This topic is near and dear to my heart because as much as I love blogging about food and sharing recipes with you, I also want this to be a space where I can share my life and create conversations about overall wellness with you. Because really, I do love to eat, but there’s more to me than just food ;).
So – let’s dive in shall we?
In today’s media we always hear talk about self care and self love but what does that mean to YOU and how do you go about practicing that in your daily life?
To me, self care means putting myself first when I mentally need to. I like to call myself an extroverted introvert. I LOVE being around people and thrive on that energy, may it be brunch dates, game nights, long walks, girls nights you name it. But there are times where I have over scheduled events and haven’t stopped to make time for myself. My inclination is always Yes, Yes, Yes! But those are the times that I have learned to just say no. A tip to consider is: if it’s stressing you out, you’re not going to have fun anyways so just try saying NO :). It’s not mean, it doesn’t make you less of a good friend, it’s smart so sometimes it’s…
No I can’t come over. No we can’t do dinner. No I don’t want to come to your dog’s birthday party. (I joke, like of course I’d go to that but you know what I mean…)
I used to feel SO GUILTY saying no and I’m not even sure why. Maybe because I would feel like I “failed” and that I couldn’t handle my busy schedule, which somehow made me this massive incompetent failure. But in reality, all the really close people in my life, that I can practically count on one hand, always understand. They don’t make me feel guilty for not going to the new hottest thing they are raving out. True friends are the ones that support each other’s mental health and are more than just companions for a fun night out. Anyone who makes you feel like sh*t for taking a step back or time for you, needs to leave your life asap. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. The more you “fill” your cup, the better friend, girlfriend, wife, daughter, cousin, sister you can be to others.
The negative self talk is something I constantly struggle with. We are 100% our own critics. Self love doesn’t come to me easily and it never did. Growing up I was the “chubby” one compared to my sister and my dad always thought I needed to lose weight (which he was very vocal about). By grade 7, I had had enough of hearing it and decided to do something about it. I started watching my diet and exercising regularly. I’m not saying he was wrong about my weight per se, but just criticizing me and not involving me in sports or teaching me to eat better was not the solution either. It makes me so sad to think girls that young are so worried about their appearance, even more so now that social media has blown up and all you see is pictures of the perfect body, hair, skin nails and every supplement on the planet that promises to be the end all cure all. I’m a big believer of letting kids be kids and not making them mature super quickly. Anyways, the feeling of never being good enough doesn’t leave you and it still hasn’t to this day. I get teary eyed writing this but it’s so true. Our childhoods and things we were constantly told are a running film in our subconscious minds and I try to force those thoughts out and replace them with positive ones and can for the most part but sometimes when I’m feeling low those feelings come up again. That negative self talk is a daily struggle and one that I try to be mindful of everyday. It’s still hard for me to share my story and very few people actually know the whole story or can even understand the whole story. I just try to remember that the past is the past and I wouldn’t be who I was today if all the things in my childhood hadn’t happened but my ultimate goal is to be move past them and let those experiences work for me.
It’s taken years for me to get to where I’m at now and that is still not perfect and I don’t think it’ll ever be perfect but that’s the beauty of being human. Everyone always has room for improvement and I want to show other women (& men) and young girls that self love isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Some days will be better than others but as long as you are loving your body and honoring what you put in and on it, your body will thank you a million times over. I want to be a role model for those girls who need to put themselves first so they can fill their souls with the right things.
I don’t believe that self love/care should cost a lot of money, if any. There are SO many things you can do to honour yourself daily so here’s a little list of my favourite things to incorporate into my life:
- Journal – I started a journal a few years ago and although I don’t write in it daily. I do write in it when I’m “called” to. Sometimes I just feel waves of emotion that I need to get out so I verbal diarrhea on the page and feel better. This has helped me get out what’s bothering me and just be truly honest with myself. I generally don’t go back and read what I wrote because it’s almost like therapy for me. I write away, let my pen just flow my thoughts out without over thinking what I’m writing and then flip the page and move on. This has been a really powerful tool for me in the past 2 years. I really like the idea of not going back and reading because it’s almost like you can be more honest when you know that no one, including you will read it. Of course I have gone back and looked but I rarely do this.
- Take a Bath – I’m a shower kind of girl but sometimes I like to go to my local bath shop like Lush on a Friday night, get a bath bomb and just relax. My favourite scents are lavender and eucalyptus. I don’t regret trading in my nights out for nights in one bit. This way I’m recharged for the weekend instead of eating toast and being hungover in bed all weekend. Nothing wrong with that but I’ve been there, done that once too many times.
- Be YOU! – I always used to feel pressured to be someone I’m not. I would go out, drink more than I wanted to. Feel like death the next day, do nothing because I was hung over and feel like I just wasted my entire weekend. One day this changed when I finally realized AND admitted to myself that I just didn’t like drinking! Like the taste…at least not the way a lot of people do. I like having one or two drinks if I feel like it but mostly just for the fizz and many more times I just prefer drinks like kombucha or a drinking vinegar and I am so thankful that places in Vancouver are finally starting to offer more non-alcoholic drink options sans buckets of sugar. It used to be that you either drink pop or juice or alcohol and really I didn’t want either. I have noticed that when you say you’re not drinking, people automatically get weird about it. It shouldn’t be a weird thing. Everything in life is a choice and what I put into my body is too. I absolutely have no issue with what everyone else wants to do but 98% of the time, I choose to go alcohol free! It’s definitely been one of the harder things to stand my ground on, especially at work functions but I’m practicing :).
- Exercise – To me, exercise is the #1 way I provide myself with self care. It is SO good for my mind, soul and body. Ditch those excuses of why you can’t go sweat and just do it! C’mon, was there ever a “bad” workout? There have been studies that show that exercise can help with depression and anxiety. That’s amazing in my books! Tip: find an exercise you LOVE. Don’t just go to crossfit because all the cool kids are doing it. We are spoiled these days with all the options we have to exercise so whether it be zumba, pilates, yoga, hiit, crossfit, power lifting, spin etc. find what you love to do and what doesn’t feel like a chore (which cardio is to me) and do that!
- Set Goals – Don’t wait for the new year to make goals. Find the frequency of what works for you but annual just isn’t it. Goals should be “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic & time sensitive) so writing a huge list January 1st and then burying it deep in your room only to never work on those goals until the next year when you realize you still didn’t do “X” like you were supposed to just isn’t the way to go. For me, I like to set goals monthly or every few months. When I stop setting goals for a few months, I see how stagnant I get in life. I feel like I have no purpose or ambition. I need to have that gold light at the end of the tunnel, always. Albeit, always remember that there’s nothing wrong with not meeting ALL of your goals. Even 1 out of 5 or whatever is progress and remember, putting them out into the universe has got to mean something, doesn’t it! It also gives you time to reassess if something isn’t working to get you to your goal, re-evaluate and then go full throttle again. Doing yearly goals only will never make sense to me.
- Gifts – Buy yourself little gifts, like the bath bomb I mentioned above or flowers from the local flower stand. Something that puts a smile on your face and brings you happiness. I’m the happiest when I don’t expect anything from others (including my loved ones). No one is responsible for your happiness but you! It really is up to you to take charge of your life.
- Mat Work – I use my Pranamat almost daily before I go to bed. It’s this amazing pressure point mat you lay on, either with a shirt or without. I’m such a go-go kind of person that it really helps me pause and take some time for myself each night. I wrote a long blog post about my mat which you can click here to read. There is also a 10% off code for my readers (BALANCINGANDIE10). If you don’t want a Pranamat, you can do some mat work on a yoga mat like downward dog, child’s pose, happy baby pose. Just a little something to get your blood flow moving and some stretching for your body. A lot of us work desk jobs that make us super tight in the hips and shoulders.
- Practice Gratitude – One of my favourite quotes “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey. I thank my body and life for all that it gives me daily. It’s easy to get caught up in what the girl next to you has, her hair, car, family, kids, dog whatever but you are YOU. The Law of Attraction talks about feeling abundant and full and your life will continue in that direction. Anytime I catch myself comparing or feeling down, I start counting my blessing. Literally start naming the simple things in life that we take for granted.
- Meditate – I recently bought some crystals from a local shop called Amethyst Creations to deepen my spiritual journey. The moment I walked into that store, I had CHILLS!! Like there was a vibration there that I couldn’t put my finger on. I ended up going home with a tigers eye, rose quartz and fluorite. I’ve started doing full moon cleansing of my crystals at which point I set intentions and really try to focus my energy. Different crystals do different things but from what I hear, you’re supposed to pick the crystals you are most drawn to, which means those are the ones you need the most. I can’t wait to go back already for a few more the next time I’m in the Kitsilano area.
One of the biggest self love lessons I’ve learned is to treat yourself like you’re in a relationship with yourself. It’s not weird or selfish! We always expect our partners to make us happy and give up so much of that responsibility to them but that’s just not fair. Only you know yourself that well and it’s really up to you to meet your needs and happiness. Don’t get me wrong, my loved ones add a lot of happiness to my life but even more so when I stopped expecting all of my happiness to come from them or what they do.
I hope this post encourages you to love yourself a little harder and be a little more gentle with yourselves. I’d love to connect with you on Instagram or Facebook @balancingandie or comment below with your thoughts on this post.