As I grew up, I was taught and not taught many things about health, nutrition, and how to take care of myself. On top of that, much of what I was taught was either not helpful or totally incorrect per what is known today about the body, mental health and nutrition. As I grew into my late teens and young adulthood, I went through a process of trial and error when it came to tackling physical imbalances via diet, regimens, exercise, supplements and allopathic medicine. I was struggling with issues around weight, treating skin issues, reoccurring illness, and coping with stress and trauma. My personal physical, mental and emotional struggles are what led me to holistic healing, to reconnecting with the Earth, myself and body, and I eventually pursued this path as a career. Through all my personal trial and error, continued experiences and professional training, I have discovered a lot about what works for me, about how the body works in general and the nature of holistic healing. I have learned how to look at the body/mind/spirit complex through many different lenses in order to assist in bringing about true, lasting vitality and balance, and I have come to the truth that the true core of healing is in how we self nourish, that building a foundation of true nourishment, of mastering 'the basics' first and foremost sets the stage for lasting transformation and vitality.
Self nourishment is the foundation each of us must build to create stability for self transformation and healing to occur. Whether you are someone who is practicing spirituality and on an inner quest, looking to heal a chronic or acute illness, or dealing with long standing patterns and habits that seem to undermine your forward momentum, it is necessary to implement and master the ‘basics’ of self nourishment. Once you have a whole ‘toolkit’ for what works for you, then it is about maintaining regular nourishing habits as commitment to your self and your overall well being.
Something I have witnessed in my self and in others is a big disconnect between what someone chooses and what would actually be truly nourishing and beneficial to their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. To me, something is ‘truly nourishing’ if it gives back to your body/mind/spirit without draining or diminishing overall vitality in some way. Often, this disconnect stems from infancy and early upbringing - the root chakra - where fundamental needs were not met nor encouraged by caregivers. Choices and perceptions later in life are then influenced by these early experiences. Often, those caregivers’ needs were not met or supported either, as these types of deficiencies are often past down generationally. Most of us as kids were also simply not taught how to eat for metabolic health, how to handle mental and emotional stress in productive ways and there is a lot of conflicting information out there in this category. Still, there seems to be an epidemic of undernourishment in some form or another in a large majority of people, with many different root causes underlying it. To me, the concept of self nourishment keeps healing simple and I regularly return to it as a focal point. It’s a place to start and a foundation to return to no matter where you are at or what you are working towards.
The foundation and basics of self nourishment:
healthful diet/nutrition (whole foods, adequate protein intake as a basis), proper hydration, adequate and fulfilling sleep, exercise/movement/stretching routine, healthy boundaries, making space for down time/mental & emotional unwinding, routines of receiving (regular visits to a practitioner or regenerative modality of choice), positive inner dialogue, time spent with supportive family/community, and making space for fun or a creative outlet.
What I’ve noticed, is imbalances and blocks start to occur when these basics are out of tune. These basics tend get out of balance due to over focus on external stressors, obligations, others ‘emergencies’ and responsibilities wherein there feels to be ‘no time’ for oneself. Of course, the external demands of life cannot be totally avoided, but they do become less burdensome when your basic needs are prioritized and fully met first, as much as possible. Not to mention, it is important to give care to oneself first so that you are truly in a place to give to others/jobs/obligations etc. As someone who works in holistic health, offering healing services, I am acutely aware of the need to really take care of myself so I can continue to do what I do and truly show up with vitality. It’s also important to note that everyone is different and what is nourishing to one person may not be to another. It is up to the individual to figure out what healthy diet, routine, type of movement etc works for them. Again, true self nourishment is through foods, lifestyle, choices that give back to your body, mind and spirit without taking away from your greater health and vitality.
Discerning what is truly nourishing to you comes with inevitable trial and error, lots of self compassion/grace, gathering information, and being honest with yourself about how you feel and any habits that may need reassessment. Often choices are made that serve instant gratification - a need in the moment - instead of for a long lasting benefit. In this way, any choice, substance use, disruptive pattern or habit can be seen as serving us, or meeting a need in some way. For instance, I smoked tobacco for a number of years. I really enjoyed it; it met a need for a long time. Smoking helped me feel grounded in social situations, connected to others who were also smokers, helped me feel clear and engaged when I otherwise felt uncertain and in the clouds. It helped me to manage stress and meet stressful situations with clarity. It helped me feel connected to my breath, to the plant realms, to its traditions. I’ve journeyed with tobacco, grown the plant, made medicine of its flowers and used its leaves as offerings to the Earth and ancestral energies and I will continue to honor that connection in other ways. At the same time, consistent years of smoking regularly is not nourishing to the body, and specifically an issue for the lungs. I had to get really honest with myself as I continued this pattern of turning to tobacco to handle stress and to seek connection. Tobacco is a stimulant and was also taxing my adrenals while smoking it, leaving me ultimately feeling more stressed and deregulated. It is harsh on the respiratory system and clearly takes away from the body’s vitality when used regularly over time. I realized, in order to move forward with my personal wellness goals, I had to reassess my needs and therefore my relationship with tobacco. For me, this meant complete cessation of smoking it, and I remain true to that boundary to this day. As I maintain a practice of that which truly nourishes me on all levels, the desire to turn towards something that doesn't fully nourish me has fallen away. If you are someone who smokes, I’m not looking to call you out here. I share my personal experience as a way to show it is sometimes necessary to be honest with yourself and fully look at how something you do religiously is serving you and if that relationship needs to change in order for a greater manifestation of yourself to dawn. Self nourishment is personal!
Sidebar: What helped me let go of smoking tobacco was making a ceremony out of it. I was up in northern VT at a beautiful piece of land. I created a small ceremony wherein I offered my relationship with tobacco back to the Earth, to the elemental realms. There was a lot of grieving, and I knew that in shifting my relationship with tobacco in a way that invoked connection to the Earth, in a deep promise to myself and the elemental realms, I would stay true to my word and hold myself accountable.
I hope the biggest takeaway here is that whatever is chosen for true self nourishment is committed to, as self nourishment is a daily commitment to yourself. A daily commitment tells your body, your heart, your soul that you are worthy of being and feeling nourished on all levels; it tells yourself that you are a priority in your life, which is essential. Ideally there are people - family, friends, community etc - in your life who can help you meet your needs, yet at the end of the day, self nourishment is your responsibility to implement and there is always some way self nourishment can be enacted. Even if it is as simple as a daily walk, some time writing in a journal or doing affirmations while you accrue the resources to nourish in other ways. It’s a practice that evolves over time and it is the devotion, the commitment to the task, to your self through acts of self love, that gives the practice potency, power and helps you grow. And it’s not always easy or enjoyable! Sometimes self nourishment looks like implementing a boundary with a family member, saying no to social engagements, reassessing what you want to do vs what you really have time and energy for, giving up a habit that gives you an instant dopamine hit, spending money on what you need vs what you want. Sometimes it is being honest with yourself around that which you avoid or procrastinate and holding yourself accountable to moving forward and strategizing.
Its amazing how easy it is to lose track of or forget how crucial these basics are, and it can be easy to gloss over them in the midst of a busy life. Not sleeping well, for instance, can point towards something deeper going on and/or be the cause of not feeling well in other ways. Navigating health stuff, whether physical or mental/emotional/spiritual, can feel complex and confusing especially if desparate for relief. This is why focusing on the basics, no matter where you are at or what you’re experiencing, is a simple way to start moving in a positive direction or getting ‘unstuck’ if you feel blocked in some way. If you have a chronic illness, nothing is ever made worse by assessing and upping how you self nourish. If you have hit a creative block or are unsure which direction to take in life regarding a career or moving and are at a cross roads - refocus on the basics. It’s like the old saying, “when a fisherman can’t go to sea they mend their nets”. Answers, clarity and relief will come as you start small with assessing your basic needs, ‘fill your own cups’ and commit to daily actions aligned with self nourishment. Breakthroughs and lasting change for the better don’t come from brute force, they come from daily commitment to that which provides fertile soil for new growth.
My current favorite ways to self nourish:
Daily out loud affirmations, mantras and prayers
Healthy dessert making (low glycemic)
Starting my day with a high protein breakfast + green mineral drink
Cozy days of nothingness or movies
Regular Craniosacral + massage
A yummy hot morning beverage
Doing creative things I enjoy - like writing!
A brief list of things I’ve learned about self nourishment over the years:
-Ayurveda + TCM (trad Chinese medicine) (and others) have excellent systems for learning more about your constitution and body type so you can start implementing protocols/diets that help bring balance to your constitution and shed light on symptoms.
-building muscle mass and eating the proper amount of protein each day is crucial for maintaining bone density, mental heath and vitality as we age. It is also crucial for self healing and maintaining energetic/spiritual practices.
-using products that are as natural as possible is helpful for mitigating exposure to endocrine disruptors.
-adding in a high quality collagen hydrolysate powder or drinking bone broth regularly is super helpful for joint/soft tissue/bone/hair/skin/gut health and vitality.
-Getting phones and wi fi out of the bedroom at night is helpful for sleep patterns and electromagnetic well being
-starting the day with a high protein breakfast helps balance blood sugar for the whole day. Eating foods in certain order is also super helpful for blood sugar regulation to promote overall metabolic health and helps regulate coritsol levels.
-as a woman, weight loss is not linear and the old saying of ‘eat less work out more’ is not generally true or helpful for most female bodies. Eating for hormonal health, blood sugar regulation and weight training with ample rest goes a long way.
-there can be joy and comfort in eating healthy, sweets/treats can be made healthfully.
-nourishing herbs are a simple way to remineralize the body and connect to nature - these include: nettle leaf, burdock root, chickweed, red clover, oat straw/tops, alfalfa, seaweeds, red raspberry leaf.
Self nourishment affirmations to repeat outloud:
“My body, mind and energy are worthy of receiving rest, care, love, and nourishment”
“I can feel joy and maintain healthy boundaries around what’s best for me”
“My health and well being are a priority, all else flows from this nourished well”
“Everyone and everything benefits when I feel my best and truly take care of myself”
“May I hold compassionate witness to the parts of me that continue to choose things and experiences that only nourish me in the moment so I may continue to grow, transform and implement new habits that nourish me long term”
“Through gentleness, grace and self love, I flow into my new form, allowing all that no longer serves true wellness, vitality and nourishment to fall away”
“I am worthy of self commitment, self healing, self love and self honesty”
If you’d like to chat more about how to ‘master the basics’ in your own life, feel free to reach out!