Is Nurture Needed?
As I entered the 2022 holiday break, my inner self told me in no uncertain terms to drop every possible responsibility for those two weeks off. I was in burnout and worried I might not be able to “do” 2023 if I didn’t listen. When the family festivities were over, I deep dove into my bed and watched 9-1-1 continuously for two days, resurrecting only to hunt for food in the kitchen. I know my body, though, and it would normally bounce back after that. This time, however, it didn’t. Even hobbies felt like too much work. No matter what I wanted to do, my body said no. It didn’t want productivity—it wanted nurture.
Nurture and I have a complex history. I used to only do the brand of self-care that people often think of for women: chocolates, baths, checking out of life. It turns out these things can be soothing but are not what I currently need most. A highly sensitive person and a Cancer moon, I often tend to emotions rather than physical needs. Exercise and food are challenging.
What Is Nurture?
During the second week, as I felt more rested, I leaned into questions about what my body (my life, really) asks for. What nurture is to me. Turns out, it’s self-care on steroids. Nurture is a cycle of reflection and response, deep listening to the body’s voice (emotions, symptoms, and synchronicities). Nurture looks at what is affecting me mentally, physically, and spiritually and makes choices to better support myself. It reminds me of my natural strengths and brings me back to them, while addressing weaker areas when necessary. Nurture gently invites me to attend to unhelpful behaviour patterns.
First We Reflect
I have this thing where I love to help other people. If someone else can’t do something I can, why shouldn’t I do it? So I overcommit to others and under-commit to my personal priorities, which are important but don’t bring the same endorphin rewards as outside, tangible outcomes. I give so much of my time outside my home that I am neglecting my body, my spaces, my dreams, my creativity, my home, my family.
Why do I do this? This podcast by Kathryn Thompson showed me that I struggle to be accountable to myself. It is so much easier to be accountable when relationship holds me to an expectation and rewards me for my commitment. I love to show up for people. What I don’t love is to sit at home, alone, figuring out my own dreams, committing to work that is often intangible: hard to put into words, different from what people are familiar with, and has no promised outcome. I won’t even talk about creating for an algorithm…
Work aside, it is also hard to do the undefined or repetitive work of running a home and family—planning, phone calls, paperwork, cooking, errands; endless driving; and physical and emotional support—when I feel more rewarded away from home.
Another thing I’ve observed is that the more I nurture myself, the more I write. I journal, I write posts and articles, and I explore ideas. Writing is a natural outpouring of my soul, but I can’t do it when the metaphorical gas tank is running on fumes. The copious writing that came out of my holiday rest helped me identify the feelings I am looking for from my life: expansiveness, spaciousness, energy, moments of presence, awe.
When I ask myself how I can get these feelings, the answer is nurture. If I want expansiveness in my life, I need to create that feeling in my body, and I can’t create that feeling by being on the run, over-caffeinated and under-nourished, always feeling like I can’t catch up, and allowing an extra-detailed to-do list to dictate how I nurture myself.
Then We Respond
If instead I affirm to my body through nurturing food and practices that it is supported, my body believes me: “I am nurtured, so everything is well.” Then it lives out of that reality. The resulting expansiveness in my perception leads to creativity and mindfulness, even with a full schedule. Time constraints won’t overwhelm me, because my body has what it needs to keep up to the demands. (Small caveat to acknowledge every body is different, so nurturing and its outcomes will be different for everyone).
But nurturing with food and wellness practices isn’t enough. The behavioural drive to commit to others comes from both the outcomes I gain and the fear of having to figure out my life on my own. Real nurturing means that I also address this.
So going into the new year, I’m determined to make choices with deep nurture in mind.
- If I’m on the go, how can I support my body to meet the demands?
- If I’m asked to give my time, how can I fully hold space for my needs when responding?
- When I’m at home and uncertain how to work toward my future, how can I motivate myself to move forward in what really matters, instead of giving that time away to easier tasks because I’m doubting myself? How can I organize my work time so I don’t flounder?
- How can I let go of what truly isn’t important?
Self-Awareness is Key
One constant answer for me is self-awareness. I can notice when my patterns repeat themselves. I can recognize feelings of uncertainty and doubt and reflect how to support myself through them. I can seek outside support as a form of nurture, too. I can come back, again and again, to the practices that nourish me. I can assess the time I truly have, using it intentionally for what is most energizing for me and best for my relationships.
Why I Nurture Myself
This year I want more energy. I want to write and share healing through my words, hands, and presence. I want to finish writing a book. I want spaces of time to drink in the miracles of life and to rest, play, think, dream, and create in multiple ways. I want time to connect with my friends, not just my responsibilities. I cannot do these without nurturing myself, so I take these ideas of nurture and hold them close as I enter 2023.
And you—what in your life is asking you for nurture? Reflect on it. See what responses you can make. Perhaps a little nurture will make all the difference.
I write to know myself better, and I share it with you in case just one small thing I’ve written
supports your journey to knowing–and supporting–yourself.
If you’ve been encouraged toward that, perhaps you’d consider a small donation to say,
“Thanks, I appreciate you, keep writing.”