There’s been a lot of talk in the fitness community lately about self care. It’s a hot topic but unfortunately the how to’s and mindset part of self care aren’t broken down very clearly most of the time. I have had a lot of clients and readers ask me questions about self care and what my go-to self care practices are.
Honestly, I’ve had a huge mindset shift recently in the way I approach self care: instead of doing it out of fear of getting (or staying) sick, I have been embracing taking care of myself as an act of love.
You see, I have been sick pretty much most of the last 3 months and that’s given me more time for contemplation and putting self care practices into overdrive. Since Thanksgiving our little family has been hit with one cold or flu virus after another. It’s hard enough to be sick, even worse when you are trying to take care of a sick toddler at the same time.
Instead of having the energy and time to cook healthy meals and exercise most days like I’d prefer, I have been taking naps and doing yoga to help my body heal. I’ve had to consciously slow down, rely on convenience options for our meals more than I’d like and ask for help.
I won’t lie, it has been hard. Really, really hard.
These last few winter months have tried my patience in more ways than one and I’ll be honest that I’ve let it get the best of me many days. Still, I keep trying to look for the lesson each time I get sick.
What is my body trying to teach me?
What can I learn about myself from this frustrating experience?
When I was sick over the holidays something in me finally clicked: I realized how much I beat myself up whenever I get sick or injured. I play the victim and think “why me??”
As someone who does my very best to take care of myself, rest well, exercise smartly, eat nutritious foods, and take supplements, it’s frustrating when A + B doesn’t equal C. I often get mad at my body for seemingly failing me. I feel bad about being sick. I’m a health coach after all, shouldn’t I be the picture of health??!
I used to go down the dark rabbit hole of shame, guilt and “woe is me.”
Then I realized that despite my best intentions, I was trying to control and micromanage my health out of fear of getting or remaining sick rather than nurturing it out of love and letting go of the specific outcomes or timetables.
This simple shift from acting out of love instead of fear has been revolutionary.
My specific behaviors haven’t really changed but the intention behind them has been a 180. Now I’m actually more motivated to take care of myself out of love for my body, rather than holding it to stringent expectations and being afraid if it doesn’t respond exactly as I hoped, as soon as I hoped.
I still do the following self care practices to help boost my immune system, but now they are out of love versus fear and control.
Here are my go-to self care practices:
- Get plenty of sleep at night and naps during the day if needed
- I personally aim for at least 7 hours at night and at least 1, 20-minute nap per day
- Eat nutrient-rich foods
- Lots of greens, berries, onion garlic and cruciferous vegetables, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut oil. I prioritize high quality protein at all meals the same as always.
- Drink chicken broth and herbal teas throughout the day
- I opt for organic, free range broths in tetra-paks from the store since I don’t have the energy to cook up homemade broth when sick. My favorite herbal teas are Trader Joes Ginger Turmeric tea and Yogi Tea’s Echinacea Immune Support tea.
- Curb my sugar, gluten, caffeine and alcohol intake
- I know that for me these add more stress to my body, making it more difficult for my body to effectively and efficiently fight off viruses.
- Eat fermented, probiotic rich foods for gut health
- Everyday I aim to get in 1-2 small servings of probiotics from either kefir, plain yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi or adding a tablespoon or two of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”) to a glass of water that I drink ~10 minutes before I eat a meal.
- Take my supplements
- Each day I take Shaklee Vita-Lea with iron and their vitamin D3 (1,000 IUs) and Barlean’s Omega Swirl fish oil (the lemon zest is our favorite flavor).
- When I am actively fighting something (usually a head cold) I take these additional supplements:
- 2000mg of Shaklee’s sustained release vitamin C 2-3 times per day
- 1 teaspoon of liquid elderberry (I use Whole Foods 365 brand)
- Boiron’s Siusalia homeopathic medicine for sinus relief
- Go on walks and do restorative yoga to lower stress
- I swap out my more intense workouts (lifting heavy weights, sprints and HIIT) for gentle yoga flows and as much walking as possible. For example I make it a point to walk to/from preschool drop off and pick up each day (60+ minutes total each day) instead of taking the car.
- Make a point to connect with a friend or family member by phone, Skype or in person to laugh and feel connected to others
- This has been huge for me. Even if it is just a quick 5 minute “Hey! How are you?” call or even a voice message, having that person to person (or voice-to-voice) connection with loved ones brightens my mood and leaves me bursting with tons of feel good hormones that help my body heal. Scheduling monthly times to catch up with people has been really helpful for making this happen despite everyone’s busy schedules.
What are your go-to self care favorites? Are they similar to mine or different? I’d really love to hear! Do me a favor and leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite rituals are to take care of yourself as an act of love. Thanks!
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