Dear <<First Name>>;
I have made it back to the bay area, and I’m now in the uncertainty of being here and what to do next. I need to find a place to live in the next couple of months as well as start figuring out how I’m going to proceed with coaching here.
I tend to think I don’t have too many issues with food, but in times of uncertainty the ones I do have come forward full force. I notice how much I want to fill the holes in my life with food. I eat pretty well, but reaching for homemade organic popcorn or nuts out of an emotional lack is pretty much the same thing as reaching for a doughnut or candy bar. The choice might be healthier; the result less detrimental to my body/mind, but the pattern is the same.
So, in this month’s article I talk about bringing the whole range of nourishment into our awareness, so that we can choose wisely when we need to nurture ourselves, not through food, but through taking a bath, going for a walk or run, or doing some writing.
Healthy Habit: Create Your Nourishment Menu
We all know that food sustains us, but as human beings we need more than just food. For some of us, food takes on great importance because we are not finding in the rest of our lives adequate nourishment. We use food as a substitute for whatever is missing.
If we focus on the other ways we can find support and sustenance, we might find food becomes less important. Have you ever gotten so involved in something you cared about that you completely forgot to eat? You were being fed by what you were doing, and although obviously that isn’t a good idea long-term, it provides a clue to the relative importance of different forms of nourishment.
Having ready access to those things you know help you feel better can save your sanity when you are having a difficult day. Long hours at work, a problematic meeting, conflict with a coworker, or a temperamental child can easily lead us to reach for our chosen food version of refilling ourselves. How much more fulfilled might you feel, though, if instead you had a list of things to choose from to soothe your soul and reconnect with yourself? Make yourself a nourishment menu by thinking about the things that you already do or have done in the past to feed yourself and rejuvenate physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. On your list might be things that
Give you pleasure
Make you feel excited and energized
Re-connect you with yourself or something greater than you
Shift your energy in a positive way
Feel meaningful to you
Let you know that you care about you
Consider the following areas to help you come up with a robust list of nourishing menu items to choose from:
We sometimes treat our body like it’s a hindrance, simply a vehicle for our mind or spirit that we don’t pay much attention to unless it gives us problems. How might our experience change if we really nurtured ourselves physically? A bath or massage nourish the body, as might a nap or deep breathing. Our body also needs exercise, preferably in a form that we really enjoy. All types of exercise, whether strenuous or relaxing, can help us feel better. You can learn to distinguish when you need to release through aerobic activity versus when some gentle yoga and breathing exercises will do you more good. What are your favorite ways to nurture your body?
Some of us get plenty of mental stimulation in our jobs, but it isn’t necessarily the kind that really feeds us. If you feel mentally drained by the end of the day, perhaps it is time to learn something new you’ve wanted to explore for years, take up a new hobby, or visit a museum or library for some inspiration. What would be meaningful for you to learn?
In what ways do you connect to a deeper sense of yourself or to a higher power, the universe, or the mystery? Meditation and prayer are obvious choices here, but you also might read a spiritual text a little at a time and contemplate what it says. Sometimes when I need to re-center I go to the ocean; what type of natural environment feels like a spiritual home for you?
In what ways do you recharge creatively? I sometimes take paints or pastels and express what I’m feeling in color, or start writing a story from a random sentence, just for the fun of it and to see where it goes. Other ideas are to go on a picture-taking expedition, write a poem, play some music, and dance or sing to your favorite music. Let your inner world come out in some unexpected way that surprises and delights you.
Create your nourishment menu, and then pick something from it each day this week and see how you feel. Let me know what you choose and what happens!