by Liah Howard
Some people seem to naturally know how to love and nurture themselves, while others have to struggle to learn this like a lost art. I fall into the second category, and I am a slow learner. Although I love my work, I tend to overdo it, and until recently, I often put work before family and friends. I rarely go on vacations or just “hang out.” I usually don’t schedule a massage or chiropractic appointment unless I am in pain. I have a few self-care routines in place like meditating, working out at the gym and walking, but in general, I put nurturing myself pretty far down on the list. So I decided to do an experiment for one month to adopt an attitude of “I’m worth it!” I incorporated a number of new nurturing practices into my life. My goal was to slow down, recharge my battery and reconnect with my soul. The results have been astounding!
These are some of the simple activities I chose: Camping for a weekend in Hana, Maui with friends, going to the sauna once a week, taking a nap, going to bed earlier, eating healthier, taking vitamins, attending yoga class, going for massage and chiropractic adjustments, going to a movie, relaxing at the beach, going out to dinner and seeing a play with my family, riding on a boat with friends and even booking a ticket to a retreat center called Omega Institute, with my twin sister for a seminar. For a month, I cut my extreme work hours in half and spent time with friends hiking, and volunteering in the community. Most importantly, I practiced trusting that all will be well as I slow down and abandon my “workaholic martyr” mode.
While this list of nurturing activities may seem perfectly normal to many, for me it was extremely difficult to begin it and stick with it. Every day was a challenge for me not to fall into my old patterns of self-neglect and overwork. Before this experiment, I was so focused on making money and making others happy that I found myself quite uncomfortable investing the time, attention and money to nurture myself. “How selfish of me!” Yet, I pushed through the resistance and in the process, I am discovering the joy of valuing myself and honoring my time as sacred.
Learning self-nurturing is a process. Initially, I would find myself sitting in the sauna making mental lists of the tasks I needed to accomplish for the week. Four weeks later, I stretched out on the warm sauna bench and went into a deep meditation that warmed my soul. What a difference! I am learning to let go and trust that time spent relaxing is my new priority.
To my surprise, my month-long experiment in nurturing myself has proven to be good for business. I have seen that the less I push to make my business more successful, the more my phone rings with clients. As I relax and savor my life, my finances increase, my health gets better and my attitude improves. I have moved from feeling spiritually deprived to feeling divinely abundant by slowing down. Naturally, my relationships improve as I nurture my soul and my self-esteem. Though I was not one of the fortunate few who grew up knowing how to nurture myself, I see now that self-neglect is a habit that can be broken, and the daring adventure of self-care can be learned.