Let me start with an understatement: 2013 was a pretty intense year for me. I returned from San Francisco to Amsterdam after a six-month sabbatical with my family; my 2-year old son was hospitalized with severe blood poisoning; my husband went to climb Mount Everest (scary!) and I got to be a solo-parent of two for five solid weeks; I started my coaching business and turned from earning half of our family's income, to earning nothing (major stressor for me!).
Then, just before New Year's, both my father and my grandmother died within days of each other.
I didn't really take time to deal with everything that happened in my life:
entrepreneur, coach, mom of two, partner, friend, daughter, sister. Well, you get the picture. I felt so many callings for my time and energy that I just kept going on.
At one point, early 2014, I realized I wasn't doing well. I felt tired, sluggish and obstructed -- mentally, physically and emotionally. My digestive system seemed to have stopped working almost completely, my creative juices dried up and I kept snapping at the people I love most for tiny, insignificant things.
I realized something had to change...
So I considered my options: Should I change my diet? My exercise routine? I experimented with both, and even though my energy levels went up considerably, my intestines didn't start moving.
This got me thinking. If food and exercise did do me good, but I still wasn't back to my normal self, what else was there to do?
Then I went on a trip to San Francisco for 10 days. Alone. I spent my time doing exactly what I wanted. The effect: no constipation what so ever.
Having my own needs as my top-priority during this week was 100 percent different from my normal life. Because that was -- at that point -- a smooth routine of constantly taking care of business and other people and basically never taking the time to feel what I wanted.
So when I came back, I knew what to do. I set myself up for a 30-day self-love challenge. The challenge would be to do a daily meditation on self-compassion, complemented with at least one conscious act of self-love each day. This could be basically anything, like cooking a special meal just for me, taking an extra hour of yoga or a long walk on the beach. No need to spend much money, no elaborate gifts, just putting the focus on me without feeling (too) guilty about it.
The results? One week in, my body was back to working as it should and I was back in touch with my creativity.
What I learned from my 30-Day Self Love Challenge.
It turns out that for me to be healthy and whole, I need more then just good food and daily exercise. I need myself to love and appreciate me.
By doing the Self-Love Challenge, I build a habit in consciously taking time out of my busy day as a working mom to take care of myself. I now realize that to be able to be the business owner, coach, mom, partner, friend, daughter and sister I want to be, I need to be me first. And I can only be me, when I allow myself to break out of my 'helping others routine' to check in to my own needs every single day.
I realize this might not be a big newsflash. But even though I rationally knew self-love is important, I failed to live it for a very long time. Doing the 30-Day Self Love Challenge helped me experience the benefits of a daily self love practice and that made all the difference for my personal ambitions to be effective, healthy and whole.