Every Tuesday morning at 6:15am, I lead my best friend and I through a yoga class. Half of the reason I do this is purely selfish: as an entrepreneur who works from home – and more recently, a new mom – I’m alone a lot. I love that I am able to squeeze in some socialization during the work week. It also holds me accountable to practice, something I don’t do too much of these days. But in my defense, the other half of the reason I do this is to help her start her day in a healthy way. Knowing how the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, I love being able to share that with her.
I recently had to cancel one of our sessions due to a sprained ankle. Our conversation went like this:
K: How did you sprain your ankle?
Me: I was hiking and my foot rolled on a rock
K: When did you go hiking? Were you by yourself?
Me: Last week, and yes, I had just dropped Mason off at my mother-in-law’s. I had so much work to do, not to mention my house was a mess, but I felt so burnt out, I just needed an hour in nature by myself so hiked instead. Three-fourths of the way in, I sprained my ankle.
K: Wait a minute, how did you do that?
Me: Do what? Sprain my ankle? I told you, my foot rolled…
K: No no, make a decision like that? If that was me and I felt burnt out, I probably would have just scrolled Instagram for an hour, even though I know that would have made me feel worse.
And there it is. Knowing yourself coupled with consciousness on how you want to feel is key.
You see, my self-care is very important to me. My health and happiness are very important to me. When my husband and I decided to have a baby, I made a promise to myself that all three of these things would remain a priority. In a society where women (and moms especially) are constantly putting others before themselves, I made a decision to be less like that. That’s not to say I don’t make sacrifices. I do. Every day. But I make sure to balance them out with self-care. Every day. It just so happens that they all go hand-in-hand for me. What makes me happy more often than not, keeps me healthy, and vice versa. Those things all fall under the umbrella of how I take care of myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I don’t always make the healthiest choice. Sometimes it is a glass of wine (or two) while watching the Kardashians…commercials supplemented with watching Instagram stories. Not my finest moments, but I digress. When it comes to self-care, the trick is to tune in to how you want to feel on the other side, and then be your own advocate; empower yourself to choose the thing that will help you obtain that feeling in the healthiest way. And know yourself. Know your habits and patterns. Admit when your default isn’t working. Often this means forgoing immediate gratification for a more sustainable sense of joy. Play the whole tape as a therapist once told me. Envision the various scenarios and literally act them out in your mind. What is the end result of each? How does a certain choice make you feel? Answer these questions and you will know what to do. The knowing is easy. It’s the choosing that’s the challenge. So have compassion for yourself when you choose the booze and trashy television. The good news is that the more you choose the healthier choice, the more that becomes your habit. Then you keep practicing that. Every day.