I have spent the past 2 days in Asheville, NC with an amazing group of women (and a few progressive men) learning to build heart-centered businesses.
Collectively, this group is changing the world, leading businesses based in their passion while creating a life of meaning and purpose.
And yet, a common theme emerged as we celebrated our successes and shared our challenges. We are giving so much, to so many, that we often forget to give to ourselves.
Wow! What a powerful realization.
The majority of women, myself included, are giving to and caring for others on a daily basis. Whether at home or at work and everywhere in between, we seem to be hard-wired to serve and nurture those around us.
But, what about you? Who takes care of you?
When do we take the time to give to ourselves what we so freely give to others?
We willingly come to someone else's aid but, so often we suffer alone in silence. And, because we appear to be the “strong one”, “the helper”, people don’t often think that we need help too.
We feel like a child sometimes – we’ve lost our way home and we don’t know how or who to ask for help.
There is power in community and we draw strength from each other and from ourselves.
What is required is courage. Derived from Latin, the root of the word means heart. We need to move from our heads (thinking) to our hearts (feeling) to better understand what we really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really need.
It takes courage to ask for what you really want.
So where do you start?
Self-compassion. Be gentle with yourself during times of challenge and chaos. Set an intention to speak kindly to yourself. Send loving thoughts to yourself, even when your inner critic shows up. Love is a proven way to silence fear.
Appreciation. The body has a miraculous capacity for healing when we get out of the way. Take a moment to appreciate your body today – your vision, your mobility, your heart beat. Notice what may be calling for your attention today and honor your body by giving it what it needs.
Breathe. When stressed we tend to take shallow, quick breaths. Simply being present with the natural rhythm of your breathing and feeling the breath is enough to activate the relaxation response. Each day plan to take 5 minutes out of your day to just “breathe”.
Clarity. When we are unclear about what is important in our lives, we make decisions that are not always in our best interest. What nurtures you? What gives rise to happiness? What allows you to feel a sense of meaning and belonging? Getting clear on the answers to these questions will help you set priorities based on what you need to regularly be your best self.
So while you’re out changing the world with the wonderful work that you do, remember to take care of you.
Let each breath remind you that you are supported, you are whole, you deserve to be nurtured, and you deserve to be free of suffering.
How did you find the courage to take care of yourself today? This week?
If you found some value in this post, please share with others.
And if you'd like a little guidance on taking care of you, download the 5 PEACE strategies workbook to reduce stress and find more peace in daily life, http://www.drmichellebailey.com/5-peace-strategies.html.
Summer is here - a time of vacations and a slower pace of life. It's so easy to be present on vacation. Time pressures are relaxed, schedules are more flexible, and there is less sleep deprivation.
While vacationing in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, I was enjoying a brisk walk a block of the shore. The sky was a brilliant blue, soft white clouds were slowly drifting by, and the breeze was cool and comfortable.
I was appreciating my walk outdoors, catching glimpses of the ocean between houses. Suddenly, I was caught in sun shower. I felt a sense of immediate dread and a bit of panic.
What was happening? I wondered why I had gone from feeling calm and peaceful to being gripped with fear in a matter of moments. I didn't care if I got wet...the rain actually felt cool against my skin.
My eyes darted around quickly scanning the area for a temporary shelter. I urged my partner to walk faster so we could get out of the rain. As she lovingly and firmly grasped my hand she reassured me that all was well.
"All is well." I knew that to be true and a bit of the anxiety eased. With, curiosity, I explored what had just happened.
The rain was falling hard enough that between the water and the humidity, I couldn't see through my glasses. And, I couldn't see without them (I'm legally blind without corrective lenses).
I was in an unfamiliar environment and without my sense of sight, the sense I rely on most heavily, I felt vulnerable...unsafe.
That recognition allowed me to be gentle and kind to myself as I navigated what felt like a big challenge.
The rain passed soon enough and my heart returned to it's previous rate. What did I learn from this experience?
1. The fear and anxiety that gripped me so suddenly were not really due to a change in my external circumstances. It was triggered by a series of thoughts about the changing conditions (the rain is here, I can't see, if I can't see I'm not safe). I didn't need for the rain to stop to make me feel at ease. I was reminded that we can change our experience simply by shifting our thoughts. We can choose how to respond to life in each moment.
2. I don't need to be in South Florida walking along the beach to appreciate a beautiful blue sky or other natural elements all around me. Appreciation can occur wherever you are. Find the beauty in daily life.
3. An affirmation can provide a lifeline to hold onto as you find your way back to safety. In this case - all is well - reminded me that I was really okay in this moment. And while our mind may wander into the past or leap into the future, we can only ever be in the present moment. Life is richer when are mind and body come together in the present so we can be here now.
Uplifting Women in Medicine