It's 5pm and the days are getting longer, but it still feels like winter outside in Chicago.
I'm sitting on my couch under a fuzzy blanket, just home and showered from a mid-afternoon hot yoga class, listening to the rain and feeling deliciously calm and chill.
A few weeks ago I talked about self care, and how it's so hard yet so important for us as women to put ourselves first.
I'm turning 30 at the end of April and I've officially decided to celebrate by making this my year of all things self: care, empowerment, love, discovery, growth.
I've inhabited my body for almost three decades and I still feel like a complete beginner at all this stuff!
What do you think of when you hear "self care?"
Maybe eating right.
Getting enough sleep.
Taking bubble baths with candles and wine.
All those things that you don't have time for because you're too busy out there living your life, right?
I used to tell myself that self care was for women who were lazy, weak, or less ambitious than me. HA.
Up until a couple of years ago I lived like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, constantly sprinting just to stay in one place. My husband nicknamed me the stress bunny (hey, at least bunnies are cute)!
Like most of us, I was raised and educated to believe that the only way to get ahead was to work hard, sacrifice, and put other people's wants and needs ahead of my own.
There's an epidemic of BUSY in our society today, at least here in the United States. We glorify ourselves and each other for the amount of obligations and work we can load into our schedules and onto our plates.
And you know what?
I'm sick and tired of it all. Literally.
In late 2015 I reached a level of anxiety and burn out that was stripping my daily life of joy and giving me heart palpitations. I could never relax or calm down, especially on the weekends when I had hours of unstructured space, and I knew that a state of perpetual fear of falling behind wasn't how I wanted to live my life.
I "had it all" on the outside (my own dream job, a gorgeous apartment, an amazing relationship) so I knew that if I wanted to feel happier and more calm, I couldn't blame my environment. I had to change MYSELF!
So I've spent the last 18 months of my life trying to learn how to slow down and prioritize self care instead of putting my inner health on the back burner.
Self care is about taking care of our own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
We live in a world that glorifies physical health, so we're constantly trying to hit our goal weight, feel lean and toned, gain strength or flexibility, eat better, wake up earlier, and live our lives on endorphin fueled turbo speed.
It's easy to tell when we're neglecting our physical health. We feel sluggish, lazy, and blah.
But health and self care isn’t just about having a low BMI, cutting out sugar, or being a workout ninja. It encompasses so much more than that! And even healthy living can turn into an unhealthy obsession.
I love working with women who don’t just want to lose weight, but want to make sustainable lifestyle changes so they can feel good on the inside, look good on the outside, AND be healthy and happy.
One thing I've learned is that there are multiple aspects to ourselves that we have to nurture if we want to feel vibrant, healthy, and happy on a day to day basis, especially to prepare for the times when crazy shit hits the fan and chaos comes to play. And if we do want to lose weight, the pounds will fall off once we STOP obsessing about the number on the scale and regimenting our diet and START doing more stuff that makes us feel good.
I call this "radical self care" because let's face it, it's pretty radical to decide to put ourselves first. We're conditioned to feel selfish and guilty… or make up so many excuses to self sabotage ourselves.
Self care starts with empowering ourselves to TAKE OWNERSHIP of our own health and happiness.
We can't just play victim or live on autopilot, responding to the demands and stress of our day to day lives.
I recently started playing with oracle cards by The Little Sage. They're a fun way to set intentions for your yourself. One of the cards I drew this month was called 4 Bodies, and I loved the description.
Basically, we have four different "bodies" that we need to nurture and take care of.
1. Our PHYSICAL body
This encompasses our nutrition, diet choices, exercise, and rest. It also includes our physical environment. Look around at the people, places, and possessions in your world. Is your environment cluttered and draining, or does it inspire and invigorate you?
PHYSICAL SELF CARE PRACTICES
- Regular exercise that fits your level of energy. Instead of following a strict and rigid workout program, why don't you practice tuning into your body every morning and asking it what it needs?
- Eat nourishing foods. Don't stress about your diet… focus on filling up on the good stuff instead of trying to eliminate the "bad" stuff. Your body is a living science experiment: only YOU can figure out what foods feel best to you. Take guilt out of the equation.
- Prioritize 7-8 hours of sleep, no matter what.
- Declutter your work space and home!
2. Our MENTAL body
Having a clear and restful mind, focusing on filling our heads with positive self talk and believing in ourselves.
MENTAL SELF CARE PRACTICES
- Start paying attention to the voice inside your head. What does it tell you? If it's negative, start intentionally thinking positive thoughts on a regular basis. Positive thoughts are strong and will wipe out that negative chatter!
- Write positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them on your bathroom mirror or computer. "I am strong" "I deserve to love myself" "I'm becoming the women I'm meant to be"
- Are you setting yourself up for success in life? Make sure your goals align with your priorities, and that you can achieve (and celebrate) mini wins every single day. This will build your confidence!
3. Our EMOTIONAL body
Releasing old heavy emotions, and allowing ourselves to process ALL emotions as they arise without judgement. Feel the feels and then let them go!
EMOTIONAL SELF CARE PRACTICES
- Give yourself down time and space to process your feelings every single day, even if they're uncomfortable. Emotions are like clouds -- if we let them pass, they'll drift right through us. If we try to avoid them or numb them with food, alcohol, or destructive patterns, we'll never give ourselves an opportunity to release.
- Spend time with people you love. Make plans to get together with your girlfriends and hang out with no set agenda.
- Do a morning "brain dump." Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and write stream of consciousness into a journal to siphon off the mental chatter and dig deeper into what's really going on.
4. Our SPIRITUAL body
Our energy, soul, higher self. Connection to spirituality or faith.
SPIRITUAL SELF CARE PRACTICES
Take a second to close your eyes and tune into your 4 “bodies.”
What are they telling you?
Which one/s need some extra TLC?
What can you do to start healing and taking care of yourself?
Don't worry about the bigger picture. Just focus on what you can do today, and trust the process!
Do you want some support and accountability to detox your mind, body, and spirit this month?
Join our FREE 5-day Spring Reset Challenge!
Each day I'll share a different topic and a small action item that will prompt you to clear the winter blah's out of your physical and emotional system.
We're going to re-connect with how we want to FEEL, clear the crap out of our eating habits and minds, and bring in some wonderful fresh creative energy for the new season.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Daily email and journal prompt
- Plant-based meal plan
- Free access to my virtual fitness library and at-home yoga studio
- A private Facebook group for accountability + daily coaching from Anna