Self-care as a yoga teacher or as a creative can be somewhat illusive for the most of us.
When you have a job that requires you to put all your energy into something, be it teaching a 1:to:1 or yoga class, creating art for a client, healing or helping others, it can often leave us feeling depleted once the work is done.
I have many yoga teacher friends and freelance creatives that teach full time or have tight deadlines to meet for clients. Yoga teachers often race around London to teach back-to-back classes, followed by 1:to:1 lessons, more classes all fitted around their student’s schedule, and it can be so exhausting. Meanwhile creatives often work incredibly long hours, putting all their energy into whatever it is they are creating for somebody else.
How can we preserve and protect our energy, so that we finish our work feeling energised rather than exhausted and in desperate need of some me time?
Here’s some tips I’ve learned along the way:
Maintain your personal practice
This is so important but our personal practice is often the first thing to go whenever work gets really busy. Whether you’re a yoga teacher or a creative, don’t forget to schedule in time to play. Not for anyone else, not for an Instagram photo, but just for you. Explore new things, practise your skill, make mistakes, and most of all, enjoy it without it feeling like a chore! Because that’s what led you to take up your career, isn’t it?
Protect your energy
Yes, there are energy suckers out there, believe me. We’ve all experienced it. The friend that constantly makes negative comments or brings you down. The client that is slow to pay you but quick to criticise. The student that is rude, overly demanding or demands your attention in absolutely everything, even after class. It’s so important to protect your energy if you work as a teacher or creative, helping others. Often, we try so hard to reply to every single email, every client demand, every student’s need in the room, and it’s simply a) impossible to maintain and b) will leave you feeling mentally and physically drained. The best way to protect your energy I’ve found, is to form strict boundaries with your clients/students, so that there’s less chance that they might start to take advantage of you or get too friendly (read: asking for that last minute “quick” favour when it’s 6pm).
Also, another tip. As soon as you finish teaching a class or 1:to:1, or finish a project for the day, jump in the shower and let the water wash over your head and body, and visualise it washing away everything that happened in the day. This gives us closure on those events or conversations, so that we don’t give them anymore headspace and any more of our energy.
Schedule in down time
We schedule in plans to go out and meet friends, so why don’t we schedule in down-time? When we’re all go-go-go and don’t have enough time set aside to rest and reflect, we risk becoming burned out. There is only so much that our bodies can take, so don’t feel guilty about pencilling some downtime into your diary every week. Use this time to do something you love, such as going for a walk in nature, connecting with a friend, reading a book, having a warm bath with candles and essential oils, or practising something therapeutic.
Create boundaries with social media
This is something I’ve struggled with admittedly in the past. Being a yoga teacher and also a writer working in social media, I am constantly online. It definitely affects your mental health and I noticed myself feeling frazzled from too much screen time. Now, I’m careful to not spend too much time on social media, especially during the weekends and evenings. I occasionally check it in the morning, but only for a minute. Social media is highly addictive, and was designed to be this way, to keep us scrolling endlessly and never leave the platform. This is definitely not good for our minds, so make sure to find a time to check social media that works for you, and then put your phone away or turn off notifications so you won’t be tempted to look every minute.
Learn to say no sometimes
It’s ok to say no. It’s ok to miss things if you really want to just stay in, by yourself, jump in the bath and do absolutely nothing. All too often we say yes to things that we don’t really want to go to. Your friend of a friend’s birthday. A work do you really don’t want to go to. A night out when you feel too tired. Sometimes, saying no is the best thing to get yourself back to feeling like you again. Don’t feel guilty about missing out, or beat yourself up about it, simply remind yourself that you’re choosing to take care of you today.
Many yoga teachers note that after teaching for a while, their practice dramatically changes; they often crave a more gentle, still approach and appreciate Savasana a whole lot more. This is ok! When we expend a lot of energy in our job, we’re often in the Yang, masculine state of mind. The type that is about getting results, powering through, strength and speed. We need a balance of Yin and Yang in our lives, so introducing yin in the form of yin yoga, meditation, painting, drawing, or anything that has a more feminine energy and involves slowing down and being more mindful, is great. If my week has been all go-go-go and very yang, I’ll make sure to practice a lot of yin yoga, do some painting, some cooking, anything that forces me to slow down.
How do you take care of yourself? Leave a comment below and share your self-care tips, I’d love to know!