This week I started my role as a mentor in a 200-hour Teacher Training program. From the opening Om it took me back, right away, to my own first training program years ago, which blew me wide open and transformed me forever. I said to my mentees, “This one’s life changing. Get ready!” My four adorable students wanted to know more about this big change that was about to happen. I recall being exhausted, frustrated and lost … but also elated, exhilarated, joyful and empowered!
Like yoga, and like life, the yin and the yang of every new adventure can bring a major shift in energy and knock you off balance; things often get turbulent in transition before they smooth out, so I believe it’s important to be proactive and prepare for the ups and downs.
I gave my mentees a few pieces of guidance that I wish I had given my Type A self way back when! Whether it’s a teacher training, a new job, or a radical life decision, when we start something new, we can come out on the other side more productive and beautifully transformed if we remember to do these five things for ourselves, start to finish.
This is number one in my book for self-care. Get as much sleep as possible when you expend more energy than usual. It’s the key to not getting sick and distributing your food’s nutrients in the best way.
2. Be nice to yourself.
It will be easy to beat yourself up as you make your way through this new thing, so be as kind to yourself as you would to someone you love deeply. This means giving yourself a break from self-criticism and your normal busy schedule. Do something nice for yourself, even if it’s as simple as brewing a special tea or listening to your favorite song a few times in a row. Don’t drag yourself down with too many things to do; try to keep life as simple as possible and reserve that energy for this new thing you’re doing.
3. Eat well.
I can’t stress this enough! I told my mentees, “Don’t party during this time,” aka, dial down the alcoholic binges and fried appetizers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services recommends a healthy diet as a combination of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins, with less sodium, sugar, and saturated fat, to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. More simply put: a healthy diet is critical to a long life, but it can also give your body the fuel it needs to power you through this deep dive into the unknown … and not send you diving between your sheets to hide.
4. Reach out.
Supportive relationships are healthy in times of stress and change. Isolation is the opposite of what you need when you start something new. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or admit that you need it.
The need to have answers for everything when you start something new can be the most difficult place (it is for me)! Faith is one of the hardest things to have, but it's one of the most important pieces of a happy existence during major change. Believe in things you can’t see or confirm, such as love, your ideals, and the choice you made to take a leap of faith into unchartered territory for yourself. Believe that you are exactly where you need to be at this moment in your life, for reasons you may not yet understand. Belief can illuminate your new adventure and allow you to experience it with your full soul.
It’s definitely a practice to hit all five before, during and after your new challenge, but the more you practice self-care in times of challenge and change, the more these actions become your go-to resources for living well during the in-between times. Attention to the transitions are a key part of the path of transformation, period. They’re the key to being blown wide open and discovering something brand new … maybe a whole new you!
I say this in my class (and to myself) all the time: see if you can try to flow from one pose to another gracefully. It’s the same in real life: carefully and mindfully moving from one thing to the next, gracefully, helps us manage life changes. I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot from my mentees during this journey, so I say this to myself too: “Get ready!”