Are you struggling with self-care?
If you are struggling with self-care, it may be that you’ve lost touch with your boundaries.
Now more than ever self-care is vital. As we navigate these strange and unfamiliar times - where normal routines have been disrupted and our daily lives (for most) have changed quite dramatically. Self-care is important to keep us grounded and positive. But with such a lack of routines, like maybe you’re working from home, or not working at all or perhaps you have your kids all day every day, plus partners are around all the time too. It’s really not easy to have a routine when everything has changed.
With so much unknown and disruption you may be feeling uneasy, stressed, unmotivated, lost, restless and let’s not forget sad. Enter real self-care. Self-care that nourishes you and becomes your sanctuary, your saving grace and your support in these unusual times. But how do you get there, when you don’t have a routine for context?
Here’s how. You set boundaries.
At the heart of your self-care are boundaries. When you don’t have clear, strong boundaries your time, energy and effort goes out into the world and doesn’t always return.
“If you don’t set boundaries, the world tells you who are and what you should be doing.”- Oprah
Boundaries are sacred when it comes to your self-care, without them we can become resentful, angry and burnout. Either directed at others or towards ourselves. Healthy boundaries help you make decisions that are best for you; they protect your happiness, your joy and your patience.
Often we think having boundaries is a selfish act, which means putting up a bunch of barriers. But in reality the opposite is true. When we have energy, when we feel motivated and relaxed we are able to give more. We are able to be more present, more emotionally clear instead of shutting down and feeling annoyed.
“When you respect your valuable time, when you listen to what your body tells you, when you create space for peace in your life – you are in harmony with your soul.” – Danielle LaPorte
There is an image of what self-care looks like. We see it on the beautifully curated Instagram posts of bubble baths filled with petals, surrounded by a hundred candles. We’re sold it with #selfcaresunday and we believe it, we believe that someone else’s is ours too.
Self-care is completely different for everyone, its shaped by your story, your experiences and your needs. The self-care journey is not a straight path, there will be bumps, dips and at times a feeling of going backwards or not going anywhere. Sometimes your self-care might simply be sitting down and being present with a hot cup of nourishing tea, sometimes it will be running that rose petal bath (phone off) or doing some yoga. But sometimes, it might be asking yourself some hard questions. Like ‘what’s not working right now?’, ‘What do I need to say no to?’, ‘What is causing my anger?’, ‘What is happening in my life that I need to take responsibility for?’ ‘How can I connect more to the people I love?’.
Self-care is doing the internal work, the unraveling, the piecing together, the looking at your wounds. It could also be having those difficult and uncomfortable conversations that are weighing heavy on your heart. It’s also the small things; it’s the minuscule things you do throughout the day that place you first. There is a lot of power in the small things and each time you place your wellbeing first you make a valuable deposit towards your self-care.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”- Brene Brown
So where do you begin when it comes to setting boundaries.
Below is a list of questions and prompts to get you on the path to setting clear boundaries and having the self-care practice you desire.
I suggest grabbing a journal or a piece of paper, sit where you won’t be disturbed and take a few deep, intentional breaths before writing down your answers. Honour this time with your presence, you’ll find it easier to connect to how you feel and then channel that through your answers.
With one hand over your heart and one hand over your belly, ask yourself slowly, deliberately and soulfully.
-What am I craving that I’m not doing? Feel free to write just one or several.
Look to the places that drain you or bring up feelings of resentment. Identify where you need more space, energy, self-respect or personal power.
Areas of your life to look at are your health, time, creativity, spirituality, alone time, movement, play, romance. Remember at the center is your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Now give yourself permission. Complete the sentence below regarding what you crave the most and write it for all if you have more than one.
-I have the right to…
This is your first boundary.
Let’s dive deeper for more clarity and to solidify your boundaries. Answer each one honestly.
-How are you going to put this into action? Who do you need to share this boundary with? How will committing to it make you feel? What is the cost if you don’t? What has led you to neglect this area of your life?
Now, write a ‘yes’ list. Write down everything you want to say ‘yes’ to and say ‘no’ unless it’s an absolute yes.
This is my yes list.
Yes to 8 hrs of sleep. Yes to moving my body every day because it feels good, not because I have to.Yes to meditation. Yes to walking in nature. Yes to journaling every Sunday. Yes to eating intuitively, yes to not counting calories or grouping good/bad food. Yes to not making everyday productive. Yes to not believing my inner-critic. Yes to watching Netflix if I want to escape for a while. Yes to trusting my intuition. Yes to making decisions from who I want to be. Yes to saying no and not having to give an explanation. Yes to not feeling guilty for taking wanting alone time. Yes to sharing my feelings and speaking my truth.
Make your ‘yes’ list as detailed and personal as you can. Write it from what lights you up and how you want to feel. You can return to this yes list and any of the questions above when you feel out of alignment and that your self-care is lacking. Simply review and adjust. Your boundaries are flexible they are not walls, but you’ll know that feeling when they’ve taken a backseat. And remember there is power in small things, power in making small changes that accumulate and fill you up. Self-care doesn’t have to take hours, it can be a decision, it can simply be saying ‘no’ to one thing and ‘yes’ to another.
I’ll leave you with a final note. Try not to let guilt get the better of you. It is an inevitable part of setting boundaries. You will feel guilty for not spending time with people, guilty for saying no, guilty for changing, guilty for wanting better, guilty for simply putting yourself first. Often it’s the number one obstacle. However, the way to overcome it is to see it as a sign that you are on the right track.
By Heather Brown
YOGA / WELLNESS
Hi, I'm Heather a yoga teacher of four years and a practitioner for nearly 10. I began yoga to build strength and flexibility for surfing and snowboarding. However, as time passed my original intentions began to shift. I no longer was returning over and over again for the physical aspects, I was returning because the yogic teachings began to have a profound impact on my life. I yearned for more and delved deep into the intricate studies of yoga. Teaching and sharing yoga is one of the most natural things for me, it lights me up and fills me with joy. But it's not all that I do and love. I live on the East coast of Nova Scotia, Canada and surf as much as I can. I use to live in the mountains of British Columbia and snowboarded as much I could. Things that mean everything to me include: sitting in circles with women of all ages and backgrounds, spending time in nature, continuing to read and learn from people wiser than myself and always having a good supply and variety of tea.