September is a month of “back-to-school” energy. Whether you’re in school, have kids in school, or just have to drive the roads in the mornings, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the hecticness of Fall has begun. Somehow the lazy, more relaxed energy of summer is boxed up on Labor Day (interesting name for this turn of events) and we collectively put our heads down, and get into gear for Fall. Whether it’s a new focus at work, at home, or in our personal lives, it seems like there’s a “get serious” energy that starts to permeate collective consciousness right about now.
For me, I officially launched my new Acupuncture Clinic with a wine and cheese celebration last Tuesday. Even though I’ve been seeing patients since April, now it feels so REAL. The voice inside me is now saying, “Get to work woman!” After this back to school energy passes, all of a sudden (as evidenced by merchandising in local stores) it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, the December holidays and with a blink of an eye, now New Year’s resolutions are upon us. WAIT, WHAT?! How does everything seem to speed up in September, as we willfully begin a season of overgiving, overdoing and depleting ourselves until we can start the New Year, press the reset button and promise ourselves it will be different next year? How can we change this cycle?
Awareness. The first step is noticing. Recognize when your own tanks aren’t full. Maybe you’ll notice that you’re short with someone, or more easily irritated by seemingly every day occurrences. Maybe your sleep or digestion gets off balance, as your body tries to get your attention. I sometimes notice a sense of not being able to get grounded or settle down. I feel off balance, and that’s my first clue.
Pause. Slow everything down if you can. Connect with yourself however you know best. I like to try conscious breathing, or box breathing (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4.) Connect with your heart and ask yourself, “What do I really need right now?” I physically put my hands over my heart to really direct my intention there. See if you can wait for the answer to come from your heart rather than your head. The answer may be a tiny quiet whisper, so you really need to be in silence and stillness to hear it. In that moment place aside what you think other people need from you. This is about YOU right now. Know that meeting your own needs first in this moment is the greatest gift you can give those around you, because once you are properly replenished, you’ll be ready to meet their needs with more presence and joy (and less resentment!)
Give. Now, give yourself what you heard from your heart in Step 2. Enjoy the act of meeting your own needs, fulfilling your heart’s desire. Often just the act of slowing down in Step 2 gets me part of the way back to feeling balanced, and then I can follow it up with the practicalities that my heart asked for. My body might be asking for a healthy meal, more water to drink, for me to delegate something from my list, or to let go of an engagement I’ve committed to that isn’t truly in alignment with my life. Give to yourself and feel the joy you get from meeting your own needs with this exquisite form of self- attunement and self-care.
Absorb. You’ve just tapped into your highest self, your heart, and fulfilled a real need. Enjoy the benefits now. Feel the glow that you’ve created. Stay with it. Be grateful to your own self. Dial up the experience and absorb the good feelings. One of my favorite teachers, Rick Hanson calls this “taking in the good,” and tells us how it’s the number one way to hardwire your brain for more happiness.
Support. If you are still feeling depleted after these first 4 steps, then do it again. And again. Maybe there are more things to remove from your plate that aren’t aligned with the truth of your heart. Maybe there are habits to add or remove so you can stay more closely in tune with your own needs. Ask for support. Enlist a “self-care” buddy who can help you make sure you are taking care of yourself each day. Promise each other you’ll check in via text about the ways in which you’re each slowing down, tapping into your heart’s desire, and meeting your own needs for self-care. (That buddy can even be me!)
If you know someone who needs a little more slowing down and exquisite self-care this September, please forward this article to them! And, please post a comment below about how you are going to take care of yourself, and enjoy it, this month. What’s one thing you can add (or remove) to keep your tanks full up all Fall?