Are you running on empty, well aware that self-care needs to move higher on your list of priorities? Many of us feel we are losing ourselves to work and other commitments, juggling multiple tasks, and barely finding time to catch our breath. In an era where lights are always on somewhere in the world, over a third of Canadians are reporting burnout. Many of us are searching for ways to nourish ourselves, and to negotiate a balance between action and stillness.

As change leaders, we can show the way by starting where such work often begins – by reflecting on what will recharge our own batteries. If we are feeling spiritually empty, what will truly bring us back to source?

Begin with the basics of health

In the immersive retreat portion of Soul Sala, we provided a space that would relax the nervous system, nourish the body, and provide the calm which supported the deep work we were doing together. A stressed brain doesn’t reflect or learn well.

At least half an hour was set aside between sessions for snacks and a mental break. In the early mornings and afternoons, participants could choose what they wanted and needed – a morning lay-in or siesta, a sea or pool swim, a walk to Salvador Dali House, or a wander through the winding streets of Cadaques.

The combination of nourishment, time in casual conversation in the company of others, and space for alone time was energizing. Our participants responded with gratitude.

Reflective questions

  • What foods leave you feeling great? How can you make it easy to provide yourself with these choices more often?
  • What are your habits and rituals around food? Where do you eat and with whom? In what context do you appreciate the act of eating?
  • What words would you use to describe feeling nourished? 
  • What does a life of nourishment look like, feel like, smell, taste and sound like?
self care with nourishment: tapas, breakfast table in a sunny room, hot drinks

Adding wellness margins

A fundamental concept in good design is that of neutral space. To make a graphic pop, you need clear space around it. Margins serve much the same function, keeping content from creeping across the edges to run off the page altogether. We can apply this same guideline to consciously designing our lives.

Reflective questions

  • Where are the boundaries between different aspects of your life strong, and where do they become blurry? For example, you might find yourself reaching for your phone to check emails when you first wake up (a practice that is hard on your brain), or working into the night, every night.
  • What “neutral space” practices do you enjoy? Examples might include meditation, or restorative time spent in nature. Also consider how you move from one part of your day into another. For example, perhaps a long bath, a cup of tea on the deck, or sky watching from a hammock might ease the transition between work and personal space.

Self as instrument

Noticing what our senses are telling us connect us to self-as-instrument. Much like an instrument needs care, attention and tuning in the moment to be able to play beautiful music, so do we. By seeking out spaces that allow mind and body to relax and reset, we are better able to recognize what truly nourishes us.

Being in tune with our senses is nourishing in itself, bringing self-awareness, self-compassion, authenticity, a recognition of boundaries and a noticing of what wants to be expressed.

Reflective questions

  • What sensations are stirring within your body?
  • What emotions are arising, and where is your body holding them?
  • What images are coming to the fore?
  • Which of the eight senses do you habitually tap into? Which feed your soul? For instance, listening to music, watching the sea, or dancing might be the gateway to replenishing your spirit.
  • How might you connect more to self, others and the world through the senses?

In search of inspiration

It’s easy to get stuck in the same old patterns. Notice if you’re longing to have your horizons expanded. Novelty can be a form of nourishment.

Reflective questions

  • Where might you indulge in a fascination that makes no logical sense?
  • Where could you release yourself from expectations and just exist?
  • Where are the moments of awe in your life?
self-care spaces: olive tree, mediterranean beach, table by pool

Images from our spring 2024 Soul Sala immersive retreat

Recharging in community

Sociology defines a “third space” as a public area like a coffee shop, library, pub or park, where people feel welcome to gather informally. In these shared spaces, we can relax, and socialize with those we might not encounter at work or at home. Urban planners build third spaces into communities, as they encourage mental well-being and social connection.

We are social creatures, and need places where we feel we belong.

Reflective questions

  • What are your third spaces?
  • Which settings and locations rejuvenate you?

As the saying goes, you are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Truly resourcing yourself goes beyond putting on a metaphorical oxygen mask in times of emergency. It’s about taking the time to create a lifestyle that will nurture and sustain you in the long term.

As director of Novalda,Kerry Woodcockdevelops core, collective and change leadership capacity in leaders, teams and organizations, coaching pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. 

Invitation | Join the Stillness Challenge

Indulge in nourishing reflective practice from the comfort of your own home. We invite you to join us for a seven day Stillness Challenge – one week of guided pauses and virtual gatherings that will nurture your capacity to reflect.

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    Novalda Coaching & Consulting Inc.