the ride as you go.
If you find yourself up against blocks as you go, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Coaching can be an incredible way to shift old patterns of behaviour and embed wonderful new habits. You are your biggest asset. How you treat that asset lays down the foundation for your life. Do get in contact if I can support you with that in some way as I am a firm believer that you are here to have a wonderful experience of this life you are in. And maybe there’s something exciting that you can create as that highest version of yourself. You never know.