Tough love on self-care

Relaxation time - cute dog
Sit and stare and just rest

When was the last time you did nothing? 

Rested? Pondered over a cup of tea? Stared out of the window to watch the clouds? Stood and listened to birdsong? Went for a walk with no aim in particular – just for the love of it? Sat and let your feelings come and go with no judgement?

Recently? Not in ages? Never?!

If this isn’t something you regularly do, I’m not judging you! I know how difficult it can feel to pack into your days all the activities you need and want to do – let alone finding time to do nothing!

But … this do-nothing-in-particular time is actually really important.

And the fact it is usually overlooked and not allowed in our lives is contributing to the high levels of stress and anxiety as well as fatigue and niggly illnesses in modern life.

Why? Because rest is essential to bring our bodies and minds back into balance.

It brings our bodies out of the stress response which modern-day life puts us into, and into the relaxation response where our body can rest, digest and heal. Rest balances the nervous system and soothes the mind.

And this self-care time – time to relax, rest and just be – is particularly vital if you have the trait of high sensitivity i.e. your nervous system is on a constant state of high alert so you’re much more likely to be experiencing feelings and symptoms of stress and anxiety on a daily basis.

The stress list

Let me put it plainly.

If your body is constantly operating in stress-response mode, you WILL get ill.

Take it from me, I know (I wound up with stress, migraines, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome – regular calming yoga, relaxation & meditation have helped me through it).

Your immune system is suppressed, your digestive system isn’t running optimally and your muscles are in a constant state of hyper-vigilance getting ready to fight, run or freeze in the presence of danger.

When you’re in stress-mode your levels of cortisol are constantly raised in your body and this disrupts all of the body’s major processes and systems and can lead to:

  • depression;
  • fatigue;
  • weight gain;
  • back pain;
  • decreased concentration;
  • low libido;
  • acne;
  • impaired memory (especially short term);
  • insomnia;
  • poor skin healing;
  • irritability;
  • menstrual abnormalities;
  • blood sugar dysregulation/high blood sugar;
  • decreased bone mineral density;
  • high blood pressure.

Blimey. That’s quite a list.

I don’t mean to scare you.

Scrap that. No more Ms-nice-yoga-teacher. I DO mean to scare you! #sorrynotsorry

Time to wake up

Cat relaxing
Sit a while & watch the world go by

I want to help you and all the other beautiful souls suffering through lack of self-care to wake up.

To wake-up and realize self-care is NOT selfish.

And to do something about it.

Self-care IS VITAL (if I could put this in flashing lights, I would!).

Self-care is actually an act of love and is self-less because in allowing yourself self-care you’re actually enabling yourself to show up and be there for your friends, family, and colleagues.

Because if you’re running on empty and drained, stressed and ill you are no use to anyone!

And, you’re not honouring this precious human life you have been gifted.

I love the wisdom of Buddha on this:

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha

5 minutes to feel better

So, lecture over.

Do you get it?

Do what makes you feel good and what does you good (because sitting in front of the TV binge-watching a box-set and scoffing chocolate and wine might feel good in the short-term but our body doesn’t thank us for it!).

{Reveal – I do have to remind myself of this too!}

Promise yourself at least 5 minutes a day to do something restful.

Yes you can.

That’s just 5 minutes out of 1440 minutes each of us has each day.

That’s just 300 seconds out of 86,400 each of us has each day.

So, what time can you carve out each day to reset your nervous system and bring you into a state of relaxation and self-healing?

  • Take some calming breaths – inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 4 (go and shut yourself in the bathroom if you really can’t get some peace and quiet to do this!)
  • Crocodile yoga pose to relax - Living Yoga with Stella, yoga in Eastleigh & Southampton
    Crocodile Pose: release & feel calm

    Rest in Crocodile Pose – let the ground support you and breathe away your cares into Mother Earth.

  • Stand outside and feel the sun / wind / air / rain on your face Watch the clouds or the sunlight. Listen to the birds, the wind in the trees, the traffic – just be with whatever you can hear.
  • Shake your body – shake your hands, arms, wriggle your shoulders. Shimmy your hips. Shake out your legs and feet. Get moving. It relieves stress and anxiety and resets the nervous system helping you to feel calmer and more present.
  • Make yourself a cuppa, light a candle and sit and reflect on what you are grateful for in your life. Practising gratitude and contentment is a wonderful balm for the soul.
  • Listen to this short Grounding Meditation (it’s only 3 minutes!)

So, you get the picture. It doesn’t have to be fancy-schmancy. Just 5 minutes a day here and there can help you to realize that feeling stressed and anxious isn’t the only option.

Make this non-negotiable: time for personal space and rest and reflection. Reflect. Just be.

{By the way, if you’re feeling guilty at the merest thought of all this then read this and this}

You NEED to give yourself a break.

Be a radical.  Rest.

Jump off the hamster wheel and give yourself a bit of calm space, every day…

Let me help you

Even better, give yourself 75, 90 or 120 minutes of  self-care – come to one of my classes :)

  • Weekly yoga classes for time out to release, rest and reconnect in Southampton, Bishopstoke & Swaythling.
  • Monthly Rest & Restore class to switch off the blaring inner alarm of your over-stimulated nervous system – next one Friday 7 April then 12 May, 6.30-8pm, Eastleigh.
  • NEW Soul Food Sessions – to slow down, connect within and feed your soul. First one is Saturday 8 April 10.30am-12.30pm, Eastleigh.

{Photo credits: Dog – Richard Walker Photography via Foter.com / CC BY
Cat – Foter.com}

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