Instead of making New Year’s resolutions in 2022, we are making self care and self connection a priority. We aren’t adding to our already long lists of things to do. However, we are going to be more mindful of our thoughts and actions. When we are more intentional with our thoughts and actions, we move through life differently.
How to Make Self Care and Self Connection a Priority in Your Life
Self care and self connection are crucial to our mental health. As a boudoir photographer, I have had the opportunity to meet women from various backgrounds all at different stages in their lives. However, one common topic comes up time and time again. We’ve dedicated our time and energy on taking care of others and putting ourselves last. In order to make self care and self connection a priority in your life we are going to focus on setting boundaries, overcoming perfectionism, creating a balanced life, mindfulness techniques, and how to stop comparing ourselves to others.
Setting Boundaries to Keep Yourself From Saying Yes to Anything and Everything
Setting boundaries is an amazing way to keep ourselves and others in check. As women, we often prioritize taking care of everyone around us and tending to our own needs last. As a boudoir photographer, I have seen first hand the positive results that come when you make yourself a priority. During your session, we work to identify the woman that YOU want represented. We dive deep to represent the woman you are becoming and honor the experiences that have made you who you are. Sometimes, that involves identifying areas where we allow others to cross our boundaries. This is the year that we stop over extending ourselves. By setting healthy boundaries we will be able to get rid of things that negatively impact our mind, body, and soul.
Make self care and self connection a priority by setting boundaries!
You can do this by:
Getting real about your limits
Whether those limits are time, physical, or emotional; we all have limits. Be honest with yourself, where do you draw the line?
Setting healthy boundaries
Do you gain more time, peace of mind, positivity, etc.? By acknowledging what you gain by setting healthy boundaries it makes sticking to those boundaries a bit easier.
Get clear on what you need, what you want, and what would be good to have. When you prioritize your needs, wants, and luxuries; you are able to get a clear picture and create a set of boundaries.
Communicate your boundaries
“No” is a complete sentence. Communicate your boundaries as loudly and as often as you feel the need. It is your responsibility to communicate your boundaries to others. Maybe you aren’t interested or maybe you just don’t have the time. Whatever your reason, communicate your boundaries. You decide how much (or how little) information you share.
Pay attention to your needs
You owe it to yourself to re-evaluate your boundaries any time you feel as though your needs are not being met. Feeling over-whelmed, guilty, resentful, or just overall negative about any situation is a sign that your boundaries have been breached.
Practice self compassion
Setting healthy boundaries is a learning process. If you have dropped the ball by not enforcing your boundaries, forgive yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, learn from the experience, make adjustment as necessary, and recommit yourself to your plan.
Overcoming Perfectionism and Embracing Your Bad Assery
Tips for overcoming perfectionism:
Become more aware of yourself
When you connect with yourself, you become more aware of your habits and tendencies. What are your expectations of yourself? Are you being realistic in these expectations? How do you speak to yourself? Your inner dialogue speaks volumes!
Focus on the positive
Perfectionists tend to fixate on the negatives. We have this unrealistic idea of perfection in our heads and all we can see is how imperfect something may be. By focusing on the positive, we can allow ourselves to see the progress that has been made. Cutting out negative influences in our environment can help too. Whether that be tv, social media, or even a ‘friend’. If it isn’t bringing you joy, cut it from your life.
Embrace your mistakes
Throughout this journey, you will have set backs. It is important to acknowledge and even embrace those set backs. By allowing ourselves to make mistakes we are giving ourselves the opportunity to learn, grow, and do better. This can also be a good chance to reevaluate your goals and try a different approach.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
We are often our own worst critics. Expecting unrealistic things of ourselves is setting us up for failure. Again, we aren’t lowering our standards. We are setting realistic goals and expectations. When you start to lose motivation or those negative thoughts come creeping back into your mind; it’s time to reevaluate your goals.
Self Care and Self Connection Includes Creating a Balanced Life
If you are anything like me, you often find yourself struggling to find a happy medium in your life. It almost seems as though as soon as you start to focus your attention on one area in your life you notice that you start to slack in other areas. So you switch it up, only to have the same thing happen again. It just feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all! Creating a balanced life seems like a mythical creature that doesn’t exist.
Tips for creating a balanced life that works for you:
Connect with yourself
Carve out some alone time for you to take an honest look at your life. Meditation is an amazing mindfulness technique that works really well for me. What does having a balanced life look and feel like to you? Many times, creating a balanced life requires the help of others. Do you have a reliable support system in place? Think about any outside factors that may arise and create a plan of action so that you are able to tackle anything that may throw you off balance.
After you’ve spent time connecting with yourself, it is time to set those goals! I love visuals, so it always helps me to write them out. We want to be sure that we are setting both big and small goals. As well as, short term and long term goals. You have already worked so hard at overcoming perfectionism, make sure that your goals are realistic. What are your priorities? What areas of your life would you like to improve upon?
You’ve already come this far, babe! You have taken so many steps to creating a balanced life already. You have a list of goals in mind and you’ve accounted for any possible bumps that may come up along the way. You’ve made it this far and for that, you are a bad ass! Celebrate each and every win on this journey. Speak kindly to yourself. It takes time to accomplish any goal in life but if you move with focus and intention, there isn’t anything that you won’t be able to achieve!
Mindfulness Techniques to Combat Self Criticism
Self criticism is something that we are all guilty of at one time or another. However, being overly critical of yourself is going to wear you down overtime. In 2022, we are getting rid of self criticism! We are learning to become our loudest cheerleaders and we are showering ourselves with positive vibes. I like to combat self criticism by practicing a few mindfulness techniques.
We can make self care and self connection a priority in our lives by practicing mindfulness techniques to combat self criticism. Some of these mindfulness techniques that I use are:
With my eyes closed, I put all of my focus on each breath. I take a deep, slow breath in through my nose; holding my breath for at least two seconds. Followed by a slow exhale through my mouth. It also really helps me when I focus on the sensation of the air coming in through my nose and pushing out through my mouth. Or even concentrating on the rise and fall of my chest with each breath. I can feel the tension leaving my body with each breath.
Acknowledging the Self Criticism
Acknowledgement of negative thinking is also one of many mindfulness techniques that I use to combat self criticism. Once my body and mind are calm, I reflect on my thoughts; acknowledging the self criticism and negative thinking. By becoming more aware of your negative thinking you are better able to retrain your self critical behaviors. At this time, my focus isn’t on banishing the negative thoughts. My focus is to become more aware of my negative thinking.
Practicing Self Compassion
Instead of judging myself I am going to empower myself. By treating my negative thinking with compassion, I am training my mind to be kinder, stronger, and more resilient. I intentionally seek out a positive attribute of mine. This helps me to mentally balance out the negative thought with a positive one. When I remind myself that I am not seeking perfection but seeking a better me than I was yesterday; I allow myself grace.
How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
When it comes down to it, comparing ourselves to others stems from anxiety. We are worried that we aren’t quite measuring up; so we compare. When we habitually compare ourselves to others, we fuel that anxiety and create even more anxiety. It’s a vicious, toxic cycle. By working to get rid of those negative thoughts we can finally stop comparing ourselves to others and start appreciating ourselves.
As a boudoir photographer, I literally stare at naked or almost naked bodies all day long. I absolutely fucking love my job! However, I have struggled with comparing myself to others on so many occasions that I have lost count. Especially in the beginning, I found it very difficult to stop comparing myself to others. How could I not?! Have you seen my clients?? They are fucking phenomenal! However, once I learned to stop comparing myself to others, I truly feel that it not only helped my mental health but also positively impacted my craft.
Tips to Help You to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
How often do you stop and take a look at the wonderful things that you do have? If we are being completely honest with ourselves, the answer is probably not very often. Now, how often do you compare yourself to others? Fairly often? That’s ok! But, it’s time to make some changes and stop comparing ourselves to others by practicing gratitude. Each day, write down three things that you are grateful for. It can be big or little things.
Focus On Your Strengths
One way to stop comparing ourselves to others is by focusing on our strengths. You are fucking amazing and you have so many talents and accomplishments under your belt! Celebrate yourself!! You aren’t arrogant or full of yourself. You are acknowledging your achievements and you deserve that! Let’s start focusing on our strengths and appreciating our attributes. Each day, write down three of your strengths. Three things that you are really good at, be specific and don’t hold back!
Take Out The Trash
One way you can stop comparing yourself to others is simply by taking out the trash. Not the physical trash, but the trash that you consume. Whether that is consumed by social media, tv, magazines, etc. If it isn’t healthy or helping you to feel good about yourself, get rid of it. Get rid of the negative content that you ingest into your life. Stop watching that beauty vlog that makes you feel like you need to have a certain look to be beautiful. Unfollow that Fitness model on Instagram that makes you feel like your body isn’t attractive because you don’t have the body of a prepubescent boy. Stop comparing yourself to others by editing the content that you allow into your life. Take out the trash.
Today You Are Making Self Care and Self Connection a Priority
I truly hope that this information can help you to make self care and self connection a priority in your life! Unfortunately, I do not believe that us women take enough time for ourselves. We work tirelessly to take care of others and put ourselves last, burning ourselves out. Today, you are making the commitment to yourself. It is YOUR time to take care of you!
As a Hampton Roads boudoir photographer, I meet a lot of women on different paths and stages in their journeys. It means so much to me when I am able to help a woman along that journey! How can I help you along your journey?
Join the discussion and find support from a group of amazing women in the Babe Cave!
LeZandra McGinnis is a Norfolk, Virginia Photographer specializing in Boudoir Portraiture and Erotica Photography. LeZandra’s life motto is: Fuck What They Think! And she encourages her clients to do exactly that! She can best be described as a Metalhead, Adventurer, and Whiskey Connoisseur.