The Power of Self Care – a True Story on Why is Self Care Important by Wellness Coach Serena Sabala, Co-Founder of Whole Shift Wellness
Serena is a Wellness Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Fitness Trainer and Plant-Based Nutrition Consultant who has studied the subject of nutrition for over ten years and has a unique, holistic approach to health and wellness.
When she was only eight years old her father, a very successful and busy entrepreneur, got really sick: unfortunately, he didn’t have the tools to practice self-care and look after his own wellbeing and therefore crumbled under the pressure of owning a multimillion euros business.
This led to him losing everything he had worked so hard for, with huge consequences to him and the whole family.
As a result of her childhood experiences, Serena has developed an interest in wellbeing practices which started at a very young age.
Today, she works passionately to help leaders be strong and fit so they can be healthy and satisfied and can continue to have a positive impact within their organizations and the communities around them.
Serena is also very passionate about bringing wellness to the workplace since many people spend most of their waking hours at work: she believes that “employees who are cared for, care more” and that companies who put the wellbeing of their employees at the forefront of what they do are more successful than average.
Her new book “Make The Shift – a proven methodology for busy business owners to shift to their most fit, healthy and confident selves” is due out in December 2019.
Below is an exclusive extract from her upcoming book. To keep in touch with Serena and get a chance to win a free copy of the book in a few months, sign up for the Whole Shift Wellness newsletter on www.wholeshiftwellness.com
In reading the title of this book you may be deceived in thinking that this is a book about fitness or nutrition: you may think that you’ll mainly discover tips on what exercises to do to get more lean and fit. You’re probably hoping to get some healthy recipes and meal plans to get you started on a healthy eating plan. Who knows, you may even be expecting to discover some “secrets” that will finally make a huge difference to your wellness journey and get you the results you’re hoping to achieve.
Let me give you some breaking news: this book is, before anything else, a book about Love. When I say Love, I’m obviously not referring to the romantic kind of Love that first springs to mind: I’m talking about Love as the universal principle underlying our lives at the deepest level; I’m talking about what we believe to be the most powerful force in the Universe: what makes us who we are and motivates us at the deepest level. That which brings us together and brings out the best in us through life. That’s the Love I’m talking about. And let me tell you, that kind of Love as A LOT to do with your health and wellbeing. More than you can imagine.
And yes, you will also get very many invaluable information that specifically pertains to wellness: my intention is most definitely to exceed your expectations so don’t be alarmed. I will get to that point but what I feel sets us apart from any other approach to health and wellbeing is that we will get you to dig deep to the roots of your roadblocks and obstacles so that whatever new results you achieve can be yours for life because you won’t simply be doing things differently for a while, you will actually transform your habits and motivation from deep within. Our aim is not merely to change what you do and how: it is to change why.
Sure, there will be ups and downs along the way, I’d lie to you if I said otherwise. But you will never go back to the way things were simply because you won’t be that person any longer.
Who do you love the most?
Having said all that, I’d like to start with a powerful exercise and I kindly ask you not to read on before you’ve completed it. This is so that you can get the greatest possible benefits from it.
So let’s put pen to paper and please write down below who you deem to be the most important person in your life: who do you love the most? who’s needs do you put first above anyone else’s? who do you cherish the most and take greatest care of each and every day?
I know this is a tricky question especially if you have more than one child as no parent can ever choose one child above the others so I’ll make an exception for you and allow you to write them all down but wherever possible, I invite you to choose one person above anyone else.
Well done for making this tough choice! I know how hard it can be to choose just one person but I firmly believe we ALL have that one special individual that has the power to make everything better (or worse), that can fill you with joy within seconds (and sometimes even a bit of hate, when they don’t behave how we would like them to); the person who most often has a solutions for our greatest questions and doubts. The person that can keep you motivated when things get tough. The person that can make you feel loved and cared for even when nobody else is around. That special person that is most deserving of your unconditional love, attention and care every single day because as long as they are cared for fully and completely, then you know all will be well in the end.
So, keep that person’s name in mind and trust me when I say that this exercise will make sense in a little bit. Before I explain further, however, let me share with you a powerful story. One that has shaped my life more greatly than anything else.
Why I do what I do
One of the greatest obstacles I see busy and time-pressed professionals face time and again when trying to improve their level of fitness and wellbeing is that of time. Really, if I had a pound for every time someone told me they just “don’t have time” to improve their wellness routines…well let’s say I’d be buying WAY more Stella McCartney bags than I currently do. This issue feels particularly insurmountable to parent of small children: in many cases, it really is the “make or break” factor in determining whether someone will indeed take action towards shifting their habits for the better.
Now let me tell you a story: my story, actually, and my father’s story. You see, after spending hours (and I mean HOURS) researching and investigation my purpose and our company’s mission statement as a part of an amazing course I attended, I realized just how far back the seed was planted for me to become who I am and do what I do.
My dad was a VERY successful entrepreneur; in his early thirties, he quit his safe and sound full-time job to start a business which he grew to several millions of euros in revenue in under 10 years. He actually invented a profession that didn’t really exist before his time. He was brilliant, successful, wealthy and had it all, or so it seemed. Until he lost it all. When I was only 8 years old my dad became ill and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, a mental illness which is a trickier variation of Depression. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with Bipolar, whether directly or indirectly, knows what a truly invasive and difficult illness it is.
What followed were by far the most challenging years of my life
and my dad’s illness remains to this day the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome. Now I feel that I’m lucky to have had the strength (also thanks to my amazing and supportive family) to turn it into a formative experience and I embrace it fully for making me who I am, however, I wouldn’t wish the same childhood to anyone else. I know that many are not as lucky as I was and end up completely derailed after growing up in such a dysfunctional environment.
I see now with great clarity that my dad simply didn’t have the tools to handle the mounting pressure of a highly demanding creative job and running a business on his own, whilst also doing his best to care for a young family. He literally crumbled under the pressure and lost EVERYTHING he had worked so hard to achieve over many years and sadly has never quite recovered since. These experiences are what planted the seed of wellness in me at such a young age: very early on I started to investigate ways that I could become a stronger and healthier version of myself, physically and emotionally and I haven’t settled yet.
When we look after us, we look after the ones we love
The consequences of my dad’s diagnosis were profound and traumatizing not only on him but also us and ALL the many communities around him: our entire family had to deal with many issues from financial to medical, all his 15+ employees lost their jobs quite unexpectedly, clients and work associates lost an amazing supplier and colleague that was truly hard to replace.
I often share this story with our clients who are struggling to prioritise their own self -care; I also tell them (and truly believe this wholeheartedly) that if my dad had had the courage and strength to take months or even years off his life and responsibilities to focus exclusively on his wellbeing and recovery, all of us would have had such a better life for it. Not to mention how much suffering and loss could have been prevented if he’d had the wisdom to realise he needed help and time for himself BEFORE he got ill. I would have gladly traded hours of his time and all the fancy clothes, cars and trips for a healthy father that could have been there for me physically and emotionally as I grew up. The problem is that he wasn’t willing to make this trade himself: he gave more importance to his worldly success than his health which sadly led to him losing both.
We often think of our fitness and wellbeing routines as something we do “just for us” but the truth is, it’s not just for us.
When we’re strong, fit, healthy and fully satisfied we go through life with different energy and stamina; we have more to contribute and generally do a better job all around. This extends far beyond the workplace too: we are better caretakers, parents, friends and partners. We’re happier in our body and mind and therefore are more pleasant to be around. Not to mention, and this is huge for young parents, in particular, we are a great example to our kids who will inevitably pick up the good habits, consciously or unconsciously (instead of having to learn about them the hard way, as I did).
So next time you struggle to make time for a run, nap, massage or to cook yourself a healthy meal because “the kids come first”, think again. Your kids want nothing more than for you to be your healthiest, fittest, happiest and most satisfied self because if you’re not, they can’t be either. It’s really that simple.
So now, let’s go back to the exercise we did in the previous chapter and let me ask the same question again:
Who is the most important person in your life?
I hope you’re now thinking what I’m thinking: YOU should be your first love and number one priority. YOU are the one that can make it all better (or worse).
Only if you love yourself first and fully, can you then love somebody else fully (and yes, that includes your children and parents).
Only if you take care of yourself every single day, will you have the energy needed to take care of others.
There is no way around this.
So today and every day, we invite you to look in the mirror and acknowledge and be ready to love yourself more than anyone else so that you can then go into the world with an overflow of Love to offer to anyone around you.
Taking care of ourselves should be your top priority and is your greatest responsibility
at ALL times because if we don’t, soon enough somebody else will have to; and if you have children, it may just end up being them.
I know often times it’s easier said than done and essentially, that’s why I do what I do: I want to empower as many business owners and CEOs as I can to establish solid, sustainable wellness routines in their daily habits so that none of them will ever have to face the traumas me and my family went through.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s not possible. Don’t settle for “good enough”. Don’t wait until things get a little easier as it’s likely they’ll never do.
Most importantly, don’t use your kids as an excuse: use them as a motivation to make it even more of a priority. Start now.