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Advocating for politics, your most recent cause or passion, this may be a helpful read.
This last year, and particularly since the election, life has felt out of balance. The surrounding noise and political chaos has been distracting, energy draining and left me feeling disconnected. It has been an emotional drain that seems to have no end in sight. We have had to show up in ways we did not expect, and tap into our advocate self. Many have commented that this is a marathon, not a sprint. With this in mind and heart, I remind you that self-care, now more than ever, is an essential practice.
As of this writing, I speak to our political environment. Yet, life can show up at any time and feel like it is throwing you off your game. To cope and stay the path one needs to bring their personal best. Without this practice, there is a good chance of burning out.
To support your journey, I offer daily and as-needed practices to help you stay energized and in balance. These practices have been invaluable to me as I reconnect with Self, and not give in to giving up. In short, these practices involve information fasts, self-care, and being in a supportive circle. I do not present them in any particular order, and invite you to be with the suggested practices that call to you. Make them your own.
1) Know thy Self
Knowing who you are amidst the chaos will help you block out the noise and stay grounded. It also helps to know what drains you and what energizes you. Are you true to your feelings and emotions, aware of your personal triggers, and a healthy way to rant and release?
Do you have practices and rituals that keep you in balance? Are you still connected with these practices or do you need to bring them back to life?
Practice: Take time in quiet to hear your own voice before you react, respond or take action.
Creativity can be a portal and practice to stay in touch with who you are. Play and movement are also perfect creative practices to balance and relieve stress. An activity that will get you out of your head, into your body, and into a new perspective. In a left-brain, yang-creative kinda' way, creating something is also a powerful way to reinforce that feeling of accomplishment when all else seems doomed.
Practice: Reconnect with a creative practice, e.g., an instrument, painting, crochet, baking, time outdoors. To fully immerse and stretch your mind, and maybe keep your hands busy, learn something new. Take a class, read a new book or dance to new music.
3) Boundaries and Pacing
Boundaries are the limits we already know to exist within ourselves or those we consciously set. They help to make us feel safe and stay in balance. Mostly, this is about being aware of our boundaries and knowing when we have reached them - before we've crossed over into that abyss.
Helpful distinctions are knowing the difference between staying informed or being overwhelmed, and indulging our favorites or falling into emotionally addictive practices.
Practice: Create time to unplug from news and social media. This may include pacing or limiting news and conversation that distress you - balancing it with news and conversation that energize you. Put down or turn off your phone, computer or tablet. Daily is best (for 20-30 minutes), but at least weekly. Treat it as your lifestyle practice, not a start-it-and-forget-it diet.
4) Choose Your Advocacy Path
With the amount of news coming at us, it can be tempting to react to all. Sometimes it is simply an emotion. Other times it is wanting to take action. Being an effective activist will include being informed. It is not wise or healthy to think we can know everything or do everything indefinitely.
Practice: Focus your energy on one or two paths. This will allow you to focus your energy, your research and your activism. You don’t have to lead a movement to be a part of one. It may be a simple act of support, a letter, a call, volunteering, or creating art. Find your voice and your unique way of speaking up and out.
5) It Takes A Village
Being alone when your heart and mind are suffering can be helpful when you need to reflect. However, allowing thoughts and feelings to bounce around your head or heart can also be exhausting. Feeling like you are all alone can be detrimental. Extended times without love, healing or an alternative perspective can take you down.
Practice: Surround yourself with like-hearted or like-minded individuals. Folks who will listen to you without judgment and support you when you just need to be heard. Other times, the circle will include folks with whom you can be an activist and celebrate wins. You will also need times when you are surrounded by people who just want to have fun, i.e., take a break from your advocacy “work.” This is akin to work-life balance. All work and no play make Jane a dull woman.
6) Ritual and Practice (self-care)
I leave this until last, but of course, it should be first in mind and practice. Without it, we burn out and cannot enjoy all of the other elements in our life or advocacy. During WWII the British understood this one so well their Ministry of Information came up with the slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
If you already have a practice, this is the time to stay true to self, and in your practice. Practice that helps you balance your inner peace and energy. A simple daily practice is best. You may also have a practice that you can attend to several days each week.
Practice: Of course, I am all about slowing down to speed up your success. Knowing that self-care is self-love. Meditation or mindfulness, yoga, quiet reflection, lighting a candle, taking a walk in nature, or the prayers of your choice are examples of rituals you may wish to practice. Be sure these practices include: getting enough rest, eating healthy foods, movement or exercise and creating time-for-self (me-time) where you are responsible to no one but you, your heart and spirit. Note: Be mindful of traps to emotionally addictive habits that provide short-term gratification.
Gratitude is a ritual practice and an energy. It is more than just saying, “thank you,” and deepens when you experience it with all of your senses. I am inviting you to create time to connect with what makes your heart sing and brings a smile from deep inside. It is also about finding a way to be grateful for what may not feel so wonderful, but expands your mind or practice.
Practice: Express gratitude from the moment you wake. It may be as simple as repeating the words, “I am grateful,” before you rise - or gratitude for something specific. If you wish to take it up a notch, and feel it with all of your senses, you may share your gratitude while meditating or keep a written journal. Let gratitude be a practice that infuses your thoughts, language, and actions. Being kind and gentle to yourself and others is what the world truly needs now.
Stay connected and let me know how I may support you on this journey. If you want to connect in a circle I am creating for heart-centered, yin-inspired women, click to join our private Facebook community, YINpreneur™ Wisdom Circle. While there, you will also learn about our weekly Wisdom Tea meditation circle - it's free and virtual. A little sip of peace. My gift to your peace of mind.
I would love to hear your suggestions for practices to stay your path, whether advocating for politics or some other passion. Please share in the comments below.
For now, wishing you peace and happiness amidst the noise. Healing hugs enclosed.
From my heart to yours.
Remember to breathe