Caroline Paradis, co-founder and co-director of Elevate Southcoast spoke to me recently about what it truly means to practice self-care and how the pandemic is affecting our ability to do so.
Many of us believe taking care of ourselves means exercising, eating right, and every now and then getting a massage or spending time in nature.
While those things are important, Caroline says they’re not really the important point.
Self-care, she said, is less something you do outwardly, and more how you treat yourself inwardly.
“Self-care starts with asking yourself what you need,” she said. “It’s really about getting clear on what it is that you need and then somehow giving that to yourself. So a great example of self care that people might not think about is saying no, saying no to something.”
Self care is about making decisions in the moment that support yourself. Sometimes that means saying no to a spouse or friend when you really need time to yourself, or not picking up the phone for someone whose conversations always drain you.
The problem comes when we don’t know what we need.
Then, Caroline says, “It’s very difficult to administer self care to yourself.”
Training ourselves to hear that inner voice that’s always pointing us to what we need is where meditation and mindfulness come in, Caroline said. They help people get clear on what they need. They help us hear that inner voice that’s always trying to send us messages and tell us what we need.
Caroline’s own journey to mindfulness and better self care included learning to meditate.
“Meditation was very much a game changer for me,” she said. “It helped me figure out what to do next and get really clear on what I wanted.”
What she wanted turned out to be a career change and the creation of Elevate Southcoast with her business partner Kelley Cabral-Mosher.
The two women hosted their first event last year. Their second summit, Higher Love 2020, is planned for Nov. 6-7 as a virtual event.
According to the website, Higher Love 2020 “is a call to raise the vibration of love in our community and the world by tapping into the best version of ourselves.”
Self care will be one of three distinct “tracks of learning” featured during the event. The other two are workplace wellness and community building & social justice.
Caroline and Kelley want people who come to Higher Love to walk away with the seeds of new ways of practicing self care. two understandings.
“We want them to know there are a lot of different ways that you can achieve health and happiness and joy and it doesn’t look like just one thing,” Caroline said. “A lot of it’s about planting seeds. We want people to walk away with a little seed planted and then be curious enough to start taking steps on their own.”
They also want to foster connections.
“Even though this is a virtual event we want people to feel that they are a part of something bigger, that they are connected,” she said.
Look for more on my conversation with Caroline tomorrow.