Last month I was interviewed by YogaByCandace and she asked me an interesting question: “Why do you think so many people struggle to make time for mindfulness or self-care?” My first thought was that I just don’t think people realize what they are missing. That they have sustained and survived under stressful conditions and they have done “okay” and are satisfied with okay. But as I thought about it further I realized that stress is such an epidemic in our country and that not taking care of ourselves is one of the biggest contributors to this. So I did a little research.
The Bad News
CDC states that the leading causes of death in the USA are heart disease and cancer. Together they represented about 45.6% of all deaths in 2014. Furthermore, 70.7% of adults 20 years and older are either overweight or obese! Wow, I knew it was bad, but didn’t realize it was that bad.
The Good News
Thankfully there are studies that indicate more people are engaging in mindful practices in the USA. Yoga is on the rise according to a study by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance conducted in January 2016. It concluded that since 2012 the number of people practicing yoga has increased by 50 Percent to over 36 Million people. Meditation is also becoming more mainstream and there are hundreds of studies that confirm the positive affects it has on people. Healthier eating is being promoted in the food industry, organic and non GMO foods are in demand, and veganism is becoming popular. The good news is that these trends are gaining momentum.
Benefits for investing in self-care
Aside from the obvious fact that it would help you live a healthier, happier and most likely longer life, investing in yourself will help your loved ones live better lives too. This happens for two reasons: First, you are setting an example for them. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words (and my favorite quote), you are “being the change that you want to see” and by setting that example they have proof they can do it too. Second, when you take better care of yourself you can give more to those you love. This doesn’t mean you have to do amazing things for them, just being in a better mood, being able to engage with them in a positive way enriches their lives so much. A positive attitude is contagious and, unfortunately, so is a negative one. Which one do you want to have? For yourself? For the people you love?
What does it take?
There are so many ways to take care of yourself and there is no “right” way. I like to use the 8 Limbs of Yoga as a guide for my self-care. It is a holistic approach that focuses on your body, mind and spirit—all of you. Our bodies, minds and spirits are interconnected, therefore each aspect of you needs to be nourished and nurtured.
My self-care practices are always evolving---different times call for different supportive practices and changing it up keeps it fresh and engaging. Currently, my morning routine consists of meditating for 15 minutes and then identifying 3 to 5 reasons I am grateful. My physical practice consists of 2-3 asana classes and 2-3 cardio workouts per week. Eating clean is a constant (except during the holidays).
If this is new to you I would recommend to start with one practice. Try meditating for 5 minutes a day. Once this becomes a habit gradually increase the time. Then add another self-care practice to your routine. Once you start noticing the positive changes you want to do more and more.
Hopefully this helps inspire you to be the change you would like to see in the world.