I love to eat and I enjoy cooking and baking. I also love to try out new and interesting restaurants in and around New York City.
Some time ago, I created a personal self-care system I like to call “ My Menu of Self Knowing.” The menu was inspired by my love for food and healthy nourishment. This system helps me manage my stress and helps prevent burnout and frustration.
It’s a menu of stress reducing options I designed for myself. The menu is broken into three categories: “L’Aperitif,” L’ Entree,” and “Le Plat Principal.” Every day, I try to have one thing from each category – a well-balanced diet. Within each of the categories, I mentally divide it up by physical, emotional and spiritual needs, trying to create an equal balance over the course of a week, a month, a year. Always looking at the bigger picture.
Something that takes between 5 and 15 minutes, like going outside, texting a friend to say hello, writing in a gratitude journal, alternate nostril breathing, or abhyanga (aryuvedic self massage before bedtime). I love these and include them more than anything. These are my saviors! My list has expanded greatly over the years.
Things that are a little more time-consuming, like, going to tea with a friend, getting a massage, watching a funny movie or going to a jazz show at a local club. Another thing I love to do in this category is get in bed early and read a book.
Le Plat Principal
Something bigger, like taking a painting class or going on an all day hike. Sailing on the Hudson River. Taking a yoga class at a studio in the city or in a nearby town. Reading an entire book or going to a museum. This is Soul Food and it will take more time. This option may need to be done on the weekend, depending on your flexibility during the week.
Before I created the system of the menu, I would get stressed out alot and forget to take preventative measures. This left me feeling ungrounded and unable to help others to the best of my ability.
The menu helps me remember the things I can do to make myself happy. It’s also a list of what I love to do if the time arises unexpectedly. Anybody can customize it based on what works for them. Pick and choose from each of the categories, depending on what you need—just try to hit at least one every day. No matter what is going on in my day, I can always have a L’ aperitif and get in 5 minutes of breathing, a couple of stretches or a pause to remember what I am grateful for. These little moments help to keep me grounded and centered when an unexpected challenge arises. Over the years, my menu has expanded and I love adding to it, creating more options for my days. It even changes with the seasons.
I teach a version of this menu to doctors and nurses at a hospital in New York City. They take care of people all day long and this system helps them take care of themselves and in turn take better care of their patients. I hope by sharing this with you it will make your days easier and a little brighter.