Self Care – Tending Your Own Garden

Self Care – Tending Your Own Garden

Jessica Stephens
Jessica Stephens

Table of Contents

Are we all tired of the phrase “self care”? Do you roll your eyes (ever so slightly) when you hear these two words? I do! And I talk about this concept A LOT.

  • It comes up with my clients.
  • It comes up with my friends.
  • It comes up in the yoga classes I teach.
  • And it comes up for myself, when I am over-doing things and my husband has to remind me to tend to myself before I can pour out to others.

If we are talking about it all the time, why aren’t we practicing it?

Because self care does not fit into our culture’s “crush your goals”, “hustle”, “fake it till you make it” and “go big or go home” mentality.

In the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

We are a burned-out, discouraged, fatigued and undernourished people. In the pursuit of an “amazing life”, we have failed to tend to the life inside us.

Enough! I officially give you permission to stop striving and start restoring.

Pretend you are both a little sprout of a plant and the gardener who tends it. You would plant yourself in good soil, provide water, nutrients, sunshine and rain. And as the gardener, you would wait for the sprout to respond to what it needs to grow. You would not scold it, will it to grow, pour on extra water, layer on extra nutrients and grab its leaves to stretch it. You would show kindness to the sprout, understanding that it needs to be tended with nutrients and protected from stressors.

You are that sprout!

Tending your own garden starts with the mindset, and reframing your thoughts may sound something like this:

  • I don’t have to impress anyone, least of all myself.
  • I will have good days and bad days, but they don’t define me.
  • I matter just as much as the people I serve and the tasks that have been set before me.
  • I can only give from a place of fullness, and I work from a place of rest.

Do you hear me? STOP TRYING SO HARD to do all the things. You are a human being, not a human doing. (not my insight, but genius!)

I am about to give you some suggestions for how to tend to your own garden, to nurture your own life like you nurture the lives around you. Your tendency will be to make these suggestions into another check-list, and to rest your value on how well you accomplished each “task” of self-care. Stop it!

This list is meant to be a guide to finding your own restorative practices. Although some are important for all of us, feel free to pick and choose what habits work for you among the rest of them.

Non-Negotiable Practices for All

Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Attend to the in and out of your breath cycle for one full minute several times a day.

  • Drink pure filtered water.
  • Stop eating crappy food. Go read “I’m So Freaking Tired” if you don’t know about the connection between what you eat and how you feel.
  • Get outside. Feel the sun on your face (or rain, if you are in the PNW as I am). Feel the grass beneath your feet. Watch the trees blow in the wind. Hear the sounds around you. You are alive for more than work!
  • Prioritize sleep like it’s the most important thing in the world for you, because it is definitely in the top 5! If you need a nap, take a freaking nap.
  • Respect your introversion or extroversion and feed it. It’s not about shy or outgoing, it’s about what depletes you and how you re-energize.

Suggested Self Care Practices

  • Identify what things/expectations/roles/people in your life drain your energy and consider how you can reduce the impact. Make changes where you can, and set boundaries where you cannot make changes.
  • Identify what things/expectations/roles/people in your life bring joy and energy and consider how you can get more of that.
  • Moderate daily movement. Listen up my over-achieving, gold-star friends: If you feel wiped-out after your chosen exercise, it is not for you at this time in your life. Choose something gentler and come back to it down the road when you have more in your energy reserves.
  • Outdoor adventures: gentle hiking, beach walking, forest exploring, etc
  • Indoor adventures: reading, day dreaming, listen to music, play a game (or not!), have decaf coffee with a friend or by yourself, etc.
  • Yoga. Google it. If you need help in tailoring a yoga practice for your particular needs and abilities, please contact me. I am a certified yoga therapist and this is what I do.
  • Attend to your spirituality. You are not merely mind and body, and to neglect your spiritual life is to neglect the core of who you are. Message me if you have questions about this.
  • Clean out a closet if the clutter stresses you out. Ignore the clutter if the thought of dealing with it stresses you out.
  • Figure out what you like to do, and let yourself do it. This can be tricky for us to even identify when we are worn out and in the throes of adrenal stress. Maybe you just like to watch Netflix right now. Ok! Do it. But be prepared for when your body tells you it’s ready for something else.
  • Say NO. (gasp!) NO to favors, NO to extra duties, NO to extra activities, NO to guilt. For this time period, you are saying YES to restoring your health. You can do all the things later.

From experience, I can tell you that you will begin to rebuild your energy stores as you put these things into practice. Self- care, a nutrient-dense diet and properly functioning digestion are key to helping your little sprout to grow. It will happen as you tend to yourself.

In my practice, I work with all kinds of people who are experiencing difficulty with prioritizing self care. If you need extra guidance or want to know more about how I can help, please contact me! I work both remotely and in-person with clients just like you.