A: We need to engage in self-care every day because just like a car needs petrol to go, we need daily nourishment to keep our energy bank balance healthy. Do we incur stress on a daily basis? We all know the answer to that one… our daily work commitments, the pressures of commuting, the demands of parenting, the dishwasher that beeps until you turn it off, the energetic suck of social media, screen time – stress is a normal part of everyday life. We need daily self-care to mediate the effects of these ever present burdens on our health and wellbeing. And it’s not just the negative events in our day that can have us feeling stressed out – it’s much desired things like scoring a promotion, buying a house, a renovation project, booking a holiday or simply planning a celebration that can tax our energy bank too!
The mantra is: ‘self-care is health care’. Do we brush our teeth daily? Yes! So we also need to tend to our mental, emotional and energetic health daily. We need nourishment, head, heart and body, to keep us topped up and resilient in the face of life and all its stimulation, and we need it EVERY day.
How do you know that you REALLY need to get self-care on the radar? Look for signs of burnout. We all have our own individual triggers, and it can manifest in our body, in our thinking, in our actions and choices. Get to know your early warning signs and take action before overwhelm sets in.
What are the signs to look out for?
- Extreme tiredness, trouble sleeping despite feeling fatigued, difficulty in switching off and a sense of being overstimulated.
- A general suppression of the immune system evidenced by frequent bouts of minor ailments or infections like cold sores, headaches or common colds, or lingering illnesses.
- Muscular aches, pains and physical tension.
- Mental signs include: low mood, supressed appetite, poor concentration, or diminished enjoyment from life, work, or relationships. A sense of feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Anxiety, anger, reactivity and irritability. A tendency to generalise about problems, to catastrophise or lose perspective and to take things personally.
Self-care will help you heal your system from burnout. If you’re in a state of overwhelm you need to tailor your self-care routine, prioritising soothing activities and life choices that gently restore balance to your life. I will guide you through that process in a future blog post so please keep checking in. Even if you are not feeling energetically low, engaging in a regular self-care practice will protect you from the ravages of stress, reducing the risk of burnout. Either way, we all need to nourish ourselves because no-one is immune.
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Modern life is undeniably full on and somehow as a society we seem to glorify those who never seem to stop. But this ‘sleep when I’m dead’ stuff has serious ramifications. If we don’t tend to our health – and I’m talking emotional, energetic and mental health as well as our physical body, we run the risk of falling into a heap when life tosses us a curve ball. Curve balls come in all sorts of forms – illness, work stress, relationship issues, and even fabulous things like getting a promotion or falling pregnant. We need to find ways to boost our resilience in the face of these inevitable stressors of life. I’d go even one step further – we need to engage in self-care because it is the cornerstone of happiness and wellbeing, and the means by which we become the kind of people we aspire to be. There is nothing selfish about that.
3 ways to destress in less than 60 seconds:
- Use the mantra: ‘I give myself permission to…’ you fill in the blank. For me, I like to pop in the word ‘rest’. It’s amazing the strife we cause ourselves by resisting the way that we feel, denying what we need or just plain wanting things to be different than they are. Use this mantra to create a little more space around your feelings or to free yourself up from guilt about particular actions. Do what you need to do. Allow yourself to feel as you do. This will diminish your stress.
- Zoom in on beauty or something you find captivating. Take a 60 second break from worry, rumination, problem solving or just plain stressing and take a close look at something awe-inspiring. I love to zoom in on the tiny hairs on my little boys face – helps me restrain from wringing his sweet little neck 🙂 Or gaze on natural beauty around you. Seek it out, get absorbed in it and feel how it transforms your mood.
- Get anchored in your body. When you begin to feel flooded by stress hormones or anger, stop and get connected to your physical body. Feel your feet on the floor, your legs if you are standing and elongate your spine. Seek out areas of tension – you are likely to find it in your forehead, eyes, jaw, shoulders, neck and hands. Soften any clenching you find. Next, feel your breathing. See if you can relax into the sensation of breathing and allow your breath to move freely through you. Notice how just anchoring your attention on your body and breath can help you disentangle yourself from stress.
Repeat after me: self-care isn’t selfish.
Beat stress by turning to your team of angels
To get you thinking I’ll let you know who’s on mine: a walking companion, yoga buddies, a kind ear, a mindfulness friend, my osteopath, a beauty therapist, coffee mates, playground pals, a brainstormer and sometimes devils advocate, and a cheer squad – on social media and in real life (both have their value!)
I think of them as my team of angels: people who keep me honest on my path, who lift me up when I’m flagging, who inspire me, challenge me and celebrate my wins with me.
Having a team is not about outsourcing your replenishment but identifying kindred spirits to share the journey with and providing mutual support where possible. It is also recognising when we do need help from others and it helps to identify those people before crisis hits. Get these angels on speed dial and prioritise your selfcare when times get tough.
If you’ve recently relocated maybe you need some fresh local faces on your team. Get out there and talk to people. Who from your old team can you connect with in different ways? Technology can be a wonderful tool! Regardless of physical location you can remain in each others’ corner. Thank God for skype! Believe me, we can even use it to yoga together!
We need other people and other people need us. Write down who’s on your team and make plans to connect. Who’s team are you on? Reach out and be of service to others too. Connection feeds the soul, take a look around you and plug in.
Thanks for being on my team! I relish being on yours.
P.S. Want to know who’s on my team of angels here in Berkhamsted and Tring?
I have a tried and trusted set of practitioners I turn to myself and can recommend wholeheartedly to you. From acupuncture to osteopathy. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about my local team of angels. We’ll get you flourishing again!