The following is a guest post by Crystal Marie Higgins, a yoga instructor and retreat leader.
Over the last year, I’ve learned several important life lessons. I love reading the news — I was political science/journalism double major in college so my interest in current events and reporting is let’s say “passionate” to say the least. And to say it’s been a challenge to not go into fight or flight every morning I catch up on current events lately is an understatement.
I’m also a small business owner and a yoga teacher with a full schedule (and a bit of a workaholic). Taking care of myself is not just something that is an extra — it is a necessity. I’ve even gotten sick in the past when I have overworked myself. Plus if I am going to stand up in front of a group of people several times every week as a yoga teacher and talk about listening to your body and breath, and all the self-care we need these days, I better walk the talk!
Regardless of what your daily life looks like the world around us is not going to slow down. So taking care of ourselves is a necessity. These past few weeks I’ve been asking myself – what am I going to do to take better care of myself in 2018?
I believe this is a question we must all ask ourselves — especially if you’ve felt overwhelmed, anxious, under-slept or fatigued. Well, frankly (and let’s be honest) if you are human!
Taking Care of Ourselves is a Necessity — The World is Not Going To Slow Down Anytime Soon
When was the last time you stopped to pause and listen to your breath while you were busy at work, or in a stressful situation with family or loved ones? We are creatures of habit and it’s hard to develop the awareness to pause before automatically reacting or to look up away from our computer before it’s time for a meeting or to leave at the end of the day.
This year I’m going to take my health and my happiness into my own hands even more than ever before and I encourage you to do the same. It can be through small actions and little steps. In fact, I believe you will be much more successful this way. Instead of making grandiose leaps that often fall flat after a little time (aka New Year’s Resolutions) take one action today toward the life you want to be living. Life is too short to make yourself feel like a failure because you couldn’t meditate every single day (especially when your meditation practice before you made the resolution wasn’t regular!).
Here are 5 ways to take care of yourself this year:
Take in what’s useful for your life, and wishing you all an easeful, balanced and joyful 2018!
1. Do a simple check in with yourself in the morning
How do you feel today? What’s up in your body, your mind and emotions? Even if your schedule is busy (and you are feeling very fatigued) how could you meet yourself where you are?
For me, this looks like not adding more to my plate if I feel overwhelmed that day — including social engagements. And taking extra breaths in-between meetings or busy times. Maybe it could mean getting away from your desk or workspace to take a short walk for lunch.
2. Set up some boundaries for yourself
Is there one day each week you can limit your exposure to media (little or no access to Facebook, Instagram, the news, your email, Snapchat, etc)? We all need a break from time to time and trust me it will all be there waiting for you the next day!
I like to not check my phone or look at the computer until I’ve had a chance to shower, meditate and do my yoga practice in the morning. At the very least get the phone out of your bedroom, and try not to look at it until after you’ve had a few minutes to yourself to start the day.
3. Get real with your habits
Do you absolutely need to check your email after you’ve gotten home at night? Or are you doing things during your time off that frankly are draining your energy more than they are giving you a chance to rest?
For me, this goes back to my tendency to be a workaholic. I am not going to change overnight, but how can I set up my daily schedule to acknowledge this? That means not working after 8pm unless there is an emergency! And it also means I take one full day off a week. As an entrepreneur, this can be tricky as you set your own schedule. I am also doing my best not to jam-pack every day. This is an ongoing struggle, but I am trying to create little pockets of cushion where and how I can.
4. Get time away to find clarity and focus
I believe the act of retreating can be so potent to help you find the space to be real and ask how to want to continue showing up for your life (and what needs to change/shift). When we take a break from our daily lives and give ourselves the space to dive more deeply inward the impact can be life-changing.
One of the most powerful ways that I’ve found to integrate big changes in my life has been by switching up the daily schedule and taking time away for a retreat.
It’s been a long time in the making but this very reason is why I’m leading a yoga, meditation + self-care retreat with a dear friend and fellow sister and teacher on the path, Claire Williams. We are both returning to the magical and healing waters of Tulum Beach, Mexico. As a student I experienced a deep healing and potent transformation in my practices and my life during a Teacher Training led by Sara Avant Stover in Tulum at the very spot where our retreat will be held — Shambala Petit Hotel, an eco-center with beach casitas better than what you’ve seen online and a fabulous chef that makes some wonderful meals that I still dream about (5 years later).
During this retreat, we will be offering potent self-care practices every day during our time together that you can integrate into your daily life (even if your life is jam-packed just like mine), and daily Hatha and restorative yoga classes plus meditation and live soothing guitar during class to help you drop in even more. For the rest of January we are offering a special of $108 off registration — and payment plans so the retreat is really accessible to your budget! Use the code JANUARY when you sign up.
Read more about the retreat here or check it out below!
5. Try a self-guided home retreat if you don’t have time to get away
Do you want the experience of a retreat but you simply can’t make it work to take a trip this year? Try the following steps!
- Shut off all devices for the day and get everything you need to have three healthy meals (and snacks if needed), pick one of your favorite books and start your day with your favorite exercise routine – take a yoga, pilates, spin class or go for a run!
- During the day take the time to journal about what you want for yourself this year and 3 steps you can take to get there and read inspiring books or texts.
- Do your best to stay offline the entire day, and take a walk if possible mid-day. Try a guided meditation from an app like Mindspace or meditate on your own before dinner.
- End the night reading a book for pleasure/fun or indulge and watch one of your favorite movies. Bring your legs up the wall for at least 10 minutes before you go to bed, and get a good night’s rest!
It is my work to help others find more balance and work with (and remove) the obstacles so you can show up how you want to in this life. I hope you found this helpful, and don’t forget to care for yourself this year!