ColumnsThe Seeker

The Seeker: Take Care of Yourself So You Can Take Care of Others

The self-care toolkit

Looking back a decade, it’s strange to imagine my life before yoga. There’s almost a tangible division between the previous version of me and the most current version; like those inspirational before-and-after life-altering weight-loss stories. My story isn’t around body weight, but more about the weight of my soul suffering from not living up to its fullest potential.

I remember having a conversation with my best friend during our college days, audibly wondering why all of my dorm room sidekicks were meeting their soulmates; why everyone but me seemed to be the other half of a relationship in bloom. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and now I clearly see why I was the odd one out: Who would want to claim dating the messiest shit show on campus?

It takes experience, years of self-reflection and a lot of yoga to successfully interpret that I hadn’t been living up to my fullest potential during those years. However, it is through my yoga practice that I have rediscovered myself, and continue to grasp a little more every day. In the words of Michelangelo, “I’m still learning.”

I was at an unfamiliar crossroads when my roommate at the time introduced me to what is now my yoga practice. Though we are no longer in touch, I can’t help but wonder if she was strategically placed in my life at that specific time to show me a better way. In the yoga world we view the universe as giving us what we need, not what we want. Apparently I needed yoga.

The now-defunct Yoga One on Hawthorne Avenue quickly became my studio of choice for a few reasons: I could easily walk there from my apartment, and just as easily sweat out the booze from the night before. (I bartended my way through college and can’t help but wonder how I graduated after spending more time socializing than studying.)

Fast forward 10 years … I am now a RYT® 200 and working towards becoming a RYT® 500 (yoga industry terms for different levels of teaching experience).

It is during this pandemic that I find myself lumbering towards the finish line. I only need 26 hours to complete my training, but how is a yogini-in-training ever going to complete a program when 2020 has basically been canceled? I remain cautiously optimistic. After all, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it simply changes states, which is why virtual yoga is growing in popularity.

I was lucky enough to come across the six-week virtual yoga teacher training group, The Art of Holding Space with Annie Clarke, a London-based yoga teacher. I’m even luckier that my teacher here in the U.S. approved of applying this coursework toward my 300 hours!

One of our class prompts includes building and exploring our own self-care toolkits. The expression “You can’t pour from an empty cup” is completely applicable in this context. How do we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others? Taking this and running with it, I thought it might be a fun exercise to share what’s currently in my toolkit, and list them in order of how often I use them. (Socially distant) sharing is caring, so hopefully, this list will spark you to share what tools you use as well!

If you were expecting something else you clearly don’t know me very well.

Physical Exercise of Any Kind
This is a main component of self-care since it helps on a few different levels. It creates the feel-good chemicals in my brain, which in turn act as antidepressants. Working out also makes me feel more comfortable about ingesting non-essential calories like the flourless chocolate cake I very much enjoyed last night.

While I don’t take pleasure in seeing prescribed medication towards the top of my list, I am appreciative to have modern medicine in my toolkit. After feeling trapped by negative mental loops for so long, I only wish I had explored this option sooner.

Sharing Meals
When I first heard about The 5 Love Languages, I assumed (incorrectly) that food would be considered as such. It may not have made it to the official list, but it’s definitely on mine. The experience of sharing a meal with my husband or my group of girls is irreplaceable. Bonus points for a perfectly paired bottle (or more) or wine.

Considering we spend about a third of our lives asleep, let’s make it count. My bedtime ritual typically involves a book, some sort of nighttime tea, and melatonin. If my reference to Xanax above didn’t clue you into my mental state, it’s really difficult for me to “shut down,” so a solid, restful sleep is imperative to keep me going full psycho.

Whether you’re obsessed with the concept of self-care or just need some inspiration, know that everyone’s approach is different. For example, you may notice weed and journaling are not in my top five. Nothing against those outlets, but they simply don’t work for me. My hope is that by sharing these personal experiences you’ll feel inspired to discover what works best for you!

Check here for more of Katie’s journey with past Seeker columns


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