Mariel Witmond enjoys a career that supports people through life coaching, nutrition and yoga. In her contribution to #thebigselfcareshare, she talks about how she’s learned to positively change her behaviours and shift her perspective.
Tell us about yourself.
I am half English, half Mexican with an American accent (born in Puerto Rico). I spent 11 years working in the entertainment industry. When I turned 30 I was running an office across Europe and South Africa, and I was massively burnt out. By the time I decided to leave the job I had gastritis, a hernia and Hashimoto’s – all of which I attribute to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. Two years after I left my job, and after almost 15 years of practising yoga, I achieved my longtime dream of becoming a yoga teacher – in the hopes of sharing with others the countless ways it has positively impacted my life. I share a passion for life coaching and nutrition that together with yoga have become the pillars for my business Mindful Sonder – a holistic approach to wellbeing.
What does self-care mean for you?
Self-care is definitely a hot topic at the moment (and what a great one for it to be!), but I often find it to be associated with physical activities – getting a massage, taking a bath, etc – whereas I feel self-care is less about what we can do and more about how we can behave, and perhaps it’s those physical activities that help to get us there! To me, self-care is all about compassion and acceptance. I spent many years of my life not liking myself, feeling shame for my feelings, looking to the external world to fix what was wrong within.
I find that the first step towards self-care is finding compassion for yourself; allowing yourself to slow down long enough to check in with how you are doing.
I find that the first step towards self-care is finding compassion for yourself; allowing yourself to slow down long enough to check in with how you are doing, owning how you are feeling, and from a place of acceptance for who you are, deciding which next action best suits your current need. I always go back to the analogy of aeroplanes in the time of an emergency – you need to put your mask on first before you can help anyone else with theirs.
How do you incorporate self-care into life and work?
I am fortunate enough to have a job that requires me to regularly spend time on introspection. I’ve come to realise that the people I draw into my life (especially as a life coach and teacher) tend to be mirrors for things I myself have had to, or need to work on. Yoga keeps me in tune with and appreciative of my body and breath, and meditation allows me to clear through the chatter in my mind in order to better choose which thoughts to focus on. I would say writing is a big form of self-care for me as well – journaling, preparing my posts on Instagram and writing my blogs. Much like meditation, writing allows your thoughts to unravel, creating greater awareness that gives you the ability to pick and choose which thoughts to give your energy to.
What’s helped you on the path to being kinder to yourself?
Don’t waste your time on comparison and jealousy. I love this quote from Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’ speech: “Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind… the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” The thing that helped me the most with this is that whenever I would catch myself comparing or feeling jealousy, I encouraged myself to instead be inspired and find admiration. Comparison and jealousy lead you down a path of never enough. Admiration and inspiration can fuel your drive to accomplish whatever you want in life. It also helps to encourage support of one another rather than separation, which to me is essential. I am all about human connection!
Self-care is a behaviour. A mindset shift. Life is a reflection of our thoughts, a mirror of our perspectives – so work on shifting that perspective to be a more positive one, always from a place of compassion and acceptance.
I really enjoyed reading your contribution, Mariel. And the Baz Luhrmann quote is spot on! Thank you for taking part and giving us all more to think about.