Self Care for Summer
This week marks the official first week of summer vacation. Those of you with kids might share my mixed emotions of having the kids home all day. On the plus side there's no need to rush out the door in the morning to get them to school on time, on the other hand, it also means that the house gets more messy and there's less time for myself. Which means that in order to keep my "cool", I need my self care practices more than ever!
Summer season is considered to be the pitta time of year because it is governed by the elemental qualities of fire. This means that the qualities of heat, expansion, dryness and movement predominate. In excess these qualities create a recipe for irritability, anger, criticism, impatience, and a hot temper. Physically it shows up as skin rashes or breakouts, heartburn, and itchy eyes.
I love Ayurveda because once you understand the basic principles, it's very intuitive and common sense. The most basic principle is that like increases like and opposites balance. So in order to avoid the negative effects of too much fire, we need to bring in the opposing qualities to find balance. Read more about pitta balancing tips here.
With the kids home for summer, I've found it even more important to make sure that I'm getting what I need so that I can not only be fully present for them, but also enjoy the long days filled with origami making sessions and water balloon fights. This means sticking to my morning routine of yoga and meditation, planning my days (although somewhat more loosely), and retiring early so that I can enjoy reading in bed before getting a good night's sleep.
Over the past few years I've come to love my morning and evening routines because they bookend my days and create a backdrop of grounding and calm that I've found invaluable as a parent (and wife, teacher, friend, coach, and daughter). Many of us wear so many hats and are often in service of so many others – our friends, our family, our work that we often put ourselves last on the list (if we make it on the list at all).
Over the past few years of working with people to uplevel their self care practices, the more I notice that our lack of self care arises from our lack of self worth disguised as "not enough time". Many of us have a limiting belief that once we take care of everyone else and everything that needs taking care of, there's no time left for us. We hide behind this notion as an excuse to not stand up for our own needs and desires. We tell ourselves that we're being selfless by putting other people's needs before ours.
This way of thinking has got to change.
I'm currently reading The Code of an Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. He urges us to not worry about being selfish and to follow our heart.
"Some say the heart is the most selfish organ in the body because it keeps all the good blood for itself. It takes in all the good blood, the most oxygenated blood, and then distributes the rest to every other organ...
But if the heart didn't keep the good blood for itself, the heart would die. And if the heart died, it would take every other organ with it. The liver, the kidneys, the brain."
It would be selfish for the heart NOT to take the good blood for itself. So we too, need to take care of ourselves first.
What's so cool about the process of guiding others into their own self care habits, is that self-worth follows the self care. I've observed amazing transformations of students standing stronger in their power and learning to trust themselves more after implementing simple self care practices. I've watched members let go of abusive relationships, follow their passions and learn to love themselves more. They have more patience for their kids, feel more ease in their day-to-day lives and begin to prioritize what they need.