Close your eyes and bring to mind the very last thing you did for just YOU. Maybe it was taking time for a long soak in the tub and a good book, maybe it was a rejuvenating yoga class that calmed and centered your mind or simply a hot cup of tea savored in meditative quiet.
Did you relax a little just reflecting back upon this memory? I sure did just writing about these things!
Now, imagine stopping whatever you are doing and gifting yourself with some time for self-care. Okay, maybe you cannot stop this very moment but what about scheduling it in, today. Does that calm or stress you?
We live in a society that prioritizes productivity. We are trained to want to check things off our lists and quickly move onto the next. Juggling multiple tasks at once is deemed even more profitable. So what happens when our bodies, minds and souls just keep going and going and going?
Eventually they crash. Burn out. Break down. Get sick.
Stress becomes a way of living and the body reacts. As a health coach trained in a functional medicine approach I take a look at the body as a whole and take into consideration all aspects of one’s life; relationships, physical activity, spiritual practice, food intake, self-care, STRESS! If a person is always on the go, never taking time to stop and experience joy, rest, pleasure, in whatever form this may be for that individual, their body is being sent the wrong message 24/7. It is being told that they are in a “fight or flight mode” non-stop. Have you ever heard the term adrenal fatigue or burn-out? It is a real thing.
The adrenal glands, located at the top of each kidney, produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, burn protein and fat, react to stressors like a major illness or injury, and regulate blood pressure. Two of the most important adrenal hormones are cortisol and aldosterone. So when we never stop, never give the body an opportunity to relax and get into a parasympathetic state, our poor little adrenal glands are working overtime pumping out and trying their hardest to regulate cortisol levels. Over time they become fatigued. Much like we do. They just cannot keep up with the lifestyle we are living under. Often times I will see this pay out in my clients with brain-fog, fatigue, weight gain, repeat illness, thyroid disorders, insomnia, anxiety and much more.
Wow. So, how does that soak in the tub, lunch with a girlfriend or yoga class sound to you now? Sound like a guilty pleasure or a prescription for good health?
I will be completely transparent with you. Self-care and slowing down is not something that comes easy to me. At all. I am a Type AAA, busy working mama who loves checking things off my daily to-do list. It has only been in my body actually reacting poorly to my lack of self-care, and of course my knowledge of how important it really is, that I have had to make it a priority. I schedule it into my weeks and have people holding me very accountable for following through. I do it with intention and some days, it is not easy to follow through on but I never, ever regret it afterwards.
What might self-care look like for you?
- Engaging in physical activities that bring you joy. For some this may be a long run, for others a walk with a friend or their favorite pet and others time on a yoga mat
- Going to bed early and on time and honoring your body’s need for sleep and rest
- Eating healthy and nourishing the body with the nutrients it needs to thrive
- Meditating and releasing the thoughts you have inside of you and being fully present, even if for a few solid minutes
- Finding that quiet corner and reading a book
- Listening to your favorite music
- Dancing and having fun
- Having a massage and totally letting go of everything
- Not picking up the phone call that you know will be draining
- Saying NO to anything that will not serve you or you are not being called to do right now
- Choosing not to argue with someone
- Taking a bath or sauna
- Taking a designated technology break; no phone, no iPad, no TV, and doing any of the above or nothing at all
This list can go on and on. Allow your mind to brainstorm ideas of what self-care for you and take some time to write these things down. I am going to challenge you, as we are in the midst of the season of giving, to make a commitment to yourself to GIFT yourself with self-care. Not just once but on a regular basis. Make 2018 your year of honoring your need for it. Visualize yourself one year from now having honored your body’s need for self-care.
Are you happier? Healthier? More peaceful? Lighter?
Let me know what self-care looks like to you and how you are going to prioritize it even more in the upcoming new year.
It will be the best gift you have ever given yourself.