Meditate, practice yoga, chug a kale juice, kick-box, etc etc etc – these are a few ways to enhance human experience and achieve one goal: Loving ourselves.
We are working overtime to reduce stress and anxiety induced by the chaos of life. We conduct routine “maintenance” to keep ourselves going, hating that we feel compelled to address our daily lives in the same way we address our careers. We throw everything but the kitchen sink at our respective businesses – setting crisis communications plans, building upon best practices, analyzing weekly data reports, hosting client meetings. We lose sleep over our jobs making us even less able to cope. Why do we not prioritize caring for ourselves? Why do we play catch-up retroactively to damage control the mess that attacks our overall well-being? My conclusion is that we are bypassing the key strategy that most of us love the least—examining our self-awareness and vulnerability.
I’m Rachael Bischoff, a 27-year-old Senior Marketing Manager working in health and wellness for a large yoga company Previously, I worked as a Digital Content & Marketing Strategy Manager across a few different surf/lifestyle brands in Southern California in addition to some freelance work. The biggest chunk of my career has been spent working on documentary feature films at Red Bull Media House. For the past 6 years, I’ve been working a big kid j-o-b in tandem with being an active facilitator of yoga, meditation, and other forms of mindful movement practices. When I look at the overall big picture of my career path so far, a gal muscling her way up the corporate ladder is what displays on camera–but with a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears and a surprising amount of stress.
For much of my life, the residual fallout has been fairly normal – a fun teeth-clenching habit, loss of appetite, sub-par sleep, light anxiety, burnout. There have been moments where I’ve felt like someone poured hot coffee all over my brain. Lucky for me, working cross-functionally is my bread and butter, and I have always had the ability to integrate work learnings into my teachings in the yoga studio and vice versa. I believe my unique experiences within both realms contribute to optimizing my own life, which in turn, helps me perform at my best.
My interest in studying the intersection of yoga and corporate America drew me deeper into the physical stress-response cycle. The most important thing I learned is that when we endure stress, we’re often left holding onto it if it goes unprocessed. Our bodies store stress in unique places similarly to the way we store fat or carbs as an energy source. The way we process stress (completing the physical stress-response cycle) is typically through what many would call “self-care” tactics. If we can look impersonally at the science of it all, our business-centric minds can focus on the importance of this process. Okay, perhaps you’re thinking that the phrase “self-care” is a bit torn. Are we focusing more on how to take care of ourselves when we should be emphasizing how to listen to ourselves and cultivating a deeper sense of selfawareness? Hangry? Eat. Exhausted? Sleep. Thirsty? Drink water…or a glass of wine if that’s what’s calling. The answer is as simple as listening to your intuition.
If we can’t give ourselves what we need because we don’t know what that is, then how will we leverage any proposed tactics for our benefit? Or maybe we are a little bit masochistic!
Having the ability to prescribe what we need prior to breaking down is essential for planning ahead, maintaining balance, and doing damage control. However, active self-awareness, is not always easily accessible, and can fog our psyche. To be honest, a good portion of the past 18 months has been fighting my way out of the fog. I experienced a double whammy of life changes that had me feeling disconnected from myself, so I began a full court press, meditating with the Calm App, tried Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning,” went on long beach walks, kicked and screamed, journaled excessively, took up watercolor painting, spent too much time surfing and practicing yoga, took acupuncture, vented via kick-boxing and more. After it all, I wondered why nothing restored my emotional balance. I didn’t recognize myself. Anyone who knows me would describe me as a ray of sunshine who has it together, could get along with a cardboard box, and moves like a sea lion when jumping into the ocean with a longboard. Instead, I was experiencing heavy panic attacks, retreated from my friends, and found myself sleeping as if drugged each night. Two months ago, after a series of painful events, I realized that I am not a medical doctor, and that I needed to get help to heal.
The cure—if you want to try what worked for me– requires you to be honest with yourself. Listen to your heart, your intuition, those who love you. Surrender a little, or a lot. Slow dance with your vulnerability to get to know yourself better. If you’re clinging to a life raft, find your Wilson and doggy paddle to land. You don’t have to suffer alone or in silence with the hardships of living through a pandemic, working a stressful job, everything else. You have the “self-care” tools at your disposal. Google and anyone else can tell you what your options are. It’s up to you to choose which ones you’ll leverage to love your life.
*To those who extended the life raft while I was drowning, thank you for letting me trust fall. I love you to pieces.
Rachael Bischoff is Senior Marketing Manager for Alo Yoga, working in health and wellness in Los Angeles, California. She grew up near St Petersburg, Fl, and has been living in Northern CA for the past six years.