I've been guilty of all the above transgressions more times that I'd like to admit, but it wasn't always like that. Back when I worked for "The Man", I was that person who dared to disappear from my desk at 1pm for a full hour-long lunch in the park and sung goodnight to everyone by 6pm so I could get home for dinner or meet friends for drinks. I also took ample breaks throughout the day to pee, snack, and dance at my desk whenever exceptionally awesome songs came up on my playlist. I wasn't a slacker. I just believed life should be fun and that work should be a fun part of life. The term self-care wasn't yet part of my vocabulary, but I knew intrinsically if I wasn't happy and healthy it would be harder for me to perform well.
Everything changed a year and a half ago when I started a residential green cleaning business. As a solo entrepreneur, I suddenly found myself working 16 hour days, usually without break. Responding to phone and email inquiries, booking appointments, marketing on social media, maintaining my website, cleaning apartments, posting flyers, laundering cloths and work clothes, diluting cleaning solutions, studying for my business management course, and researching cleaning techniques were all my responsibility, every day. It wasn't as terrible as it may sound because I am passionate about green cleaning and loved every aspect of running my business. The problem was that work was the only aspect of my life getting much love. I tried to squeeze work into every waking second of my day and often it crept into my dreams. This left little time for me to attend to my other needs.
I knew things were really bad when I realized at 8:30pm, during the 40 minute walk home from my second cleaning job of the day, that I hadn't consumed anything besides a muffin and a coffee-- not even water! I also did not find the time to poop. When I got home I quickly scarfed down a cold packaged sandwich and lots of ice cream while watching Survivor alone. I then got into a fight with my boyfriend over something stupid.
Alas, the Universe's most glorious gift to us is synchronicity! The following morning I received a video via email from superstar lady-parts holistic health counselor Alisa Vitti of FLO Living. Alisa explained how low blood sugar (ie skipping meals) disrupts our endocrine system and in turn negatively affects our mood, energy level, periods, fertility, and libido.
Cue the A Ha moment! I realized if I wanted to preserve my health, to save my sanity and my relationship, and allow my business to flourish, I was going to have to make self care a priority again.
In the two months since I first viewed the video, it's taking a bit of adjustment for me to learn self care in the context of being a small business owner and the live-in girlfriend of a self-employed programmer who also works long hours. I started with tiny, gradual steps like taking a daily vitamin, eating breakfast before work, wearing more comfortable shoes, and scheduling regular dinners with girlfriends. I've built upon those successes by cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and fried foods, returning to the habit of journaling each morning and writing a gratitude list each evening, and completing a brand new beginners yoga course. I even enrolled in a local goddess circle for support.
Most recently, I signed up for The Daily Unwind program. Each day, my friend Kate emails me video and audio instructions for a three minute relaxation exercise grounded in yoga or meditation that I can do "anywhere, any time." I am embarrassed by how often I still try to weasel out of doing these simple exercises, but I am encouraged by how much better I feel once I actually do them. My muscles become limber. I get renewed physical energy, sort of like waking up from a nap. My creativity ignites.
I look forward to the day that I become one of those fabulous business women, like Alisa and Kate, for whom self care is as natural as breathing. Until then, I'm doing the oh-so-fun work of learning from their example.
Sisters, do you prioritize self care? What is, or was, your greatest obstacle to taking time for yourself? Have you overcome it? If so, how? Do you have a kick-ass self care habit or ritual that you'd like to share? Please leave a comment. <3
Also, did you watch Alisa's video? Seriously, you need to! If you enjoyed that video and want to see more like it (plus receive 2 free gifts!!) sign up here and have more videos filled with life-changing, goddess-loving info from FLO Living delivered right to your inbox!
This blog post is part of a series called, That's So Goddess, which I am contributing to La Dea Vita, "a silk-road of Goddess inter-exchange of love, support, sisterhood, ideas, products, art, lifework & passion" founded by Mishel Herrera, Entrepreneur Empress.
(Sending hugs to Jenn at Roots of She, who inspired this blog post with her recent blog post: Demystifying self-care: 34 ways to begin your self-care practice. Check out her website for lots of great self-care tools!)