“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself…” – Brian Andreas
I’d like to talk about a topic that’s been on my mind lately; self-care and the societal shift in opinion that those participating in self-care routines have too much time on their hands, are a bit ‘hippy’ or that it’s selfish and unrealistic.
You know what’s unrealistic? The $265 my psychologist charges if I don’t have a referral from my doctor.
The other day, someone told me that all my Balanced Ballerina’s ‘stuff’ was a bit hippy and self serving. Apparently self-care and and self-awareness is selfish. I should note that this comment came from someone who isn’t part of the BB community and suffers from a tendency to put down others, but nonetheless it really annoyed me.
I’m telling you now, there’s nothing hippy about me. I don’t meditate under a tree or put crystals out to be charged by the moon (although full disclosure, I own one crystal that I bought because I thought it was pretty and now serves as a paper weight). And whilst I’d love to waltz around sipping my green juice in various shades of beige linen, I’m not that effortlessly stylish and my morning smoothie usually looks brown.
All that aside, I truly believe that self care isn’t selfish. It’s essential. For myself, it’s a crucial component of my life that ensures I can wake up everyday with enough energy to serve my communities. Wether I’m teaching four year-olds how to plié or adult ballerinas the importance of patience and consistency, I’m always giving and need energy to do so.
Any teacher within your community will agree that constantly ‘giving’ can be utterly exhausting. Therefore it’s imperative that we create boundaries and practises that allow us some space for clarity and me time. This definitely applied to mothers too! And if you’re a mother AND a teacher, well I’m applauding you from behind my keyboard!
I started researching and becoming more interested in self-care practises when I was about 25 (I’m now 29) during my third year of studio-owner life. At the time, I found myself incredibly stressed, anxious and running at a hundred miles an hour achieving what felt like very little progress. As a result, my patience was sparse and the relationship with myself and those closest to me suffered immensely.
Lately I’ve noticed that it’s increasingly popular for people in the public eye (celebrities and influencers) to admit to therapy. Whilst raving about the many positives that therapy can bring to ones life, they are successfully breaking down the stigma that used to be attached with seeing a therapist. Which is awesome! But there’s a couple of things people don’t share about therapy…
Firstly, it’s incredibly expensive! The only way therapy with a professional becomes a little bit more affordable is if you have a referral from a doctor for a subsidised mental health plan. After an incredibly difficult year in business with many signs pointing to various stress related disorders I sought help from my local doctor who then referred me onto a fantastic psychologist. At the time, my private health insurance covered five subsidised psychologist visits.
My psychologist specialised in entrepreneurs and providing practical coping strategies. He was amazing. After five fortnightly visits to his office I felt so much better. We explored my past, my plans for the future, my fears and most importantly reprogrammed my ability to cope with stressful situations in a calm and authoritative manner. That seems a lot in five sessions, but I knew I couldn’t afford the visits without another referral so I went into every session ready to work. I’ve spoken about this before, but opening a business at such a young age made me susceptible to being pushed around and taken advantage of. As a result, I developed a deep-seated anger. He showed me how to stand tall and confident in a calm and collected way.
Another thing that’s not often discussed is the possible affect on your insurance policies if you seek help. Upon reviewing my income protection and life insurance policies a few years after my psychologist visits, I was told that particular claims would be excluded from my policy until a waiting period was over. This meant that because my records show I was prescribed medication and a mental health plan, my insurance policies would exclude claims like stress and psychological disorders. These exclusions from my policy also made my policies more expensive and I had to wait for a period of time to pass (years!) before they were lifted. These restrictions can become problematic and I wish more people spoke about this.
Let me be clear, I don’t want to deter people from seeking therapy! I think therapy is extremely important and I wish everyone could sit down at some point in their life with a therapist! I don’t regret seeing a psychologist as it helped me immensely. In fact, a few years later I had another successful experience with therapy after a rather traumatic personal event. However, as it becomes a little bit (dare I say) ‘trendy’ to seek therapy no one is discussing how bloody expensive and complicated the process can be. That’s why self-care practises are important and shouldn’t be ridiculed.
By sharing my own story, I want to inspire conversation around what’s realistic and affordable ways of staying calm, collected and focussed in an increasingly noisy world. This is one of the reasons why Balanced Ballerinas was born. As much as I’d love to sit on a therapists couch once a fortnight, I cannot afford to do so. Therefore ensuring my self-care plan is executed daily is imperative and I don’t want myself or anyone else to feel guilty or selfish for prioritising this.
The #BalancedBallerinas philosophy and way of life was born out of a need to find balance on a micro scale within the ballet industry and on a macro scale in the world. So with all that’s been said, here’s my (current) personal self-care routine! It’s constantly evolving as I discover new practises, keeps me sane whilst running three businesses and helps me leave the therapists office for emergencies.
My ‘cheaper-than-therapy’ self-care routine…
- I create a lot of rituals around food. It’s a simple and effective way to start your morning or finish your evening. My morning starts with a scoop of chaga in my soy latte (chaga is an immunity boosting mushroom superfood!) which I sip on my balcony in silence whilst setting good intentions for the day.
- I prioritise sweating every single day. After all, endorphins make you happy! I go to the gym for an hour every day and between cardio and weights my best friend and I chat about life which is one of the best (free) forms of therapy out there.
- I also have specific practices for different days of the week. For example, on Friday mornings I take my dog ‘Hiro’ and my journal to my local coffee spot and fill the pages with thoughts, dreams, doodles and ideas. It’s like a mental download!
- If I don’t have dinner plans, Saturday night is spent with a glass of wine and a bath after a long day of teaching at the studio. Don’t drink (or underage)? That’s cool too! Make a mocktail (my favourite is soda water, lime, mint leaves and stevia) or a warm hot chocolate and enjoy this simple luxury.
- Sunday mornings are spent at the Farmers Market, followed by home-made smoothies and a breakfast that seems to last for hours. Cooking really relaxes me!
- In random moments of stress, I’ll simply lay down and do a quick body scan (if you’re interested in trying one, there’s a guided body scan on the podcast)
- Every now and then I book a solo hiking trip to a big mountain or a weekend away surrounded by nature with my partner. Natural environments are my favourite type of holiday!
- Speaking of nature, at least once a week I get to the beach or the bushland, with a thermos full of coffee and watch the sunrise or sunset. Getting out in nature is most certainly therapeutic.
You can always get self-care inspiration through the Balanced Ballerinas podcast, this blog and social media. I’d also love to hear about your self-care routines and thoughts around the hidden costs of therapy! Please tell me, I’m not the only one who can’t afford regular therapy!
Grit & Grace,