Radical Self-Care: The Secret to Living a Creative Life


Guest post* by Sheena Witter, Growing Creative Kids

Today – this post is for you. The busy, exhausted parent. The overworked and under appreciated educator. The creative adult who feels too overwhelmed and uninspired by daily life to be creative.

I’m going to share my recent struggles and realizations about self-care and hopefully it will inspire you to come up with your own radical self-care routine. It is a process, but it is so worth it!

Like the oft-used comparison of getting your breathing apparatus on before helping others in an airplane, before you can care for and inspire creativity in others, you need to make sure you are meeting your needs first.

It is hard to give ourselves the gift of time for self-care. It seems greedy, even selfish. The guilt of sacrificing time with your family, asking your partner to handle the child-care. Saying “no” to a project, someone you love, a volunteer activity, or leaving the classrooms with things still to be done. The guilt, the shame is very real. It hurts. You have to take the risk and work through the discomfort because engaging in regular and deliberate self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your family, your community.

The secret to living a creative life is this: The more time and energy you invest in radical self-care the more creative you will be, the more connected to your family. You will be happier and more productive as you operate from a state of ease and grace.

So what is “radical self-care?” As an adjective radical means: of or going to the root or origin; fundamental.

The term radical self-care is new to me. I am still exploring how I can apply radical self-care to my life. The concept was introduced to me at Camp GLP – a weekend summer camp for entrepreneurs hosted by the amazing husband and wife team of Jonathan and Stephanie Fields from Good Life Project. I went for the connection and business development. What became immediately apparent to me was I was missing something so much more fundamental in my life.

I, like so many teachers and caregivers have a habit of running on empty, living in a constant state of “burn out.” I have not created the time or space or habits that ensure I am taking care of myself. Many experiences at camp highlighted the need for radical self-care. It was so interesting seeing how over 300 other highly creative light-bringers have developed their own self-care rituals, and speak with others who just realized their own lack of self-care was leading to illness and burnout.

In her keynote on self-care, Aviva Romm shared this awesome quote by Audre Lorde:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Aviva also had some great advice about creating time for self-care. For those who over-commit themselves or have the bad habit of saying “yes” to please someone without thinking about what it means to you, she suggested the following exercises:

The Pause:
Give yourself 20-30 seconds before you say yes to something. Take some deep breaths and check in with your body. How does saying “yes” feel. Is it easy and light? Does it cause a block or tightening somewhere in your body?

Ask yourself: “What is your motivation for saying yes?” If it is because you are trying to avoid something negative – a confrontation, feelings of guilt, desire to make someone else happy, you are feeling pressured? Be honest with yourself.

This is hard to do, but with practice it can make a big difference in your interactions and your workload!

The Self-Care Quickie:
Breath in deeply through your nose for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “IAM.”
Breathe out deeply through your mouth for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “At Peace” Take several deep breaths this way.

One of my first Camp GLP workshops was titled, “Radical Self-care” by the energetic, charismatic Kristoffer Carter (KC) from This Epic Life. One of the cornerstones of KC’s radical self-care routine is Meditation. I have to admit I have had a love/hate relationship with meditating over the years. I know the numerous documented benefits, but I have struggled with giving myself the time and space to sit and actively do nothing. I know there is more to it than “doing nothing” but that is the guilt monkey in my mind speaking.

The thing is, I feel better, I think clearer, I have an easier time being creative when I practice meditation. I just don’t do it regularly. So this is going to be the cornerstone of my radical self-care plan that I am building.

Vitality Brainstorm:

KC had lots of tips for bringing more self-care into our lives and routines. He asked us to brainstorm around the word “VITALITY” and ask ourselves what we are already doing now, and what else we can do to bring more vitality into our lives. He asked us not to consider just physical vitality (although that is important!) but also emotional, mental and spiritual vitality. This is a very powerful exercise, and I can’t recommend it enough!

From the brainstorm, we were all able to identify areas and activities where we can practice radical self-care in our lives. One area I identified as needing some radical improvement was with my diet. Another is that I need to bring some more joy and fun in my life, not always to be in “work” mode. To be able to release the guilt about not doing “something” and just “be.”

My personal prescription for my radical self-care: create space and time to develop a meditation practice. Re-examine my relationships with food (especially sugar!) and to create space and time in my life daily for mini-adventures, new experiences, and synchronicity.

I hope this post will inspire you to create your own radical self-care rituals, and you will see the benefits flow through and inspire creativity and connection in your life.

*Note from Aviva: I don’t often run guests posts, but this article drifted to me via Twitter because my name was in it. So I took a look and found that a talk I’d given on self-care had inspired the post. I was curious as to what my talk might inspire in someone else, how it might translate into another person’s head, heart and actions. So I read it. And it moved me. I wanted to share it with you because it’s in a different voice than mine, and I think you’ll enjoy this voice and relate to how Sheena integrates what she was hearing and is bringing it into her own life. I’d love to hear your thoughts on radical self care in the comments box below, and also, please tell me if you like occasional high quality, inspiring guest blogs, too!

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Read or leave comments 20 Comment


Generic placeholder image
Renae

I would love to be able to read this, but the text is running off the right side and cutting off the words.

Reply

    Generic placeholder image
    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Renae, Thanks for letting us know! The problem should be all fixed now :) Megan- Dr. Aviva Romm Nutritionist

    Reply

Generic placeholder image
Daniel

What a wonderful article. Practical and powerful. As a society we will become less selfish by taking more time for ourselves individually. Thank you for sharing.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Stephanie Lynn Tanner

Yes! I would love more guest posts (for one). Secondly, self-care is something I think we all struggle with, but lately for me it's been so fiercely blocked. I'm eight weeks postpartum and while I had a pretty stellar babymoon, I'm falling back into my old patterns. For me, the biggest hangup is turning out to be the courage to confront the belief that I'm not worth the time. It's way beyond just feeling guilty or selfish. It's more like trusting that the time will be there, getting in the rut of "what's the point anyway", and feeling like it's just so much "easier" to drink two cups of coffee in the morning for energy and hop on social media for a sense of connection. As a health professional that works with women, I **know** better. Turns out, it's an embodied practice that doesn't care how much you know!

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Earl Tallman

Aviva, I enjoyed this post being dx with Hashimoto's, everyday is a battle in its self. Having been a do'er, and a giver all my life I had to learn to put the brakes on in my life. No longer could I eat on the run or work the hours I did. Sadly I had to give up my creativity in my work as a general contractor. I love to make peoples dreams reality. My disease progressed to the point that self care is a big issue. I had to learn a new way of life. Now disabled by the Va, I got sick while serving in the Navy construction, I fought it for 30 years before realizing the damage I was doing to myself, I'm a guy, we are good at ignoring our bodies and providing for our families. Now I have self taught myself about a balaned gluten free diet and taking time to care for myself by walking and meditation. With this in mind, and a balanced thyroid, I have found some happiness. I still hope for the day I can do some of the things I enjoyed once, but a balanced body take a lead over all. With out a body you have no life. Thank you for taking the time to post your letters, you genuinely care about people. Thank you again! Earl Tallman

Reply

    Generic placeholder image
    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Earl, This is Megan from Dr. Aviva’s team. If you have not already, please check out Aviva’s new free Thyroid Insights Ebook — you can download it from her website — it’s got all of the lab level ranges in there that you need! Hopefully you can find some good supportive info that will be helpful for you.It is always Aviva's mission to bring as much information to her patients and followers as possible. She adores all of you and truly is on a mission to give the power back to the people!! Megan- Dr. Aviva Romm Nutritionist

    Reply

Generic placeholder image
Megan Brumovsky

As a friend of Sheena's I feel more than somewhat connected to this article. In some ways she may even be speaking directly to me: one who runs myself ragged, forgetting to slow down for my own health & well-being. N-O can be such a big word at times! Great reminders & encouraging advice. Well written & fully worthy of a guest post.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
L. A. Silberman

Love the idea of a vitality brainstorm. Have been practicing something like this for the past 2 years. Except the term used is "Prosperity;" and the categories are fiscal, physical, social, emotional and mental. And have also been known to use dog walk as meditation chanting about building the different types of prosperity in turn. Lovely to see others use a similar practice.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Jenna Klink

I enjoyed the guest blog! The word radical with self care is what caught my attention :) Thank you!

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Rachel

Something that's so important and yet all too often overlooked and forgotten amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life. If everyone was reminded (or given permission) to do this, often, the world would be a far better and much more peaceful place.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
betty tuininga

Wonderful article! Yes it is so hard to say no, but I have started to realize that I am more important than some of the volunteer efforts that I am giving up my time and health for! My children are grown and I was the dedicated soccer mom, band mom, and cub scouts, etc. After my kiddos went to college, i as single earner, went back to college myself, but had little time for the enjoyable things in life. Now I am studying herbalism, have my degree in Art and in Art history. and really need to take that time for those passions. When I made up my mind that I was going to focus on me...I didn't look back. I had a serious accident 7 years ago which made me realize that life is very precarious...so I plan to enjoy what I have ahead me, without guilt!

Reply

    Generic placeholder image
    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Betty, This is Megan from Dr. Aviva's team, that you for sharing your story! It's incredibly inspiring and I am celebrating you from afar! Megan-Dr. Aviva Romm Nutritionist

    Reply

Generic placeholder image
Jas

Thanks a lot got the valuable information. Good job......well done. Keep it up. God bless.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Carmen

This was awesome. Because we sure do listen to you Aviva. We really learn from you. I love this post.

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Mara Penfil

Thank you for posting this! I really love the idea of self-care as an act of radicalism and political warfare. In our Western culture, we are constantly bombarded with sub-conscious penetrating messages that tell us how to eat, think, feel, learn, look and interact. If who we are as a being differs from these messages, we are told by forces outside of ourselves (media, psychiatrists, etc.) that something is wrong with us, and that some other force outside of ourselves (such as prescription drugs, material goods, a rack of accomplishments, etc.) is needed to bring us back to the "baseline". In a culture like this it then becomes radical to realize that not only are all the answers already inside of ourselves, but that we each have full control over our physical, emotional and spiritual health. It becomes political warfare because by taking the control back into our own hands, we are declaring ourselves independent from a system which relies on us to feed it through labor and consumption. I am always humbled to hear people's personal experiences with discovering radical self-care. I really appreciated how Sheena said that she needs to redefine her relationship with food, especially sugar. I haven't even attempted to redefine my relationship with sugar yet, though it is something I have been thinking about for the past year. I want to stop eating refined sugar but my mind is so stubborn to the idea even before any real attempt has been made. I would love to learn more about redefining our relationships with food and also about how different people approach radical self-care. Thanks Sheena and Aviva =) y'all rock!

Reply

    Generic placeholder image
    Sheena Witter

    What a great comment, Mara! Thank you for your feedback and encouragement! I could have written your comments about the mind being stubborn. It took me a full year before I got up the courage to give it a real effort. I've been sugar-free (except whole fruit) for 28 days so far and I am LOVING it! It sure wasn't easy (boy do you become emotionally, psychologically and physically dependent on sugar!) But it is "Radical self-care" and not "Easy Self-care" :) Most of my previous attempts didn't work because there is also so much added sugar to most processed foods (even the "healthy" ones) that you never make a clean break. You really need to do that in order to get over the craving and create the space to see the negative effects sugar has been having on you. I ended up doing a "whole 30" program that allowed me to create the space and boundaries I needed for exploring my eating habits, it was definitely the right choice for me. It took having to make a choice every time out of the picture. I just wasn't allowed to have it on the program and that was that. I just think about how much mental anguish I have put myself through for the past 20 years with the constant, multiple times a day, internal dialogue of : "I shouldn't eat this, I know it is bad for me" ..."But I really want to" ..."But I shouldn't" ...Then inevitably eating it, and feeling guilty about it. Please feel free to reach out via my website if you want to dive deeper, I'm happy to share my journey :) Here's to your radical self-care! Cheers, Sheena

    Reply

Generic placeholder image
Sheena Witter

I am LOVING the comments! Thanks to everyone who is reading and sharing their experiences, tips, and radical self-care plans! When you spend so much time giving to others, it is a challenge to really recognize, embrace and honour the fact you have to take care of yourself first. Sharing and having these conversations is a great step. THANK YOU!!! Sheena Witter - Guest author

Reply

Generic placeholder image
Bev

This is just so spot-on! It's funny, I wrote and just launched an ebook pretty much about this very topic, though it's using creativity as a form of self-care, geared specifically toward mom. I talk about the mom guilt and encourage them to let it go, and discuss how taking care of yourself actually makes you a more present parent. Thanks for the article, I will definitely be sharing this with my readers!

Reply

    Generic placeholder image
    Megan Liebmann

    Hi Bev, This is Megan from Dr. Aviva's team. I just wanted to chime in and say thank you for your comment and that the work you are doing is AWESOME! <3 Megan- Dr. Aviva Romm Nutritionist

    Reply

Generic placeholder image
Lisa Nixon

Wow what a compelling and thought provoking article. As a professional in the field of addiction I can say that self care can be the most difficult concept to grasp and the most essential. "Like the oft-used comparison of getting your breathing apparatus on before helping others in an airplane, before you can care for and inspire creativity in others, you need to make sure you are meeting your needs first". Thank you for this refresher in the art of loving myself. My routine consists of aromatherapy, journaling, nightly gratitude lists, connecting with nature, yoga practice, meditation and making/playing music.

Reply