A year ago I wrote a blog about why I was running away from my family and my job and escaping to Panama. Spoiler alert I had run myself thin and escape was a last ditch effort to regain the shreds of myself that didn’t yell unprovoked at her children or resent her job.
I would love to tell you that six days of yoga led me to a new way of stress free living and I now run a yoga studio, manufacture green juice and my children have yet to hear their mommy raise her voice in the last 12 months. I would love to tell you a retreat can profoundly and permanently change your life but that wouldn’t be quite true.
The reality is that the last year has been one of the most stressful times of my life. I have stretched my time, our family’s finances, my sanity and my husband’s patience to the outer limits. I’ve doubted both my worth and my capabilities as a business owner and a mother. In fact I am writing this again….from a plane….en route to Panama.
So what is the point?
If six days of self care failed to rewire my brain and change my habits, what is the value of another kick at the can?
For me the the reason why I literally threw my credit card at the retreat organizer for a second year in a row was a shift that came in realizing that self care can’t be a last ditch effort. It can’t be a hail mary to right your path. It is a continuous process and mindset that requires commitment and practice.
This year I am not running away from my family and work, I am running to them by creating space for myself.
Here are the ways I am shifting my self care:
I radically accept that my stress isn’t going away
I recently heard the term radical acceptance when Oprah interviewed Lady Gaga about her chronic pain and mental health. Gaga explained that by radically accepting her fibromyalgic pain, disassociated from negative emotion, she was able to reframe it, find solutions and use it to her advantage.
I feel that way about stress.
I have big goals but accomplishing them means hard work, discipline and tough decisions. It is very easy for me to get overwhelmed by those responsibilities and see my stress as a negative force in my life.
Billie Jean King said that “pressure is a privilege.” By radically accepting my stress as part of the process of leveling up and living a life by my design, I’m able to willingly apply tools to manage it instead of resenting it’s existence.
I’m changing my perspective on self care
Last year at the same retreat we made a map of all the things we were going to do to take action when we got home. I’m a little embarrassed to say my self care plan centered around booking regular spa days. Not that I have anything against the spa (I’m a regular visitor and if you are too, you are my people) but a facial every six weeks does not equip you for your business nearly losing its home or having to let go of staff you have just hired because a landlord decides to change the use allowed in your space.
I needed to fall back on the self care strategies that would keep me calm in the moment. Luckily those tools were already in my professional toolbox and regular parts of my client treatments.
Now I try (emphasis on try, no one is perfect) to do small things like a few deep breaths before a tough conversation or writing out my gratitudes every morning. I move my body daily and have made choices that reduce inflammation in my body and support my nervous system.
If you want to grab a pedicure, I am still your girl, but taking smaller and easier to implement steps, has made a bigger impact.
I’m trying to treat self care as part of my job
I hear a million reasons why people are lousy at maintaining a self care routine. Often the loudest voice in that conversation is my own.
I’m too busy.
It is too expensive.
I don’t know where to start.
I call bullshit. The real reason you don’t value self care is that deep down in your subconscious, you foolishly believe that you don’t deserve it.
Think about it. You will always find time to help a friend in need. You might complain about the cost of a needed medical exam for yourself but I bet your kids have the latest, greatest toy. I would hazard a guess that you have a bookshelf lined with self development books and healthy cook books with the best intentions. So why haven’t you committed to being a priority for yourself?
Look at you. You are so very worth it.
But until you get serious about treating yourself well, you can’t be that example for anyone else in your life.
Recently my husband commented that all of my stress was making me really negative and less than joyful to be around. My initial response was to remind him that the emotional load of motherhood (and I’m not discounting that) combined with the stress of running our business could turn anyone into a bit of a downer. Truthfully though, he was right. I was pretty miserable to be around.
I went back to reflect on my gratitude journal to prove what a positive person I was only to find in I hadn’t written in it for 3 weeks. I had let “busy” sabotage one of my core self care actions and it showed. Failing to take time to acknowledge all of the good in my life made it easy to give weight to my challenges.
They say consistency carves canyons. If you want your self care to have a real impact you need to treat it as a part of your job and lifestyle. Not a one night stand of wine and pizza.
So here is the reality about Panama. I need it. I deserve it and it is a crucial part of me being a present parent, an engaged wife and an impactful leader.
My family and my clients need it so I can bring them back my best energy. The beach and yoga don’t hurt either.
I need the space so I can do the work, think the thoughts and restore the mindset that will set me up to succeed at higher levels.
And so do you.