A few weeks ago I was hiking with my husband and kids in the hopes of going climbing at a small area not far from our house. Neither my husband nor I had been there before and it was a hot dry day to be out with a four and six-year-old and have high expectations. Knowing that they didn’t have much left in them and we had obviously passed the trailhead to the climbing area, I went on a quick off trail mission to locate the crag in order to scope it for our next attempt. The next thing I knew I was on a loose scree slope and hearing a rattlesnake’s rattle. My adrenaline surged when I glanced at my snake friend, clearly a youth, and simultaneously slipped and started sliding down the scree. Knowing that the young ones like to unload their entire venom arsenal I was terrified to see the snake sliding along above me and insanely grateful when I managed to run my way out of it without with just an abrasion on my arm and not a bite.
Whew! I made it. What if I hadn’t? How long would I have felt ok enough to walk? How bad would it have hurt? Would I have been able to keep my mental state together enough to take care of myself and get out of there? My husband was close enough that he may have heard me had I screamed, but it was pretty windy and he may not have. It was hot and he most likely wouldn’t have wanted to leave the kids to go look for me and maybe would have waited quite a while to investigate since he knows that I love my alone time in the wilderness. If I had been bitten, what was intended to be a joyful day on the trail and the rock could have turned into a nightmare life threatening event. The reason that I bring this up today is not in the least to suggest you not go hiking, or to not go hiking alone, or to live in fear, but to reinforce the extreme importance of self-care. If we walk through our days in the best physical, mental, emotional states that we can, we are armed to handle the major incidents if and when they do come up. Here are five small things you can do on a daily basis to keep you living better so that when the road gets rocky you have 4-wheel drive:
Meditate. Just do it. You may not think you are doing it right. You will be thinking a lot of the time. Just do it 5 minutes a day at least for 30 days until it becomes a habit, and then do it more. Pay attention to your breath. Focus inward a bit every day. Express gratitude in your own head for your own life and if you need guidance, look to Susan Piver, she’s amazing.
Move in Nature. Exercise is great. Running, walking, skiing, climbing, dancing, yoga… I don’t care what you do, if you can do it outside in nature I believe it is much better for you. When I see people running on a treadmill watching stress and fear inducing television programing I think to myself, “what in the world are they getting out of that?”. If and when possible, get your exercise out in the open where you can think bigger and breath fresh air (hopefully unless you are in the Central Valley).
Change Something about the way you Eat. I used to hate fad diets and discount them at all costs. Lately I have done a few (Whole30 and the Plan) and I found great pleasure in learning some new recipes, observing the way my body responds to different foods, and just THINKING more about what and how I eat. My kids ask about whether something has too much sugar, and what’s good for them and why because my husband and I have been much more intentional about our eating. We all fall into patterns and habits with our diet. Change it up now and then, you might just learn something.
Sleep well. If you don’t sleep well, I know this is a hard pill to swallow. RIGHT just sleep well, it’s THAT easy! I get that sometimes it is not that easy, but what are you ACTIVELY doing to change it if you are not sleeping well. Have you tried consistently going to bed earlier? Have you logged how much sleep you REALLY need? Have you looked at the room and the bed you sleep in to see if it’s ideal for sleeping (dark, quiet, cool, comfy)? If your schedule doesn’t allow you to sleep enough, what can you cut out? This is YEARS off your life and if you are not sleeping well, so maybe late night TV should be cut. The right homeopathic remedy can help you sleep better if you have tried the items above. If you need a drug to sleep, something is not right.
Express Gratitude. Every night around the dinner table we exchange three things that we are grateful for. It’s amazing the things my kids come up with (but the constant is “Daddy coming home from work”). When you express gratitude you decrease your stress hormones and you are happier. Writing thank you notes and doing little things for friends and family can make YOU much happier. In this world of constant online communication and stimulation, take time to look people in the eye and thank them. Meditate on it. Gratitude blossoms love.
As I was sliding down the hill thinking I might be bit by a rattlesnake at any moment, these practices didn’t pop up and provide me with a coat of armor. However, with a few years of meditating under my belt and self-care being something I do as well as talk to people about ALL THE TIME in my line of work, I know that in their own way, they really would have protected me if the bite had happened. We’re given a certain path to walk and obstacles to overcome and how we do that is who we are. I weather things much better and I walk through life MUCH happier because I practice these things every day. I know that implementing these practices might not be easy for you, and if I can be of some help, please feel free to REACH OUT! If you are doing all these things, I would assume you would not have read this far. Or maybe you skimmed down to here to find out that I DIDN’T GET BIT BY A RATTLESNAKE. Carry on with your lovely life and thanks for reading!
P.S. I’d now like to add a sixth item which is JOIN A MASTERMIND to these pearls of wisdom. If you’re interested check THIS out.