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Tonal Talk Radical Self-Care with Coach Allison

In this Tonal Talk with Kate Telge, our Community Manager, Coach Allison, explains how self-care can help you feel your strongest. If you’re feeling burnt out, like you have no time, and struggle with stress, her go-to strategies are for even the busiest of people. 

Coach Allison practices self-care every day now, but that wasn’t always the case. At the age of 25, she was living and working in Manhattan and completely tapped out. Then in a self-confessed Eat, Pray, Love type of moment, Coach Allison decided to go to Europe, which is where she really learned the importance of self-care.

“I was depressed, very unhealthy, and my body was not on my side. Everything felt heavy and horrible, and I felt pathetic and drained from the day.”  

Coach Allison explains that this type of burnout is common, and while it varies from person to person, there are some telltale signs it’s happening. “It can be physical. So that could mean feeling the tension in your neck or jaw. Migraines that come and last longer than usual.” 

“You might notice it in your diet if you’re craving certain foods that aren’t healthy for you or drinking more coffee than normal just to get out of bed in the morning. Look at your interactions with people. Are you agitated or irritable? Look at your sleep and digestion and aches and pains.” Coach Allison says that we normalize these symptoms too often, but they could be signs of burnout. 

“I had never really thought about self-care, but in Europe, it became part of my daily routine. I lived between a pasture and a vineyard in the middle of a small village in Switzerland filled with traditional French and Swiss-speaking people. I spent a lot of time by myself, going to the grocery store, cooking, and doing other activities. The more I experienced it, the better I felt. I felt clearer, my thoughts came more naturally, and my moods were more balanced.”

Ten days after Coach Allison came back home to the USA, the anxiety and sleepless nights came back, and she had her first panic attack, which became a turning point. “I could work out and do all this other stuff, but self-care became just as important as my nutrition, fitness, personal development, and professional development. Now, my daily self-care routine fits into my life so easily, and I love it.” 

Coach Allison’s Self-Care Cheat Sheet 

Create a morning moment 

Coach Allison says to think of your care routine as something to bring joy into your day. “Make it a morning moment where you do something that makes you happy, and that could be anything. It is simply an opportunity to start the day with intention and connect with yourself. It might mean reading a book, meditating, doing some yoga or a workout with Tonal. It’s something for you before the day starts.”

Have an evening ritual

The evenings are also an opportunity to disconnect. “I listen to music, or take a bath, sometimes it’s a glass of wine, movement or going for a walk or making tea. Whatever I need to help me reconnect back with myself and let the day be done.”  

Keep it meaningful, simple, and small 

When you start a new habit or routine, Coach Allison’s hands-on advice for any new behavior is to make your act meaningful, simple, and small.

You can make things meaningful by finding your why. For example, if you want to be healthier or stronger, be clear about your reason for doing that.

Next, keep it simple, and make it as easy as you can. Tonal can help with that. All you have to do is walk up to it and turn it on.

Finally, keep it small. If you’re trying to start a fitness or strength training routine, it can feel overwhelming, do a seven-minute workout, check it off and give yourself a star.  

Many people get overwhelmed with self-care routines because they feel like it’s another thing they have to do when they are already strapped for time, but even five minutes a day adds up.

Keep track of how it makes you feel

Coach Allison explains that that’s a reason why gold stickers work when we’re kids. “Crossing something off the to-do list makes you feel proud and good. It’s a release of all these great hormones that make you feel good about yourself.” 

“So tracking is absolutely key. It holds you accountable but also gives you data. If you start a self-care practice and feel good day one to five, and then for some reason, day seven to ten feel off, you can check-in and see how your self-care practice went for those days. You’ll start to see why it’s so important. Be curious and notice any positive changes that are happening as well. Those small wins are a sign it’s working.” 

Be flexible and find your sweet spots 

Some days you might have more time than others. It helps to be consistent in your self-care routine but not rigid. “You’re going to have moments where you’re frustrated because you wake up late and you can’t do your act of self-care.” 

Coach Allison recommends writing down your ideal self-care day and then writing down what your typical day looks like to counteract this. “They are usually pretty different, so find a range between the two. On days where everything is going right, you can do more, but on days where it’s not going to plan, do the self-care you can.” Keep it flexible, and don’t be hard on yourself for slip ups.

Practice self-care even if you only have five minutes 

If you’re strapped for time, Coach Allison recommends scheduling five minutes in your calendar to do absolutely nothing. That five minutes is there for you to be still, at your desk, or wherever you are. “Close your laptop, put the phone away, just that five minutes of disconnecting can do wonders once you build that habit.” 

“It may seem insignificant, but that’s about 25 minutes that you took for yourself over the course of a week, which can be huge for someone who doesn’t do any self-care. Use those five minutes to get present by either asking yourself what I am grateful for or what I need right now? If you can just schedule five minutes every day to check in with yourself with those two questions, it’s a great springboard for other self-care practices.” 

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Tonal Talk is a weekly Facebook Live interview series highlighting stories of real strength from within the Tonal community.