This is a guest post from Tania Wojciechowski.
I bet that some of you are getting kind of tired of hearing the words “self-care.” People (and the internet) might be telling you to take bubble baths, to run 5 miles a day, and oh, don’t forget to stay up to date on all the newest apps that will make you happier. Taking care of ourselves has really started to become stressful.
What would happen if you shut a lot of that information out? If you really started to listen to what YOU wanted to do; what YOU felt was good for your own well-being? Self-care might actually start to feel joyful, creative, and fun again.
In this series, we’ll be looking at how we can bring self-care into our lives — on our own terms, and in ways that bring real value to our lives. We’ll look at how we can tune in to our bodies to find out what they really want; we’ll learn to deal with the negative chatter in our minds that often prevents us from caring for ourselves; and we’ll look at the physical space around us — how we can change our homes, our offices, craft rooms, and reading nooks into sacred spaces that nourish our creative souls.
I think we can all think of moments in our lives when we’ve felt totally drained, grumpy, and stressed and stretched beyond humanly possible. Or worse: total creative block.
When I feel like this, my body is the first to respond. I have trouble sleeping, my nervous system gets totally out of whack, and my creative energy goes out the window.
How do we get back on track? Where do we find the energy to get our bodies back to that place that feels like “well”? Sure, we can take things off our lists and get help with others. Then we can carve out time for yoga, start eating better, and take our daily supplements.
But there’s one important thing that I like to bring in before all those healthy activities: mindfulness.
Without taking the time to listen to what we really want, those activities just get added to our overflowing list of things we have to get done.
If we take the time to trust our instincts (literally, trust our guts), our bodies will actually let us know what they want: how to move, what to eat, and when to dance in our living rooms.
For me, this “listening” and trusting comes in various forms.
I take time (even just five minutes) in the morning when I am still a little groggy to write in my journal.
Set the intention, and eventually, in the writing, the answers come (“I’d like to take a bellydance class one day;” “My friend Susie just signed up with an archery group, that sounds really cool;” “I used to walk a lot in the forest when I was a kid and I miss that”).
I ask myself what I want.
It seems a little crazy, but it totally works. Before I pour myself a glass of wine, I ask myself, “Am I using this to deal with the negative stuff in my day, or am I sitting here enjoying a beautiful evening with my partner?” I do the same with food, finding out what foods my body is truly desiring; some days it’s a comforting plate of fries that I enjoy fully, but mostly it’s pretty clean food that works with my particular digestive system. For example, I know that kale is super healthy. But by listening to my body, I’ve realized that it kinda hurts to eat kale. So I don’t, and I focus on other healthy foods that my body loves instead.
I tap into my body when I can.
I take a few minutes before I go to sleep and do a check-in. (“Does my stomach hurt?” “Why have I had a low-grade headache all day?” “My sinuses have been blocked but I don’t have a cold.”) Putting your mind to those areas as you go to sleep will help with bringing answers to you intuitively. (“Hmmm, it seems like every time I start to do illustrations for that guy I can’t stand, my hands feel cramped up…”)
I try to do shivasana after any exercise, not just yoga.
After doing a workout, I lay on the floor for a few minutes, integrating the shifts that have taken place, and set my intention for peace and ease throughout the day.
These are patterns that I’m starting to incorporate into my own life that use my body to teach me the best ways to take care of myself. Some may work for you, but others won’t.
I encourage you to take the time to listen to and trust your own body, and start to set up your own self-care patterns.
I’m curious about your connections between creativity, self-care, and your body. Let me know in the comments!
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Tania Wojciechowski is a creativity and wellness coach and is co-founder of Spark Retreat, which is for creative women who are looking to reignite their soul’s fire. This year at Spark, she’ll be leading a workshop called “Start a Revolution, Reclaim Your Peace,” which will expand on some of the concepts in this series — helping you set up healthy patterns and space for self-care and find peace of mind. You can find Tania at www.joytricks.com where she guides people who want to reconnect with their joy through creativity and wellness.