Ever feel like you are too busy to take care of yourself? Us, too. But, self-care is important for maintaining well-being, both mentally and physically. Everyday we try to take a pause and incorporate simple self-care practices, like: cooking something healthy, meeting up with or calling a friend, taking a bath, going on a walk, and so on. The best part of about self-care... there is no right or wrong practice- it is just something kind that you can do for yourself.
Nicole Breen, our Director of Yoga for Recovery and Behavioral Health, shares some insight on what her self-care practice looks like. She is known on the TYP team to prioritize self-care consistently and is always encouraging us all to practice more- from sharing tips on essential oils, practicing loving kindness mediations. Here is a story Nicole wrote on how self-care can be found everywhere.
Recently, after a long day spent primarily in meetings or on the phone and in my car, I ended the day feeling stung. Not like I was stung by a bee, but I felt like I was the bee. I was buzzing in my own head, many ideas and to-dos: how we can serve, how we can survive, what we can do next... my self-care practice of awareness allowed me to realize I was overcompensating being in my head and I needed to be in my BODY. This lead me to realize I needed to drop myself deep into the mystery of the present moment.
"I need to stretch out my hips" - that was my immediate default as my physical yoga practice has done wonders for my mental wellbeing over the years. But, I saw the sun was shining, I had the gift of nothing but time on my hands (the laundry could get done another day), I wanted to be in nature. I needed to feel the ground beneath my feet. I was drawn towards order and balance to recover from the time I had spent in my head.
I walked onto a college campus and took my socks and shoes off and just started walking in the grass. I immediately felt an intense rush throughout my body and chills all the way to the top of my head and back to my feet. My nervous system was reacting. Initially, I thought this ground is too cold, I shouldn't be here... that's when my yoga practice chimed in: "I am right where I am meant to be" and the loving words of my teacher: "slow yourself down, feel what it is like to be in your body."
I began to breathe. Slowly. I listened to my breath flowing in and out of my body. I felt the crunch beneath my feet. I wondered if I was walking in geese poop. I allowed myself to find the humor in this intense situation, whatever was under my feet, I can easily wash off. If you step in it, you're meant to step in it!
I walked and walked and began to feel like Nicole again. I realized I had taken that pause. I walked a little while longer - I paused. I noticed I was wondering if people would look at me as weird for walking barefoot around their campus. I paused again. I wondered if I witnessed someone doing what I was doing. I would find peace in their solitude and connection to the moment. I paused again.
I saw a tree ahead that reminded me of my childhood in my neighborhood in Northeast Philly, a gigantic oak tree just like the one in my backyard. I felt my feet on the earth again, I felt Nicole in this moment. I sat beneath the tree and began to write this story. There was a sense of relief in my awareness and realization that I could share it.
Journaling doesn't have to be anything prolific. Journal as if no one would ever read it and then do not worry if someone does read it. If someone read it, they were meant to read it. Trust in your circumstances and surrender control.
When our intentions are pure, everything that comes our way either good or bad, we are meant to experience it. Treat your life like the precious miracle it is and quit wasting time telling yourself otherwise. The negative self doubt is the lie and counterproductive to self-care. You are the truth. Treat yourself with care and make it a priority.
Below is a list of practices drawn from this story (because I love a good list):
Awareness throughout your moments
Be present - this moment, no more, no less
Connect with nature - walking barefoot is my favorite
Breathe slowly - it doesn't have to be a fancy breathing practice, just breathe
Laugh, recognize joy, lightness
Pause - pause - then pause again
Journal and release
Share with a friend
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Peace <3 Nicole
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Inspired by #MeditationMonth... Please consider donating to TYP today. We have a goal to raise $5,000 during May to support our trauma-sensitive yoga programs in Recovery and Criminal Justice Settings. Your donation will be doubled as part of the $50,000 Challenge Grant from the Wyss Foundation. But we need your help to reach that goal! Each dollar you donate could be DOUBLED in value!