Have you ever done something that science says is bad for your health…repeatedly? Ummmm I have!
Over the years, I’ve realized that a purely science-based approach to health and wellness does not work long-term. Learning/knowing that something is good for us is not the same as feeling that something nourishes us (or doesn’t).
So, while the science of self-care is motivating for many (I’m one of those people), that motivation can be short-lived. Which means that creating a healthy lifestyle where self-care stays front and center is an ever-evolving art-form that requires presence and receptivity.
Here are 3 unconventional self-care practices to try this week that will help you cultivate your receptivity and weave more presence into your day.
Practice #1. For Mindfulness & Self-Nurturing…
Food is the ultimate source of nourishment, and preparing that food can be as nourishing as eating it! This week, set aside an hour to cook at least one meal mindfully: Practice being present and intentional while you cook.
If you usually move quickly, slow it down. Relax your shoulders. Breathe into your belly. Notice the colors, textures and aromas of the foods. Notice your meandering thought flow without attachment and keep coming back to what you’re doing. You might even like to turn your kitchen into a sanctuary where you can release the weight of the day by turning on some soothing or uplifting music and lighting a candle.
Practice #2. For Emotional Self-Care…
For one full day this week, set the intention to pay close attention to “negative” emotions as they arise, without making them wrong. Examples of emotions that we tend to categorize as “bad” (and hence need to “fixed”) include: irritability, anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, fear, guilt, shame, embarrassment, inferiority, anxiety, nervousness, etc.
Throughout the day, observe your emotional reactions; notice how they feel in your body and any tendency to categorize them as good or bad (right or wrong). You might even choose to carry a journal with you to make note of how you’re feeling throughout the day (consulting a feelings wheel like this one can be helpful).
At the end of your day, carve out 30-minutes in privacy. Remove any tight or restrictive clothing (including your bra) and practice being present for any residual emotions. Cry if you feel like it, punch a pillow, move your body, make some noise, breathe deeply with your embodied presence. Remember, stuck emotions create anxiety, so your intention is to feel and move them, not to think about them. Before you do this practice, read this article for inspiration and guidance.
Practice #3. To Strengthen Your Intuition & Receptivity (and play a little!)…
Set aside an hour or so to go on a walk or drive without a plan or outcome in mind. Keep your GPS off and instead consult your inner GPS along the way. Don’t decide where you’re going in advance, rather at each juncture make a decision which way you’d like to go. Practice letting your intuition guide you, and trusting that it is.
When you’re en route, if you feel called to go somewhere, or visit someone, specific let yourself go, if not, just keep driving or walking without a destination in mind and see where you end up. I did this over the winter and ended up at a lovely little walking path in a neighborhood I have never been before. And had so much fun exploring!
Note: If you’re someone who is used to having a plan, you may feel a little strange or uncomfortable doing this, but see if you can allow yourself to do it anyways — and have some fun! Be aware of what comes up, without judgement. Click here to dive deeper into the difference between intuition and ego.
Have fun with these practices. And if none of them resonate, how can you nourish yourself in a way that feels unique to you this week? Block out the time in your calendar now!
Here’s to showing up for ourselves,
P.S. How do you feel about Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the Olympics to focus on her mental health? This is the perfect example of putting needs before expectations, NOT easy to do. I am learning a great deal from Biles: her outright commitment to the invisible aspects of herself is revolutionary.
The expectation to self-abandon to meet expectations was ingrained in many of us as children, and Biles is showing us what is takes to unlearn that unhealthy pattern. This is what it looks like to not abandon ourselves, even when the stakes are high.
About the Author: Allie Andrews
With a decade of experience in the wellness and coaching industry, Allie has partnered with 65 companies and helped hundreds of achievers and workaholics find a pace and rhythm to living that feels sustainable and nourishing.
As a coach, Allie helps her clients grow their impact while prioritizing their health, deepening their relationships, and following their joy.
Allie is a lifelong student of personal growth, certified health coach, yoga teacher, and sex and relationship coach.
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Facebook: Allie Andrews, OmBody Health