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Discipline as a Form of Self-Care

Discipline as self care

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. ~Brianna Wiest

I have a confession to make:  I teach movement and meditation as a career AND I struggle to have my own consistent practice of self-care.  For as long as I have been in this industry, this has been difficult for me.  Sometimes I don’t choose to take care of myself.  Having the best training, the knowledge about what to do, or having the equipment to do the practice are not the issues standing in the way for me. So, what’s the problem?  I am getting in my own way most of the time. I mean, who am I trying to please or impress with my super busy schedule that doesn’t even allow me to exercise or meditate?!

The Belief of Only Perfect will do

For so many years, I have felt guilty and ashamed about this struggle.  I mean, how could someone in my career not be in the best physical shape?  How could a Pilates and yoga teacher not have a consistent, beautiful, perfect movement practice? Why can’t I find the time to meditate for an hour a day?  How could I not practice self-care?

This guilt and shame have held me back from seeking the guidance of a coach of my own.  After all, a teacher needs a teacher of their own, because they are also a student.  Additionally, the ability to prioritize myself was also part of the problem.  I didn’t know how to prioritize my own needs.  I had a difficult time even recognizing what those needs were.  I was living in my own head, not connected to my emotions at all.  I was allowing self-sabotage by means of busyness and adding responsibilities.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is a big buzz word, a trending topic now, especially in the health and wellness field. Self-care is about recognizing when your resources are running low and choosing to replenish them rather than letting them drain away completely.  I’d add that it is about creating a life that doesn’t allow your resources to run low in the first place.

What truly fits into this category?   While it is clear self-care is important, it is less clear what constitutes appropriate actions to take.  The dictionary definition of self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”  Or “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

In my mind, I do practice self-care.  I offer myself compassion and do things that feel good.  I get massages, acupuncture, go to the doctor regularly, take relaxing baths with Epsom salts and essential oils, take occasional vacations and rest when I feel tired.  I am improving my own health as in the first definition.  So, I’m all good, right?

What Self-Care Isn’t?

This is all good, until I lean towards overdoing the above list of indulgences to escape the stress of everyday life.  I forget that not everything that feels good constitutes a self-care practice.  Perhaps I opt to “rest” in front of the tv for longer than is really in the realm of “self-care.”  And is tv really nourishing?  Is 4 episodes of the series I am currently binging actually supporting me in any way?  It’s questionable.  Sure, it may give me an escape from the stress of daily life, but does it refill my energy? Doubtful!

If one month, my finances are a little tight, it would be a stretch to get a massage.  Using this as a form of self-care would actually add more stress rather than reduce my overall stress level.  A glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream occasionally might feel good, but these can easily become an over-indulgence.

There is a difference between overindulging or unhealthy coping strategies and self-care.  With a self-care practice, there is no question that it is good for you. It is the mundane, routine acts that compound over time to make the most difference.

Discipline is My Secret Weapon of Self-Care

For me, the real gift to myself is the commitment to my practices.  This is what both allows me to recognize my the level of my resources as well as choose to replenish them.  Self-care equates to discipline.  It is a dedication to the everyday acts that tip the scales of my overall health and wellness.

About 6 years ago, (after teaching Pilates for about 9 years) I began working with a strength coach.  The main goal of this program for me was consistency.  The program was 3 times per week for 90 minutes each session.  I committed, I got stronger, and I felt physically good.  The surprising benefit of this was gained confidence and self-worth in other areas of my life.

You see, the focus and dedication to myself sent a message that I was worth it, that I deserved taking care of myself.  The confidence I gained in the gym spread out into my work and my relationships. I fit these 90-minute sessions into my already busy life because I began to prioritize my own physical and mental health.  I moved worked appointments, arranged rides for my kids when necessary, I did whatever I had to in order to make these commitments to myself.

Where the Magic Happens

As I stuck with this dedicated program, I seemingly easily made healthy choices for myself in other areas of my life that I had struggled with in the past.  The commitment, discipline, and care for myself rippled out from this one aspect of my life into so much more.  My sleep schedule became consistent.  Productivity and creativity at work increased.  My business began growing.  My close relationships grew stronger and more fulfilling.  This was also the time in my life that I dedicated myself to a consistent meditation practice.

It takes commitment and discipline to do the things that are good for you instead of what feels good. For example, discipline is turning off the tv at 8:00 pm rather than 9:00 pm, knowing you will sleep better, and choose not to hit the snooze button for your 6:00 am workout.  It takes commitment and discipline to take responsibility for our own health and well-being.

For me, discipline means finishing a task, a program, or a book before I start the next one.  And believe me, I have many unfinished books!  It also means recognizing my limits, the best way to spend my time and saying no sometimes. Who am I kidding?  I need to say no often!

You Will Be the Best YOU!

Believe me when I say, you will be a happier, more confident, person with increased self-worth!  This will overflow in all that you do at work and your relationships.  Discipline is the secret ingredient to gain the freedom and fulfillment in your life that you desire.

So, I ask you:  What do you need right now, that will tip the scales the most for your health and wellbeing?  The answers to this question–That is how you care for yourself.  Here are three of my favorite components of my self-care routine.

Get Moving

Exercise doesn’t have to be an activity that takes several hours per day. Even 10 minutes can make a big difference.  Perhaps going for a short walk, using a foam roller for self-massage, or a quick yoga practice. When pressed for time, my movement practice is a preparation for meditation.

Meditate!

Meditation is my go-to activity to connect with myself, my inner resources and to refill. I may only have 10 minutes some days and that’s ok.  A teacher of mine once said something that I have been reminded of many times: When you don’t have time to meditate, that’s when you need it the most.  One great thing about meditation is that it does not have to take as long as you might think. Even a 10-minute session can have a positive impact on your mood and your day. Check out this video episode, which features a 10-minute guided meditation, as a starting point!

Mindset!

I use some practice to improve my mindset and mood everyday.  Lately, it has been journaling and reading.  This helps put things in perspective if I start to get overwhelmed or stressed.

One of my favorite books to read during this time of my self-care routine is “Journey to the Heart,” by Melody Beatie.  I have a very tattered copy right next to my yoga mat and journal for my daily practice.  And I have given this book as gifts countless times.

If you want more information on my 3M approach to Self-Care, check out this related article. 

Get started here–A Morning Routine for Beginners: Gentle Yoga and Morning Meditation

Additional Resources:

If you are looking to dive into the world of meditation in 2020, a great starting point is our 4-Day Meditation Journey. This free program is a great resource for beginners and those looking to step back into the practice of meditation.

The Mindful Movement’s 5-week online course, Living Fulfilled is another great opportunity.  During the course, you will explore how to find your purpose, love yourself, and connect with your authentic self.

Members Oasis for: Unlimited access to all Mindful Movement Meditations and Hypnosis Practices; Exclusive Members Only Content added EVERY month; Practice anytime, anywhere.

Purchase your favorite Meditation and Hypnosis practices from the Mindful Movement. You can download an MP3 file to listen to anytime, anywhere with no internet access necessary.

Hypnotherapy is an extremely powerful tool to support transitions and times of change.  If you decide you want to work one on one with a hypnotherapist, I’d love to help you!

Let us know how we can help.  Please feel to leave a comment with any other suggestions, comments, or questions for the community!

With love and gratitude,

Sara and Les

The Mindful Movement

About the author, Sara

Sara is the founder of The Mindful Movement and the owner of Coreworks Fitness, a Pilates and Yoga studio in MD. Sara is also a Pilates and CoreAligh Master instructor with Balanced Body.

Sara is passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. She helps others move better, feel better, live with a deep awareness, gratitude and their whole heart. She strives to inspire others to live authentically and passionately in love and abundance.

5 Comments

  1. Lia on 12/09/2020 at 9:43 PM

    Oh my gosh, Sara! Thank you for the wonderful article. It’s exactly how I have been feeling lately and even spent over an hour one “very late/early morning” journaling about it because I could not sleep. When I can’t sleep I just get up and write it all down so it’s there if I need it but I no longer have to keep ruminating about stuff.

    Even with the pandemic my friend said to me the other day on our walk, “You’re always SO busy. You need to just take time for yourself.” I feel like I do, but the TV thing at night lately is my go to. I’ve started doing a simple 2-3 pose yoga for the senses (not a practice…just holding poses) for about 10-20 minutes max to reestablish that time and set my “true” intentions for how I want the evening to move forward. I decided to get the book you referenced also after reading through it on amazon. Thank you.

  2. Betsy Wright on 12/10/2020 at 1:19 AM

    Great article!This really hit home for me!Just valuing this time component and that yes you are worth it!I often struggle feeling that” I’m good “I don’t really need that massage or that acupuncture as my stiff shoulder will improve eventually.Being more intentional and as the Nike commercial says!”Just do it”AND Realize that “Health is Wealth!”Betsy

    • sujata on 12/12/2020 at 1:11 AM

      Beautiful article. Much needed. Love and grace!! 😊😊

  3. Marylou on 12/10/2020 at 12:56 PM

    Hi Sara: As a healthcare worker I have seem to lost my motivation for self care. I’m constantly worried about others well being and being constantly tried, and all the pressure just leaves me drained. I love what I do and people’s care is very important to me. But unfortunately I find little time for myself. Please HELP….

  4. Cynthia on 12/10/2020 at 2:36 PM

    This was valuable to me to understand what true self care is and is not. If I need to indulge in breaks from my life, what indeed does that say about the life I have created for myself? And I am the only one who can change it – not the circumstances as much as my own self care amidst whatever circumstances life brings me. Thank you for reminding me to put self care as my foundation, not an afterthought when the “To Do” list is finished. It is never finished.

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Sara and Les Raymond founded The Mindful Movement in August of 2016. They are passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. They have both experienced profound growth and fulfillment in living a mindful lifestyle. Together they help others live a more mindful life, deepening their awareness and sense of gratitude. They strive to inspire others to live authentically with love and abundance.

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