Love Your Self
Top Four Self Care Tips
For those of you who were unable to attend last weeks Workshop of the Know Thyself Series running for the next 2 weeks on Thursdays 7:00pm at Baresoul Yoga and Wellness. I wanted to open up the space here digitally to dive into one of the topics we covered which was self-love in the form of self-care. There is a theory that our physical & mental health could be positively influenced by the practice of self care. Even though this idea makes a lot of sense, I have struggled with the obstacle of making it a habit. My intention for this post is to break down some elements of self care in a way that educates & feels accessible. What better way to love your Self than to show your Self the care and attention that you offer out to the world?
Self Care Tip # 1
Awareness of the Body
I truly believe all changes begin with awareness, and when it comes to taking care of myself I know that being mindful of where I am at physically, energetically & mentally provides me with helpful insight, but how exactly is this done? Mindful movement is one way to begin to develop awareness of your body, a Gentle Yoga or Hatha Yoga class would introduce you to this practice if it is new, but you don't have to go to a studio. You can practice mindful movement anywhere, start with simple motions like rolling your head in slow circles, focusing in on where you feel sensation. Then move on to shoulder rolls, lifting the shoulders up towards the ears then allow your shoulder blades to roll down the back, notice if you feel a release of tension here ( ask yourself where this tension came from). See what other body parts your could acknowledge & roll out, wrists, hips, ankles and apply the same practice of noticing the sensation and what it is communicating to you.
Self Care Tip # 2
Awareness of the Mind
There is a practice you can do at any point in time, to develop awareness of the mind. Simply by taking a moment to ask yourself... Where are my thoughts? What am I thinking about right now? Notice, if your thoughts are coming from a place of Love or Fear, Trust or Doubt, Understanding or Judgment. This exercise allows me to tune into my inner critic, the thoughts that are rooted more in those emotions of fear, doubt or judgment. One method I found helpful in easing these feelings is the use of affirmations (separate blog post available for a list). When I catch myself in a negative thought bubble I remind myself that whatever critical or fearful thought I was having is not of service to my well being or others. I then quickly find one of my go to affirmations (ex. I do enough, I have enough, I am enough) which guides me back to a place of love and acceptance of Self. This is just a system that I have found to be helpful, as you bring more awareness to the content of your thoughts you may find something different that works better for you.
Self Care Tip # 3
Drink More Water
Our brain's are about 75% water which means when hydrated we experience clarity, creativity, focus & accomplish tasks with ease. Water also helps remove toxins from the brain and the body, along with carry nutrients to our organs and cells. So yes, water is important no one is denying this, but do you know what can happen to the body & brain if you don't drink enough water? Dehydration can have nasty symptoms like muscle cramps & headaches, it can also cause mood swings, depressive like symptoms and fatigue. When I found out that I could elevate my mood, energize my body & cultivate clarity all by just drinking water I began to be more mindful about how much water I fit into my day. Suggestions state a healthy amount of water for women is 2.7 liters and 3.7 liters for men, and to get even more accurate there are water intake calculators online that use your height & weight. If you are working out make sure to drink before, during and after exercise. FUN FACT: An easy way to check for dehydration is by the color and smell of your urine, light in color and order is a sign of good hydration, urine dark in color and pungent in odor is a sign of dehydration.
Self Care Tip # 4
While expanding my body awareness a curiosity arose about the effects of what I eat, on my body. I am not offering any diet tips here or a list of what one should or should not be eating, I am however inviting you to bring your mindfulness practice to eating. Frankly food is a large part of my life, I love to eat. I eat when I'm hungry, celebrating, bored, I even use food as a reward system for myself. Not only does food feed my sense pleasures, it also serves a functional purpose of nourishing my body... if I choose to eat responsibly. This is why I believe mindful eating to be so important, I believe food can be used to nourish, support & heal the body enhancing quality of life. In order to begin your own mindful eating journey I developed some questions.
Why Am I Eating?
Am I eating because I am actually hungry? FUN FACT: Thirst can feel like hunger to our bodies, if you're feeling hungry try a glass of water before grabbing something to eat. Or am I eating because I am bored, trying to pass time, or am I seeking the enjoyable sensation of eating something really yummy? Asking these questions helps me bring awareness to my motivation for consuming food.
When Am I Eating?
Countless times I have left my house for the day without eating anything, leaving my body with the obstacles of accomplishing the various task I demand of it without any fuel or nourishment. This habit leaves me with a strong mid-day crash, a result of low blood sugar levels. I end up in starvation mode reaching for whatever food item I can quickly buy and consume. In order to regulate blood sugar, mood swings, & metabolism, I have found it helpful to eat in the morning (even if I'm not hungry) eat my largest meal mid-day (because it gives me the most amount of time to use it for energy) and to have my last meal before 8pm (allowing my body time to digest before sleep).
What Am I Eating?
This question has helped me hone in on what food works best for me. It has been an empowering experience to notice how I feel after I eat something. For example, I love popcorn, I possibly may go to the movie theaters so that I can spend the ridiculous $7.25 on a bucket of popcorn and indulge in peace. But when I began this practice of mindful eating I realized that after a half-a-tub of popcorn ( I do share) I have trouble pooping for the next couple days. Many tubs, stomach aches & a reality check later I came to terms with the fact that popcorn impairs my digestive system resulting in constipation. So although I still eat popcorn, I do so now in moderation. Shining the light of consciousness on my eating habits has helped me understand the importance of my dietary choices in order to care more diligently for my body & mind.
I feel it is important to state that throughout this journey of expanded our awareness we must be patient with ourselves and have kindness towards what comes to the surface. Everything I have suggested, I am personally still working to achieve, some days I fall back into old habits and I have to remember that finding balance is a practice in itself.