FIND MORE BALANCE BY NOURISHING YOURSELF
When we start to feel depressed or stressed, we tend to neglect the nourishing activities, which usually help us feel better. Instead, we keep doing those which we really have to do – which further exhaust us. We then feel even worse, so do even less.
What nourishes you? This is the question that you should take really seriously and find the answer for yourself. Nourishing yourself means to do things that give you energy and nurture you. Think about a flower or a house plant: they need water from time to time to be alive, so do you!
We all have our favourite activities that give us energy. It can be as simple as having a bath with salts and oils, or taking a walk in nature, cuddling up on a sofa with your fav book and a cup of tea or hot chocolate, or doing your 15 min yoga practice (15 min of savasana also counts!) Even cuddling your pet can be nourishing.
Nourishing is whatever fills your cup! Whatever makes your body, mind and soul feel complete and ‘at home’.
Nourishing activities lift your mood, increase energy, and help you feel calm and centred.
It’s also important to distinguish nourishing activities into activities we do for pleasure (like reading a novel) and mastery (for example, tidying your desk).
But have you thought about what drains your energy? What depletes you?
Depleting activities are, on the contrary, take your energy away. Maybe it is (always) doing the dishes, having a long Zoom meeting at work, going to sleep too late, or getting lost on social media and not being able to stop scrolling your Facebook feed.
Depleting activities lower your mood, drain energy, and increase stress and tension.
Now is the time to reflect: what gives you energy and what takes your energy.
Time to reflect – What gives and what takes your energy?
Take a few minutes to write down on a piece of paper the activities you do in your daily life. It can be one list for a typical workday, and another list for a typical weekend. It might be helpful to start by thinking of what you do first thing in the morning and then end your list with getting into bed.
Once you have completed your list, decide whether each activity nourishes or depletes you. Indicate this by putting an ‘+’ or ‘-‘ next to each activity. You might find that some activities are not so clearly either/or. For those that are sometimes nourishing and sometimes depleting place a ‘?’ For those that are neither neutral, you may leave blank.
This is how the beginning of your list can look like:
|Activities of my day||Nourishing (+), depleting (-) or not sure (?)|
|Wake up alarm||
|Morning yoga practice||
|Check social media||
|Online meeting of 2 hours||
|Going to bed at 12 am||
At this point, you might notice that a lot of your daily activities are draining, and not so many are nourishing.
However, there is no fixed rule about whether something is nourishing or depleting. It depends on so many factors. Going for a walk when it is sunny is probably more fun than on a rainy and windy day. Or maybe following a power yoga class is more fun when you feel healthy and fit compared when you are already drained.
How to nourish yourself?
You may be able to find a healthier balance by increasing your nourishing and energizing activities and considering what draining and depleting activities you can change.
A little note of caution: if you already have a few nourishing activities during the day, you don’t need to add more to that right away. It is best to consistently stick to them and don’t get overwhelmed by adding more and more.
Choose three things from the nourishing list you can easily commit to doing consistently: some things you can do daily and others weekly. Keep that list close by where you can easily see it and turn to it whenever it gets difficult. Trust me; those (small) things can save your mind-body-soul during the most difficult times.
What nourishes me?
- Daily: morning yoga practice (trust me, not always easy to crawl out of my bed..)
- Weekly: taking a bath with lavender oil and reading a book
- Every possible moment: cuddling my 5 cats (never at the same time – they don’t like each other)
What can you do about depleting activities?
But how about depleting activities? What can you do about them?
There may be depleting things on your list that you can simply stop doing, like checking social media first thing in the morning.
Other you can probably change. For those that you think you can change, ask yourself:
- What could I do differently? When? How? With Who?
Can someone else in your household help you with doing the dishes and other chores?
Can you insert a few 5-minute breaks into that 2-hour long weekly meeting?
There are likely some depleting activities on your list that you find you cannot avoid or change. In this case, you might choose to change the meaning you give those activities.
For example, I don’t like to do my administrative tasks. I’m a yoga and mindfulness teacher that should be creating instead of spending time on accounting and admin. However, when I started to think about administration as something that enables me to be more organised and help more clients, it changed my perception. So the activity became less depleting.
We can deliberately choose to do more of nourishing and less of depleting activities.
Throughout the day, take a few pauses and ask yourself:
- What do I need for myself right now?
- How can I best take care of myself at this moment?
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