I made a post on my Facebook page about how I have struggled with depression my entire life, and that self-care in many different forms has been integral in helping me navigate it all. Well, that post resonated with many of you, and I got a few requests to put together a resource of things that have helped me. Well, here is a quick, unedited, and un-polished resource of self-care tips. (If I take too long trying to edit it or brand it and make it all sound perfect, I'll never get around to actually posting it, so in the interest of embracing imperfections in the hopes to just be me, here you go!)
Okay, it’s going to be hard to talk about this all in one resource, for a few reasons:
Because I truly believe that deep down you have the answers in terms of what things will help you navigate mental health as well as fill up your self-care cup. So, I’m super passionate about instead of me giving you the answers, instead offering you the tools to find your own answers or tools that help.
This conversation and topic is a continual and never-ending journey. It’s what I have based my entire business + life on, because there is no finish line when it comes to creating your “self-care toolkit”. At some times things that worked in the past will feel different and not work anymore, and vice versa. So, know that the things I talk about here are just the tip of the iceberg, and ultimately it’s a matter of trial and error in having a collaborative relationship with your body listening to yourself on a daily basis in what works.
When I talk about creating your “self-care toolkit”, what I’m referring to is having a knowledge of different things and coping tools that help you show up as your authentic and true self. So, maybe that looks like an actual list of things that you can turn to in times when you’re feeling like absolute shit and you can’t remember what helps you get out of that place, OR it can mean beginning to implement those things in your life in a way that when you need them, it’s become second nature (like breathing exercises while you’re having a panic attack on the bus or whatever.)
This is where it truly started for me. When I finally made the decision to do my thang in the morning, that’s when I realized the power of this whole thang called self-care. However, there is SOOO much content out there that talks about the importance of having a morning routine, BUT the thing that drives me nuts, is that there is truly no one right way to start your day. So, what can happen is that one might try to emulate what someone else does in how they start their day, then it doesn’t work for you, and then you feel shitty and shameful about the fact that AGAIN another thing you thought work didn’t.
Instead the goal is to give yourself attention before you have to give everyone else and everything else attention. That’s it. Can’t pour from an empty cup.
So, that could look like anything. For me, it started by looking like: reading a magazine and drinking my cup of coffee on the couch for 30-minutes to an hour before starting my day. It didn’t mean waking up at 5AM to do some crazy workout, it’s didn’t mean starting my day with an hour long meditation, it’s didn’t mean doing whatever society might tell me is healthy for me to do when starting my day like drinking a damn green smoothie -- it literally meant just doing something that didn’t require any energy from me, meant I could stay in my pjs a little longer, and give me some stillness.
Over time my morning routine has changed and evolved, and also looks different at different times in my life. But the thing that makes it stick is that it’s MINE. It’s not me going through the motions of someone else’s idea of what a morning routine should look like -- because if that were the case it would feel liek work, and I wouldn’t do it.
So, my first suggestion is think of things that take no energy from you, that truly make you happy, that make you feel like you, and are maybe things that you try to fit in before bed because you felt like you didn’t have time to do them during the day because you worried everyone else and everything else. Start there: What brings you true joy? That could mean LITERALLY anything. For my partner, that means hanging out in bed and playing pokemon go for 20 minutes lol. So, anything goes here.
This is just going to be a list of things that make me happy, that have helped teach me things that resonate with me, and that I know I can turn to when things are just complete shit. So, these are concrete things. The next list will be more subtle lessons that might help. I guess the point in this list is that the content you take in matters. So, try and be intentional about taking in content that aligns with your values, and truly get curious about how your body feels after watching a TV show, or reading a book, or reading something on the internet. You will start to learn what content is truly aligning and good for your self-care, and what instead is just adding to the anxiety or depression or just adding to the self-doubt, overwhelm, or negative self-talk.
But not just any yoga. My yoga, which comprises of super lazy, slow stretches, and doesn’t usually last longer than about ten minutes. But this could be completely different for you! (If you’re interested in finding out about what yoga can teach you, let me know… this is MY JAM)
Again this can be a loaded thing, that can bring on a sense of “how do I even do this, and where do I start?”. But there are LOTS of different ways to meditate, so if you’re interested, the first thing I would encourage is BE COMPASSIONATE to yourself when you’re exploring and starting out.
This again, can look any which way. It can mean literally just writing out anything and everything that’s on your mind. Or it can also look like journal prompts which can be found anywhere on the internet. It can be such a helpful tool in deciphering what you might be feeling, and sifting through the tangled mess that you might be feeling in your head.
Here is a list of podcasts that have helped me in learning more about tools that help with self-care and just navigating being a human, but honestly again there’s no right answer here:
The One you Feed
The Lively Show: Specifically episodes around #163, which talks about Alignment before Action
Tapestry from CBC Radio 2
Super Soul by Oprah
Change your Latitude: This is more targeted to entrepreneurs, but Pascale is amazing and the lessons in these podcasts are applicable to anyone.
On Being with Krista Tipett
Yoga Girl: Conversations from the Heart
Honestly, anything lol. Reading can be either a beautiful form of escapism (which I think is wonderful as long as it’s not something that you depend on to escape your life, but more just for a beautiful break.) It’s also just a great way to get away from looking at another damn screen lol. Or it can be a tool to learn more.
Okay now this is where I’m going to stop, because again there are SO many things I could list here, that specifically help me (like baking, watching disney movies, taking a hot bath, going for a walk with my dog, spending time with my wife), but truly the point here, is starting to pin-point concrete things that make you feel aligned instead of mis-aligned. Once they’re identified then, it’s easier to actually turn to them when you feel like crap, are overwhelmed, can’t quieten your internal negative self-talk, or whatever. It comes down to actually starting to turn to these things when you need it. OR implementing them in your life here and there, so you can keep filling up your cup. Again if you identify things that work for you, and truly fill up your cup, they won’t feel like work because they’re yours.
More subtle things
Again, I feel like I could go on FOREVER when it comes to more subtle things that can help, but I think I’ll just name them, and this can be a starting point to a longer conversation that can be explored in many different ways (in yoga classes that I teach, in workshops that I offer, or in the many resources that already exist out there!)
Feeling every single emotion
Being so incredibly kind to yourself, always
Trusting in the physical sensations in your body as being a message and helpful guide
Becoming truly and wholly aware of your breath, and how you breathe at different times in your day
Being present as often and as much as you can
Softening your grip on needing to control everything
Being okay with not having all the answers to things
Sitting in discomfort
Being vulnerable with others
This resource has been put together with no real editing, without trying to be perfect, and literally has been written off the top of my head. This is the beginning of me realizing that these lessons I have learnt in terms of self-care can truly be helpful to others, so if you feel like being on the journey with me in terms of exploring this continual conversation, I’m here for you, darling.
💝 Here is a free resource I’ve put together to help you to start creating your own Self-Care Toolkit: https://upbeat-composer-2414.ck.page/16abdaff84