The alarm goes off, the shades are not quite drawn, and the sun’s penetrating rays are now warming my eyes, gently saying “wake up.” As I sit on the bed, I make a mental note of how I am feeling, take in some meditative breaths, and then energetically prepare to counsel clients like a busy bee pollinating flowers.
Many things are out of our control, but not my ability to care for myself. Consciously making an effort to live an extraordinary and appreciative life while focusing on the positive is a part of self care. On the days that I make a concerted effort to take care of myself I feel my mind, body, and spirit highly energized, which translates into a better me. This conscious choice makes me a better mother, wife, and therapist.
Some of the simple things like eating healthy, taking vitamins, walking, and spending time with my family were already part of my practice of self care. I call it a “practice,” because it is a conscious way of living that is implemented each day. I have added to this practice by participating in different activities each week, such as exploring the meditative world of yoga, sailing in the open ocean with a pod of migrating dolphins, and preparing for long treks by hiking the trails of Orange County.
One of my most memorable days of self care was trekking in Machu Picchu, Peru. Upon graduating from Pepperdine I decided to give the gift of self care and trained to trek the 14,000-foot-altitude Inca Trail. It was amazing being above the clouds and eye to eye with the peak of the snow capped mountains. There was a spiritual energy and mysticism as I prayed and meditated along the trail, staying in the moment, smelling the flowers, gazing at the Southern Cross in the sky at night, and talking through translators with the native Quechua people. The journey was nourishing.
We can all relate to having those days where we’re too busy to care for ourselves and then wonder why we feel fatigued and stressed. Those of us who neglect to care for ourselves become burned out and unhappy, which does not allow us to provide proper care for others. Funny are those commercials where the mother is sick and the family seems to be lost without her loving management of the household. She then takes the cold medicine and miraculously she’s better, kissing her children goodbye, handing them a lunch before they miss their school bus. It’s similar for those in helping professions. Only when we take care of ourselves can we truly be effective in caring for others.
So take some time today to explore ways you can begin your “practice” of caring for yourself. Stay aware of the positive changes, and you will be happily surprised.