3 Rules of Self Care You Must Follow to Live a Stress-Free Life
My life used to be really stressful. I ran a business with my husband (a CrossFit Gym) and it was our whole life. It was fast-paced, customer-centered, and it required us to be full of energy in order to perform well. Read more about my story here.
I loved training people to get fit. I loved mixing massage therapy and rehabilitation techniques to help my clients when they encountered pain or to improve mobility and performance. I thrived on this.
I thrived taking care of clients in this way because I've learned I'm a natural caretaker. This feeds me. And it's a must for any career path I choose.
But, there were parts that were draining me. The long hours I was working... people work out before and after work which makes a trainers day VERY long.
Teaching group classes with loud music playing, multiple times per day did not suit my energy... it was exhausting. This can probably feed and energize many people, but not me.
It was emotionally draining. Anything that affected my business, affected me. There's no such thing as "it's business, not personal". When you're an entrepreneur, it's ALL personal!
BUT the beautiful thing that emerged from 8 years of this stressful lifestyle?
I learned a great deal about self-care & how to take care of myself. And I'm going to share with you the 3 self-care ideas-- well, self-care rules-- I live by so you can live a stress-free, resilient life.
Sidebar: (I know that you're well informed about the importance of eating well and physical activity as an important part of self-care, so I've left them off this list for the sake of simplicity- but they ARE an important!).
1. Spend your days doing something that energizes you and feeds you.
It's all about energy exchange. When you're working, you're giving your energy to your work and the people (clients & co-workers) you interact with. At the end of the day, if you don't enjoy this giving- or get something meaningful out of this giving (such as the joy of helping others)- you're going to be exhausted. You'll feel drained.
Now as a health coach, I see clients through video or phone and I absolutely love it. I get done with a call and I'm energized. I'm inspired. I'm motivated. Even though I give- give energy, my attention, create a space for them to share- I'm also filled up.
Find what energizes you and feeds your soul. Make your work your soul food.
2. Know how to fill yourself back up when you're drained.
Like I said, I used to get really drained. I was so tired by the end of the day and often had to work weekends, so my weekends felt really short.
My go-to tools were Qigong, Meditation, and receiving massage therapy. Qigong is an ancient form of Chinese Medicine that consists of a system of exercises that generates internal energy and vitality... it's like moving meditation. (Read more about how Qigong helped me with stress).
What do these three things have in common? They switch the nervous system into the parasympathetic state or the "rest and digest" state vs sympathetic state or "fight or flight" always on state.
The parasympathetic state is essential to our health. It is the yin (rest) to the yang (doing) of our days. Being in this state is physically, mentally, and emotionally healing.
I don't know what I would have done without these tools of self-care.
These days in Asheville, a trail walk or hike with the dogs surrounded by nature is just one of the ways I invite nourishing self-care into my life. Relaxing baths, yoga (I do various types for fitness and recovery), and I've continued practicing meditation and Qigong.
Find what works for you. Maybe this is reading a book, having lunch with a close friend, or feeling your toes in the sand and salt water.
And rule number 1 to self-care is this: you MUST make time for it. No excuses.
3. Create boundaries, know your priorities-- and enforce them.
Eventually, after 6 years running the gym, I was exhausted and had to make some changes. I said "absolutely not" to teaching 6 am classes and stayed no later than 6:30/7 pm. I set the boundary and the staff of coaches, as well as my husband, took care of those classes. I was so glad I did.
Only say, "yes" when you truly want to say it. If saying "yes" and committing will stress you out, you have an obligation to yourself, your health and your sanity to say "no." It's as simple as that.
If people have a problem with that, it's their problem, not yours. I knew I had to be the one not to overbook myself, overwork, and not over commit.
No one else is going to take care of you except for you. You have to be the one to do it. Think of it as an exercise for building self-esteem.
When you do find yourself stretched thin and exhausted, it's okay. Go back to number 2 on this list and make time to do something nourishing. Don't let burnout win.
And if you're someone who lives with chronic health challenges, it's all the more critical that you follow daily self-care- not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This, and more (like Qigong), is available to you in my "Feel Like You Again" health coaching program.
To your health and healing,