After the birth of two children, I am carrying around some extra pudge in my middle section. And while I do a lot of yoga, to say I am not an athletic person is to put it mildly. I like to joke that the only time I will run is if I'm being chased or one of my children is in trouble. My physical well-being seems to be taking a backseat lately to the care and nurturing of my kids. After focusing for a while on other types of self care (see this post) I am deciding to take a big step and am going to begin going to stroller strides (starting as soon as this rain stops.) I will let you know how it goes.
Tracy, my acupuncturist and friend, assigned me some homework after a recent session together. I had expressed a deep exhaustion and also described a plan to her to go back to school to get my masters in psychology. She looked at me in that wise way someone does when they see something clearly about your life that you aren't seeing. I smiled as I connected the dots. "OOOOOH, I'm doing to much. I'm exhausting myself." Tracy nodded. We discussed this idea of a cup of wellbeing. She was going to help me expand the cup and I was going to be mindful about what went into the cup.
She advised me to notice what brings my heart happiness and leaves my spirit feeling fulfilled. Ultimately, her goal for me was to come up with 2-3 criteria or things that could serve as my barometer for involvement in activities.
After thinking about this for some time I came up with these 3 criteria:
1) It has to be family friendly. This means that the timing either has to be fairly flexible (so I can participate with my children between nap-times) or when I have a babysitter/hubby to care for the little ones so that I can do something ALONE.
2) It has to be something that fills me up rather than drains me. For example, social activities can be either draining or enlivening for me depending on the context. Chit chat feels exhausting for me. I like to have a conversation that gets right to the juicy stuff (more how's your marriage than how's the weather.)
3) It has to feel good in my body. I can't know if something feels good unless I am paying attention to my body. This means I have to remember to slow w a a a a y down.
Would you like to figure out how to fill your cup? Try these tips:
1. Allocate twenty minutes of alone time for yourself when you are not feeling rushed. Sit in a comfortable position, and simply tell your body that it can do whatever it wants. You may feel the need to emit a deep sigh, remember a specific memory, feel tense in a certain area, feel relaxed in another area or even burst into tears or feel a deep sense of relief. Whatever your body wants to do, allow it to do it without any restriction. This is you giving yourself the permission and the space for the body to heal and refresh itself. In other words, your body is healing itself simply by knowing itself.
2. Write a journal entry or share in the comments below or here on what you observe when you become aware of your own body. Are certain areas always uncomfortable? If they are, what is the nature of these uncomfortable sensations or what adjectives would you use to describe them? What adjectives would you like to use to describe the sensations in your body in an ideal state?
3. Post an intent on how you plan on incorporating body awareness into your everyday life starting today. (Here's mine: My intent is to do a body awareness check every evening before I go to sleep so I know what my body is trying to tell me.)
Last Tuesday Hannah Danto Dorafsha came to our circle to discuss self care. At the end of our time together we went around the circle and said one thing we were going to do that day to show ourselves love. In the moment I struggled to think of even one thing, but have since made this list. Pick one, any one, and do it NOW. And please share the results.
one minute self care moments:
- Take a long, slow inhale and as you exhale imagine that a gray cloud of stress, worries, or troubles is leaving your life, and as you inhale, imagine that peace and love and wisdom are filling you up.
- Take off your shoes and rub the bottoms of your feet with your knuckles. Massage the joints and tips of your toes.
- Smell something nice, like orange or your child's hair, or put on a dab of essential oil. (Next Tuesday our wise woman will be discussing how to use essential oils for our babies, ourselves, and our homes. Stay tuned!)
- Roll your head around to loosen your neck.
- Splash water on your face.
five minute self care moments:
- Make yourself a cup of tea. (Since this is one of my favorite ways to nurture myself, I serve hot tea at each mom-ME circle.)
- Lie down, close your eyes, and imagine a warm, golden balm setting over you, softening the edges of your feelings, and gently carrying away and distress.
- Listen to your favorite music, from Bach to B-52s. This is my personal favorite pick me up pandora station.
- Ask someone for a sincere compliment. Do so on our facebook page. (I just did this and feel all warm inside- thanks peeps.)
- Step outside and watch the play of sunlight dancing on leaves or the moon and stars.
fifteen minute self care moments:
- Take a long shower
- Read a magazine
- Go for a short walk and look for beauty
- Meditate (I personally love Headspace. If you join our facebook page, I regularly offer a free month with headspace!)
- Exercise, dance, stretch, do yoga. (We will share about each of these modalities in our mom-ME circles.)
Thirty minute self care moments:
- Read a good book
- Take a bath- maybe with bubbles. (This was what I chose during our circle this week and it was delish.)
- Watch a TV show
- Go for a walk
- Treat yourself to a good nap
One hour self care moments:
- Get a manicure
- Go out to lunch with your partner, a friend, or a good book
- Visit your church or temple
- Browse through a book store
- Prepare a really nice meal just for you or treat yourself to a special lunch.
Please allow me to introduce to you some of our wise women...
One of our Wise Women, Hilah, suggested we take the 4th trimester (the first three months of the baby's life) to heal and restore. She explained that if the mother is cared for in the first month, even if she was not healthy before, her health will be rebuilt. In this special window of time the mother has healing restorative treatments performed. This also helps prevent postpartum depression that is so prevalent in our present day culture.
If you are still in the 4th trimester and would like to work with Hilah you can find more information by emailing her at Hilahsohar@gmail.com.
Another Wise Woman, Gena Mcarthy, spoke to us about how to heal birth trauma. To learn more about her please go here.
And our most recent Wise Woman, Sara Lyon, shared some exercises we can do to strengthen out core. Check out this video to do some of the exercises we learned. You can contact Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another thing you can do do nurture yourself RIGHT NOW:
Try shifting in your seat. Uncross your legs if they are crossed. Loosen any tight clothing. Now, take a full breath. Do you feel a little better? It's a small thing, but it shows you CAN affect your stress level.
In the next blog I plan to share a few more short term stress relievers of my own. Stay tuned and take care.