Disclaimer: what I’m about to share is not one of my proudest moments.
I was rushing from work to get to yoga class and the roads on Google Maps were the shade of red you’d see in a horror movie trailer. Not pretty.
Class started in 10 minutes and the ETA on the GPS said I’d arrive to the parking lot in 16.
I wasn’t just taking the yoga class, I was the assistant for it as part of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification. For any non-yogi’s reading, assisting a class basically means helping students with proper alignment and also being a calming presence.
So, when someone aggressively cut me off (I live in Boston, so you expect this to happen at least once per commute) I not only laid on my horn, I also flipped them off.
Did I mention this wasn’t my finest moment?
Some of the countless reasons this is entertaining:
- I’m 5’2” – I’m not intimidating anyone
- The windows in our used car are extremely tinted, which means no one can even really see me
As I realized the absurdity of this reactive response, and the level of irony involved given I was on my way to help people connect more deeply to yoga, I had to laugh to myself (if anyone actually could see inside of the car, yes, this did made me look even crazier).
It was clear that I could use a little more yoga myself.
At the time, I was seeing clients for my recently launched private career counseling practice, working on my 200-hour yoga teacher training, studying over 100 dietary theories at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a health coach, managing having an adorable new golden retriever puppy, and in the busy season of my full-time job at Tufts University.
Each of these activities were aligned with my mission to help others live happier and healthier lives, but in reality, my own life was as out of balance as it had ever been. It was a great reminder of an analogy that’s often used in this realm:
You have to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others.
Without giving myself space to breathe and refill my own tank, I was setting myself up to be less present with my clients and less focused on the trainings I was receiving. And in hindsight, there were a lot of other red flags. I was cooking less and the food choices I was making were impacting my energy levels and skipping my own workouts and yoga practice that make me feel more centered. I was also a little less patient with my husband around caring for our puppy.
I often remind my own clients and friends that you can do a lot, but not necessarily do it all as well as possible if you don’t take time to recharge. In this moment, sitting in my car, I realized I needed to practice what I preached. In the days and weeks following, when getting back into my routines, I reflected on what got me off track in the first place: my mindset.
I felt like my plate was so full that I could only focus on the things I needed to get done. Facing a growing to-do list, taking time away to do something unrelated seemed counterproductive to me. Luckily, there’s a growing body of research around the benefits of breaks which can serve as a reminder of the ultimate lesson (one that I know I constantly need to relearn!):
Self-care is not selfish.
It also doesn’t have to be anything monumental. For me, it was giving myself permission to take the time to meal plan and to go to a few yoga classes a week, even if it meant my first blog post would take longer to publish. Sometimes, it can be as little as standing up at your desk and stretching, even if only for a minute, a few times a day. It can be remembering to drink enough water or pausing here and there just to breathe.
As you head into the rest of your week, here are some things to reflect on to help you remember to show up for yourself, too:
Have you had any not-your-finest moments lately? Do they teach you anything about what you might be needing?
What does self-care look like for you?
What interferes with your ability to do the things that restore you?
What little actions or habits can you do to take better care of yourself, so you can be more present in your personal and professional life?
If you’d like a little help focusing on self-care, I have an event coming up in just a few weeks! Fellow health coach and yoga enthusiast Stephanie and I are hosting "Yoga and Meditation for Self-Love" on March 5th at Vega Vitality in Boston. For more details and registration, see my events page.