I wrote about self-care a few months ago. While it’s not the normal topic for me to write about (I know eating healthy is a form of self-care), I tend to write about things that are current in my life. And that’s what came to mind as a topic for today.
Yesterday after finishing my long run with my running buddy Marcela, I left to go and get my car serviced. On the drive over to the car dealership I almost got in an accident. I’ll be honest I’m not sure how I avoided the crash – an oncoming car was making a left-hand turn and stopped in the road as another car in my lane suddenly stopped – I either had to hit the car head on or swerve to the left (and there was a truck next to me). In that split second I swerved to the left to avoid the head on crash and luckily the truck next to me switched lanes to let me come over. Crash avoided. This is actually the 2nd crash in the last two months that I’ve almost had (the other was on the freeway and again, am unsure how I avoided it). I was rattled after the almost accident. I did a few deep breaths and continued on to my destination. But it got me thinking – was I lucky? Am I a good driver? Or am I present and ever aware of the road? Let’s be honest – it’s a little of all mixed together. I definitely feel that I was lucky yesterday. The truck next to me luckily moved so that I’d have space to come over. Thank goodness he too was aware. I pride myself on thinking that I am a good driver. Truth be told, Miami is one of THE worst places to drive. So I’d like to think of myself as a step above most drivers in this city – so I guess that makes me a good driver?! You have to be a defensive driver here, otherwise you will have an accident! And lastly, I am present when I am driving. One thing that I’ve committed to doing is not having my phone out while driving. There are too many distractions on the road and while people might think that they can talk and drive, I’ve seen way too many that cannot. I decided a few months ago to put my phone away. There are times when I forget – it’s simple to do – and the minute I start getting messages I’ll throw it to the back seat so that I can concentrate on the road. I used to have a long commute and it was easy to pass the time talking on the phone. Now that my commute is short I know I can spend 15-20 minutes without the phone. Back to self-care and how yesterday’s almost accident played a role. I’ve really been trying to commit to making time daily for a routine of self-care. Did that help me yesterday? I’ll never really know the exact answer to that. But what I do know is that self-care is important and often forgotten. Committing part of my day to rest, rejuvenate, and relax has helped me in general feel less stressed and more present daily. It’s an ever evolving process but one that I’m committed to work on for myself. I wouldn’t say every day is perfect, but that’s just a lesson to myself to make sure I carve out some time to do something for myself. Here are a few things I’ve recently been doing for myself:
Every day, 10 minutes. I wish I could say that I did more, but the truth is that meditation is HARD! Taking 10 minutes just to breathe and think of nothing when thoughts try to flood your mind (because they WILL), yeah meditation is HARD! But that’s why I’m committed to meditating. Dan Harris has this quote where he says that meditation is like “exercise for your mind - bicep curls for your brain.” Each time is different than the last, but I know that committing to staying consistent with my meditation practice helps me and makes me stronger. The moments when I know my mind is racing are even more important times to commit to meditating. I’ve been guilty of this in the past when I get real busy with work and think that I don’t have time to meditate. WRONG! That’s when I need it the most and NEED to make time to meditate. If you’ve never tried meditation, it’s simply breathing – no need to make it out to be some “out there” thing that people do. Our minds are racing all day long and our minds are filled with thoughts all day, so taking time to just breathe and reset helps as moments of stress arise. Just return to your breath. And if you can’t do 10 minutes at the start? Start with just a minute or two and build on that. Another thing I’ve recently been doing is taking just a minute or two here and there during the day to reconnect and just breathe. I’ve found this helpful when my day may not be going as planned and just need a moment. I did this yesterday after the almost accident. I took a moment to breathe and write down a few things I was grateful for. Meditation is helping me to be more present and helps me to remember to breathe.
Eat to Nourish
I talk about this one all the time as a dietitian. Some may call me extreme, but I simply call myself passionate. I truly do enjoy making healthy food (that tastes good!) Food can provide the nutrients our bodies need and help sustain us by providing us with the nourishment that we need. I practice what I teach my patients and really do eat healthy day in and day out – it truly is all about variety, balance, and moderation (yes, I do eat sweets). I know cooking is not everyone’s thing, I get it. I’ve found myself recently in the kitchen more and more. So while it started out for me just being a way to cook healthy food for me to have, it’s also been a help for me to have something to do (and not really have to think too much – although when there are recipe fails I have caught myself getting frustrated!) But for the most part it’s been a way for me to wind down the day and again while some might not find it relaxing, it is definitely rewarding. This past week I made a few bite size snacks to try before my long run as I train for the marathon – Chocolate Chunk Cashew Bites
– these are definitely tasty and a “keeper” recipe, but I knew the minute after I made them that the search was on for me to find another one to try – that’s when I knew that this cooking/being in the kitchen thing had more to it. It’s really a win-win situation – making healthy food for myself and at the same time helping me to disconnect from the day.
Disconnect To Connect
Disconnect To Connect– In this day and age, we are TOO connected – from our cell phones that receive emails from work to our smart watches that receive text messages (thanks Fitbit Surge, but no thanks). Last November I made the decision to deactivate my Facebook account. I haven’t posted since last November. I chose to utilize Instagram and Twitter (because I’m the first to admit I still use social media). Facebook started to become too time consuming – it literally would take at least 30 minutes to scroll through my feed and sometimes more than that! I started to go for an evening walk scrolling through the feed, just to say in my mind that I’d looked through the feed for the day and also instead of sitting and scrolling I’d at least get some movement in. Let’s not get started at how unhealthy that was – I wasn’t enjoying nature right before me and probably almost got hit by a car walking a couple of times. So I made the decision to deactivate my account. I do still use Instagram and Twitter as I mentioned, but I have some guidelines with that as well – I post normally in the morning or evening (sometimes at lunch, just depends on my day)) but then I give myself a certain amount of time to scroll through the feed. And then that’s it. I’m a little more selective with what I’m looking at and now with the new parameters on Instagram it doesn’t even scroll in order – so if I’m looking through my food bloggers, I’ll just go directly to their pages to see if they’ve posted. All in all, this has helped me to focus on what really matters and still be able to use social media with purpose instead of feeling like it is taking up WAY too much of my time.
Exercise – Running and Yoga – I am currently entering week 2 of training for the Miami Marathon – run or walk my running partner is determined to finish. Training means adding in an extra day of running from my usual, so I run on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (5 am is my start time – you can always MAKE time for exercise – this is a MUST on the list of self-care for me, exercise). On your other days you’re supposed to do strength training which will in turn help your running game. I chose to focus on yoga. And what I decided to do is to include a few minutes every day of yoga – on my run days I’m doing a little restorative yoga and on my non-run days I’ll incorporate a yoga sequence that I throw together or utilize a yoga sesh from Yoga with Adriene (stumbled across her website back in January): Yoga with Adriene A lot of people think that running messes up whatever good that yoga does. I’m not sure what it is about yoga and running, but these are my go to forms of exercise. This is me giving back to myself and taking care of myself – mind and body – and so far it’s worked. I have 19 more weeks till the marathon, so I’ll keep you posted on my progress!
These are a just a few of the ways that I’m committing to daily self-care. It is the truth that the more you give back to yourself, the more you’re able to give to others. Take time daily for yourself.