slowing down for self care

Since the beginning of January, one of the habits I've cultivated is waking up at 6:00am, even on the weekends, and immediately pulling on my workout clothes (including gloves, fleece hoodie, and thick headband, because it's chilly in January - go figure), harnessing up the dog, warming up, and going for a run. There are times when I've run in the evening in the past, but running immediately when I wake up ensures I have done at least one good thing already in my day for myself. If nothing else goes right the entire day, at least I ran.

It's a truly wonderful habit that I intend on keeping, but this morning, I stayed in bed until almost 8:00am, quietly thinking and breathing and just enjoying some personal relaxation. It felt so luxurious (in between the times that the dog let out loud, exasperated moans for not taking him out on our accustomed run).

It's 11:00am and we haven't done much of consequence. I haven't gone for my run yet or run any errands or taken Fenton to the dog park. But this Saturday morning feels just as it should today. Slow, perhaps a bit boring to some, but mentally soothing. Just what I need right now.

Taking a Time Out

I realized this need for more mental relaxation the other night, when I went to a vinyasa class that was particularly difficult. Not physically difficult, necessarily. I've really been enjoying more physically demanding poses in the regular Tuesday vinyasa class with a different teacher.

No, in this most recent class I felt a great deal of emotional difficulty I couldn't quite place. I didn't care for the teacher's style, which happens. I was somewhat sleep deprived from waking up at 4:00am and being unable to go back to sleep and sore from #writeandrun31 taking its daily toll. But I also felt like perhaps something was coming up from under the surface in that night's class, and my disconnect with the teacher's style was a catalyst for dark, unsettled thoughts. I've been focusing on dealing with discomfort, but this was a different, deeper kind of discomfort. I had a couple moments where I felt like I could cry if I tried. Poses that are not usually so hard felt messy, wobbly, literally and figuratively "unbalanced." How can you launch into a grounded airplane if you feel neither grounded or lifted? The more I berated myself for losing my balance and falling out of poses I can "normally do," the less mental and physical focus I had. I became angry with myself, deeply embarrassed, although I also knew no one else would care.

The class was a good reminder to step back and take time to care of myself. I tried to meet myself where I was that day and allow myself to feel "off," but it was honestly not a feeling I could come to terms with until after the class.

Self Care is not Laziness

So that is why I am still sitting cross-legged in an armchair, wearing yoga pants covered in dog fur, lingering over my now cold cup of coffee and quietly taking some time to think, observe my emotions, and acknowledge that hard days can still bring good lessons. I am very pleased with my goal adherence this month - daily running, daily writing, yoga at least three times every week. But I'm just now realizing that a different kind of self care has been getting left behind. Normally, I'm very good at taking a time out, but I've honestly been too busy to wind down and completely relax most days.

Today is my mental "rest day." I'll still go for my run later today, roll out my mat at a yoga class tomorrow, but for now, I'm going to continue to sit in this chair and take some time to recognize that quiet reflection is what I need most on this lazy, slow morning.

What is your favorite self care practice?

Iris Rankin

Soulful questioner, exuberant organizer, here to find the balance between discipline and delicious relaxation. Iris Rankin is the founder of Project Intention, a values-based community focused on living day-to-day with purpose, planning, and heart. Iris encourages women to adopt the self care practices that make them feel divine, the planning tools to hone in on their essential wants and needs, and the emotional resilience to express their most authentic selves.

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