20By Mary Hood Luttrell
Source: Peaceful Dumpling
A few years ago, I was inspired by Peaceful Dumpling EIC Juhea to come up with a word of the year for myself. Like a mantra, the word would serve to remind me of a guiding value, so I could refocus my energy when I felt scattered or lost. The word I chose was essence.
I chose “essence” because I had been finding myself in situations in which I’d have to make a decision, and instead of listening to my intuition, I would think about what other people would decide if they were in my shoes. While that’s not the worst way to make decisions (sometimes channeling your wisest bestie is a good thing!), I realized that by the end of my thought process, I had no idea what *I* wanted.
I’d also find myself at the end of a busy week that had been full of work and social gatherings, feeling uncomfortably distanced from what I felt was my true nature. I felt diluted.
It was during those times that I needed to remind myself of my essence, my core, the things that gave me a sense of me-ness. Allowing my deepest values and preferences to guide me helped me feel more solid in my own skin—and helped me use my free time to nurture myself in the best way possible. After months of practicing this, I started to feel more independent and more like a woman I happily recognized.
Now, it’s my belief that returning to your essence or feeling like yourself again is a critically important part of self-care—especially if you tend to be sponge for other people’s emotions, problems, and energies (guilty!).
But first, a note on the nuances of your “essence:” I’m not of the mind that what we deem as our core, our soul, or our spirit is static—or even easily definable. In the best of us, that inner self evolves and matures, and this is a wonderful thing. It’s also true that the brain has a way of projecting a sense of self that is far more cohesive than reality would suggest. After all, life is a little easier when you have a ready-to-wear narrative about yourself, no?
With that said, there *is* a feeling of returning to something inside of us that time cannot shake when we allow ourselves the space to do so. And that’s a pretty great feeling. So whether you’ve experienced a major life event, are going through a transitional phase, or are simply feeling adrift after a jam-packed week, month, or year (!), try these ways to return to your essence.
6 Ways To Feel Like Yourself Again
Do something familiar. Reconnecting with a cherished hobby is a fun way to find your feet again. I’ve loved cooking for years, so making (and eating!) an old favorite dish helps me feel like me.
Travel (or do something new). While we commonly say that travel opens up the world to us or deepens our perspective, it also has a way of showing you to yourself. In this way, expanding your mind and feeling like your old self don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Listen to music from another “era” of your life. Dig up an old playlist. I bet you’ll find special tunes that still mean a lot yet remind you of how much you’ve grown since you first heard them—and how much you’ve stayed the same (in a good way!). It can be lovely to discover that some loves never change.
Read a book that challenges you. Like traveling or doing something new, a challenging book will put you in the position to question yourself. When reading a book, this could pertain to characters’ decisions or real-world issues. Spend a while in these deep ponderings and you might just feel more like you.
Write without a filter. Begin writing about your likes and dislikes, but don’t stop to edit or even think too critically about your choices. Sometimes you’ll find that you like something important-seeming as much as you like something mundane or silly. The idiosyncratic juxtaposition of these things will make you think, yep, that’s me! For example, in a list from last September, I was thinking about my husband and wrote that I cherished “his love for children and animals” and “his whole 80s thing.” (Gotta love those Gen X-ers).
Allow yourself small but important indulgences. You know what these are. They’re the “guilty” pleasures that you enjoy to the fullest. A new vegan lipstick. A double shot in your artisanal mocha. A Gilmore Girls marathon. A brunch date. A spritz of your luxury perfume when you’re just going to run errands around town… I’m sure you can think of a few things!