During a recent Zoom class in my ‘Live+Virtual’ Spring Yoga Detox course, I encouraged students to ponder where else in their lives they might need to doing some spring cleaning. Where do they need to let go, or lighten their load? I think this is something we all need to do from time to time. In fact, I believe that real self-care is not so much about adding products or experiences to your life; it is more about the science of subtracting. So what kinds of things should you consider subtracting from your life? Read on to find out!
I live by the rule, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Why? Because it’s stressful and a waste of time to constantly be looking for things. I am also quite the minimalist. Too much ‘stuff’ overwhelms my sensitive HSP nervous system. Therefore, my house is relatively free of clutter and excess, which helps me feel calm and relaxed. When you have more stuff, you have to work harder to get it, take care of it, and look for it when it goes missing. I’m not saying you have to be Marie Kondo, but subtracting clutter can free you from the burden of excess and open up space and time for what’s really important in your life.
Social Media + Devices
Though social media has some value in creating community and connection, it can end up being a huge time suck and bad for our mental health. (Not to mention that being on our devices too long can be detrimental to our physical health. I am seeing more and more research about the epidemic of text neck, something I have been addressing in my yoga classes for years.) If we spent less time on our devices and more time doing things we really loved, I think we would all feel a lot better. Try setting a daily time limit, or setting specific times of the day that you are going to stay off your devices or social media. Liberating yourself from your devices can create more free time in your life than you ever realized was possible.
Maybe it’s the friend you are always willing to listen to when they need a sympathetic ear, but who rarely reciprocates and inquires about your life. Or maybe it’s the family member who gives you a hard time when you tell them that you need to make some changes in your life that are going to work better for you. I firmly believe that if people in your life choose not to be supportive and understanding, they are not meant to be a part of your inner circle. Subtract.
Negative Thoughts + Habits
Do you constantly ruminate about the past or worry about the future? Maybe you have a tendency to be overreactive, judgmental or defensive. What about needing to be right, or be in control? These are all examples of thoughts and habits that affect your body and mind negatively, weighing you down and taking up precious mental bandwidth that could be used for more important things. Freedom is in becoming aware of, and then letting go of, these unhealthy patterns that are running your life. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not easy, but practices like yoga and meditation (click here for some free resources) can help you cultivate greater self-awareness, which is the first step in the process.
We all have that never-ending to-do list. The commitments, obligations, and expectations seem infinite. It’s exhausting. In a Mini Retreat I led recently, I suggested that participants write out a list of things they have to do (e.g. ‘I have to do the dishes’). Once they had their list, they were encouraged to change the words ‘have to’ to ‘choose to.‘ Rephrasing your inner dialogue to reflect choice is empowering, and can help you feel better about the commitment. You could even add a ‘because…‘ as in ‘I choose to do the dishes because I want a clean kitchen.‘ However, if ‘choosing to‘ do a certain task is not sitting well with you, that’s probably a sign that you should not be doing it. Time to subtract that commitment from your to-do list. After all, learning to say no is one of the best forms of self-care there is.
Do you know you need to start doing some subtracting in your life, but could use a little support and guidance?
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