Self Care For the Holistic Practitioner – 8 Ways to Nurture Now
To be an effective professional and business owner, little is more fundamental than self care for the holistic healer. In our wildly busy world, it is often very easy for all us to forget the importance of self care, and healers can be the most remiss in this area. As solopreneurs and small business owners, there are so many demands on time and to-do lists that can sprawl interminable, and it can be incredibly difficult to eek out the space and time for yourself.
But if barefoot cobblers and the Book of Luke have taught us anything, it is that we must heal the healers and care for the caregivers (us) first. It is very difficult to attend to anyone else’s healing if we do not care for ourselves. Burnout, injury, and compassion fatigue are all very common problems in the wellness industry, but they don’t have to be. Since many holistic practitioners tend to be givers by nature, and it is important to stay balanced, energized, and grounded in your own health before you can give your best to any one else.
The following 8 tips will help you chart a course to make self-care a fundamental part of your practice, as well as some helpful resources to get started. Click on the steps below to learn more about how you can start today!
#1- Unplug: In an effort to run your business the best way possible, have you turned into one of those people? The one who finds it completely acceptable to stop a friend mid-sentence to respond to a text message or who misses his daughter’s soccer game because he had to keep his twitter account replete with updated content? Even though many holistic practitioners fall into the ‘high touch, low tech’ category, technology is an increasingly vital piece of doing any business, and a failure to keep boundaries can drain your time and impinge on your self-care priorities.
And what if the things you are plugged into are not technology-related? Make it a point to unplug from other, more elusive habits that might be getting in your way. Perhaps you need to step away from self-deprecating ideas that you need to be younger, wealthier, smarter, skinnier, etc. Perhaps you need to unplug from expectations that others have of you. Think about the habitual thoughts or behavior that you have that are draining you, and make a conscious decision to let them go (even for the afternoon).
#2- Recreate the Retreat:In our culture, words like vacation, retreat, and sanctuary have almost become dirty little words. They’re the new forbidden fruit in the Garden. They smack of something luxurious, something indulgent, something only rich people do. Something selfish. But the reality is, taking time for yourself is about the healthiest thing you can do. This is particularly true for women, who expend so much of their energy outward. If you don’t slow down, connect with your deeper self, and cultivate an ongoing relationship with yourself, you can’t ever really be with or give to anyone else. Moreover, if you constantly succumb to the endless doing and surrender to the idea that chronic stress is normal, you can quite literally make yourself ill.
#3- Quiet the mind: In a world devoted to constant communication and noise, how often do you take the opportunity to still the mind and just listen ? Prayer, meditation, and mindfulness can be a great way to cultivate internal spaciousness for the mind and spirit. Regular meditation has scientifically proven benefits, including increased concentration, decreased stress, enhanced immunity, and oodles of other great results. In addition to the benefits listed above, taking time to be still also has one great benefit: it give you an opportunity to connect with that still, small voice within and to tap into your own inner self. This can be an invaluable connection, making you much more immune to the ebb and flow of external circumstances. Finding inner peace, even for a few moments, helps connect you to a part of yourself that is independent of external success or challenges.The length of time in meditation is not nearly as important as the consistency: even five minutes a day can make a substantial impact on our physical, mental, and emotional states
#4 – Move the body: Exercise is a great part of self care for holistic practitioners. Regardless of your particular modality, chances are fairly good that your work involves a lot of physical and energetic involvement. The benefits of regular physical activity are certainly not a mystery, but many holistic practitioners allow their own busy schedules to interfere with their workouts. Exercise is an incredibly important part of self-care for the holistic practitioner, as your own health, endurance, and vitality are cornerstones of your work.
#5 -Let others do unto you: I once asked an acupuncturist client of mine how frequently he went in for acupuncture himself. “I don’t get acupuncture,” he quipped. “That stuff hurts!” Although he was trying to be clever, his comment reflects the reality of many holistic practitioners. The most common reasons I hear for lack of regular treatments are time and money. But how can you sell the value of your services and the need for consistent treatment if you aren’t willing to invest in them yourself?If you are a massage therapist, get a regular massage. If you are an energy healer, make regular appoints with a colleague. Get out there and experience as many different healing modalities as you can. Not only is this great for your own self-care, it will benefit your business and your clients to have a healthy resource network!
#6- Nosh like it counts: Virginia Woolfe once wrote that “One cannot think well, love well, or sleep well if one has not dined well.” Just like regular exercise, nutrition is a vital component of self care for the holistic practitioner. Most people know the benefits of eating well- managed weight, fewer illnesses, more energy. But good nutrition and healthy eating isn’t just about denying all gastronomical pleasures and signing on for a life of endless salmon and kale. It is also about reconnecting to the food that we eat and nourishing ourselves in a way that is balanced and free of confliction. In fact, nourishment is not just about the foods we eat- it is also about the ways we nourish deeper parts of ourselves. So much of the activities we do during a day don’t reflect the things that fill us up. Think of the kinds of people, movies, music, and books that inspire you and make you feel sustained, and then give yourself as much of those things as possible.
#7- Play play playIf you want to be successful in self care, improve your laugh life and pump up your playtime! When we think of the importance of playing, we tend to think of small children. However, play is an essential ingredient in healthy adults, too. When you are running any kind of business, it is easy to get bogged down in details and start to take it all much too seriously. Recreation and amusement are great stress reducers, and expressing your creativity in a light-hearted playful way can help keep you vital and joyful. It can also help you keep your business in perspective as well. Fun activities are great for upping your happiness quotient and lowering your stress levels. Think about it. How easy is it to be down about the economy or depressed about work when you’re on a swing set? Can you really dance with your children in the living room while you worry about your weight? Maybe you can, but not nearly as successfully as you can when trapped in your grown-up head. Blow off steam through hobbies or other fun activities that energize you. When you are engrossed in something you truly love, it brings peace into the mind
#8: Mind the mechanics:For practitioners such as massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, or other hand-on healers, body mechanics are a crucial part of self-care. But for any holistic practitioner and business owner, your body is among your greatest assets and an irreplaceable tool. Your work can take a huge physical toll on your body, and having improper mechanics can burn anyone out fast (no matter how balanced you are in other areas). Even the slightest shift in proper positioning can have harmful effects to your body over time. Many holistic practitioners will agree that it is easy to get sloppy with mechanics over time. It is important to maintain a vigilance about your stance any time you are working with clients. Of course, it isn’t just during a client session that you need to pay attention to the way you use your body. Pay attention to the way you maneuver your body when you aren’t working. Are you slouching at the computer? Are you carrying boxes that are too heavy?Pay attention, and then think of all the things that you would tell a client who was doing the same thing.
Read through the tips above and start optimizing your own wellness program today. Your loved ones, your clients, and your business will be all the better for it. After a few months of incorporating these tips, you will have a solid self-care routine that would make Hippocrates proud!