To all the women out there working their butts off trying to do it all: you’re amazing. You are up early and going to bed late. You are juggling a million things, many (let’s be honest, MOST) of which are for people other than yourself. You are expending your energy each day in order to make movement toward something that makes a difference. You are working, you are cooking, you are folding laundry, you are holding other people up, you are driving in traffic, you are cleaning, you are grocery shopping, you are planning, you are parenting, you are balancing your checkbook, you are running errands. The list literally could go on forever.
Ladies, I am writing letter this for you, not to give advice but rather support you on your wild ride called “life”. We all need support and when we are the support for others, it’s hard to remember we don’t need to do it all by ourselves. So read on and let this be a venue where we can share stories, experiences, and tips that work for you in your health and wellness journey. My hope for you is that you know, even when it feels like no one cares, you matter. In fact, you matter so much that you need to fit yourself into the equation. I was once told by an excellent yoga trainer, “self care is health care,” and my world shifted. YES. How can you expect to keep all those balls in the air with an empty fuel tank? You can’t. Something’s got to give. At the time I took this yoga training, I was a first time mother to a 6 month old who still wasn’t sleeping through the night, I was managing my husband’s office from home, I was teaching yoga classes 3 days a week, and trying to keep up with my professional certification as a behavior analyst and enrolled in online continuing education classes. I barely had time to fit each of those things in, let alone keep my hair washed regularly. I could keep this lifestyle up for a while but eventually, I began to feel like I was unraveling and the next thing that was put into my path could make me completely fall apart. What I know now is we were not created to live on the edge of a nervous breakdown. We were made to thrive and move through this life with purpose. In order to thrive, it is vital to include time for yourself to refuel and fill your tank back up. Stop looking outside of yourself to be fulfilled because you already have everything you need within. It is up to you to find out what fills you up, but these are a few things I have learned over the last few years that help me find balance:
Take time for yourself to be by yourself. Whatever it takes. Schedule it in and follow through with your plan. The first step here is figuring out what makes you feel filled up BY YOURSELF. Some of you may be by yourself often and others may never, ever be alone. Being alone can be scary. Darkness and loneliness easily creep in and we immediately try to fill that emptiness with something, anything. What would happen if you sat with that empty feeling and started to make friends with it? Imagine your best friend came to you in tears about being lonely and feeling unlovable. How would you respond? Would you ignore them or try to distract them in their time of need? I hope, as a friend, you would feel compelled to wrap your arms around them and let them feel their feelings in the comfort of your arms. What would happen if you became your own best friend? What if you became intimate with yourself by spending time to find out what activities and experiences make you sublimely happy? Take yourself out. Go for a walk without looking at your phone. Go see the sunset by yourself. Read a chapter in a new book. Even if it is just the 5 minutes between putting the kids to bed and welcoming my husband home from work, I will try and take those 5 minutes for me. The only way we truly get to know someone is to spend time with them. Relationships take time and effort and one of the most important relationships in this life is the one you have with yourself. Love yourself. You deserve that.
Eat foods to fuel your body. Food is POWERFUL. I had no idea how powerful until I eliminated all the crap out of my diet for 30 days. Since then, I have become so in tune with my body that I know exactly when I eat something that is going to effect me in a negative way. There are foods out there that fuel you for your life, and others that are wreaking havoc on your body daily and you wouldn’t even know it until 20 years down the road. Inflammatory foods affect your mood, your sleep, your skin, your gut. Basically everything. That being said, we are all very different and what works for your body is unique to you. Your job is to figure out what fuels your body best and to become your own health expert. Recognize that your body will change with time and age. What worked for you 10 years ago may not work for you now, and what works for you now will probably need to be shifted and modified in the years to come. Start to educate yourself and keep an open mind to continue to try new foods and pay attention to what happens after you eat them. Food will be a regular topic of conversation on the WAW blog and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences with food.
MOVE. I don’t care how or when you do it, but as Nike has so famously exclaimed, “Just do it.” Yoga has changed my life and I look forward to sharing yoga postures and philosophies with you but the bottom line is, it is my favorite way to move. I used to run for exercise and I always hated it. I know it is good for my heart and cardiovascular system and I attempt to keep it in my workout repertoire, but my knees and joints ache after a run. I don’t doubt I could become more consistent and get in better running shape, but I don’t want to. I have come to the realization that running is not my jam, and I am ok with that. Maybe one day I will feel differently, but for now running takes a back seat. The great news is, running is not my only option! If you keep trying to workout and feel like you’re hitting a brick wall, you may not have found your thing yet. Seriously, there are SO MANY ways to move your body. Pilates, Crossfit, yoga, barre classes, walking, hiking, boxing, swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, team sports, rowing, the list goes on and on. When you move your body, you release happy chemicals in your brain and you literally feel happier. There are a ton of studies on this so don’t just take my word for it. Make the time and MOVE.
Become educated. My teacher says, “Get curious.” Oh, how I love this. I have brought it into my teaching and urge my yoga students to get curious about what is happening in their bodies when they move through an asana practice. Getting curious about my own body allowed me to heal and become strong in areas I never thought possible. There is so much information for us to soak in in this lifetime and when we are curious about our experience and continue educating ourselves, we receive opportunities; opportunities to heal, opportunities to create, opportunities to share and build relationships, opportunities to help. This has the ability to change your life and change the world. My parents were always very education oriented and now I understand why. My mom used to tell me that my education was the key to my future. I used to roll my eyes, “I know, Mom.” Only recently have I begun to understand how powerful this is. The hard work I put into my education gave me something no one could ever take away from me, knowledge. No matter where my life takes me, I will always have the knowledge and information I have learned in school and training programs I chose to be a part of. Education doesn’t just mean going to school. It includes reading and understanding where the information you are getting is coming from so you can decipher what is important and relevant to you. It also gives you insight into the lives of other types of lifestyles and people so we can ultimately be more compassionate and loving in our interactions. Keep learning. Keep using your precious brain for good. Training your mind to work for you rather than against you is a super power.
My hope for this blog is to create a space where women of all walks of life get to share and explore what it means to be well. When we live in wellness, we get to be who we were created to be: the light of the world. Live in love and fearlessly move into a place of wellness by taking the time you deserve to be your best self. Comment, share, and let me know what makes you feel like you are living a well aligned life. Your experience could speak to someone on the other side of the screen. I can’t wait to hear from you!