As women we often build our lives around the people in our lives. We give, we love, we create space for others , we are the silent workers that make family life, social gatherings and workplaces run smoothly. We hold up the fort without giving it a second thought and we do our best to keep the peace in any situation.
As women with food issues, it is not uncommon to routinely put ourselves last. Because we don’t want to face ourselves, because we’ve forgotten what we need, because we’re afraid of asking, because the conflict between giving to others and giving to ourselves feels unsolvable. All while using food to compensate.
The most commonly prescribed antidote to our food problems: self care.
I’ve been running into the term self care a lot lately and while I love the concept, self care, just like about anything else, can sometimes seem kind of…..well, shallow. A lot of it seems to consist of taking organic lavender baths, meditating till your feet are numb and generally slipping into a flow of beautiful moments.
For some getting a manicure or making the time to quietly sit and read a book is enough and that’s totally ok with me, I love doing those things too. But what happens when it’s not enough? When the primping and meditating doesn’t heal the wounds of inauthenticity you have inside? When you need the ugly, gritty or socially awkward type of self care? Honoring your deepest needs, whatever they might be is, to me, the truest version of self care. That is why I have compiled a little list of practices, that might not necessarily be the most socially compliant or pretty, but that will hopefully set you free on a whole new level. So here we go!
Honor your body’s needs(despite potential social backlash)
Just because the Facebook event page says that the party ends at 2am and the hosts have a whole string of activities lined up until then doesn’t mean you can’t leave. “You’re leaving already? We haven’t done X, Y and Z!” might be the reaction you get, but if you need your sleep more than you need X, Y and Z there is no shame in honoring that. There will always be more X, Y and Z. I promise.
Break free from your “shoulds”
Sometimes true self-care entails practices commonly deemed “unhealthy”, “asocial” or just plain lazy. Having ice cream for breakfast, spending a whole day in bed, canceling dinner plans to binge watch your favorite show, not shaving for a week and going to bed without brushing your teeth can all be forms of self care. The point being, if you need a break from all your “shoulds” to find your emotional bearings, then take it.
Stop bottling up your feelings
So many times I’ve scurried home, stifling the tears that are about to come flooding out and finally being able to close the front door behind me, I melt into a pile of sadness and hurt. Just to be able to cry. We treat crying like it is a public offense, reserved only for funerals and weddings(the latter being happy tears). We are afraid to act out our happiness, joy, hurt, resentment and anger for fear of making other people uncomfortable, making ourselves vulnerable or being perceived as weak. So we put on our social masks and go out in the world, waiting until we get home to laugh out loud, scream into pillows or crash land on the couch from exhaustion and sadness. Start expressing your emotions, wherever you are, and what you’ll experience is a completely new sense of freedom, both life-wise and food-wise.
Step out of your comfort zone and find out what you REALLY need
Food can act as the language we use to express our deepest needs and wants. When we are too afraid or ashamed to go after what we REALLY want our go-to is the next best thing; food. Food in our bellies can feel like an internal hug, granting us love and safety. It can ground a stressed out, jittery body in need of some rest and peace. It can numb racing thoughts when what we really need is someone to share those thoughts with. Finding out what we need in the absence of food as a coping mechanism can be scary but with practice, practice and a little more practice it will liberate us in ways we never thought possible. More deep conversations, more play and less work, more delegating and collaboration, more love, more not caring what anyone thinks and more loud dance parties. These are the things that will fill us up in a way that food never will.
Give yourself permission to be whatever you are
Give yourself unconditional permission to be yourself, perceived “flaws” and all. Trying to hide certain parts of ourselves or trying to be someone else will quickly drain our energy having us turn to food for comfort when what we’re really craving is being able to show up in the world as we are.
For fear of seeming illogical, uneducated or possibly going off on a tangent I have held myself back from speaking my truth many times. I have nodded along, smiling while listening to and agreeing in conversations about things I care or know nothing about. I’ve been obsessed with the thought that if I speak I need to speak intelligently or else I’ll find myself fulfilling the stereotype of the bimbo woman. If you’re anything like me, a sensitive soul with propensity for incoherent feelings-oriented ramblings let yourself be just that. And if you’re something else, be that. And if anyone thinks any less of you, they’re not worthy of your time and authenticity.
Work on your sense of worthiness
Acts of self care can go a long way but if you have a little voice inside of you screaming that you’re not okay, working on your worthiness needs to be the top:ish priority. The aforementioned things on this list will only stick once you’ve proclaimed yourself worthy of them. This may take some time but as you work on accepting your messy ol’ self as you are, a deeper sense of worthiness will start to form. When you start to feel that you’re truly worthy of having your needs met YOU. ARE. HOME.