It might only be March, but so far 2017 has been a doozy.
Colds and flus are really virulent this year – people have been down for weeks at a time. (And as usual, this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t contain the right strains of influenza, so many of those who go their annual flu jab have been sicker than those who didn’t.)
After four years of historic drought, my beloved California has been drowning with storm after storm. Big Sur is cut off from the world, parts of it accessible only by helicopter for at least the next 2 months. The wind damage from the storms, flooding, lack of sunshine, and cold temperatures have contributed to many mental health problems, especially related to Seasonal Affective Disorder and mold intolerance.
Watching the world become unglued as the United States steps into unchartered political waters has also taken a spiritual, emotional, and physical toll on many.
Since August, five former students from my children’s school community have passed away unexpectedly. My daughters are besides themselves, wondering when the next shoe is going to drop, what will happen to the environment, and what laws against humanity will make their way through the states’ and national legislatures.
And then there are the daily stressors of life, which seem to poke at us like little pins in voodoo dolls… Stand-still traffic. (poke) A deadline at work. (poke) Laundry and housework. (poke) Email jail. (poke) Rising costs of groceries. (poke)
One of the few bright lights in all of the turmoil and upheaval is that we might finally get some answers about vaccine safety, with Robert Kennedy, Jr., leading a new national task force.
Now more than ever, self-care is critical for our health and well-being.
Self-care creates sanity amidst the chaos
You may have noticed that I have been very quiet over the last few months, not having published any blogs or newsletters or recording any podcasts. This is because in all the chaos, I had to create space for self-care. I knew I was only going to make things worse for myself if I was sick, stressed out, and exhausted.
Here are the eight steps I’ve taken this winter to take care of myself, to put on my proverbial oxygen mask. I hope that they serve as a springboard of inspiration for you so that you can take a few steps towards creating sanity in your own chaotic world.
- I’ve made sure that my body is getting the nutrients it needs, both through eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods and via supplementation. This means avoiding sugars and refined carbohydrates when I can. (Avoiding sugars when I am surrounded at work is no easy task for this sugar addict. Sometimes I fail. Hard.)
- I’ve gotten adequate sleep, even if it means forgoing late night social events.
- I’ve gone into nature as much as time, weather and roads allow. I have dedicated one old pair of shoes to hiking in the mud, and my minivan, which desperately needs a washing, looks like I tried to go four-wheeling.
- I meditate at least 8 minutes every morning when I first get up. I even set aside a little corner of my bedroom to create an altar with a candle, some crystals, essentials oils and whatever else I need to tap into the energy, love, and wisdom of the universe.
- I’ve taken additional supplements and herbs on the few occasions I felt like I was coming down with something. Already fixtures in our household, Touchstone Essentials’ Pure Body Extra Strength, Standard Process’ Thymex, and Medi-Herb’s Andrographis Complex have earned their permanent place in our medicine cabinet at home.
- I’ve listened. Parenting has its own burdens and stressors, but feeling like my kids know that they can confide in me has brought me some peace of mind. We are closer than ever because I have made extra space to be there for them when they need me. (Being a teenager is hard enough, but social media creates its own minefield of spiritual adolescent angst.) I’ve also listened to my body. My body is constantly communicating with me to tell me what it needs, whether some down time, extra nutrients, or even a glass of water.
- I’ve received regular body work – massage, chiropractic, or osteopathy at least twice a month. Who knew that going to the hot springs when it’s 40 degrees outside would feel so rejuvenating?
- I work with purpose. Our satisfaction in our work – whether or not we are getting paid – can have a huge impact on our well-being. Although getting up at 5:20 Monday through Friday can be challenging, I love what I do. At the VA or with my private clients, the days fly by.
The one piece of self-care I have struggled with this winter is movement and exercise. I could make up all sorts of excuses why I’ve only found time for joyful movement one or two days a week, but they would just be excuses. However, having more consciousness around this allows me to humbly appreciate the opportunities I do have and make me more dedicated to carving out that space more regularly.
Self-care is not selfish
My friends, it is not selfish to put your well-being first. You will not do anyone any good if you are sick, exhausted, and stressed out.
Give yourself permission to say no.
Honor your circadian rhythm, a gift of our biology that encourages us to rest when it is dark outside and live it up when it is light.
Take care of your self, and you will not only feel healthier, stronger, and more vibrant, but you will also have more capacity to care for others, live your purpose, and create some sanity in all of our world’s current chaos.
You deserve it.
We all do.