Shannon

All we need is self-love.

It has officially been one week since my return to Lansing from a much needed week of vacation in Santa Barbara, California. After a week of catching up in the office, jumping into a social calendar filled with holiday parties, celebrating friends’ birthdays and trying to get back into a routine, I am able to say that I am still feeling the inner peace, happiness and sense of calm that a week ocean-side brought me. Now, before you start thinking “who does this woman think she is, coming back from fun in the sun to brag about her happiness?!”, hear me out.

I want to talk about self-care and the importance of finding time for the practice in our daily routine, not just on vacation.

It is clear to many that taking time out of the every day routine and spending some serious “R&R” time in a sunny, warm environment, away from the hectic pace of the daily grind can bring about an overwhelming sense of calm; but how is it that one can make this calming sensation a part of that stressful “every day”? Why is it that we so often need to escape in order to find that inner peace?

A vacation allows us time to focus solely on ourselvses. We do not have the obligation to put others before ourselves as frequently as in every day life, thus allowing us the time to pursue our leisurely passions, interests and relax. Taking this time for ourselves brings about a sense of inner peace and calming that is hard to come by when we are running on empty- waking up early on far too little sleep, running out the door into a Michigan winter with wet hair that you didn’t have time to dry, rushing through traffic- only to be 15 minutes late to work, skipping lunch to get through your to-do list, grabbing a quick bite on the way to your after work appointment, heading from that appointment to two of the four events that evening on your calendar, then crawling into bed after consuming one too many cocktails at said events, only to set an alarm for six hours from now to do it all again. Sound familiar? I know I cannot be the only one who has become used to living a fast-paced lifestyle resembling some variation of the aforementioned activities. It can be full of fun, but also very stressful. I have had many weeks where I am running solely on coffee, yet still feel exhausted, lethargic and unaccomplished. Vacation was my time to re-set and fill my time with relaxing activities that nourish- mind, body and soul. I woke up feeling rested, did basic yoga in the sun, ate a leisurely breakfast of fruit and cereal, read for pleasure, took long walks, went shopping and got a de-toxifying, lavendar infused mud wrap. I felt spoiled. But I also felt completely rejuvenated and ready to head home and take life on with a newfound sense of energy and passion.

As I boarded my flight home from LAX to DTW, the flight attendant began her safety speil…you know the one. The speech where they talk about the importance of wearing your safety belt, explain how to put the belt on and off, highlight emergency exits and discuss oxygen masks. Well, it was during a portion of this routine speech that I had heard many times over, that it hit me. In order to always  approach life with a sense of peace, happiness and feel fully energized, we have to practice self-care.

Let’s break this down a bit more. It was this portion of the speech specifically that brought upon my realization:

In the event that the oxygen level in the main cabin becomes unstable, oxygen masks will drop in front of every passenger. Passengers are to take them, secure them to their heads using the elastic band and breathe through the masks normally. Passengers are instructed to make sure their masks are on first before assisting other passengers or children.

Of course one would not be helpful in assisting children to the best of their ability if they were unable to breathe themselves. Thus it is important to take care of yourself above all else, then expend your energy to help those around you. This concept works not only in case of emergency on a plane, but can be applied to our every day life as well. How are we supposed to make a difference in this world, if we are running on empty ourselves? I made a decision right then and there to take time for myself every single day upon my return to Lansing, allowing my body, mind and soul to rest, my spirit to feel uplifted and my productivity to sore. I realized I work best when I feel happy and well-rounded, not only does my productivity at work increase when I take time out every two hours or so to take a quick walk around the parking lot or make an actual meal in the work kitchen, but my passion and vigor for the work I do remains at a high. I feel less stressed and burnt out. I appreciate the time with those I care about in my social life more when I am feeling relaxed, and cut out the things I do out of a sense of obligation, while instead focusing my time and energy on the things I do because I want to truly be there.

I encourage you all to think about taking a bit more time for self-care in your daily routine and see how it will affect you:

  • Wake up fifteen minutes earlier and allow yourself time to stretch and drink a cup of hot tea before starting the day.
  • Visit Horrocks or the Lansing City Market to pick up some fresh food and pack a lunch to enjoy, rather than running out to whatever is nearest you and scarfing down a fast meal on a half hour lunch break.
  • Pencil in some time to do what you love each day, whether it be reading a book, writing, painting, going for a run, playing with a pet, etc.
  • Cut out events and/or appointments you feel obligated to attend, and spend that time doing what you want to do instead. It is much better to actually focus and enjoy your time somewhere with friends and family, than to make five quick appearances because you don’t want to disappoint anyone.
  • Try out a basic yoga or guided meditation class at Just B or Hilltop Yoga. This is a guaranteed way to recharge and appreciate your body.
  • Treat youself to a stress relieving treatment or massage from either Douglas J or Creative Wellness.
  • Schedule a few minutes several times a day to just take a few deep breaths and consciously think of something you are grateful for at that exact moment, whether it be your health or if you are having one of those days, that you only spilled ONE cup of coffee down your new shirt.

Whatever it is you do to make yourself happy, remember to do it unabashedly. You are absolutely wonderful and deserve the very best.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Nelson Mandela