Written By: Katie Langley, PT, PMA-CPT Therapeutic Pilates, LLC
Happy Valentine’s! Whether you’re happily single, in love, or have been married for decades, an important part of any healthy relationship is to love yourself. Often, it’s the combination of living a full life while cultivating close relationships with others- romantic, friendship, parental, at work – that poses the biggest challenge to self love and self-compassion. It’s easy to forget about investing in yourself and your own well-being – who YOU are and who YOU want to be – when you’re filling many roles. Women are especially susceptible to allowing their hearts and love for others to create a life that feels overcommitted. As a business owner, mother, and wife, I catch myself getting wrapped up in the endless to-do lists associated with the many hats I wear. While good relationships are built on reciprocal giving and receiving, I know that I love to give! Sadly, self-care is what I sacrifice most easily. But, I’m realizing that if I don’t take time to nurture my mind, my body, and allow relationships to be mutually supportive, that I can’t be the nurturing mother that I want to be. I can’t be the wife, or friend, or professional I want to be.
Here are a few tips on self-care to strengthen one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have – the one with yourself!
- Practice self-appreciation and self compassion. Be mindful of your thoughts. Are you your own cheerleader, or do your negative thoughts outweigh the positive ones? Would you be as hard on your best friend as you are yourself? At any moment, we can choose to change the focus of our thoughts. We can allow our inner critic to attack us, or we can acknowledge those thoughts and then shift our attention to what is gracious, loving, and kind. What we focus on grows stronger, impacts our mood, and colors our relationships with others.
- Exercise. Find an activity that you enjoy – walking, swimming, jogging, aerobics, Pilates – and get moving! Exercise is a natural mood booster, helps to clear your mind, and reduce stress. No time for exercise? Try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier and start your day before your other responsibilities demand priority. Or, try getting in several short bouts of exercise (around 10 minutes at a time) throughout the day. The American Heart Association reminds us that as long as we get 150 minutes/week, we’re meeting their recommendation for exercise.
- Make a point to pause throughout the day. If you feel like you’re stuck with never-ending to-do lists, take a moment to savor the completion of each task by offering yourself the kind of gratitude you might offer someone else. For example, after getting the kids off to school, pause and breathe deeply as you honor your well-intended, but perhaps imperfect, efforts to show stamina, patience, and gentleness while navigating the morning’s inevitable hurdles. By pausing and embracing your own humanity, you’ll feel more energized to tackle your next responsibility. Take time to enjoy moments of emptiness throughout your day: a hole in your schedule, the silence of your commute to work, or a Saturday morning with no plans can be opportunities to reflect on your many blessings and restore your soul.
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, are as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha