July 24th is International Self Care day. What does this mean? It is a day that reminds us about the importance of self nurturance. A day to reflect upon and include a sacred practice that honours the Self, practices that become an integral part of your lifestyle which contributes to your well-being. Looking to increase your self care? Self care is an ongoing process, a process that should be cultivated within each day. A process that helps create calm and resilience as well as revitalizes your energy. Here are some ideas to that are all about taking time away from your day-to-day responsibilities in order to replenish your heart, soul, body and spirit —so that you can release stress and navigate your day with more joy. 1. Move your body. Why? Movement is medicine, it is one of the most effective tools for stress reduction. Physical movement boosts endorphins, a hormone that helps create a positive feeling in the body. Whether it’s dancing, kicking a ball around, running or biking. Find something that you like and just get moving! 2. Breathe! This seems to simple, however if meditation seems challenging or if you are feeling a lack of time then focus on your breathing. Breathing with this focus creates a direct pathway to the heart. After all the lungs cradle the heart. With focused breath you can lower your heart rate and blood pressure as well as calm anxiety. Practice breath work - lengthening the exhale for a few minutes a day when in non stressful situations and trust that your body will know what to do when in a stressful situation. 3. Do not underestimate the value of a short nap or a visit to the nearest green space to just hang out in nature. The benefits of either is that it gives your brain a chance to have repose. 4. Think positive thoughts. When life is presenting lemons, try to get on the flip side of what is happening and make lemonade. In other words, there are always creative solutions - enlist the help of a trusted friend if necessary - however know that talking it out with yourself and/or writing helps change perspective on the situation. Thinking positively helps recuperate from bad situations. Affirmations such as those in my book Affirmations for Purposeful Living help to reinforce positive thinking. 5. Unplug from your technology. Your phone can suck a lot of time and energy out of you. Having to deal with email and social media, is very demanding on your time and energy. 6. Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake. Caffeine and sugar can make the body feel constantly “on” and harder to relax, thereby creating a vicious cycle. Ideally start to increase water intake. 7. Sit in silence. We live in a world where we are bombarded with extraneous noise. Not to mention the noise in your head! Allow yourself to quiet the mind and to sit in silence and appreciate the peace of the moment. 8. Write a gratitude list throughout the day and review it before going to sleep. You will soon notice that your mornings will be more joyful and your days will feel more centred. 9. Spend time with friends. Social interaction with laughter is medicine for the soul. 10. Spend time with self, take yourself on a playdate for at least a few hours a week. A date without technology but just being in the present moment doing something enjoyable. It can be a bath, it can be a good book or gardening. We make playdates for our kids, or we had them when we were kids. Now is the time to make them with ourselves. These are just a few ideas. Let me know in the comments below what you do to enhance your self care and nurturance.
Thanksgiving weekend in Canada marks the beginning of family celebrations and the added stress of work and school commitments as well as extra-curricular activities can tend to bring on feelings of overwhelm, stress and fatigue. It is so important to take care of yourself during this busy season and here are some strategies to help.
- Focus on the positive and BE positive around the experiences that you enjoy. Sometimes stress can bring to mind unpleasant memories from past family gatherings - counteract this with 3 positive memories as well as 3 gratitudes of the present moment. The practice of consistently maintaining positive thoughts assist in creating a positive reality.
- Allow yourself to let go of the past. It is not unusual to be triggered by certain family members, ex-spouses or partners. (Especially when children and custody agreements are part of your life) When this happens remember that today is a new day. Things have the potential of going very well, especially when you expect things to go well. By letting go of past wrongs, you are saying that they cannot hurt you anymore. You are standing in your own self empowerment.
- Expect positivity however have realistic expectations. If it is your turn to host the family meal, then let it be what works for you. From the menu on - do what fits in your budget, and tickles your taste buds. If big dinners are your thing with your best china then enjoy every aspect of it and do not be disappointed if things do not go as planned. Family meals are for good laughs, welcoming atmosphere and company, however they can go sideways if the importance is on perfection.
- Ask for help when you need it (and even if you don’t). Many times we juggle so many tasks that we think that we can squeeze more in. Take your time and breathe. Decide what is important and a priority. The rest is not necessary - or in the very least it can be something to delegate. Include family members in the planning, everyone participates and everyone then becomes responsible in the creation of something memorable.
- Self Care is essential as well as stick to a routine as much as possible - it is too easy to let busy come in and rule the household. You are always the priority. As much as possible stick to your eating, sleeping and exercising routine. Make time for yourself so that you can stay peaceful and grounded.
The holiday season can bring up many stresses as well as conflicted emotions. Follow these tips to help keep you present and less stressed this holiday. For some people this is the favourite time of the year, for others, it is a time of stress and pressure with extra busy-ness. While it can be a time of great celebration and merry making there can also be some deep grieving, or the unearthing of childhood wounds and patterns triggered by family gatherings. Here are some suggestions to help navigate the next few weeks: 1. Do things in moderation. Plan what parties and functions that you really want to go to. You do not need to show up at them all. It is very easy to drink and eat too much at special events - so everything in moderation. If you know you are going for office drinks after work, order a healthy appetizer as well. As much as possible choose foods that are nourishing. If it is a late night gathering, eat your normal supper before going so that you can moderately eat the hors d’oeuvres. Also you do not need to be the last one to leave the party. Your body and spirit will thank you. 2. Keep to a regular routine. While this may seem odd to suggest when there are so many commitments and functions out there (work or family), it is very important to remember that routine is very grounding. If your routine includes a spiritual practice every morning, do not skip it. It will help set the tone for your day. If you have a regular workout time, honour it. It is very important to look after your self care. If you have a regular volunteer day, keep your schedule with it. Stick to your normal diet as much as you can. Go to sleep and wake at the same time as much as possible. Bodies like rhythm, honour your body. 3. Stay connected with the people who lift you up. You do not need to be alone nor do you need to be around people who are toxic to you. Make sure that you take the time to connect with the people who value you. These are earth angels. They will ground you. Remember to ask for support if you need it. 4. Eliminate the “should of” “need to”phrases. Also on the list to eliminate: I have to. This leads to unnecessary guilt. Remove those phrases from your vocabulary. You are a person with free will and choice. Do not place unrealistic expectations on yourself. A lot of our extra stresses are actually self imposed. If you feel obligated about doing certain things, ask yourself why? Then empower yourself to make a different choice and to take a different action. Try not to over analyze things, perhaps it is something as simple as having a date with yourself to do something that you really want to do, or something completely different. 5. Be with people if you tend to find yourself alone. (and don’t want to be) If you find that you are usually alone for the holiday, try to volunteer somewhere. There are many people who are alone - some because they want to be, but some because they are truly feeling alone and unable to change their situation. Volunteer in a facility for the elderly, or check out your local community centre or library for holiday programs. Sometimes you need to be outside of yourself in order to feel better about yourself. But more importantly, the opportunity to make a new friend or bring a smile to a neighbour is rewarding in itself and will do much to lift your spirits and self worth. You may discover a gift within yourself that you never knew that you had. Generally speaking take the time to be good to yourself. Do what feels good . Take the time for self care. Set your boundaries, you are allowed to say no when asked to do more than you can. Remember to ask for and accept help when you need it. Stay in the present moment. It is easier to see the beauty and gift of the experience if you are looking after yourself first. Try these suggestions and let me know how they work for you! If you have other ideas to share on what helps you please comment below.
Treat mom to a special gift this Mother's Day - use coupon code lovemom and receive 15% off your total purchase. Coupon expires May 12, 2017. Mother's day is a time to reflect upon the gift of life. New mothers, expectant mothers and older mothers all appreciate a time of nurture and self care. We provide handmade, organic products - made with love, that mothers will love. Please note that orders placed on May 12 will be sent on May 13th.