Despite the situation I am in, I must find ways to sneak in self care. I have gone to therapists at various times in my life, and they were usually very helpful. In times of hardship when I am not seeing a therapist (because who has the time for that anyway?) I often imagine a hypothetical conversation I might have with my favourite therapist. In this case I can hear her first providing ample sympathy and recognition of how intense my life is at the moment, which helps me be gentle with myself (instead of beating myself up for the above mentioned deficits). Second, I can hear her asking me, “Is there anything on your ‘to-do’ list that can wait or be delegated to someone else?” The problem here is that I feel like so many things are being put on hold, so it’s a question I’ll have to keep asking myself each day.
After having ample empathy and support from my therapist I would go home (having shed a sufficient amount of tears and having taken more deep breaths than I have all month) and I would feel more centred, calm, and peaceful than I have in several months. This sense of internal connection would help propel me towards self care. Following are my top forms of self care. I struggle during times of chaos and stress to find the balance between nurturing my body, mind and spirit. I really need all three to keep up with my life’s demands. I constantly ask myself, what can I do to nourish myself now, in order to better serve my life? I encourage you to make your own list and pick from it each day.
The usual top forms of self care for me are dance/movement/yoga, guitar/singing, art/drawing/painting, and journaling. However, since my home is filled with boxes and I’m struggling to keep up with basic meals for my family, doing all of our laundry, and keeping the house minimally clean (I mean very minimally!) the usual forms of nourishing self care have felt out of my reach. I do plan to get back to them, but I just don’t feel right picking up my guitar when I know that my daughter couldn’t find a school shirt this morning, or that my husband hasn’t had a decent meal in three days. That being said, below are forms of self care I feel are within my reach when the other ones are not quite yet. However, I must admit that making a list of them and imagining them is exciting and nourishing all in itself.
Gratitude: The reason I am here today is because I have chosen to be here. I have chosen to move my family across the world to the place I call home, Israel. I have chosen to ship all of our belongings across the great ocean, now needing to be unpacked and sorted, assembled and put away. I have chosen to get pregnant and miraculously grow an amazing new life inside of my body. When we are overwhelmed and drowning in our lives we often feel like victims. In my particular situation it is easy to see where I have the power and the option to appreciate my life. Other circumstances are often more hidden and feel more out of one’s control. But no matter what there are always small and large things to be grateful for. This is not exactly a self care tactic, but it is a perspective on the world that can really help us through difficult times and nourish our mind and spirit.
Yoga: I love yoga. I find that it nourishes my body, mind and spirit. However, unless I have been taking regular classes for a while I have a hard time motivating myself to do a whole set of poses. During such a stressful time in my life as right now I choose smaller goals. For examples, I try to do one “downward dog” each day, or a “cat-cow” pose, or doing hip stretches. Depending on your body’s needs, aches and pains, choose 5 movements or stretches that nourish your body. If you don’t get to do them all day, then try to do them before you go to sleep. For me these are 1)neck circles, 2)sitting pose hip stretches, 3)downward dog, 4)warrior one, and 5) cat-cow. Having this concrete list will help me get to my yoga without thinking too much. It will help me land into my body and my physical sensations. And depending on my energy level and on the time I have it may lead me to doing more stretching and yoga. I also commit to breathing deeply and slowly during my poses.
Tea: I find that warm tea is one of the easiest ways for me to sneak in self care. In the morning, during the mad rush of getting the kids out of the door I make myself a hot cup of water and put my favourite herbs in. If I have a minute to spare I even sit down and sip the hot drink as I feel my body relax. Especially during pregnancy and postpartum I love to have loose herbs on hand and choosing the right ones for my physical and emotional needs. If you enjoy herbal tea I highly recommend that you get your hands on a good book to guide you on some basic herbs that enhance health and nutrition. There are great herbs for tension, menstrual cramps, lactation, toning the uterus, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and the list goes on. Over the following weeks I plan to add some more books to the resources sections, as well as some more herbal tea recipes I have been experimenting with.
Socializing: I have been amazed at how nourishing social interactions have been for me over the last few weeks. I am generally a home body and love alone time. Social gatherings, especially with new people is more often draining for me than invigorating. However, ever since I’ve moved my family across the world, having a short conversation with a fellow mom has felt enlivening. I know that many of my friends always feel this way and feel a real need for socialising on a regular basis. I think this is especially true for me right now for a few different reasons. One is that my husband is just at thinly stretched as I am currently and we have very little left for each other’s hardships. We are both struggling to keep up with ourselves. Therefore, it seems that are both benefiting greatly from outside support, and then we have more energy left for each other. The other reason is that the alone time I do have is not spent taking care of myself. I’m often burnt out, overwhelmed, and just trying to get by. I can feel that by writing this article, and by following my own advice this can and will change over time.
For my conclusion today, I am thankful to be pregnant, in Israel, with a house full of boxes. I also had a nourishing cup of tea today and will continue this form of self-care. I will try to get my top 5 stretches done at some point today, probably before bed. This afternoon I’m going with my daughter to an afternoon event for her class and the parents of her class. So that can be my socializing. Right now I’m going to finish writing this article in order to cook a healthy meal for my family. The things that will have to wait are the mountain of laundry on the couch and the endless boxes I had hoped to get out of the dining room, living room, hallway and my son's bedroom. Some things may get done this afternoon, or maybe tomorrow and even next week. Thank you dear readers for inspiring me to practice self care even in times of upheaval and endless “to-do” lists.