Premise: It’s the small, daily things we do to nourish and support ourselves that matter most and that have lasting impact on our overall wellbeing.
Ok, let’s get out of the Land of Premise and into a Real Life Example.
I know that regular exercise/movement is absolutely crucial to my internal sense of stability and wellbeing. For years, however, I have struggled with maintaining any regular move-my-body program. And, believe me, it’s not for lack of trying.
I tried to be a runner. My dad and brother both swear by it. And, I think runners are tough and cool. But, in truth, I mostly don’t enjoy running, at least not regularly. It very quickly becomes a should, which means I don’t do it.
I love walking but just walking seems too wussy.
I’m generally not motivated enough to do yoga on my own and I don’t really like yoga classes because of the whole having to show up at a certain time thing – usually right when I’m in the middle of something else.
Gyms? Just really not my thing.
Hiking is my favorite but… that requires driving and a lot of time; definitely not doable on a daily basis.
Basically, the movement aspect of my self-care practice has been a real challenge for me.
Two months ago, everything changed. Two months ago, inspiration struck in the form of my 15 Mile Plan.
Before we get to that, let’s explore 4 elements that increase the likelihood of your self-care practice being sustainable.
In order for self-care to be sustainable, whether we are talking about exercise, meditation, journaling, whatever practice you want more of regularly in your life, certain criteria must be met.
1) Structure! It all begins with a framework.
It can be very loose: I’d like to meditate once a day.
It can be very specific: I will meditate every morning for 30 minutes from 6am to 6:30am concentrating my breath into my Dan Tien and opening my heart chakra for the good of all mankind. (giggle)
For me, a looser structure works best; otherwise, I run the risk of turning the thing that supports me into a big, ugly should. For you, being more specific may be necessary. The important thing is to play until you discover what works for you.
2) Adaptability – how easily can your practice be adapted to different environments (if traveling, for instance), to weather, to a changing work or family schedule?
3) Simplicity. Simplicity is big. The simpler it is, the more likely you will be able to continue doing it on a regular basis. The less props, driving, specialized gear, etc, the better. Again, we are talking about the small, daily things, not the big, awesome things. Those are important too, just not the focus of this post.
4) Ability to be refined. As you explore creating small, daily, nourishing practices, you will discover what works for you. Having a structure that is flexible enough to allow for refinement means your self-care practice will be able to grow with you. It won’t become old and tired. As you evolve; it will evolve.
In a sustainable self-care practice, all of these factors come together. This means that even when your normal routine is disrupted, your self-care practice can continue to nourish and support you.
A Common Trip-Up:
Thinking your self-care thing has to be something big and showy for it to truly count.
- an hour or longer daily yoga practice
- running this many miles at least 4 times a week
- a week long healing retreat (ahh… sounds nice, doesn’t it?)
- meditation + taiji + journaling +……
- that vacation at the beach
- weekly massage or bodywork or acupuncture or…
Now, I’m all for getting a foot massage and/or spending an extending time on vacation. These peak self-care experiences are wonderful, rejuvenating and absolutely necessary.
But, even more important, I believe, are the small things we do for ourselves on a regular (ideally, daily) basis.
So, back to my 15 Mile Plan!
About 2 months ago, inspiration struck and I began a movement practice that is sustainable – that for me meets all the criteria explored above.
Structure: 15 miles per week. Walking, running, skipping….anything bipedal. And, everything counts. Walking to the store, running at the park, ambling through the neighborhood, everything!
Plus, the 15 miles can be spread out evenly throughout the week (the ideal) or all crammed into one day (if necessary). And, yes, the structure is very loose because that’s what works for me.
Adaptability: Check! Travel, bad weather (I love bad weather), no problem. Plus, if I’m feeling really low energy, that’s fine. I can skip that day or just go for a super slow, short walk.
Simplicity: Check! It’s super simple, actually. If just walking, I don’t even need to change out of my flip-flops and street clothes.
Ability to be Refined: Check! Actually, this plan is so unstructured that there is very little to be refined. Oh well. 🙂
Keep in mind, this is a movement program that works for me. It may absolutely not work for you. For you, 15 miles may seem totally wimpy. Or, it may seem impossible.
The test: Does it work?
At 8 weeks in, I can say: Yes, it does work.
With the exception of one week, I’ve easily met or exceeded my 15 mile goal. Even though I could do all 15 miles in one day, I find myself naturally wanting to get out daily so my need for regular movement is being met.
Just having my 15 Mile Plan gets me out the door on those days when I’m tired and want nothing more than to curl up on the couch. A slow walk still counts!
And, overall, the regular cross-crawl movement is definitely having a positive impact on my sense of wellbeing. So, happiness!
What small, daily things do you do to nourish and support yourself?
Is there something that you would like to add to your daily routine (meditation, movement, journaling, alone time, etc) that would enhance your sense of wellbeing and ease?
If so, what structure might work for you to increase the chances of that practice becoming sustainable?