Self care suggestions for the weary change agent - Part One: Nurture your body
Being a "change agent" requires all of ourselves. No matter how we are seeking to transform our world, we must be committed in heart, mind, and body in order to dedicate our lives to this vision.
This sort of commitment can take its toll. Not only do I frequently hear about burnout among those dedicated to service, but I also know that often the symptoms are not recognized as such and/or it can be hard to admit them if you think of those symptoms as "weaknesses."
This is one of the many reasons why I am immensely grateful that I began my professional life with a career in holistic health. At the age of 20, I received training on anatomy and physiology, body mechanics, ethics, and a wide range of integrative manual therapies, an education that has served me long past my brief stint as a certified massage therapist.
This was only the beginning of my lifelong learning in taking care of myself. Clinically, I have a genetic, chronic hormonal imbalance. Personally, this means that I am more vulnerable to the impacts of stress - and that I've had an incredible journey through many ups and downs as I've learned to live with this temperament. Once again, I'm glad that early-on my approach to health was encouraged to be both holistic and proactive. As my naturopathic doctor says, if genetics holds the gun and environment pulls the trigger, then lifestyle is the safety.
Above all, my experiences have led me to believe not only in seeking multiple sources for knowledge and perspective but most importantly to always follow my own instincts when it comes to making health decisions. So please consider the list of suggested ideas below as just an offering of my experiences and in no way as "advice."
Why am I sharing these experiences? Simply put, I am in the business of curating and sharing information for the benefit of others, and frankly I can think of nothing more important to share!
Part One : Nurture your body
Think of food as nature's best medicine. Diet has been indisputably one of the most important components of my healthy lifestyle. My interest was fostered by Michael Pollan but it wasn't until I began working with those trained in nutrition (and got genetic testing) that I was able to take my life and energy to the next level.
Allow yourself to heal. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I take the cue and ramp up my self care. And if I get knocked down by illness (which is frankly very rare these days), I take all the time needed to pay attention to what my body's telling me (Louise Hay taught me much about this in her book Heal Your Body).
Sleep in heavenly peace. Sleep is our body's natural way of healing on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it is too often a low priority in our busy culture. Admittedly, getting into a consistent cycle is still a challenge for me. But when I do, my whole life improves remarkably. Ariana Huffington actually just wrote a book about the benefits.
Keep it moving - in the way that feels best. Competitive sports and lifting weights are not my thing, but I love walking my dog, exploring yoga postures and practices, and dancing the hours away. Again, it is a work-in-progress for me to make time for these in my day-to-day life, but at least I'm no longer guilt-tripping myself for not doing it how others do.
Drink plenty of water. I know we hear this piece of advice a lot, as well as the fact that about 60% of our bodies are water, but I think we forget that without it our bodies cannot metabolize or transport nutrients and wastes in and out. More intake means more flow and more release. One of the gifts of living out West is you learn to not take proper hydration for granted!
Receive hugs. In our digital age, touch may be the most neglected sense, but did you know that it is the only one essential to life? Research has shown that touch can aid preterm newborns in gaining significantly more weight, alleviate cardiovascular stress and symptoms in adults, and prevent development of compulsive behaviors.
Draw from ancient wisdom. Why not benefit not only from the last couple centuries of developments in Western medicine but also from past millennias of exploring the mysteries of human life? A simple place to start is understanding your chakra system. Anodea Judith is a genius when it comes to translating these concepts for the Westerner.
Know your and/or your lady's moon cycle. This topic may be the most radical one listed here but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention it. Two women leaders currently exploring this topic are Alisa Vitti and Miranda Gray.
Next week I will share Part Two: Ease your mind . . .