The prescription I handed to the woman was so unlike any that she had ever received from a physician that she smiled and told me she was going to tape it to her bathroom mirror. It read: “Do something just for yourself once daily. Refills unlimited.”
For many of the patients I see, the act of self-nurturing is a foreign concept and yet so vital to a return to balance and self-healing. Care givers in particular often have a hard time putting aside the needs of others in order to take care of their own needs. We support and nurture our significant others – our kids, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers – and leave little for ourselves. We deplete ourselves and the cycle of giving and receiving is disrupted. Each week, men and women who are exhausted and overwhelmed by constant giving come to the Chopra Center for rejuvenation and balance. One of the most important things they learn is how to fill up their own cup.
Arlene had been struggling for more than five years with increasing weight, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. A principal of a large high school, she commuted for up to two hours per day so that she could live with her son who was attending a local community college. Because of her schedule, she had little time for physical activity, ate lunch in the cafeteria, picked up dinner on her way home, and had no time to connect with friends socially – all important components for healthy weight loss and overall health. Although she had been on many “diets,” it was clear that relinquishing the weight of carrying her adult son was going to be key for her transformation. When she finally allowed herself to be a priority in her own life, she regained her zest for living, and her relationship with her son became even better than before. No herbal formulation I could have prescribed would have done this for her.
Fill Your Own Cup
Many women, and particularly mothers, struggle with giving themselves permission for self-care. But rather than having Mother’s Day be the one day of the year that they allow themselves unwind, I urge all moms to take time each day solely to take care of their own wellbeing. Not only will it make you feel better, but having filled your own cup, you will actually have more to give others.
The Law of Giving and Receiving, described in Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, shows us that “receiving is the same thing as giving, because giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe.” We stay in the flow by doing both – gratefully receiving as well as continuing to give.
Giving to ourselves doesn’t need to require elaborate effort or cost much money. It may simply be telling your loved ones that you’re going to take fifteen minutes for meditation or solitude, going to a movie you’ve been wanting to see, mindfully enjoying a treat, or getting a massage. Only you know what will fulfill your needs. Here are some other examples of ways to self-nurture:
• Meditate daily.
• Sign up for a class for fun.
• Enjoy a nice meal alone or with a friend or loved one.
• Put on some music you love and sing or dance like no one is watching.
• Buy yourself some flowers or a plant.
• Make some art.
• Take a walk outside.
• Explore sensual and sexual pleasures.
• Get a manicure or pedicure.
• Take an aromatherapy bath.
• Have a cup of herbal tea while doing nothing else.
• Listen to or read uplifting literature.
• Play like a kid.
• Go to a concert or theater.
Self-nurturing is not about being selfish. It is about self-care. So do something for yourself every day, guilt-free . . . doctor’s orders.
Dr. Valencia Porter is the Chopra Center's Integrative Medicine Director and a Vedic Master. Board-certified in both General Preventive Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine, she has an integrative approach that incorporates many areas of health and healing, including Ayurveda, medical acupuncture, biofield (energy) therapies, and functional medicine.
As a medical student at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, she began to explore complementary and alternative medicine. After training in pediatrics and child neurology, she completed a residency in Preventive Medicine at U.C. San Diego as well as a master's degree in public health focusing on Environmental Health at San Diego State University. Dr. Porter also completed a fellowship as a Bravewell Collaborative scholar at the renowned Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona with Dr. Andrew Weil. Before coming to the Chopra Center, Dr. Porter served as a physician and researcher at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego.