Believe it or not, it’s been over a year since I’ve had a haircut.
I was overdue for one before the pandemic hit. And with the salon I frequent being in California, and myself residing in Florida, well… I’m officially growing out my locks. You can file this under the standard, self-care practices that are currently on pause.
But travel restrictions are not the only thing that keep us from regular and necessary self-care. With all that’s going on in the world, each day can bring its own stresses and challenges. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and the office of President of the United States is (as I write this) currently undecided. Emotions are high, nerves are shot, plans are tentative and people are on edge.
The future is unpredictable, but—our self-care can be reliable. Now, more than ever, you need to put your oxygen mask on first. I’m going to share four of my favorite self-care rituals that fuel a sustainable photography business and an abundant life, regardless of what’s going on in the world.
Let me guess: you stayed at your desk until 9pm trying to wrap up editing on a job, and after such a long day (and dinner) in front of your computer, you decided you need two glasses of wine in front of the TV to fully decompress for the evening. This puts you in bed around 11pm and up again at 7am—an hour after your alarm. You’re getting a later start, so you skip your morning routine and guzzle as much coffee as you can while you sit back down in front of your computer to do it all again. All that evening relaxation led you straight back to where you’d come from.
It’s a cycle of bad habits that fuels itself and keeps you on an unsustainable path. And I get it! The main culprits are STRESS and BUSYNESS—something we all have to manage. And when the volume gets turned up on one or both of them, self-care is typically the first thing to fly out the window. There are kids to feed, shoots to edit, bills to pay, homework, posting on social media, exercising, and showering (at some point) in-between. Oh, and then there’s your relationships.
How can a person juggle it all AND take care of themselves?
One of the questions I am asked most often is: How do you do it all?
I run four separate brands as an extension of my photography business. That’s a whole lot of shooting, editing, marketing, clients, emails, blogging, social media, travel—shall I keep going? Not to mention teaching in my signature course for photographers, The Abundance Plan.
So—how DO I do it all??
Well, first, I don’t.
I expect that we can’t do all the things, at exactly the same time. There are seasons of work, seasons of rest and most often, we have to let some things go.
So, in order to have a sustainable photography business, you need self-care practices that sustain you. I tell my Abundance Plan students all the time:
YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS.
And I mean it!
From the inside out, you are your business.
So, if you are suffering, worn out, exhausted or burned out, you will be of no service to yourself or others. And, it will show up in your work. Your business cannot afford for you not to take care of yourself. In order to be your best self for your business and your family, you need to take care of yourself first.
So I’m going to outline four ways that you can, on almost no budget, begin to do this.
But before we dive in, a word about “self-care”…
While my split-ends could really use a clean up, I’m not the type that typically enjoys the salon. Sitting still for that long is quite the chore for me, especially when I know I could be doing a million other things. It’s really important to recognize this:
Self-care comes in many forms.
Often, the most beneficial practices don’t cost a thing. Getting your nails done or applying an at-home facial is wonderful and can go a long way in helping you to feel good. But I’m a bit more interested in self-care rituals that provide deep restoration to our minds, bodies and spirits. For you, that could be ten minutes of silence. It could mean limiting your intake of news or social media.
There are many ways we can care for ourselves.
The important thing is to identify what restores you and then make time to do it. Like anything in life, to make something happen, we need to get intentional and build habits that support us.
So without further ado, here are the self-care habits I come back to, again and again, when I need to be renewed…
I talk about the need for Vitamin N (Nature) alot, but it bears repeating. As I sit at my desk indoors, typing away at the keyboard, I’m dreaming about getting out into the fresh air this weekend. I want to sink my toes into the warm sand, dive into the salt water and take in the afternoon breezes.
Whether it’s a sunrise run, an afternoon on the beach with a good book, or a dog walk around the neighborhood, I always come home (and back to my desk) restored. My mind is always clearer than it was before my time outdoors, and all it takes is a twenty-minute walk. Recent studies have shown that just being in nature has stress-reducing benefits and even increases creativity and feelings of happiness. Just by going outside!
Reminder: self-care doesn’t have to be expensive.
It’s time to rediscover your local park. If you’re somewhere cold, bundle up and head outdoors. Pack a thermos and a picnic and go breathe in some fresh air. Get creative—away from the TV—and get outside. Or rather, get outside and then get creative! (wink)
I know, I know—for many this can feel like a chore, especially for all of you parents. But when I have a Sunday free, I try to plan ahead to batch cook or prepare a lovely meal. Taking just fifteen minutes to make some preparations earlier in the week makes the task a hundred times easier when I’m ready to get started.
At that time, I make a point to let it be a therapeutic practice. I cue the French jazz music, or, if laughter is in order, a “Friends” rerun. I gather all my supplies and ingredients and then let myself lose track of time in the process. Working with my hands and getting in the flow of preparation uses a different part of my brain, letting other parts take a much-needed break.
I love batching homemade spinach tortillas, quinoa veggie burgers, even homemade dog food. On weeknights when I have a little extra time to cook and enjoy the process, I am left feeling accomplished and nourished on a deep level. There is something about feeding yourself homemade, nutritious food that doesn’t just feed the body.
You feel me?
Calling all wedding photographers—this is for you!
When it comes to a sustainable photography business, your feet always need some love! While we may not be shooting as many weddings as usual right now, I’ve noticed that mine are falling quickly out of wedding shape. Even an intimate, seven-hour wedding can leave them needing a little TLC. There are loads of benefits to an epsom salt foot soak: like preventing magnesium deficiency, calming down achy feet and helping you sleep. And sometimes, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
The main ingredient is epsom salt, but I like to get creative and add things like bentonite clay (which helps remove toxins) and dried chamomile, which is a relaxing antiseptic. Your favorite essential oil is a lovely thing to add in for its aromatherapy benefits. I love lavender, cedarwood and cypress, depending on my current mood.
Just soak and enjoy! You will feel like you had an entire day at the spa. I promise this will become a favorite ritual no matter how many weddings you are shooting!
Lately, the pace has picked back up with work and I find myself traveling and working weekends again, and boy, am I grateful! But I’m also realizing that I need to be intentional to make sure I’m rested and healthy. In essence, I need to get back into ‘shooting shape.’
So when my days off don’t come around very often, I make sure to get most of my ‘weekend tasks’ done on Saturday so I can relax my mind and body on Sunday. If I don’t get to something, it can wait. And then I ask myself:
What would make this one day really wonderful and restorative?
The answer? Well, in addition to the above, here are a few things that usually come to mind…
> Letting myself sleep a bit later (likely I’ll still be up early, but it’s more about giving myself permission!)
> Breaking a morning sweat outdoors
> Taking the foster dog somewhere to learn to swim
> An afternoon at the beach with a good book and a glass of rosé (ok, maybe a bottle)
> and always, a home cooked meal and an early bedtime.
So before you jump to some of the typical ‘self-care’ activities that we’re so often encouraged to, ask yourself:
What would make this weekend/tomorrow/today amazing? You might be surprised by your answer. Whatever it is, I hope you have the courage to go and do it.
I can’t say it better than Hal Elrod did:
Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent (slash teacher?!) balancing at-home education, or an entrepreneur juggling the stress of a global pandemic, or simply on edge with a crucial election underway, you need to prioritize your health and well-being. It is the most important thing you can do if you want to live abundantly, give back generously, and build a sustainable photography business.
Laughter, joy, and rest should never be overlooked, especially right now.
Learn more about how to build a sustainable photography business as part of a big, abundant life in my digital course for photographers: The Abundance Plan.
've spent the past decade capturing love and chasing beauty across the globe, and I believe every story like yours is different and special, and deserves to be told exceptionally.
Drawing on years of experience in the fashion and editorial photography industry, my photographs are graceful, honest and boldly natural, while completely intentional. Whether it’s the opportunity to narrate the retelling of once-in-a-lifetime wedding days, or the ability to communicate issues of global importance, or all the stories in between, I look at photography as the method by which I get to leave the world a little better than I found it.
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