The Importance of Self-Care, Daily Routines, and Setting Boundaries

How would you show up in your daily life if you felt like all of your needs were met and you treated yourself with compassion? In this day and age with our electronic devices constantly demanding immediate attention, overcommitted schedules for both ourselves and our families, managing our work and trying to take time out of each day to take care of our health and well-being, it can be hard to navigate each day with any sense of ease or balance.

I'm honored to be featured as a guest on my friend Sonya Looney's podcast. Sonya is an inspiring plant-based world champion endurance cyclist. In this conversation we discuss how to step off the hamster wheel and take control of your life and what it looks like to have a routine focused around self-care. 

We talk about knowing your core values so that you can set boundaries and align your actions with what is most important to you. Another great part of this conversation is time management and how to block off time during the day for yourself. Listen in to get some practical strategies for achieving better balance in your life.

I loved this conversation and I hope you do too!

Listen to the podcast here or find it on iTunes.

How I took control of my time (and how to break bad habits)

Over the past few years I've had a terrible habit of frittering away time checking email. Because I work from home and because my computer is always on and open, I found myself constantly checking my messages throughout the day. Each year I vowed to break the habit but the addiction was stronger than my willpower. 

This year I made a commitment to take back control of my day. First, I investigated the habit and explored why it had such a strong hold on me. 

  1. It's a dopamine issue. Each time I check my email I get a hit. (Remember that movie You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? That "ding" of a new message was music to their ears) Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that causes you to seek out rewards and propels you into action. Interestingly brain scan research shows that there's more dopamine activity when people are ANTICIPATING a reward than getting one. Hence, it was my anticipation of getting a new email that kept me hooked. 

  2. I was constantly exposing myself to triggers. I had a habit of keeping my email window open so that I could tell every time I received a new message. Which means every few minutes I would interrupt what I was working on and switch tasks to see what gifted my inbox. This made getting in the zone an uphill battle that I was sure to lose. 

  3. I had no boundaries. I didn't create any rules for myself around how I use my time and how I do my work. 

Then I decided to put all of my knowledge of behavior change to the test and commit to breaking the habit once and for all and stop being a slave to my inbox! 

Having my own business and working for myself means that there's no one to hold me accountable to my projects and to create deadlines for me to adhere to. This unbounded freedom of how I spend my days means that I needed to create my own rules to follow if I want to get anything accomplished. And because I have a lot that I want to do, it was very important to me to make some serious changes in how I spend my time.  

So after reading The 12 Week Year for the third time, I decided to be disciplined about using the time blocking system outlined in the book. I decided on set times I would check my email and set times I would single-focus on getting work done, undistracted by the continuous stream of emails infiltrating my inbox. I promised myself to close out all the windows except what I was working on (no triggers). I told my husband I was doing this to create public accountability. Now, when it's time to check my email I set a timer and stay within the boundaries I've created.  

So why was I finally able to make the change? Let's break it down into a few steps so that you can apply it to a bad habit YOU want to break: 

  1. I recognized the challenge. I realized I was addicted. Once I was aware of the pattern I was in, I had the power to change it.  

  2. I had a powerful enough why. I have big goals that I'm serious about accomplishing. I can’t afford to waste my precious time on email. Those messages can wait a few hours! It was important enough for me to make the change. 

  3. I identified the cue that triggered me to do the habit. Deconstruct when, where and why you are repeating the bad habit. Visual cues prompt certain behaviors. This is why it's so important that we architect our environment to support the behaviors we want to have. Remove triggers if possible (in this case I turned off notifications and closed out my email windows). If you can’t remove a trigger (for example if the trigger is emotional), then replace your bad habit with a better one.  

  4. I made a firm commitment. I had wanted to break this habit before but wasn't able to. It wasn't until I was 100% all in that I made it happen. I was ready to make the change.  

  5. I declared my goal to help me be accountable. By telling my husband he could remind me when I slipped (which happens from time-to-time). Sometimes we need outside support. Also, declaring your goals makes you 50% more likely to achieve them – we all want to have integrity with our word so we make more of an effort when we've made them public.  

  6. I created rules and set standards for myself and adhered to them. One of the great paradoxes is that boundaries = freedom. Initially it was hard for me to wrap my head around that one but the more I practice it, the more I know it from experience. By having boundaries around when I check my email, I broke free from the chains of the habit. I decided no email before I meditate and do my morning yoga practice and no email after 5pm.  

  7. Recognize the costs and rewards. Figure out what you're getting out of the habit. What's the reward for your behavior? In my case it was the hope of an exciting email. Giving up instant gratification is hard, but gaining productivity, being more present and more focused was worth it. What's it costing you to maintain your bad habit? What's the possibility if you break it? Remind yourself of this every time you're tempted. 

2 habits to grow your self worth

So many of us have trouble setting boundaries. Whether it's saying no to too others or keeping promises we've made to ourselves like reducing our sugar consumption. Over the past few years I've talked to hundreds of people about their health challenges and the thing that seems to come up again and again is boundaries. I think our lack of setting good boundaries stems from low self worth. Feeling like we're not enough keeps us searching outside of ourselves for something that can only be found within. So we continue to agree to commitments out of obligation hoping that we will earn our worth by what we do instead of who we are.  

This can also show up in several ways, one of which is perfectionism (a personal challenge I've worked on overcoming). Perfectionism is low self-worth dressed up as an overachiever. This is the most destructive lie we tell ourselves – that if we're perfect, then we'll be worthy. The problem with this perfectionist mentality is that we exhaust ourselves with all the pressure we put on ourselves to reach this unattainable goal and end up burned out. We continue to try to "do-it-all" and end up resentful and bitter.   

So what to do? How do we build our self-confidence in order to have strong boundaries and live with higher integrity?   

I posed this question to my Empowered Living Group and this is what we came up with: self-care. Self-care cultivates confidence from the outside in. 

In the fifth chapter of Ayurveda’s Charaka Samhita, it states:  

Daily Routines (Dinacharya) that align us with Nature build character and confidence.  

It's right there in the ancient texts – if you want to improve your body issues and self-esteem, your need to dial in your self-care habits. When you do, you attain svasta - the sanskrit word which means "seated in the self". It refers to the state of optimal health and balance in body and mind. To create svasta is to cultivate ease, peace, energy, vitality, and integrity. 

There are 2 habits in particular that grow your self-worth and self love. I recorded my very first Facebook live video about it. You can watch it below.

Bondage and Yoga

I recently got back from a family trip in Mexico. Before I left, I decided this time I would commit to my daily morning yoga practice while I was on vacation. In the past there when times where I would keep up with my asana practice , and then there when other times where I never did so much as a downward dog. So the day before I left, I went to Lululemon and purchased a travel mat that I could stuff into my suitcase. When I arrived to our hotel I put it out as a reminder to step onto my mat each morning. And I did. (see a video of my morning practice at the link at the bottom of the page).

There are certain habits that I've come to think of as my "non-negotiables" (like my daily yoga practice). After feeling and noticing their positive effects, I've made them a priority in my day-to-day life.

Once you recognize the value of certain practices, the next step is creating strong boundaries around them to guarantee they happen. Otherwise, you fall victim to circumstance or other people's schedule and demands.

In the Tantric Yoga tradition there is a belief that we are inherently free (in Sanskrit, the word is svatantrya ). We are free to act, speak, and think in whatever way we choose. The problem is we often don't take ownership of that freedom.

I might be going out on a ledge here but I'll just assume that we all want to be free. We all want to feel in control of our thoughts, words and actions. But how often does the pull of old habits or old friends or family (damn peer pressure!) take us in the opposite direction of where we want to go? How do we take back our power and live in alignment with our highest intentions and deepest desires so we can know our own freedom?

One of my philosophy teachers Douglas Brooks would always say, "Yoga is to bind oneself exquisitely". It's through creating meaningful boundaries and a strong container around what we value and what is best for us that we can truly experience our freedom.

Yoga is a path of exquisite bondage - Douglas Brooks

When we commit to what we hold dear and cherish, we are solidifying our freedom of choice. On the other hand, when we're bound by other people or external circumstances, we give up that freedom. In short, we fall victim.

Appropriate boundaries create integrity - Jewish proverb

Creating boundaries doesn’t come easily. It takes discipline to stay faithful to our promises. Boundaries require inner strength and taking a stand for what's important. They ask you to take responsibility for your health and happiness. It requires that we first know what we need and then make it known to those around you (boundaries are as much for you as they are for your relationships-I made an arrangement with my husband to watch the kids so I could do my yoga practice). Owning our freedom requires effort. Once we do the work of defining and strengthening our boundaries, we can experience our innate freedom.


  • What are the non-negotiables in your life? What self-care practices do you know you NEED to feel whole?
  • Who do you need to inform about your boundaries in order to make them happen?
  • What boundaries do you need to create ?



Here's a peak into my morning practice:

Lagunamar Flow 2014 - Small