I have been thinking about this quote for awhile and when I saved it I knew that one day I’d write a blog post about it. Today, while out for a short (yet very frigid!) walk, I started to think more about it and what it means to truly take care of myself – mind, body, and spirit.
Like many others, I’ve been on every diet and workout regime imaginable at some point or other throughout my adult life. I’ve counted calories, lifted weights, went running, did aerobics, kept food journals, joined Weight Watchers, used a Fitbit, and obsessed over every food I ate (or didn’t eat) and every workout I did (or missed). Needless to say, taking care of my body has always been at the forefront of my mind. That’s not to say that I’m always taking the best care of it, but it’s definitely something I understand the importance of.
Until recently, though, I never really thought about intentionally taking care of my mind. I’m a pretty sensitive, emotional person who over-thinks a lot of things and internalizes a lot of situations. Not taking things too personally is something I am currently working on, although it’s not always easy. I have a pretty high-stress job working with children which is more mentally exhausting than it is physically. I am a stepmom to two children (ages 12 and 16) and a wife so I have all the responsibilities that comes along with those two roles. I’m a people-pleaser. I don’t like to say no and I always worry about upsetting others with my actions. Long story short, sometimes I’m pretty hard on my own mental state.
All of this came to a head this past fall when I started to really notice a change in my moods. For the second year in a row when October hit, I began to struggle with what I believe could be seasonal depression (although I have never been diagnosed by a doctor). As the days get shorter and darker, so does my mood it seems. I notice a major lack in energy, more feelings of anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, and less ability to deal with the every day pressures of life. When these feelings strike, I just simply don’t feel like myself. I’m moody, irritable, cry almost daily, and just can’t get my mojo back.
It was on one of those bleak nights a couple of months ago, that I first found this quote online. Fall in love with taking care of yourself – mind, body, spirit. I realized then that despite all the work I had done over the years to try to keep my body healthy, I had never made intentional efforts to take care of my mind (or mental health). So I began to give it some thought…. but what could I do to take better care of my mind? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far….
Even though I spent hours as a child writing stories, filled endless journals as a teenager, and studied journalism in my undergrad, life had gotten in the way and I’d totally forgotten how meaningful writing is to me. I’ve always felt that I could better express myself in writing. For instance, often when I’m angry, I’ll sit down at my computer and just hammer out all of my feelings. As my fingers fly over the keys, my emotions pour out of me. And once it’s all out, I instantly feel better. But writing doesn’t just help me when I’m upset. It also helps me express other pieces of myself, which is the main reason I started this blog. Most importantly, it helps me to empty my mind of all the things that consume it day to day. No matter what I’m feeling, writing is fulfilling and helps immensely in clearing the space in my head.
Go for walks
Although walking has proven physical benefits, it’s another great activity for clearing my mind. I’ve started the habit recently of taking a short, brisk walk after work which allows me time to reflect on my day and unwind (I get so wrapped up in my days at school that I often think of nothing else while I am there, so it’s nice to let all that go). On top of that, the fresh air (despite how cold it is lately!) feels amazing and gives me the boost of energy I need to get through the evening routines at home. The best part of my walks is letting my mind wander. In fact, as I ponder different ideas, I’ll often start writing my next blog post in my head (like this one!)
I am definitely a beginner when it comes to yoga. I’ve done a few basic classes and absolutely loved them and definitely plan to do more (starting tomorrow night!) To me, yoga brings peacefulness, calm, and mental clarity. It relaxes my mind and my breath while making my body strong. I also happen to think that yoga poses are beautiful and know that it’s definitely something I want to incorporate more of into my current lifestyle!
If I’ve had only a little yoga practice, I’ve had even less with meditation. This being said, from the reading I’ve done about it, I’m eager to try my own meditation practice. I’m still at the “learning” stage of this goal, but I’m sure that learning to be more mindful will only have positive outcomes. For now, I plan to do some research and reading and to develop a better understanding of what exactly meditation is and the benefits it brings.
Currently I am taking B12 and Vitamin D (since we get so little sunlight these days!)
Be Gentle with Myself / Good Enough is Good Enough.
Of course, both of personal mantras lend themselves to a healthier state of mind (after all, that’s the whole reason I developed them in the first place). I use these words often (sometimes aloud, sometimes quietly to myself) and find them both comforting and reassuring. In the past, I’ve put too much pressure on myself which has only lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and stress. I am slowly learning to let go of my perfectionism, to accept that little things are good enough, and to be more gentle with myself.
All this being said, I do realize that taking care of your body, mind, and spirit are not always separate entities. There are certainly cases where these three areas overlap. Going for walks and doing yoga, for example, obviously have both mental and physical benefits. And it’s not hard to argue that taking care of your mental health naturally affects your spirit. That being said though, I do want to be more intentional about taking care of my mind and my spirit as much as I do my body. Like many things, it’s a learning process but I’m always open to ideas and suggestions 🙂
What do you do to take care of your body, mind, or spirit?