I have two adorable pet kitties and for those of you that also have a furry feline friend, you’ll know they really are the masters of self-care. Think about it. They really do put themselves and their own well-being first. They cuddle, play, eat and sleep when they want to not when you want them to. Learning self-care and how to put my own mindful boundaries has definitely been a theme for me lately and so I thought I’d share some lessons learned from my very own kitties.
1) Value your sleep
If there is one thing cats are known for it is sleeping! Cats sleep an average of 16 hours a day and while that may be too many zzz’s for us humans, we should be aiming to get in those 8 hours. If you, like me, tend to get a second wind before bed and before you know it it’s midnight, try setting an alarm an hour before bed as your reminder to get ready for bed and start your bedtime winding down routine. Don’t have a bedtime routine? Start one! It could include a relaxing bath or cup of tea and some aromatherapy along with perhaps a gentle meditation and peaceful music to help you drift off. Most importantly try to ditch technology right before bed (phones, computers, TV, etc.) as the light emitted loves to work on your brain signals to keep you awake. If you’re like me and use your phone for guided meditations and music right before bed, at the least use a free app on your phone to filter out that blue light that keeps your brain extra wired. I like the “Blue Light Filter – Night Mode” app.
2) Awaken your inner child and bring back play
When was the last time you ran in a park just to run (not going for a run or jog) or swung on a swing? What about bringing out your inner coloring genius with some colored pencils and paper and a little creativity? Or just letting loose and laughing and acting goofy for no reason at all? I have two kitties, a kitten and an adult and while she’s not quite as rambunctious as she used to be, the adult kitty still loves to play! Much to my chagrin sometimes when she thinks knocking over and chasing my pill bottles is her latest game.
3) Food is sacred
When was the last time you had a mindful meal? And just ate while eating, slowly chewing and savoring each bite? Not ate and checked your phone or ate and watched TV or talked while eating? Now my kitties didn’t get the memo that they are supposed to savor their food because boy do they gobble it down, but food is sacred to them. In fact, my kitten will try to eat everyone’s human food too (maybe because we were on our phones not properly paying attention to our food?). Meal times are an event, something they look forward to with relish, and you can bet they are excited about every delicious bite.
4) Live in the now and observe the wonder around you.
Now I’m the first to admit, observation does not come naturally to me… Far too often I’m busy daydreaming or lost in my head! In short, I would make a horrible cat! Have you ever tried to sneak up on a cat? Good luck. Even when sleeping, there is a part of them that is always hyper-tuned to their surroundings. Then, think about all the time your kitty spends staring out the window in wonder at the world. What all do you imagine they are noticing? How often do we “look” out the window without seeing anything? Because we’re too busy thinking about the past or future to notice our surrounding in the now. So why not try integrating a little “cat” mindfulness into your life either formally or informally? Try sitting in front of your window (or better yet outside) and just being and seeing what you notice in the here and now. Congrats you just meditated! You can do this informally as well say when driving (just make sure you’re paying attention to the road!). That is one area in particular I am working on getting off autopilot.
5) Be a little selfish.
There’s no doubt about it cats have no problem putting themselves first. You want to cuddle, and they don’t? Guess who will win that argument… We often get very caught up giving, giving, giving that we don’t even realize we’re running on empty! And how can we give to others without first taking care of ourselves and our own well-being? Pretty soon we’ll have nothing left to give. Here’s a little secret (and I’m talking as much to myself here as this is a tough one for me), it’s ok to say no! So, the next time you find your tank running low, try a little self-care and self-compassion and give to yourself what you would usually give to your loved ones. Then, when you’re recharged, you’ll be able to give much more to others.
Do you have pets? What have you learned from them or what can you learn from them?
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France (French poet, journalist, and novelist of the 19th century)