I have a guest post today from my friend and Women’s Leadership Coach, Amanda Sowadski. Amanda has a unique ability to help women find their personal power with insight and honesty that goes straight to the heart. Here are 5 self care tips from Amanda that are sure to be helpful.
Deep breath in, deep breath out. I feel my feet hit the ground and my arms moving in opposition as I cruise down the street on my run. I’m laser focused on keeping up this pace for another 2 minutes. My run is almost over and I want to end strong.
I’ve been a health nut for years now and I started exercising because I enjoyed the “runner’s high” after I had pushed myself through a difficult workout. Exercise had always been my form of self-care. But over time I dutifully completed each workout because I was “supposed to.” My approach to exercise had become a mirror of my approach to life: push, push, push.
After experiencing troubling fatigue, digestive discomfort, and heart palpitations I found myself at the doctor’s office. After continuing to hear that there was nothing wrong with me I decided to look for alternatives. I booked a Mayan Abdominal Massage with the hopes of restoring my health. After a couple of sessions with the same practitioner, she asked me what I do to take care of myself.
This was easy. “I exercise” I said. Then she looked me straight in the eyes and changed my world forever when she said, “And what else do you do for yourself?”
“Of course I eat heathy too,” I said. She gave me that kind of eyebrow raise you know means that answer wasn’t going to cut it. I drew a blank. What did she mean? Desperate to figure out the right answer, but unable to think of anything else I did for myself, at all, I just burst into tears.
Her soft demeanor returned and she challenged me to find other forms of self-care where I wasn’t pushing myself to the limits or doing it out of obligation but instead focused on something I truly loved doing. This was a totally new concept to me. I had to redefine self-care to mean doing things for myself that brought balance to my overly scheduled and overly stimulated world.
I’ve always had a precarious relationship to self-care. I grew up in a house where I went to work with my mom on Saturdays and put important forms in numerical order for her. I love my mom but I rarely saw her make time to take care of herself. She would occasionally find time for a bath but that was the extent of it.
Now self-care is a regular word in my house. I even over heard my husband on the phone the other day with one of his buddies saying how he had planned to take a self-care day. It’s such an important concept that my husband will actually remind me to take time for myself. After all he knows I will be a better parent, spouse, lover, friend and business owner when I take the time I need to slow down and do something just for the sheer pleasure of it.
Here are the top five myths about self-care and some ideas to get your started creating your own radical self-care routine.
1. Myth #1 – Self-Care is expensive. People I talk to often think self-care means getting a weekly massage, having your hair done, or hitting up a yoga class. Those are indeed wonderful forms of self-care but you can also choose activities that don’t cost a cent. One of my favorite self-care activities is to host my own mini dance party (typically held in the privacy of my bedroom). I can move my body for 15 minutes, sing at the top of my lungs and then feel refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to tackle anything.
Another idea I offer up to the women who join my free 28 Day Radical Self-Care Challenge is to simply crack open a book that you’ve been meaning to read and give yourself 30 minutes to savor the content. So many of us have books that have been on the shelf for years that we haven’t had a chance to start. Or you can always visit your nearest library and find something that piques your interest.
2. Myth #2 – Self-care is time-consuming. This is a funny misconception because anything we do is time consuming. By its very nature we are always consuming time. Watching TV, cleaning the house, going to the supermarket are all time consuming, but we do them. A more empowering way to look at this is that self-care is sacred time where I am doing something supremely important to me so I can be the best human being possible.
I also challenge people to consider what tasks they can let go of and who is available to support them. Sometimes we make this magical leap in our minds where we believe we are the only ones that can take the kids to swim lessons, make dinner, complete the travel arrangements, or do any number of the things we must attend to in life. Figure out who can be on your self-care team and arrange for them to support you in finding time for yourself, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes a day.
And remember that sometimes life happens. Maybe you won’t be able to practice self-care when you had planned to and that’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up, just set the intention to begin again tomorrow.
3. Self-care requires me to know what I like to do. This is a common challenge for people who have spent years going through the motions of life. Wake up, get ready for work, go to work, actually work, come home from work, relax and go to bed. Life has just become a series of rinse and repeat days that sort of all blend together.
You don’t need to know what you like to do; you just need to be curious enough to try something new. Perhaps you choose to skip down the street to invoke that child-like wonder or maybe you rent a bike and go for a ride around town. The point is that you won’t know what you like until you try it.
If you need some ideas to get started join my free 28 Day Radical Self-Care Challenge and you will receive a whole list of ideas. Once you try a few activities that are out of the ordinary you will find that your creativity returns and you can think of many, enjoyable ways to nurture yourself.
4. Self-care is selfish. Or sometimes this sounds like, “I’m neglecting my responsibilities when I indulge in self-care.” This one is a doozy! Sometimes we feel so guilty when we do anything to relax or take care of ourselves.
We end up filling every minute of our schedule because we want to make other people happy. Or we find a few moments for ourselves and we decide this would be a great time to tackle another thing on the to-do list instead of sit down for a meditation or write in our journal. There is nothing more responsible than taking care of yourself. Eleanor Brownn aptly says, “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Not only will you benefit when you take time to truly care for your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, but everyone in your life will benefit because you will be more compassionate and attentive to their needs when your cup is full.
5. It’s not worth it to practice self-care. Sometimes we feel like we don’t get any immediate benefit from self-care so we don’t do it. We expect to feel blissed out of our minds whenever we sneak away for self-care. But the effects are cumulative. The more we practice self-care the more we quiet our minds, stay focused in the present and regularly tend to our own needs the more inner peace we cultivate.
The cumulative effects of self-care have been proven to directly and positively impact our health. The Health Foundation found regular self-care reduced doctor visits for long term conditions by up to 80% and the benefits were long lasting. When we are under stress we are more likely to experience headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, and fatigue. The simplest way to restore our physical health, and improve our mental and emotional health as well, is to practice regular self-care.
If you are heading toward burn out, feel yourself juggling a thousand thoughts at once, or notice yourself snapping at those around you, it’s time for some radical self-care. Over 750 people have reduced their stress, increased their vitality, reinvigorated their passions, and found more balance after completing my free 28 Day Radical Self-Care Challenge. Start by making a commitment to yourself! You can start small. Even 15 minutes a day can have a major impact on your wellbeing.
Amanda Sowadski is a Woman’s Leadership Coach and the Founder of the Institute for Feminine Leadership. She helps women live and lead from the heart by tapping into their feminine energy. After nearly 15 years in corporate America, achieving a prestigious position, a great title, and a lucrative paycheck she realized there was so much more to life than work. After reconnecting with her soul she created a whole new model of feminine leadership where women can be free to be themselves and achieve the success their desire. Now Amanda shares her insights with thousands of women through her coaching, speaking and writing.