Even the things that we love and rely on the most for our well-being—our loved ones, exercise habits, creative projects, and spiritual practices—can become depleting rather than nourishing if what we are really needing is simply rest! The women I admire the most are creative, productive, and respectful of their needs for healthy downtime. I am re-examining my relationship to rest on a daily basis and finding ways to incorporate it into my busy life rather than counting the days until next summer.
The "giving" mentality.
As women, often in a caregiving or supportive role for others, we give from our desire to help, nurture, champion, and affirm those people and projects that we love. We do this naturally, as we are neurobiologically wired with this maternal instinct. Research has shown how our brain patterns change in response to our babies' distress signals. Thanks to this instinct we know how to respond to our babies and maybe even our businesses, but we have forgotten how to use it for our own flourishing. The good news is that it is within us; we just need to access the feminine wisdom we carry.
Protect your life force.
It is through truly knowing and being in touch with all aspects of ourselves that we can experience real nourishment. In my life coaching practice I have seen women from various backgrounds struggle with the very same issues regarding self-care. Our families and culture have taught us to ignore our needs for rest and renewal by rewarding high-level productivity at any cost. These same messages are responsible for making us feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. It is our responsibility now, as women in touch with our femininity, to challenge these expectations and fiercely protect our precious life energy so that we can live from our sensitively attuned inner knowing. It's not enough to just take a day or week or even a month off if what we need is deeper than our physicality. We need to nourish on all levels.
How to nourish holistically.
- Restore a connection to the body and her natural cycles and rhythms so you can discern times of productivity and letting go.
- Renew the mind by cultivating awareness of thoughts and beliefs that undermine and erode self-worth or empower and fill you up.
- Develop a discipline (literally becoming "a disciple") of listening to your feelings and trusting their wisdom as energetic signposts along your personal journey to help guide yourself toward that which is in alignment with your truest values and deeper visions.
- With a solid foundation of good self-care, your creative essence can naturally flow into your life and your inspiration is given a supportive framework so that your cherished dreams can be nurtured into reality.
- Strengthen your connection to source or the divine through reading sacred text, prayer, meditation, going to church or being in nature.
Connect to something bigger.
This may sound like a lot, but ultimately the things that offer us the deepest fulfillment are rarely grandiose or costly. They are the simple things that satisfy our real hunger: taking a walk, gardening, reading a book, watching a movie, connecting with a friend, turning off the electronics and being present with your children, taking a nap, or trying a new recipe. We certainly need more role models of women who are doing self-care well. To make intentional space within our hectic lives to include these little luxuries can feel like a revolutionary act. Start a list of all the things that nourish you and begin to include a few of them into your week in order to become more aligned with your best self. Ultimately, these daily practices, even though they may shift according to your current needs, will help you feel grounded in your body and connected to something bigger than yourself.