Today I’m focusing on an aspect of adopting a vegan lifestyle that can easily be overlooked to your absolute detriment. It is non-negotiably vital for any level of sustainability so far as a healthy body and mind. And if you’re an animal rights activist? Or if JOY and happiness are important to you?
Well, PLEASE do this, before you reach a breaking point!
I am of course referring to self-care and specifically my:
8-Step Guide to Cultivating Self-Care in Your Vegan Lifestyle.
In our frenzied, chaotic world, prioritising self-care has become increasingly important. If you follow a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, practicing self-care can be a sanity saver and at the very least will significantly enhance your overall well-being.
In this comprehensive 8-step guide, I’ll share personal stories and experiences to help you integrate self-care practices seamlessly into your vegan journey. From nourishing your body with wholesome plant-based foods, to nurturing your mind and handling your relationships with grace, we’ll explore various aspects of self-care tailored specifically for the vegan community.
Just for fun, I am also getting my S.E.L.F. C.A.R.E. acronym on today!
Self-Care Step 1: Self-Talk.
Imagine if you were to live in the most stunning house, in the most perfect location – regularly indulging in 5 star travel, dining, shopping and yet all this came with the assumption you’d suck up all the hateful, harmful and ignorant comments your partner flung your way?
I’d be out that door in a heart beat and I imagine you would too.
You’d counsel a friend you love to leave an abusive partner. And yet, what about the talk you direct at YOU? The constant, insistent chatter inside your head that your unconscious mind is always talking onboard and believing to be true.
Self talk was a huge to work on for me that I’ve made immense progress with. I share this to assure you that no matter what you current self-talk is, if you recognise it’s not working, it’s not helping you take the actions you want to take, lead the life you want to lead, or feel the way you want to feel – then absolutely it’s 100% within your ability to change.
It happens one recognised then reframed from negative to supportive piece of self-talk at a time.
It will seem manufactured at first however with consistency and patience talking to you the way you would talk to anyone else you love and respect will be come natural.
After another 52 bite-sized self-care suggestions?
My Plant Positive Journal has a simple self-care suggestion every Sunday!
Self-Care Step 2: Elicit Your Values and Beliefs.
This is where I will most often start personally if I want to make any lasting lifestyle change and also, as a health coach, the first step I recommend with clients.
Self care is foremost about compassion for you. About a focus on your long term health and happiness. Living aligned with the values you most covet and the beliefs you hold dear lifts a weight you might not have consciously known you were struggling with.
Any new vegan recognises the lightness and alignment you feel when your daily actions align with your values, beliefs and heart.
However that’s not just in relation to your compassion for the animals. If I hold Freedom as a core value, it relates of course to the rights of all animals to be free from abuse and suffering. However also, it means having some unscheduled free time in my every single day.
If you’re yet to elicit your values and beliefs it’s something I’ve blogged and podcasted about extensively so I have you all linked up HERE:
Still on your values and beliefs, they are a perfect filter to make your decision making process easier.
Once you’re clear, they basically remove the self negotiation. The “do I?” “don’t I” constant battle where you fight YOU in relation to self-care big rocks (that we’ll cover in Step 3) is no longer something you waste time and energy on. Instead you feel compelled to act in alignment with your values and beliefs.
Self-Care Step 3: Lock and Load The Big Rocks That Keep You Happy and Healthy.
Your “big rocks” are those non-negotiables that you schedule into your week first and then fit everything else around.
First, Brainstorm YOUR 3-4 big rocks. If it’s not obvious, try thinking back to the time in your life when you were most happy, healthy, calm – efficient!
For me it’s daily exercise and meditation. Twice weekly time in nature. Weekly meal prep. This last one might not seem as obvious as a self care action, however actually: is there anything more impactful as an act of love and self care for your body then giving yourself the best possible chance of fuelling your body with nutritious and delicious food every single day?
Next, Schedule YOUR 3-4 big rocks. Make them a non-negotiable appointment with you. These are the things that have proven to be good for you, mentally and physically. They deserve your time and they will have a huge positive compounding effect well into the future beyond the initial time invested.
Beyond the amazing benefits you get to enjoy when you prioritise big rocks like exercise, meditation and meal prep there’s the additional huge bonus that you also get to feel proud of you!
Like you came through for YOU and are a person you can rely on. This reputation with yourself is not something to be taken lightly.
Self-Care Step 4: Filter The People You Spend Time With.
You know the individual you spend time with and you bounce away feeling vibrant, energised and inspired?
Or perhaps that person with whom you feel heard? Understood? Supported? At home?
Hopefully you’re lucky enough to have some of these people in your life and also, I feel confident you likely have those other people too!
The energy vampires. The loved ones who really know exactly how to push your buttons and always choose to. The clients you dread.
I recognise you will not have 100% control 100% of the time to filter into your day and your life more time with the positive, supportive people and zero time with the other people. However you can likely be a little more conscious of who you let into your life and when.
One of my most important weekly acts of self care is to not overbook myself with one on one clients. Even the clients I love and respect. Even once off.
It starts with first acknowledging how you feel after a certain interaction and then having the discipline to choose who you spend time with, with violation and compassion for you as much as is realistically possible.
This will likely be a moving line in the sand.
As you earn more money you’ll be able to farewell some clients. As you become more active in animal rights you might no longer feel comfortable attending the non-vegan BBQ or buying a round of coffee for your colleagues who still consume cows milk.
Self-Care Step 5: Create a Not To Do List.
An effective To Do List will always be preceded be a Not To Do List.
In the same way that if you want to get up earlier it means first committing to going to bed earlier equally your Not To Do List buys you the capacity to say Yes to your goals, your priorities and you more often.
Your list will be constantly evolving however to just make a start I’d recommend jotting down a few of the things that regularly derail your day or your mood. Perhaps:
- Social media or YouTube before you’ve completed todays most important tasks orin bed at all ever!
- Answering other peoples emails / requests / calls in your personal “golden” prime working time.
- Venturing into a supermarket hangry or arriving at the gym too starving for any sort of effective workout.
Your not to do list is not only about giving you the space to prioritise the things that are most important to you it’s also about protecting yourself from the disappointment and frustration we’re all to ready to heap on ourselves when we do from time to time getting sucked into: seemingly urgent over important or easy over effective or short-term-quick-UN-fix over long term sustainable.
How mush easier does that supportive self-talk flow when you’ve side-stepped those pesky Not To Do items and nailed your To Do priorities today?
Self-Care Step 6: A 24 Hour Digital Detox.
I’ve re-implemented this self-care strategy this year. Each week I’m off social, email and everything online (except for pre-downloaded podcasts that really help pass the time when I piggyback or temptation bundle them with my weekly food prep habit) for 24 hours starting at whatever time happens to suit Saturday through to 24 hours later on Sunday.
If you can relate to struggling with the comparison game. If you’re aware that you could be even more present in your personal interactions. If you find the extent of animal exploitation, environmental destruction, climate change, global inequality… utterly overwhelming, terrifying and infuriating.
Or even if you feel like you’re always ON and never properly refreshed then I really super recommend you start with a digital detox at whatever frequency and for whatever duration feels doable right now for you.
Self-Care Step 7: Realistic Expectations Of Yourself and The People You Love.
Or framed another way: Lower the bar to raise your chance of success. In relation to realistic expectations of you, food and exercise are the obvious areas to assess.
However your relationships with loved ones are potentially the toughest most fraught aspect of any big lifestyle change.
Consider is your bar of expectation for those around you too high?
Here are a few hints (shared from very personal experience!) that maybe you’re meeting your loved ones where you’re at NOT where they’re at.
- Do you constantly feel frustrated / angry after a conversation with a loved one?
- Are you expecting when presented with the same facts as you were, a person with different life experiences and values will come to the same conclusion as you?
- Are you interpreting a lack of interest / support in your lifestyle choices as an absence of love and wilful lack of understanding?
I’m learning “success” is not simply living a healthy lifestyle aligned with your values and beliefs. It also needs to make room for happy relationships with all those you love. Even if they’re not yet on the same page so far as avoiding animal exploitation.
My current Go2 so far as lowering the bar to raise MY chance of success is: Focus on what I have in common with my loved ones rather than the reverse.
Self-Care Step 8: Easy 5 Minute Fixes.
Because sometimes your self-care just needs to feel really easy right? Something fast that you can then build on. An easy win or reference point for success. Here are a few ideas:
- 5 minute workout. For a little exercising inspiration, here’s an equipment free workout. Set your timer for 5 minutes and just cycle through circuit style as many times as you can.
- Walking prone push up (6 reps)
- Sumo in out jump squat (12 reps)
- Mountain climber (24 reps).
- Stretching and foam rolling.
- Expressing gratitude. How ever you see fit, be it via text, call, email or card.
- Coffee / herbal tea (or your beverage of choice!)
- 5 minutes focusing on enjoying the journey rather than simply striving for the end goal.
- 5 minutes ditching all the refined crap-o-la that does not support your health goals and that you always feel rubbish after devouring.
My new Plant Positive Journal shares a Sunday Self-Care suggestion every single week.
A few Sunday (ANYDAY!) Self-Care options from the journal:
- Focus on what you did well this week. You are probably having a far bigger impact than you think.
- Ask yourself: Do I treat my body like we are on the same team and it is the ONLY team I will ever be on and the ONLY chance I will ever get?
- Think of a small pleasure that brings you great joy. Can you enjoy it today?
- Schedule non-negotiable “me time” on your calendar or planner.
- Feel compliments as deeply as you feel insults.
- Veganise that non-vegan meal you really miss. Anything can be vegan!
- Build a habit of asking: Is this decision kind to my future self?
BONUS Self-Care Step 9: Mindful Eating.
As an emotional eater who likes to demolish food, I’d be lying if I said I have this one locked and loaded!
Sitting down with a gloriously abundant bowl of colourful, fresh vegetables, legumes, seeds and sauces gives me huge joy. I do still need to remind myself to take the time to appreciate the vibrant hues, textures, and flavours.
By practicing conscious eating, you (and I!) not only nourish our body we develop a deeper connection to our food, savouring each bite, helping our gut and microbiome work most effectively while also feeling a profound sense of gratitude.
Let’s do a quick recap of these 8 impactful self-care in your vegan lifestyle steps.
As you read through the steps I’d love you to decide which would be most beneficial to you right now?
Step 1: Self Talk.
Step 2: Elicit Your Values and Beliefs and use them as a daily filter for your decision making.
Step 3: Lock and Load The Big Rocks That Keep You Happy and Healthy.
Step 4: Filter the People You Spend Time With.
Step 5: Create a Not To Do List.
Step 6: A 24 Hour Digital Detox.
Step 8: Easy 5 Minute Fixes.
Self-Care in Your Vegan Lifestyle BONUS Step 9: Embrace Mindful Eating.
Conclusion: Cultivating self-care in your vegan or plant-based lifestyle is a deeply personal and constantly evolving journey. Sometimes you will need to re-learn and re-implement! Explore what resonates with you – take something for a spin – zero pressure. If it works, embrace the positive changes it brings to your overall well-being. If it doesn’t, try something new! Perhaps lower the bar to raise your chance of success.
If we are lucky, life is a long game and to have vibrant health, positive impact, long term sustainability AND JOY, self-care is something it is vital to get good at. You’ve got this!
Finally, if you are plant-based curious. Or already vegan and need a healthier approach to the lifestyle.
The Plant Positive Journal is a step by step guide to mastering your time and your mind while living a healthy plant-based lifestyle.
In this stunning daily journal you will learn how to consistently prioritise food, exercise and other healthy habits that build on each other to have a compounding and lasting effect.
It makes a great gift to YOU! Or, for the loved one who is vegan curious or who has been a valuable vegan ally to you.
Importantly, the journal follows a twelve month format however is not dated so it is perfect to use at ANY time of the year.
With love and gratitude plant friends.
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