As ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs, we carry the weight of our goals and dreams on our shoulder every day. Most of us have learnt to live in our heads, logicalizing and rationalising. It doesn't matter if you are a solopreneur like me trying to upscale your business or if you are a female leader running the show in a corporate environment, looking ourselves is a priority. Because the price we pay for not looking after ourselves is higher than we can ever imagine.
There are different layers to looking after ourselves. Which layer are you spending most time is likely to be an indicator to others layers that you may be missing out. So, what are those layers?
I observe three layers of looking after ourselves
Everyday maintenance : This involves what we do everyday to give ourselves a break. Lie down with a book, have a quiet bath, speaking with a friend or having cuddles with your partner are some of those things. You know what gives you relaxation after a busy day at work. For me personally, a walk in nature is the ultimate break where I feel truly connected.
Keeping it up-to-date layer: As ambitious women we long for self-actualization; achieving the best. Repetition, unhealthy environments, lack of opportunity for growth could lead to our brains feeling depleted. This could be a 'perceived threat'. We as humans thrive in rich and nourishing environments. So, not being in an environment like this could lead you to be on a survival mode leading to all stress related problems. Self-awareness and being able to take actions in such situations is the key to maintain your self-care.
Clearing the clutter - I am a loyal advocate for clearing the clutter. When life gives you similar situations repeatedly and we find ourselves responding to them the exact same way, it's time to ask the questions 'What lesson have I not learned yet?'. Because repeated situations with identical responses is a clear indications to unresolved emotions and unlearned lessons. This creates a vicious cycle and getting the help to clear unresolved emotions is a key.
If you are avoiding any of those layers, you are likely to find yourself in an overwhelmed, joyless and an unhappy life. It's an act of balance and the balance doesn't mean equal weight being put to each layer; in fact, it means knowing when and how to put weight on each layer consistently.
"Once we are in the mindset of getting things done, it is not easy to get back to the relaxed, open state of flowing naturally. Even if we know intellectually that we should slow done, the energetics in our body might not cooperate" - Michaela Boehm.
Human beings are born with the natural ability to enjoy the flow. When we go through a society full of pushing and doing, we gradually forget our natural ability to flow. It's imperative to reconnect with that flow and cognitive approaches are limited in getting that flow back into our lives. As mentioned earlier, we know what's 'not right' intellectually and we do follow routines that we believe would help us whilst questioning and feeling frustrated as to why we get trapped in the same cycle.
Here's some guidance on how to work with the three layers. Please remember these are guidance and not prescriptions. You know yourself better than me and you will decide for yourself. After all, that's the whole point of self-actualization.
Everyday Maintenance - Spend five minutes slow dancing to a slow, seductive song moving your hips. You can do this either in the shower or elsewhere. Feel the rhythm and allow energy to flow.
Keeping it up-to-date layer - Learn something new that allows your body to reconnect with itself. Attend a dancing class, or do yoga and ensure that's it's done with the intention of 'feeling' your body. Be gentle, loving and compassionate.
Clearing the clutter - So many of us are made to believe that cognitive approaches or talking therapy itself solve our psychological issues. The first reaction to any trauma or stress takes place in our body, not in our mind. As a result, body stores those memories, emotions and feelings. Unless, we work with a mind body approach to release those blocks, we continue to block our joy and success energetically. Next time when you feel angry, frustrated, stuck or sad take a deep breath and ask the questions, what lesson is this trying to teach me. That way, you can start clearing repetitive patterns of unhelpful behaviours.
Joy and self-love are the ultimate gift we can give to ourselves as well as to anyone around us.
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