I live just north of Toronto, a city filled with health and wellness clinics, centres, boutiques, and workshops. Even in my “smallish” hometown of Aurora, businesses that focus on wellness are popping up everywhere. From fitness gyms on every corner to massage clinics located in strip malls, the wellness industry is booming. If you are looking into wellness services there are tons to choose from. There’s yoga, Power Pilates, Zumba, running groups, drumming circles, trampolining, indoor cycling, pole-dancing, cryotherapy, Cross-Fit and everything in between. The options seem almost endless.
Recently, I took advantage of a free drop-in yoga class to see if it was the right fit for me. While I was in the class, I realized that I was not relaxing and reaching that wonderful meditative state that yoga promotes. Instead, I was rehearsing in my mind the multitude of things that I had to do before the day was over. Thoughts about getting groceries on the way home, responding to a client, and a networking event that I recently heard about raced through my mind.
What I didn’t like about my experience was how self-care felt like helplessness to me. That was not what I was looking for. I was certainly not looking for one more thing to feel stressed about. To spend time on crafting excuses that I can tell my friends and family as to why I didn’t make it to the gym, or go to the class, or make my appointment.
A Self-Care Strategy
I decided that I needed a strategy for my self–care. Just like I need a strategy for everything else in my life that I deem important. For example, healthy meals don’t just magically appear on the table at my house. It is a result of a systematic approach that starts with a positive intention (I want myself and my family to eat healthy). And it includes the necessary steps to make it happen. Everything from consciously choosing where I buy the groceries for a recipe, to research and selection about different foods is involved in reaching the goal of healthy eating.
Why would I think that self-care would be any different? It too requires a systematic approach that starts with intention and includes conscious actions.
After much trial and error, I identified four necessary elements in order to make self-care a reality for me. Let me share them with you.
Start with Intention
Everything starts with an idea or an intention. Ask yourself; “What do I want from self– care?” If it is to feel part of a community then choose an activity that involves others or is group based. Is it to challenge yourself? Then pick something that will do that. A trainer at a gym seems like a good choice. Is it to get some alone time? Then look into yoga or mediation. What really matters is that you do something, anything, that satisfies your basic needs.
Figure Out Your Why
Once we know what we are looking for, in order to make it stick, we need to understand why we are doing it. Why is self-care important for you? So you can have more energy? To improve your health? Or maybe to look better? It doesn’t matter what your why is, just that you know it and can relate to it.
Get Into the Groove (and that WILL take time…accept it!)
Now it is time to develop positive habits. Set a reminder on your phone. Have an accountability partner. Give yourself a reward for achievement. Habits require 63 consecutive days to form, and that leads up to the last suggestion.
Whatever you find works for you, make it mandatory for yourself and commit to doing it. Once you start doing something positive on a regular basis, you are going to feel better about yourself. These positive actions will leave you feeling more confident and happier.
How do you work self-care into your life? Is it something you look forward to each day or is it just another thing you need to get done? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.
To our health and wellbeing,