Written May 17, 2021
I’ve never really been one for routines. I like feeling free with a flexible schedule. Yet, there are certain things my body, mind, and spirit need in order to feel centered and grounded. In the last year, I’ve learned to lean in and get intentional with caring for myself. In order to do this, I’ve been learning how to be compassionate towards myself and treat myself kindly. This has also meant taking time to do the things I need to feel good and building a ritual around it.
In January 2021, I joined the Yoga with Adriene community for the 30-day “Breath” series of yoga. During these days, I discovered the gift of a daily ritual where I could show up for myself. It fit with my intention to be gentle and compassionate with myself in 2021. Every day, I sat on my yoga mat and connected with my breath. I played with hand positioning for poses and breath ratios. I listened to my intuition as to whether I wanted to stay seated or stand up. Do I want to do an inversion, or is that not what I need today? Every moment, an opportunity to connect with my breath and my needs.
This heightened my awareness to the ways I can keep my body, mind, and spirit centered. It has taken ongoing reflection, intention, and compassion. I have a little exercise I do to see where I assess my needs in the moment, spending time in reflection on a weekly and daily basis. A little extra intention and love is something you are also worthy of, my friend! I share a little, downloadable worksheet I made at the end of this post. It’s a gift to you because you deserve it!
Building the Habit
Since our needs are always fluctuating, I didn’t want to create a rigid routine for myself. Yet, it had to start that way to begin practicing and making a habit of self-compassion and self-care. It’s said it takes 30 days to build a habit, so I picked something simple to start with: Doing my dishes. Little did I know this would turn into an entire lesson around self-compassion.
Every night before bed, I vowed to not have a single dirty dish in the sink. Why? Well, I don’t have a dishwasher and I realized I was not taking the time to do my dishes every night. This would lead to a few frustrations in the morning with dirty dishes in the sink, making it difficult to prepare breakfast and coffee. I thought to myself:
What can Current Kristen do to be kind to Future Kristen?
I would call myself lazy for not doing the dishes and judge myself. This self-criticism is what many believe is necessary to trigger action. We think if we bash ourselves enough, we might just get up and DO it already. Yet, “studies have show self-compassionate individuals to be more effective and less prone to procrastination than people who are self-critical.”1 Instead of treating my dishes as something I need to have better discipline on, I shifted it into an act of self-care.
Rather than thinking “I’m too lazy to do my dishes right now” (and the other spiraling negative self-talk thoughts), I asked myself: “How can I treat Future Kristen more kindly?” This allowed me to move out of judgement and into compassion and empathy for myself. With this, I’ve gotten better and better at doing the dishes every night. Sometimes, I leave a few dishes in the sink overnight. And that’s okay. Future Kristen is also forgiving because I’m human and I can’t get it right all the time. Perfection is never the goal and making little mistakes is just a part of life.
As we’re dong any act of self-care, however minor, we can say, ‘This is me taking care of myself. I’m treating myself as I would a friend. I’m showing kindness to myself right now.’
Once we allow ourselves to recognize our own self-kindness, as opposed to simply taking it for grated, we open the way to actually feeling the kindness towards ourselves.1
Caring for the Body, Mind, and Spirit
Even when I don’t have a lot of time, I find a way to care for my body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes, I simply take five deep breaths. Other times, I spend and hour lifting weights. Other times, I word vomit in my journal (<daily). Whatever I need in each moment, I meet myself where I am and find a way to treat myself kindly.
To get intentional with how I care for myself, I often use the worksheet at the bottom of this post (mentally or physically). The questions I ask myself are:
- How can I treat myself with compassion?
- What does my body need?
- What does my mind need?
- What does my spirit need?
- I want to feel…
I then move through the list of things I have to energize/calm my body, stimulate/balance my mind, and connect with my/other spirit(s). This way, I can help to calm myself if I’m feeling stressed, energize myself if I’m feeling lethargic, or just settle into where I am by connecting with my spirit. This has been an ongoing process and I don’t imagine being perfect at it any time soon. Below, I share some helpful resources I’ve tapped into for each little category. Yet… these are personal and most CERTAINLY don’t mean they’ll resonate with you. The beauty of this ideology is that our needs can shift and we are all unique individuals – thus, these lists change all the time. I probably wouldn’t have had some of these things on my list a year ago. But, this is the beauty of growth and change.
With being home for a long time, I discovered there are SO many great videos on YouTube for moving your body! I still haven’t been to a yoga studio in over 365 days, but I now have a home practice of yoga that feels really good. I’ve also become obsessed with cocokind products for skincare (click here for their Beginner’s Guide to their range of products; my favs are pictured below). I’m one of those people who never had pimples, but have had a few more recently (I know I’m not alone here). My body needs yoga, workouts, wholesome meals, breathing exercises, and skincare to feel in balance. Some favorite AT HOME ways to MOVE my body are:
- Fill Your Cup Yoga (Yoga With Adriene): a 20-minute practice for balancing the mind + body
- Root To Rise Yoga (Yoga With Adriene): a 32-minute grounding practice
- Sunrise Yoga (Yoga With Adriene): quick, 15-minute practice for the morning
- Natalie Wong: this channel from @pathtocompassion has incredible Vinyasa flows with the most beautiful transitions
- MadFit: home workouts of every flavor! Lots of HIIT stuffs. So fun.
- Whatever feels good in the moment, which is sometimes nothing (:
My favorite ways to nourish my mind are through reading, writing, creating, and meditating. I also have a counselor who helps me really grow through what I go through. Some of my current ways to find balance in my mind are:
- EFT: I discovered EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques) a while ago, but it took some time to integrate it into my self-care. Two of my favorite, short practices are: “Self-Love in About 5 Minutes” and “Raise Your Vibration (Virtual Shot of Espresso)“
- Meditation: Oh gosh, there are MANY beautiful resources for meditation. My go-to has been the InsightTimer app, but there’s no wrong way. Whatever you find, I am happy you found something that works for you.
- It’s okay if meditation isn’t for you. Or if EFT isn’t for you. Balance can also be found sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Sometimes I do this, too. My go-to is New Girl. I’ve watched the entire series 2x in the last year. Winning.
This is a really intimate thought and may take more time to reflect on rituals to care for your spirit. Connecting to ourselves and the world around us can make us feel more centered and at peace. For me, this means journaling, reflecting, praying, and being intentional with my time and energy. Sometimes, it means going out in nature to find balance and reflect on our interconnectedness.
However you find balance in your spirit, I know it is sacred. Trust your intuition here. It’s usually right.
Self Care Rituals Worksheet
Want to dive more into your rituals and build something that works for you? Feel free to download my little worksheet to help you grow self-compassion practices. It’s something I made for myself, but I love to share it with you. Maybe I don’t need to say it again, but this much is true: what works for me, may not work for you. And that’s okay. You know you. There’s nobody more youer than you, as Dr. Seuss would say… and so, treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Treat yourself like you’d treat a friend. Get to know yourself. Spend a little extra time and energy on beautiful YOU because YOU deserve it.
Print it. Scribble on it. Cut it. Do whatever you want. If you feel so inclined, please tag me if you post your worksheet! I’d love to see how it goes. You can tag @kconncreates – which is my NEW art account on Instagram! (more details coming… hehe)
And, as always, thank you for being here. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
1 The Difficult Thing of Being Human: The Art of Self-Compassion is a book I am moving through by Bodhipaksa, a recognized Buddhist teacher and scholar. It integrates “contemporary psychology, neuroscience, and Buddhist psychology” into the idea of practicing self-compassion to “find greater overall wellbeing, emotional resilience, physical health, and willpower.” It’s been a lovely book to accompany my self-compassion and loving-kindness journey.