With International Women’s Day just around the corner, I’m reminded by the strong and courageous women I’m surrounded by and just how much we offer as care givers, the holders of knowledge and as the cheer leaders to our communities of both men and women.
As business leaders, mothers, volunteers, aunts, thought leaders, sisters and social cornerstones the giving, guidance and sustenance offered by women has long been established as the foundation of a well-functioning society.
I was fortunate to recently watch a presentation by Dr Pooja Lakshmin, and was both challenged and motivated by her insights. Dr Pooja Lakshmin, Psychiatrist, author and industry disruptor, is an advocate for women’s wellness. Her presentation was a discussion on how our social systems do not always support our wellness model as women.
She reinvigorates the debate around the need for self-care. We are notorious for forgetting to put on our own metaphoric oxygen masks, especially in an environment where the demands of work, family and community are overwhelming.
This is a problem, especially for women, and her aim is to bring a slew of compassionate tools to the wellness conversation. Dr Lakshmin’s insights are frank, practical and timely. “You can’t meditate your way out of a 40-hour work week without childcare.” She does makes good points!
“We are notorious for forgetting to put on our own oxygen masks, especially in an environment where the demands of work, family and community are overwhelming.”
Self-care can sometimes feel like an irrepressible to-do list and the overwhelming barrage from social platforms is starting to stress us out. She likens this to creating empty wellness calories. She questions, “How do we approach our wellness practices? Is it with a mindset of reverence and nourishment or does our attitude adopt a framework of expectation, comparison and judgement?”
Dr Lakshmin reminds us that as leaders in our communities, work and families we can steer the path by taking those tiny but significant steps towards wellness throughout our days. These small but consistent commitments in time trickle down and out to not only shape our own health but effect our families, team members, communities and our friends.
“How do we approach our wellness practices? Is it with a mindset of reverence and nourishment or does our attitude adopt a framework of expectation, comparison and judgement?”
So what is the secret sauce for balance? She offers us a prescriptive insight into the fundamentals of self-care. A recipe it seems that has women clearly in mind. Self-care by its very nature appears to be an inside job and it relies on these four guiding principles:
“… the secret sauce for balance”
- Setting Boundaries. In practice, this distils down to basically doing less things. The simple but never easy practice of merely saying no. A topic for another blog entirely!
- Modelling Compassion. We are a community of compassionate empaths. But here’s the catch; that commitment to showing more compassion… it is actually to yourself first! … I know, right?
- Clearly Defined Values. Getting really articulate on what matters to you and making those values your daily priorities. We can often list those principles that are important to us but are they embedded into the operational aspects of our life, hour to hour, moment to moment?
- And lastly, how we Negotiate Power. Interestingly this isn’t about fighting for control. Instead, she welcomes us to give power back when it isn’t our responsibility. Or alternately this could also mean simply asking for help. Sometimes it’s a matter of outsourcing or the act of letting go of those things that aren’t aligned with our values.
In her new book, “REAL SELF CARE”, Dr Pooja reminds us that self care is not a product to buy or even a task to check off the list. Real self-care is an internal decision-making process. It’s about how we choose to spend our time and our energy. It’s something we embody, not something to accomplish. Real self-care is a verb, not a noun. It’s sometimes selfish and indulgent and that’s completely OK!
“Real self-care is a verb, not a noun.”
So what does self care look like for me? It’s easy to get caught in the struggle of daily life. Deadlines, meetings, projects, adventures. But when I stop and think deeply about what matters, I find that self care is an opportunity to steal moments; those deliciously small bites of time to create rituals that nourish and nurture. As I’m getting older the clarity around what is important is hard to ignore.
More and more it’s those elusive slices in time that compound to create a rich and well lived life. For me that looks like.. a wonderful home cooked meal, fresh cut flowers, bergamot scented pillow cases, a lazy mineral salt bath, time with friends, time with books and time in the sun.
“… bergamot scented pillow cases, a lazy mineral salt bath, time with friends, time with books and time in the sun.”
I’d love to hear those rituals, ceremonies and moments of self care that fill you up. In the meantime, to all those formidable and inspiration women that create our families, our workplaces and our friends, we cherish, thank and applaud all you do.