by Alyssa Delle Palme
When I first met Catherine Hull, an Ottawa self-care and empowerment coach, I had recently given birth to my second baby. I was about two months postpartum when I signed up for Catherine’s spring Mama and Baby running clinic. As I pushed my double stroller through the door to my first class, I couldn’t help but feel self conscious of the extra baby weight I was carrying.
My anxieties eased when Catherine welcomed me with a warm smile and praised me for remembering to take care of myself, even while life was a little bit crazy. The reason I joined the running club was to lose weight, but what I took away from her ten-week running program, aside from a new circle of mama friends and the ability to run five kilometers with a toddler and infant in tow, was the importance of self-care. She instilled in us the principle that it is our individual responsibility to care for ourselves so that we can be there to care for our children.
As Catherine explains it, self-care means caring for ourselves in a way that allows us to be open, free, joyful and able to deal with the stresses and challenges that life puts in our path. As a season of new beginnings, she adds, spring provides us with an opportunity to shed the old and welcome the new with self-care practices.
“The energy of spring is so lively, fresh and full of potential and possibility. It’s a great time to do spring cleaning, not just on the physical level, but also on the spiritual, mental and emotional levels. If you imagine your beliefs like boxes in a closet, then spring cleaning becomes an opportunity to get rid of that which no longer serves you and make room for new life, ideas and perspectives.”
While self-care is a way of life, she admits there was a time in her life when she was often stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy.
“When I was 19 years old, I was a smoker, addicted to fast food, inactive and unhappy with the way I looked and felt. I often did things based on the opinions of others and had a difficult time being alone and in silence. I was newly married and wanting to start a family.”
Catherine says the idea of being a mom was the catalyst to wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle. Over the next few years, she got into the best shape of her life, gave up her bad habits, had a couple of babies and decided to become a personal trainer. Today, the mother of three says learning to care for herself allowed her to be a better wife, mother, coach and human being. Her journey to helping others in the gym eventually evolved into offering a more holistic approach to health and wellness.
When we give from a cup that’s overflowing, she points out, we have much more to give than when we try to give from a cup that is empty.
That’s why self-care is important, she adds. It connects us to who we really are, allows us to share our gifts with the world, and gives us the tools and energy to handle whatever may come. Examples of self-care include spending time in nature, exercising or making a beautiful meal for yourself or your family. It can also include meditation, reading a book or enjoying a cup of tea or a glass of wine alone or with friends. Catherine says self-care can be anything you wish it to be as long as it’s done for the self, for you and you alone.
“It is about making yourself a priority and letting go of any guilt, shame or judgment that is keeping you from having more love, abundance and joy in your life.”
So shake off the winter blahs and nurture a fresh, vibrant you this spring with Catherine’s self care tips:
“Practice non-judgment towards yourself and others. Become aware of when you use the word should and try substituting the word could instead. Notice how you now feel empowered with more choice and possibility.”
It’s also important to listen to your body and the messages it’s sending you, she notes.
“If you’re unsure of what your body needs, give something a try and pay attention to the feedback your body is giving you during and afterwards so you can become more aware of which direction to take next.”
Catherine says when you keep a gratitude journal, it provides a great way to switch your mindset to something positive and uplifting.
“Try to find the positive in a negative situation by looking for some kind of blessing that has come out of it, and then write that down. Cultivating and maintaining an appreciative mindset and heart open up a world of possibilities for you.”
Another simple tool to bring you into the present moment is breath awareness. Catherine says we’re often so busy that we don’t take the time to just sit, breathe and connect within ourselves.
“Use this technique when you’re feeling stressed or anxious about the future, or when you’re stuck in the past and unable to be truly present.”
Lastly, Catherine says we need to let go of beliefs and judgments that no longer serve. She calls this technique “spring cleaning for the soul.”
When you take an honest inventory of your beliefs and judgments, she says, “You become empowered to choose which things stay and which to let go. When you notice that you have a belief that is no longer serving you and wish to let it go in a conscious and aware way, you can simply ask to send it back to where it came from by saying ‘return to sender with love and awareness.’ By using this tool, you effectively release negativity from your mind and energetically create more space for something new and lighter to come into your life.”
For details about Catherine, including the workshops, retreats and services she offers, see selfcareempowerment.com.