I am so excited to introduce fellow Holistic Nutritionist and friend, Rachel Molenda! She is talking all about self care activities and what self care really means. I wrote about self care here, and I love how Rachel agrees that self care isn’t about going to a spa or getting a massage (though those are nice). It is about the deeper work that you need to do. I love how Rachel connects self care activities with helping to heal your relationship to food. I hope you enjoy this guest post as much as I did reading it!
How developing self-care activities helped me heal my relationship with food:
Before I really learned what self-care is all about, I thought it meant treating myself to lavish things like bi-weekly manicures, trips to the spa and decadent dinners out at restaurants.
Little did I realize, self-care really comes down to fulfilling your needs.
I know – so not sexy, right? But let me tell you, viewing self-care as a means of fulfilling our needs can be the most effective and productive way to support our overall health.
What is self-care?
The beautiful thing about self-care is that it can look different from person to person. There might be suggestions or guidelines out there, but there are no rigid textbook rules on how to go about self-care. What it comes down to is having go-to enjoyable strategies on hand to manage things like stress and to support your overall well-being, ultimately ensuring your needs are being met.
In the work that I do with my 1:1 nutrition & emotional eating consultations, we often spend more time talking about needs and our emotional health than talking about food. Food can play a vital role in our health too, but all of the nutrition knowledge won’t serve anyone if our emotional, mental and physical needs aren’t being met.
Here’s a first-hand example:
I’m a Holistic Nutritionist that understands the value of nourishing our bodies with wholesome real foods. I’m also a partial-entrepreneur which comes with more demands and obligations beyond the 9-5, including the occasional night(s) and weekends (it’s a good thing I love the crap out of what I do!)
What that means, is that there will be a week every now and then where I feel like I’m barely hanging on. Usually my self-care practice is the first thing to go because I stop making time for it, in place for other things that supposedly take precedence.
But when I stop focusing on self-care activities, I often find myself in a heightened state of stress. That state of stress often results in me turning to comfort food (that doesn’t fuel me as much as my #RealAssFood does) as a means of “coping” with stress, just for a few fleeting moments of relief.
In the past, turning to comfort food to cope would’ve looked more like a binge, whereas now, it may mean “fueling” myself off of foods that just don’t make me feel all that awesome. Either way, I would end up feeling depleted, lethargic and burned out.
Why? Because I wasn’t fulfilling my needs and when we fail to do this, we might often find ourselves turning to other coping mechansims, like food, as a result.
Everything starts with ensuring our needs are being met:
To ensure that we are fueling ourselves the way our body likes to be fueled.
To ensure we are moving our body in the way our body likes to be moved.
To ensure we are making time for fun and play to prevent getting burned out.
To ensure we give and receive love from family, friends and our partner.
To ensure we aren’t saying “yes” when we really mean “no”.
To ensure that we are preserving our energy, emotionally and physically.
One tactic I use with my clients is to ask themselves, “If I’m not biologically hungry, what other need might I be trying to fulfill?” Maybe you’ve just spent days on end studying and you’re bored and in need of some play time. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who works from home and you’re feeling lonely and in need of socialization. Either way, get to the bottom of what the actual need is and because you won’t find the permanent answer in the food.
My self-care activities aren’t entirely rigid as in “I must do this every day” but is more so a tool of resources I pull from depending on my needs on a given day. It looks a little like this:
Self Care Activities:
– Drinking 500ml (1 small mason jar) of water right when I wake up
– Moving my body in the morning (typically CrossFit) during the week
– Giving myself permission to sleep in
– Not overscheduling my social life (i.e. 2 events post-work max during the week and nothing on Sunday nights – that’s my time!)
– Meal prepping on Sundays to prepare healthy wholesome food for the week
– Allowing myself to enjoy “play” foods like chocolate without guilt
– Creating, cooking and dancing in the kitchen (mostly dancing)
– Nourishing my skin with a rich moisturizer and apricot oil in the AM & PM
Notice how none of my self-care activities involve a fancy shmancy spa treatment? Because yes, while those can be valuable self-care activities, we need more sustainable practices we can incorporate daily to support our needs. When we can become more aware of our needs and support them through self-care activities, we can stop abusing food and ultimately work towards healing our relationship with it.
Rachel Molenda is a Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) who specializes in helping women heal from emotional and disordered eating, ultimately helping them to establish a healthier and happier relationship with food and themselves. With each client she works with, Rachel brings her non-restrictive, anti-diet, whole foods-based approach to help people adopt healthy sustainable food and lifestyle practices so they can start living their lives freely and authentically loving themselves. Rachel works one-on-one with clients online where she educates clients on how to get to the root of what’s causing their emotional or disordered eating with the intention of healing their relationship with food, their body and themselves.
I would love to hear from you! What are some of your non-negotiable self-care activities?