It's been OVER a month since I wrote a blog, and there's a reason for that.
I needed a break. A nice, looooong, guilt-free break from all of it. From training, from dieting, from socializing, from writing, from constantly chasing something.
Slowing down is not in my nature and "self-care" is definitely one of those currently hip words that feels super cheesy/new-agey and something that only overly sensitive people need to indulge in. After taking a hiatus from all the things that (I thought) made me, well, me--I realized just how important self-care is.
While I haven't been writing (or doing much of anything else), I have been reading. And thinking. A lot. I've found these 3 things to work best for me when trying to understand how to take care of myself. If you're feeling tired of everything and like you need to recharge, try a few out for yourself and let me know how you feel!
1. Get back to your roots
Before I fell in love with fighting, my first love was yoga. And the fact is, it's more me than fighting! After my tournament, I realized I had fallen away from the thing that made me feel centered and most in-tune with my body...for over a YEAR. So for the past month, instead of keeping up my cardio, I've been hitting my mat every morning. Even if it's only for 15 minutes, I'm working on getting back to the thing that makes me feel best, most rested and most like myself.
The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:
-What activity makes me feel the most me? Only you can answer that, so the beautiful thing is--there is no wrong answer. If you're struggling to pin point what that one thing is, think about the times you felt the happiest, most refreshed and most like you were ready to take on life. What were you doing? Great, now work backwards from there. (Inactivity is a perfectly fine answer, by the way).
-What do I need to let go of in order to make time for that activity? Does reading bring you to your happy place but you haven't opened a book in ages? Swap your late night Netflix for a novel. You'll thank yourself soon enough.
2. Listen to your body
Obviously the yoga plays into this one for me, but I don't just mean in terms of exercise. Cutting weight left a serious toll on how well I was able to intuitively know what my body needed. After my fight, I went a solid two weeks of just binging on anything I could get my hands on since I had been restricting myself for so long. But that didn't make matters any better; once I got a grip on myself, I had to really think about my cravings, my appetite and how I felt after eating. I had to relearn the natural cues of my own body so I could give it what it needs, without weight loss goals or intense training to distract me.
The Takeaway for YOU. Try to:
-Breathe. Take a few minutes, or even A SINGLE minute, to just listen to the natural rhythm of your breath. You may notice, like me, that you don't breathe very well. Not only does deep breathing reduce stress, it stimulates brain growth and lowers blood pressure. Breathing exercises: here.
-Tap into intuitive eating. If your issue is that you don't actually recognize your own cues for hunger or thirst (like this lady right here), then I would suggest this handy article from Dr. Axe. It's amazing how truly disconnected we can feel from our own bodies; this is just one way to understand yourself a little better.
-Stretch (just a little). If you're sitting or standing all day, you're going to have pain and tension somewhere in your body. You don't need to go through an hour long yoga class to try and touch your toes. Doing a few simple stretches in the morning or before bed can help you figure out where you're currently tight and what makes your body feel best in the long run.
3. Stop Waiting for permission
This is so important in life but especially when you're trying to focus on yourself (for once). I kept looking for validation for taking a break; I texted my coach to assure me this was okay for me to be doing. I felt the need to explain myself when I ate fast food or desserts or didn't go to the gym. I was desperately waiting for someone to give me permission to take care of myself. Part of my self-care routine is positive self-talk--reminding myself that I don't have to explain myself or be validated by others. We all desire that to some degree, but when it's to the point of preventing you from enjoying your own life or taking care of yourself, it's time to dial it back.
The Takeaway for YOU. Ask yourself:
-Am I currently taking care of myself? Maybe you're way ahead of me and you already take steps necessary to stay mentally and physically refreshed! I truly hope so. But check in and figure out if that's really the case.
-What is holding me back from taking time for myself? Fighting is a very gritty sport, you get caught up in the idea of having to prove yourself. I was so afraid of people thinking I was quitting that I never took a break, for over a year. So when I needed one...I needed a BIG one. I had to let go of worrying about what everyone else would think when I wasn't in the gym. And so far, it's been the best thing I could do for myself.
So, with all that said, if you're feeling burnt out, tired and a little jaded on life, try these things out. Taking time for myself and learning how to truly take care of myself has been eye opening. It's an ongoing practice and I'm certainly still learning, but that's what life is about, isn't it?
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