- Dr. Sandra Y. Lewis
Self-Care, All Day, Every Day
We’ve all heard of a side hustle. I’m sure many of us have had at least one. It’s great part-time work that puts a few more dollars in your pocket. It supplements your main hustle. It fills in the gaps where resources are missing. It’s very often something that we really love doing. It may give us a chance to spread our wings into new territory.
I spent many years teaching evening hot yoga classes because of my love relationship with yoga. The practice was so fulfilling that I wanted to experience the teacher’s side of the yoga room. I wanted to give what I was receiving. And it happened that a teacher training was available at the moment my main hustle had taken me to the end of my rope.
It had been a very challenging two years of obstacles that at times seemed insurmountable. All kinds of antagonism, racism and other isms were daily hurdles. I stuck it out and stood up to every ugliness that showed up to oppose me. I prayed, meditated, practiced yoga and relied on my spiritual counsel. Eventually, we progressed to a point of reasonable compromise and the project I’d invested my time and energy in moved forward. However, I was stressed to the point that the thought of going to my office brought on feelings of anxiety, tension and sadness. I’d overwhelmed my resources. I was out of everything. I knew it was time to step away, to regroup and recover.
I saw my wholistic physician and we crafted a plan for reviving my body, mind and spirit. My recovery room included rest, supplements, meditation, lots of yoga and time off from work. With support from friends and family, I was able to manage my daily living tasks like retrieving mail, checking on my home and bill payments. I was free to invest in my renewal. That was my sole focus.
I returned with a stronger yoga practice and a side hustle, teaching yoga. I loved it and I was really good at it. I learned to use my voice to inspire people to reach for a little more flexibility, balance and strength. People loved my class. Some would call or text to ask, “When are you teaching?” or “Are you teaching today?”
Teaching yoga became a mission where I fulfilled my life purpose (i.e. – illuminating and supporting other’s purpose and power for transformation). And yeah, my side hustle put a few dollars in my pocket. It supported my shoe addiction and gave me more financial flexibility. I could help out a relative without worrying that I’d have to “rob Peter to pay Paul” as my Mama would say. I could take an extra vacation with ease. I could save more.
Like many side hustles, teaching yoga was fluid. I picked it up and put it down as other projects took precedence. Side hustles are often something we’re willing to put aside despite the fact that they bring us great benefits. This is one of the things that side hustles have in common with self-care.
We often treat self-care like a thing we do on the side. Other times our self-care activities are just one more thing to get done. It’s on our checklist. We walked, practiced yoga, ran, slept 7 hours or ate broccoli today. We may notice the benefits but we’re willing to put these things aside. We might say something like, “Okay, I can’t get to the broccoli today. I’ll just grab something from the vending machine or coffee shop.” Or, “Oh well, I don’t have time to exercise. I’ll try to catch up another time”.
During the year before I had a crisis, I was very focused on eating well and I walked regularly. When a hot yoga studio opened near me, I was so excited to switch from walking back to yoga. I practiced 5- 7 times a week and loved the impact it had on my mind, body, and spirit. I was building balance, strength and flexibility on the mat. However, I wasn’t doing the best job of practicing yoga off the mat. I was using it to de-stress and re-center myself. But too often I wasn’t transferring what I learned so that I could move more effectively through those very difficult moments. I was treating my yoga practice like my side hustle.
Luckily, we can transform a side hustle into a main hustle. Self-care can become an essential part of our main hustle of living and thriving from day to day. Self-care can shift from a “have to check it off” to a “this feels just so good and so right”. It’s like the difference between moving away from something you dislike and moving toward something that you like. It’s moving away from “I don’t want to feel bad that I didn’t exercise today” and toward “I found a way to fit movement into my daily routine”.
There’s a freedom and energy boost that comes with this shift. Yes, you can get excited about broccoli and push-ups and meditation and qigong and so many things that make your life better all day, everyday. You want more of the good stuff so you look for ways to make it a part of your life. You find yourself focused on thriving and noticing those small things that help you along the way. You become more flexible about how to make it all work.
I’ve seen so many people grow a self-care practice because they made it a natural part of every day. One woman that I know shifted her qigong practice and lost 70 pounds. She would practice in the morning and throughout the day, she’d find ways to fit in a few minutes of practice. I’ve heard countless people testify to increasing their meditation practice by doing a little at a time.
As a yogi, I know that the practice builds our ability to sustain focus and shift our attention as required to maintain balance. Putting my attention on what’s important in the moment is a great way to center myself. A few gentle stretches a couple of times a day remind me that I can find my way through challenges. I took yoga and meditation off the mat into my whole life.
Consider these questions:
Is your self-care a side hustle or a main hustle?
Does self-care fit seamlessly into your everyday life?
How do you give yourself an opportunity to build balance, strength and flexibility each day?
What are you doing all day, everyday to recover your energy expenditures?
How are you building yourself to bring more good into your life and into the world?
How are you sustaining the energy to be who you came to the world to be?
You have some unique talents and a distinct purpose that can light up your life and the world. You may be in charge of many people and activities. But the light that we call “you” is the driver in your relationships and everything you do. These are the missions that give you space to uplift your voice, your talents, your good stuff into the world. This requires energy in every flavor, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
Yes, building energy requires flexibility. You may not have time to train for a marathon. But you might be able to add more movement by walking instead of using the elevator or keeping a hula hoop handy and giving it a whirl or doing one of those famous 7-minute workouts for your whole body or doing some yoga stretches in between meetings. You might decide to get up 15 minutes earlier so that you have time to make a great smoothie that you can take with you or you might make it the night before so it’s ready in the morning.
Yes, you’ll have to get used to the idea of transition time. This is also known as white space or breathing room in your calendar. Definitely, make room to breathe. It’s one of the best medicines for your body, mind and spirit. Get this. The simple act of deep breathing can calm your nervous system, quiet your racing thoughts and put you in touch with your inner power to transform a troubling moment into a step along your personal evolution.
Yes, you’ll have to give up the idea of grinding yourself down to nothing before you stop. You’ll have to learn what it means to make renewal and recovery part of what you do from moment to moment. The 15-minute break is not obsolete. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and turn off for a few minutes. Extend your summer vacation by taking little vacations throughout your day.
With some practice, self-care blends into everything we do. We come to know that it makes doing what we love possible. We come to see that it’s essential to being who we came to the world to be.
The deck is stacked in our favor. We come well-equipped with a body, mind and spirit that are capable of renewal and recovery. In fact, we use these processes to grow, to expand, to bring our best to what matters most. I guarantee you that expressing your purpose in the world is one of the things that matters most.
As Desmond Tutu says, “I want you to be all that you can be. I need you to be you so that I can be me.” At The Living Source, your bringing your best into the world is what makes our hearts sing. We invite you to join our Facebook group, Revival: A Recovery Room for Women Who Take Care of Everything Everyday. I’ll be there to support you and your purpose.
We’ll be nurturing our bodies (Body Love), clearing and centering our minds (Mind Matters), tuning in to our emotional wealth (Feeling Right) and getting inspired to shine our purpose like a spotlight (Spirit Lifted). Self-care, all day, every day can help you increase your productivity, passion and presence.
Be sure that you get a copy of our free guide, “Here's the Formula to Change Fatigue into Energy”. The EBook will get you moving with a checklist to take your energy pulse and start creating days that end with you feeling the way you want to feel.
© Sandra Y. Lewis
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