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The Most Important Truth about Self-Care

I’ve been working for the past month and a half for an Italian non-governamental organization which provides relief to Syrian refugees by organizing educational programs for children and awareness sessions on diverse topics and for their families displaced in Jordan since the Syrian war broke out.

It has been a very intense experience, full of commitments and travel.

I tend to travel 3-4 times on 5 working days per week to a governorate, located in the North of the country. This time has been literally a ‘’probation period’’ both work-wise and in my personal life. I’m now testing my body-mind resistance at high-pressure levels after a lot of time of living a comfortable and easy-going life .

What I myself confirmed during this hardship time is that I NEED to stay grounded to feel safe and strong.

However, all this “mindfullness’’ is so hard for me to practice when I am in a rush and completely involved in a commitment for someone else.

At first, I didn’t manage to stick to my workout routine (that includes a yoga practice 5/7 days per week and 2/3 cardio workouts per week at the gym). Probably even worse, I didn’t manage to eat dinner, drink enough water, or get enough sleep. I wasn’t at my usual capacity, and I couldn’t even communicate with people without drinking a large Turkish coffee (the equivalent of a triple espresso!) first thing in the morning.

What naturally happened is that I started to feel fatigue during my downtime because I was releasing all the psycho-social pressure I stored up while I was working.

Today it took me few seconds of slow breathing at my working desk to realize that many times I don’t practice what I preach. I firmly believe that it’s important to take care of my body no matters what my circumstances are, but my actions lately haven’t been showing that.

I finally realized I couldn’t do it all.

I finally realized that I can compromise outside in my relationships with family and friends, at work, but I can’t negotiate the time that my body needs to recover after a hard day.

It reminds me of running. We have to divide our daily life into different intervals, each one to be run at a different pace and for a different purpose. Before running, we have to warm up and prepare ourselves to give our best when it’s time to sprint. If necessary, we also have all the right to take as many rest intervals as we deserve. And we can’t have to forget the recovery time’ at the end of our fast-paced lives.

For me, recovery time is family time, a glass of wine, half an hour of jogging, a prolonged savasana, a good night’s sleep, a whole day off. You don’t have to question the importance of the activities that nurture your body and comfort your mind even if they ask from you extra time to dedicate. Once a friend of mine told me:

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have anything to give.

And it’s true! If I make myself happy by spending time doing something I love, I can make someone else happy.

If I look after myself, I will be more capable to look after my loved ones.

If I nourish myself, I will become stronger and be more able to perform my duties and responsibilities to others. The time we spend to take care of ourselves by gently stretching some lethargic muscles or taking a hot shower is all time we gain back to rebuild a new self ready to live stronger, better. And I swear there no such truth more valuable than this.

What about you, yogis? Which are your favorite habits that keep you healthy and restored? Share in the comments below!

6 Comments

  1. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    November 17, 2017 at 11:42 am

    I firmly believe this, that we’re not at our best for anyone if we’re not at our best, period. When we sacrifice so much for other people, we don’t really do them any favors, because we’re giving them a sort of half-self, a self that maybe gets grumpy, resentful, or even physically sick. Self-care is essential.

  2. Avatar

    Jennifer

    November 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    This is such an important lesson for everyone to learn in life. You cannot give your best if you do not take care of yourself.
    As a working mother of 2 young children I found it so hard to find any time to myself at all. I quickly spiraled out of control and eventually ended up in therapy, on anti-anxiety meds, and feeling hopeless.

    Working in some self-care has been life-changing!

    Since I have minimal time, I try to work in small snippets here and there:
    * Aromatherapy in the shower – I add a few drops of whatever boost I need and breathe deep
    * Yoga on the fly – whenever I get a moment I will do whatever I am able to
    * Work from home – I work from home when possible to allow myself time to do more self-care, like foot soak, face mask, reading books, etc.

  3. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    November 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    These words are so true. I have spent my life giving, without taking the time to care for myself. Now, I am finally finding the balance, saying yes to myself, at the same time I say no to opportunities that I will not prioritize. I think this is so important when you have a job of giving. The more balanced you are, the better you will help others. I am finding the balance now, with care for myself, my yoga practice, my diet and my sleep. And I feel wonderful and feel as if I gain time to work full-on instead.

  4. Federica Cusumano

    Federica Cusumano

    November 26, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    It’s very nice to read all of your comments before to get a good night sleep and get ready for a crazy week ahead . Reading your stories and getting to know more healthy habits to integrate in my routine ( one more advice that I wish I could have wrote about in this post is about taking a warm bath when you are in hard moment or struggling to be positive and kind with yourself and people around you: I tried it last day and I swear the result was better than have a Turkish bath in the heaven- no jockes!).
    Sharing my ordinariness It reminds me that – no matter which country are living in, where we come from and the choices we are committed to, well are all connected, made of the same substances and emotionsa and in way or another, destined face the same challenges over life.
    Beside this article, that profoundly shown how much I was neglecting mysefl, I really have to say that I’m learning bit by bit how to create a more stable and sustainable routine for my body and my life. Like, the past me would have skipped a dinner, without having had lunch, because too tired. So what did the TODAY me do instead ?. I came back home exhausted; I tool few breaths then rolled my mat and asana by asana I get my mind integrity and body capacity to prepare a vegetarian dish and indulge some extra falafel after 🙂

  5. Avatar

    Emily

    May 9, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I love reading about others’ experiences with prioritizing self-care! This article reminded me that I am not alone. As I am writing this comment, I am wrapping up a day spent at home after I woke up with a migraine. In the past, I would have pushed through the migraine, still gone to work, stared at a computer screen for a couple of hours and struggled to find compassion and energy for my therapy clients resulting in a struggle to feel good about my work. Thank you for sharing your experience, Federica!

  6. Federica Cusumano

    Federica Cusumano

    May 13, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Dear Emily,
    Thanks for your support!.
    Yes, you are not alone and receiving your feedback helps me a lot in realizing that I am not alone too and we are all connected and bonded by the same destiny.
    What’s more important is that this magazine gives us always how-to-handle-life tips that can drastically make a difference in our living.

    Take care and hope you got better 🙂

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