What does self-care mean to you?
LP: Self-care to me is a true expression of love. It is a commitment to saving time, attention, and energy for myself. Reflecting even just a little bit of what I put out into the world and offer it to myself. Love is an abundant source, I find that to love unconditionally I must start with the source. The source being myself, and myself being love. What I’m trying to say is that in order to fuel myself as love — to offer it unconditionally — I must love myself! Loving myself is self-care.
This is the root of self-care, as my expression of this has evolved it has taken many forms. Self-care often looks, for me, like taking time to nurture my body, mind and spirit. It looks like mindful breathing, drinking lots of water, eating whole foods, getting plenty of rest, spending time outdoors. It really looks like a lot of things, and it all feels like a lot of love. Over the years I’ve learned other useful tools for myself to use to expand my self-care tool box that involve yoga, exercise, immersing in nature, massage therapy, unplugging from technology, painting, talk therapy — to name a few — all of which anchor me in each moment.
For you, why is it important to spend time creating a connection with nature?
LP: In its simplest form, nature is my muse. Have you ever noticed how intoxicating it is to breathe in the air next to plants? It’s so perfect, it’s like I can actually feel the transmission of life on a cellular level, I’m instantly embodied with peace. Then I open up and watch. There is so, so much to see and witness when I’m out in the wild. I’ve really noticed in myself and others how the pace of life has sped up into unimaginable levels of hyperdrive. While that may be all well and good to task master my way through life going from one thing to the next, I find that this is when I start to notice my source of love starts to wane, and I fall into feelings of depletion. When I reach this intersection it’s important for me to make time, and step back from what I’m doing to recharge and dive deep into nature.
There is something so incredibly magical about making the conscious decision to unplug and spend time in nature. In the world of productivity-aiding technologies, sometimes we forget that we are humans, we are mammals — we are the natural world. So when I return to nature, I return to my wild self, at one with my environment and fully connected to the present. The peace that floods my whole self after even just one minute of this is a gift in every sense of the word — watching all the creatures play, sing, dance, totally intertwined with their environment, appearing to only be aware of what is truly necessary.
While I’m in nature I can witness my symbiotic relationships, from something as subtle as the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between myself and the plants. To more harsh relationships like how my consumption of land and non-renewable resources affects habitats for all the living things that reside there. Truly impressing the importance of stewardship for the land and the creatures that reside there.
How can we integrate this work into our everyday lives?
LP: Compassionately! If we want to successfully invite themes of self-care and nature into our lives, watch for when we start to have feelings of depletion, overwhelm, stress, fatigue, anxiety, feelings associated to not being present or in the moment — that is our cue to stop, and make time for what feeds our source lovingly. I see a lot of people excel at feeding their external relationships with love all the time. So, to open the door to self-care we can look at it as a building a relationship with our inner self, and offering that same source of love we offer others, and offer it to ourselves as well. This is ‘self-responsible’ self-care — it doesn’t steal love from those external relationships — it in fact amplifies them as we can meet our relationships from a space of abundance.
Here are a few simple and accessible ways to build your own self-care tool box:
- Breath. There are innate tools we are born with, the most important being the breath. Anytime you feel you need to drop back into the moment, come back to the breath. Just watching the breath helps us return to the present moment.
- Rest. Our bodies are our vessel for experiencing life and they require some much needed attention ensuring we provide appropriate amounts of fuel, rest, and water.Sleep is the time that we allow our bodies to heal and reset for the next day, following the cycle of the sun and nature’s rhythms.
- Water. Our bodies require water for much of their vital function, so as we use that water for vital function we must subsequently replace that water.
- Whole foods. Eating whole foods in balanced meals is a really great way to nurture self-care in our bodies. If you find the task of fuelling your body with whole foods to be daunting, ask for help! There are many great resources out there from professionals like dieticians and holistic nutritionists. One of my favourite sources on all things nutrition-based on the internet is Dr. Michael Greeger.
- Nature. Go for a walk outside, feel the elements on your skin and come back to your wild self. Recognize the impermanence of life and come back to the simple things, it really is that easy.