Welcome back to our “Self Care Isn’t Selfish” series! Our last post was in December, when many of you were juggling the varied demands of holiday, home, and work. Now it is January, and 2016 is supposed to be the year of YOU, right? All of the magazines make it sound simple: Drink more water! Exercise an hour a day! Put down that iPhone and hit the nature trail with the kids! Cut those white carbs!
But what if integrating self care proves to be a struggle? It is tempting to feel overwhelmed, like we need to change everything in order to change anything. Here’s what we’ve learned over the years: Be gentle with yourself and remember that small changes, made over time, can add up to big results. The biggest hurdle can be realizing the importance of taking care of yourself. We can’t emphasize it enough: Self-care is the foundation that allows you to be healthy, grounded, and present for all that life throws at you.
This month, we checked in with Ranji Ariaratnam, a Nonviolent Communication (NVC) teacher and one of our TRE Los Angeles providers, about her self-care routine. It may be comforting to realize that even seasoned holistic practitioners struggle with how to actually integrate regular healthy practices into their busy lives!
In our next post, we will have more concrete tips on small ways to make significant shifts in your overall health and wellbeing. Stay tuned!
Tell us some of the things you do to practice good self care in your own life. What is your routine, if you have one?
Ranji: “While working overseas as a humanitarian aid worker, my self care was quite lacking. Despite doing yoga and meditation, I still pushed myself incessantly. For example, while based in West Africa, I worked through pneumonia and through malaria, which was not only not good for me, but also dangerous. In the last few years I have been overseas less frequently, and I’ve thought a lot about why self care seems to be such a challenge. Behind all the good intentions, there are some deeper factors at play.
Key to self care, for me, is the concept of choice (which I get from my NVC practice) and of checking in with yourself about whatever you are deciding to do next: Is this going to nourish me? Is this going to bring me more alive? More recently I’ve been trying to practice doing first what will energize me, such as sketching, even if the ‘to do’ list stretches to the horizon.
TRE helps me to more deeply access choice; when the nervous system settles down, we can really notice what will serve us in the moment.
Both NVC and TRE have supported me to develop self compassion, which I believe is also a critical part of self care. For example, I have been trying to get on a better sleep schedule, and have only recently realized how this dysregulation stems from very early in my childhood. This understanding helps me say ‘no wonder it’s so hard for me to get enough rest,’ rather than beating myself up about it so much. And the two practices help me better integrate the different layers of my being involved in this understanding (mind, heart, and body).
I have not been much of a ‘routine’ person, something I’m trying to figure out as well. On a daily basis I practice meditation morning and evening, and I do yoga at least a few minutes per day (with the intention for a few longer sessions per week). I have been trying to get Biodynamic Craniosacral support from a friend on a regular basis.”
How did you start practicing regular TRE, and how do you integrate it as part of your self-care practice now?
Ranji: “My TRE practice came from doing the certification program, which requires at least three tremoring sessions per week. Plus, journaling about it (also a requirement) really helped me to integrate what I was noticing TRE was bringing into my life.
After my body’s tremor mechanism was awake, I realized that tremoring does not have to be a big chunk of time set aside – which would make it less likely that I’d do it. So I do very short shakes (a minute or two even) as needed almost daily, and a few longer sessions per week – sometimes with my phone on speaker chatting with someone (it doesn’t get in the way of the conversation, as long as my upper body is not too active!). Once a month, when I’m in British Columbia, I also host a ‘TRE tea’ for the Vancouver TRE Providers, during which we have a group shake, which is great.
Plus, my husband will sometimes gently say, ‘Hey, maybe a shake would be good now!’ I appreciate the reminders because they are usually moments where it has not occurred to me to shake, and moments when TRE really is supportive. And sometimes he & I will shake together while talking about our day.”