In a recent Meaningful Morning™ practice I led, I asked the group to journal about what self-care meant to them. When I started writing, three words came to me immediately:
“Acknowledge, Accept, Adapt.”
So many of us, myself included, often get caught up in the idea that self-care means knowing what feels good for you and doing that same thing over and over again. Now wouldn’t that be easy?
For me, self-care is a process of regularly checking in to acknowledge how you feel, ask yourself what you need, and attending to those needs.
It’s not enough to realize that you like taking candlelit baths, with soothing lavender essential oils, and then resolving to taking a bath every time you need to unwind. Self-care, rather than being a static formula that you discover and apply over and over again, is a practice of acknowledging how you feel, accepting it, and then adapting your behaviours to help bring your energy back to some sort of balance.
For me, self-care is a daily practice that starts first thing in the morning and helps support my decision-making throughout the day.
Let’s unpack that, shall we?
Step 1: Acknowledge
“The richness of life includes the whole tapestry. Good and bad. Happy and sad.”
― Pema Chodron
Approaching self-care starts with acknowledging how you feel each day. Some days you wake up and know it’s a low-energy day. Maybe you feel groggy, a slight headache on the horizon, and you just don’t feel up for tackling your to-do list.
Other days you wake up ready to move mountains; you feel like a rock star and nothing can stop you. The vast majority of days fall somewhere in between. Taking stock of how you feel, and honestly letting yourself acknowledge where you are right now, is the key to keeping tabs on your well-being as you navigate day-to-day life.
If today were a colour, what colour would it be?
Related Post: Managing Your Energy 101
Step 2: Accept
“Always make decisions that prioritize your inner peace.”
― Izey Victoria Odiase
Once you’ve acknowledged how you feel, it’s time to accept it. Very often when it comes to self-care we try to avoid feeling certain feelings. When we’re feeling tired, for example, we might convince ourselves to get out of our funk by going for a run, when what we really need is a nap.
When it comes to self-care, acceptance is not necessarily about productivity or getting things done. In the context of looking within for answers, acceptance is about being okay with how things are, without necessarily trying to change them.
What would giving 100% look like for me today? (Hint, this always changes!)
Related Post: Self-Love and How We Nurture It
Step 3: Adapt
“The oak is the strongest tree in the forest, but the willow bends and adapts. When the fires and storms hit, it is the willow that survives.”
― Kara Barbieri
Once you’ve accepted how you feel, it’s time to focus on how you can adapt your decision-making in a way that better aligns with your internal weather system.
I talk a lot about the science of Ayurveda in my yoga teacher training program. It teaches us that everything in the world is made up of the same qualities, but in different amounts. By the same token, each of us has a unique constitution, which is constantly interacting with our environment, people and things. Ayurveda teaches us that it’s important to pay attention to natural cycles, the weather, and time of year.
This adaptability is key in how we approach self-care. For example, taking a bath in February, when it’s cold out and the days are shorter, is a great form of self-care for me. But in the summer I tend to take cold showers instead. This shift in season reminds me to adapt my actions so that they will better suit my needs.
What’s one thing I can do for myself today?
Related Post: The Importance of Change (bonus 20-min yoga class!)
Let me know in the comments what your self-care routine looks like for you these days!
Keep living your truth!
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