I hope you’re find the start of the new year to be a positive time, where you get to explore new ways to nurture and care for yourself.
However I know that is not the case for everyone, and so I wanted to share with you the self care I do for myself during harder times. When life gets tough, we may not feel and act the way we do when things are “normal”. We may forgo our usual goals and routines, and the main goal may just be to get by. To survive, and to cope. And that is not just OK, but admirable. No one’s life is easy all the time, and if you’re going through a tough time right now, I want you to know that you’re not alone, and you will get through it. Piece by piece, day by day. I want to share with you how I got through my own rough patch, in hopes that it will help you or someone you know who needs it right now.
Last year was probably the hardest year of my life. I went through some personal things that tore my world apart and turned my life inside out. There were days, weeks when I didn’t want to talk to people, nights on end when I cried myself to sleep, and periods where I just didn’t know what I was doing, or how I was going to get out of the mess I felt I was in.
At this time, regular self care didn’t seem appealing or even possible at times. I couldn’t keep up with my regular routine, all I wanted to do was escape the torment I was feeling.
Needless to say, during this time the self care I had gotten so used to doing (see my Self Care Routine), just wasn’t enough. I needed more. I needed to make myself my top priority, and I needed to find a way to ease my anguish and nurture myself back to life.
What made me feel good at a time when everything outside of me hurt, was:
Expressing my deepest emotions and worries through Journaling.
Escaping my thoughts, through Meditation,
And asking for guidance, through Prayer,
These 3 factors are key to my self care routine when life has gotten rougher than usual. I will carry out these 3 elements of self care no matter what else is going on in my life, good or bad. When things are “normal”, I will do more. I will dress well, I will call a friend, I will exercise. However when things are rough, which I know can happen to the best of us, I amp up the volume on these 3 things, and I feel really satisfied with how I’m caring for myself at that time. I give myself grace, to not be perfect, to not have it all together. I forgive myself for having a hard time, and I allow myself what I need to do in order to feel better. In this blog post, I want to share the details of this process with you.
Alright, let’s dive into the 3 key components to my self care:
I journal out my thoughts, very soon after waking up. I pour out my worries, irritations, hangs ups, and anything that might be bothering me, big or small.
What this does is, it stops me from overthinking, and reduces the thoughts that are on repeat. It allows the part of me that is calm to witness the part of me that isn’t. Which in turn allows me to see what I can accept, and what needs to change. It allows me to see solutions where my mind was only repeating the problem.
On an emotional level, as I journal, I accept what I am feeling unconditionally and without judgement. This is different from when we speak to people, even the people we trust the most. We filter our words when we speak, often without meaning to, just as a condition of how we relate to others. So when we have an outlet, such as a journal, where we can without fear of judgement, express our deepest and darkest thoughts, as well as our most important dreams and desires, we can’t help but to heal. We can’t help but feel better. We can’t help but see things working out for us. It’s truly a magical experience for me every morning. I go into my journaling session feeling one way, and come out of it feeling 100x better, every time.
Meditation has become my favourite thing I do every day. What once sounded like a far off hippie exercise to me which I avoided like COVID, now is my saving grace, the highlight of my day, and the place where I feel the most love and peace.
I meditated almost every single day of 2021, with the exception of 1 or 2 days early in the year. What it did for me was profound. It brought me peace like I’ve never known, calmness that I didn’t know existed, and an ability to hear my intuition speak clearly to me, providing me with an inner guidance which I now rely on.
Meditation is not just about being quiet and still, although that’s definitely a big part of it, and the part you will be at in the beginning. However as you progress and become accustomed to stilling your mind, focusing on your breath, and Boho Beautiful’s voice (if you follow her meditations like I do 😀 ), you enter a new space. One where you have no worries, you feel love, you see light, and you sense warmth wrapped all around you. This is where you connect to something greater, something spiritual.
Through my meditation practice I have formed a relationship with my higher self, with the universe and with God/source. I have found what had always seemed missing; what I had always searched for in other people. I found unconditional love and acceptance.
It doesn’t matter what we call this love, this force. It doesn’t even need a name. Labels only bring about judgement and biases. But what this force is, it’s life changing. Connecting to it helped me heal, it shone a light when I was in darkness, and provided clarity and unshakable faith that I am loved and supported by something greater than me.
I wish this for you. I wish this for everyone. In your darkest times, there is a light. And by meditating, it comes to you.
When you meditate, you detach from your overactive mind, and you find stillness. Just by doing this, you raise your vibration. You rise, and you feel really, really good.
I will let you discover the true benefits of meditation yourself, but I do want to help you get started if you’re ready.
Start with a short guided meditation. It’s much easier when you have a calm, loving voice directing you, and helping you focus.
I recommend any of the videos on this playlist by Boho Beauituful. She has a 14 day meditation journey, but feel free to pick and choose whichever video appeals to you on any particular day. I just pick at random, and am always happy with the one I end up with!
These videos are only 10-15 minutes long. I remember telling myself when I would try to avoid doing one on a day I felt strapped for time, “I can spend 10 minutes scrolling social media, or 10 minutes thinking and worrying about my problems, so I’m sure I can do this too (or more often it was , I can do this instead). “
I never had regrets for fitting in the meditation. It always benefited me, always left me feeling better than when I started, and always filled my cup so I could go on with the rest of my day, already feeling good inside.
As a beginner, the main benefit you will find from meditation is detachment from your thoughts. If you are an overthinker like me, this is golden for you.
Being able to have an off switch for the thoughts that torment you, that take you into that downward spiral you know too well, it feels like a miracle. Because it is. I had never thought it would be possible to not think, to not worry. But through meditation, I learned first hand that it is.
You can detach from your thoughts. You can get a break from your worries.
If you’re looking for a vacation from your mind, look no further. Meditation is your ticket there.
You might not call prayer self care, but here’s why I do. When I pray, when I ask for help or say thank you for what I am grateful for, I am caring for myself. I am caring for my spirit. And I’ve come to learn that my spirit is the best part of me.
I never identified myself as a religious person or even a spiritual one. And I still hesitate to publicly declare my love for source at times. Because I know how it sounds to people who are not familiar with it, or who perhaps have not yet needed to remember their connection with source at this point in their lives. I found that all of the tough stuff I went through, all of the hardships I faced, they all happened to bring me closer to this connection to source. I found purpose in my pain and beauty in my suffering. Till this day, any suffering I feel, ends every time I connect to my spiritual side.
Prayer doesn’t have to mean you’re religious. It can just mean you’re acknowledging a force greater than yourself, and you’re asking it to guide you. It means you’re opening up dialogue with this force, and allowing more space for it in your life.
I consider gratitude to be part of my prayer as well. I used to practice gratitude anyways, and didn’t really think about who I was speaking to when I said thank you. But now I know I’m speaking to source, and thus I feel it is a part of prayer. It is a part of the dialogue and connection I have nurtured with source.
Prayer is when you ask, and meditation is when you listen. The two go hand in hand.
My morning routine usually goes like this. I wake up and I do quick prayer and meditation (deep breaths and a body scan) before I even get out of bed. A body scan is an age old meditation technique where you literally just think of and name each body part as you “scan” your body from top to bottom, or bottom to top. It helps you stop thinking and become present. I also imagine white light entering my body and filling it up as I take deep breaths. This all takes me a few minutes and it helps me feel light and connected before I start my day.
Then I head down to the kitchen to make my coffee.
I sip my coffee, play a spa music track, and then I begin journaling.
Once I feel satisfied with my journaling, I choose a guided meditation video from the playlist I had mentioned. Often I rewind and extend my meditation time (this is something I started doing as I became more accustomed to meditating), and sometimes I reach for my journal again post meditation. Because of the clarity mediation provides, and because I hear my intuition very clearly at this time, I often leave my meditation with crisp, new ideas, or steps to take to further an idea I was already working on. So I may write in my journal again to transfer my newly gained wisdom onto paper.
At this point, I may pray again and ask for more guidance and clarity over a certain situation, so I know which direction to take my day.
These 3 factors, journaling, meditation, and prayer are what evolved to take centre stage of my self care routine when my life got harder. They truly made me realize that self care doesn’t just have to be exercise or eating well. It can be anything that we need to do to care for ourselves at a particular time. I hope these things help you, wherever you are on your journey.
During my darkest times, I found light.
I found love. I found peace.
And all within myself.
Not because my life was perfect. Heck, it was the furthest you could get from that.
But because I took control over where I put my energy, where I placed my focus.
Instead of focusing on my problems all the time, I chose to start my day, proactively caring for myself, setting myself up to feel good, and the rest of the day went much better.
This didn’t solve all of my problems, it didn’t make the mess disappear, but it helped me to get through it.
In one piece I might add!
I still felt upset, I still had times I felt lost, but I always found my way back to myself, to my peace, to my calm, through these 3 elements.
I still depend on these every day, to set myself up, to be where I want to be, to feel how I want to feel. I don’t need other people to make me feel good (although all of my friendships have deepened as a result of this process), I don’t need my outside world to be perfectly in line (although as a result of all of this inner work, things started falling into place over time), and I don’t need other people to understand me and accept me (although I feel more supported than I ever have before).
The reason my life improved so much at a time when it could have gone remarkably worse, is because I turned towards myself instead of away from myself. I gave myself the time, energy and care I needed. And that became my new foundation. So while my old life, and my old ways fell apart, a newer, healthier foundation was built, all through self care.
I became a more peaceful, loving and healthier (mentally, emotionally, and physically) version of myself. And as a result, the rest of my life improved. When we change the inside, the outside changes too.
Wherever you are on your self care journey and discovery, and no matter how your life is currently going, I hope you utilize any form of self care that feels good to you. I hope you find peace in prioritizing yourself, joy in caring for yourself, and love as you discover more and more of who you truly are on the inside.