5 Steps to Compassionate Self-Care

Fotolia_53814602_Subscription_XXLFresh from a relaxing bath I marvel at my healthy form and feel thankful for learning how to appreciate and lovingly care for my body. I love my Shann-ness: curvaceous, flexible and strong.

I haven’t always felt this way. Years ago I had very little body-mind awareness. The disconnect had to do with overindulging in my former high-stress career, mind numbing drama, rich restaurant food, and partying like a rock star on the weekends. Thankfully, motherhood, Martial Arts and Yoga helped me walk away from a soul sucking career and bloated lifestyle which no longer suited me.

While lost in my career aspirations, I morphed into the predominately male culture in which I was immersed. I played golf, drank the finest wine and on occasion enjoyed smoking expensive cigars. I could be arrogant, impatient and totally closed off to myself.

At that time in my life, I was physically and spiritually inactive with the exception of an occasional visit to church on Sunday and weekend warrior activities. Escalating body weight and over-the-top Migraine headaches finally got my attention. I was anxious, depressed and out of touch with the body I’d kicked to the curb. My priority became letting go of what no longer served me so I could consciously create a new way of living. I was in desperate need of compassionate self-care. Can you relate?

A friend recommended yoga as a healthy activity to lower my stress levels and get in touch with my body again. Practicing yoga dramatically began to improve my life. In the years I have been interested in, studying and currently teaching yoga playshops; I have reinvented myself and learned to honor my mind, body and soul.

My personal recipe for compassionate self-care includes creating a sacred environment, honoring your body, practicing yoga, positive self-talk and getting unplugged.

Sacred Environment

Compassionate self-care includes surrounding yourself with a clean and beautiful environment. My walls are adorned with a collection of original artwork and landscape photographs. I keep a beautiful feminine alter showcasing love notes, flowers, images of my daughter and special treasures. My space is spiritual, colorful and exotic.

Aromatherapy is also part of my sacred life. I regularly spray lavender in the room for a calming effect or lemongrass when I want to wake up my senses. Smudging and burning my favorite Japanese incense is perfect for meditation, prayer, energy clearing and quieting my mind.

Honor Your Body

The benefits of massage therapy include lowering stress, deep relaxation, and improved circulation. I honor my body with regular hot stone body work. Part of my self-care routine also includes enjoying a soak in the tub several times each week. I love the calming energy of a hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender. I recommend creating a divine space complete with candles, incense, soothing music or a good book to read. Honoring my body also includes eating whole foods, raw foods and being conscious of how I nourish my body.

Practice Yoga

Yoga means union. Nurturing your body, mind and soul with a regular yoga practice can help you get in touch with who you are on a deeper level. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself through restorative poses. Tuning into my breath and how I feel while moving my body is a gift. Practicing yoga improves my body consciousness and helps me remain flexible and peaceful. I delight in leading yoga playshops for women in desperate need of soulful, relaxing retreat time.

Positive Self-Talk

Positive self talk is one of my favorite weapons to combat disempowering mental commentary. On occasion my mind can be an unruly playground filled with bullies, tattle tales and mean girls. When I am feeling battered by the schoolyard bully, positive self-talk is my magic weapon. I am no longer willing to live in the shame pit created by the harsh judgement of my inner critic. When feeling emotionally drained or insecure, I practice an internal dialogue like: “I approve of myself” or “All is well, I am safe.” Compassionate self-talk improves your self-confidence. Witnessing your internal dialogue will help you learn to practice nonviolent communication.

Get Unplugged

It is essential to regularly get unplugged from your highly connected virtual environment. I create an oasis of time each day to get out into the natural world. My mental clarity improves when I commit to hiking along a woodland trail or walking on the shores of Lake Michigan. When I’m freaking out about having too much on my plate, I make it a priority to step away from this self-imposed madness to soak up the sweetness of the day.

Not too long ago my soul was crying out for my attention. I’m so glad I listened. Compassionate self-care is a special gift that will improve your quality of life and well being.

Questions:

1. How do you practice compassionate self-care?

2. Is something in your life stifling your spirit? If so, what will you do to address it and honor yourself?

3. What does your self-talk sound like? When your inner critic tries to run the show how will you respond?

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