Often in my acupuncture practice, there are themes that emerge from week to week. Sometimes these themes are simple. For example, the weather has shifted and everyone who comes to see me feels congested and fatigued. Or stress surrounding the holidays has completely overwhelmed everybody. However, more frequently there are more complex psycho-emotional themes happening. One of the most common rhythms over the last few months has been a struggle to find a balance between obligations and nurturing others vs. self-love and self-care. Often people feel selfish or guilty when they take time for themselves. You could also be receiving subtle messages from people in your life that you should feel badly when you don’t give them all of your energy.
Some ways that this dynamic can commonly manifest:
1. Difficulty setting boundaries with employers/family members/lovers/friends
Tip: Make a conscious decision about what time you will stop responding to emails/calls/texts and stick to it! You are not on call 24/7. Value your time and others will do the same.
2. Giving more energy and time to others than you do to yourself
Tip: Devote (at the very least) 10 minutes a day to yourself to breath deeply, to close your eyes, to be free from distractions and to center yourself. Feed yourself first.
3. Speaking to yourself in a way that you would never speak to a friend
Tip: Recognize when you are beating yourself up with negative self-talk. Combat this pattern with a mantra like “My needs/feelings are valid.” Repeat it until you believe it.
So how do you juggle all the plates in your life? How do you keep your boss and your parents and your clients and your partner and your siblings and your children happy? The simple remedy is to put you first! This may seem counter-intuitive in the beginning and may be met by resistance from others. We lead by action and example in showing people how much we value ourselves, our time and the manner in which we should be treated. Aren’t you worth just as much as anyone else in your life?
Demonstrate your value to yourself by nourishing yourself first. Build up your energy reserves with restful sleep, exercise, healthy foods, fresh air, and meditative moments. Have an awareness of your stressors and what happens to your physical body when you are triggered. Know your limits (physical, emotional or mental) and pay attention to how your body lets you know when you are about to hit them. Without self-care, we can wind up exhausted, resentful, frustrated and irritable with nothing left to give. If we take care of ourselves first, we will have a rich surplus to draw from for the important people in our lives.
How do YOU take care of yourself?