One of my favorite parables is that of the tiny flower - a small bud that struggles to strive and grow amidst the opposite pulls of the sun and the earth. The tiny flower fights and fights, until it finally breaks free from the earth, only to lose all of it's petals and wilt back to the ground. You might think that the story ends there - a typical tragedy of sorts - but what happens next is beautiful. The petals around the base of the flower bring nutrients back to the earth and the sun cries tears, which water the plant back to health. The tiny flower grows tall and is happy.
As I explore this new moon in my life, I continue to think about what new activities to add to my calendar. Besides re-immersing myself in my coaching certification, I want to add a few scheduled classes, and ensure that our weekly date night stays put. But I am reminded quickly that an overcrowded calendar can have an effect like the sun and the earth - they pull us in opposite directions and can leave us wilted and burnt out. And, more importantly, they leave little room for the activities that nurture and feed us, recharging our batteries so that we can continue to operate well.
Building a health routine is all about figuring out what feeds your flower, and making sure to incorporate this soul food on a regular basis. These acts of self-care can take many forms. It can be as simple as carving out an extra thirty minutes to consciously prepare a meal for yourself or as complicated as turning down a night out in lieu of a gym class or respite. Whatever it entails, the act of incorporating such tasks into your schedule should be a conscious and deliberate one. It is helpful to truly tap into what your body and mind are telling you, and pause to consider the space between what you want and what you need.
Admittedly, it's not always easy to take the first step towards nurturing your roots when all you want to do is be out there in the world. Self-care can be a quiet and personal thing. But the most challenging part of building a new routine is just getting started. The tiny flower had to fight to get those first nutrients and to claim its space, but it eventually started to feel better. It grew, and it soared. Here are a few tips for finding what works for you.
Tips for Introducing a Health Routine
- Tap into your experiences to determine what you need. Sometimes it's as easy as intuitively knowing that your body needs a break or you want to shed a few pounds. But oftentimes, it can be difficult to truly listen and understand your needs. In this case, consider the ratios. What did you experience last time you did something, and how did it make you feel? If the bad outweighs the good, consider introducing nixing that activity for one that nourishes instead of stresses.
Start small. You can't run a marathon without a pair of shoes. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals for yourself when introducing a new activity. Make the goal Specific (like identifying where to buy shoes), Measurable (such as determining the key points in your process that you can track success against), Achievable (realistic steps in your plan), Reasonable (your expectations in being able to identify where to buy the shoes) and Time-Specific (the time you allot yourself to buy shoes). Being direct about your goals will help you take them down piece by piece and prevent you from making mountains out of molehills.
- Be flexible. Get creative. Some weeks my self-care looks a lot like a spa vacation. At other busy times it could look like a long walk and a podcast instead or an extra five minutes of washing my face. Be flexible in your routine, but don't let that become a detractor in your success. Be creative in thinking up contingency plans in advance each week. If you have to work late and can't go for a run, research a workout video ahead of time to do in your living room.
The key to building a successful health routine is investing the time and energy in making your well-being a priority. A little can go a long way. So what is it that feeds your flower?