Critical need for self care

I was given the opportunity to speak at a mind body spirit expo. Usually people will speak about their services and products, it is a marketing opportunity. Instead of doing that I was inspired to speak about the need for self care, what it looks like and what it means to do self care.

I believe today we are facing a health crisis due to our adrenal nature. Everything constitutes an emergency because we have so few real emergencies in our lives. Our adrenal response is customized to keep us safe and alive when there is mortal danger. Cavemen needed to have this in order to survive a hostile environment. If you are about to be attached by a wild animal, you need your body to respond in a way that gives you the best chance for survival and the adrenaline response does this. Our body is flooded with adrenaline and the organs and tissues of the body react.

I read a great book not that long ago – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&#. There were several pieces in that book that really resonated for me. One of them spoke to the idea that if we don’t have anything in our lives to “respond” to or give a crap about, our minds will create something. Have you ever known those people who don’t have much going on in their lives who will create drama over the smallest of things? Suddenly the idea of not getting 30 cents off their soup purchase because the coupon expired last week is a big enough deal to warrant a full in store melt down on the cashier.

The other part of the book that really spoke to me was the damage social media is having on society. I have always seen the addiction to social media as something that was bad, but did not really have the words to explain exactly why I felt that way. The author spoke about how the ability to see people doing extraordinary things all the time has normalized extraordinary. When you are watching people do all these amazing things all the time it causes you to think that this is what life is like all the time. Then you review your life and suddenly your normal existence seems less than what you see all the time online. When you live in a word where everyone appears so amazing and you don’t feel you are, your self esteem takes a pretty big hit. Not many shoot for below average as a place to be.

In this environment of constant stress and low self esteem, there has never been a time when we should be stepping into the act of self care. I believe we have forgotten the value of joy and that it can be found in simple pleasures. We are so focused on looking to the external world to find our self worth or value. What kind of car do I drive, how big is my house, how accomplished are my kids, how much money do I make. We have lost ourselves in the pursuit of these external things. Self care can look like taking the time to step back into the magic of our imagination. Have you ever watched a child playing. Their cardboard box is a rocket ship and they are flying to the moon. They don’t care what brand of clothes they are wearing or what other kids are thinking about them in that moment. They are full of joy and wonder and in their mind on their way to the moon. What would it feel like to move into that space yourself for just a few moments in your day. Our minds are amazing and at the same time easy to fool. Our mind does not distinguish the difference between real and pretend, so when you immerse yourself in thinking about what all the debt you have could lead to ( bankruptcy, looking foolish, shame, homelessness) it manages those thoughts through your body as though they are real and here right now. So if that is possible for worry or negative thoughts, is the same not true for using your imagination to think about amazing things instead? Where you were thinking about debt maybe you could spend 5 minutes thinking about crazy abundance. Think about an amazing shopping spree you go on where you take 5 of your closest friends with you and you buy anything anyone wants and don’t even look at the price tags!! You are just fanning money at the sales people, everyone is laughing and having a great time. This is so powerful and available to us each and every day.

So stepping into self care: Why would we want to? What is possible if we do?

When you step into self care a few things happen:
Send a very clear message to yourself that “I am worth it”.
Promote an environment where you can step into the dialogue with your deeper knowing
Puts you in a place of “rest and relax” that allows the body to move towards homeostasis or balance where healing and recovery is possible.
Your body has the ability to heal itself if given the right tools and environment. One part of that environment is being in balance.

What does self care look like? This is different for everyone – like a fingerprint or snowflake. It varies from person to person and also from moment to moment. It could be taking a hot bath, time with friends, reading, exercise, meditation, watching some sports, taking a walk. There are so many possibilities. But when you step into these activities you can increase the benefit if you take the time to do it with intention. For example I love to take hot baths. But I can go about it in one of several ways. I can pour the tub while I get a load of laundry on, listen to my voicemail, rush to tidy the bathroom and then quickly get into the tub wash my hair, clean my body and jump out and keep going. OR I could pour the tub, turn on some soft music, add some oils to the water, slowly ease myself into the tub, wash my hair taking time to massage my scalp, gently scrub my body with a soft lufa admiring the bubbles the soap leaves on my skin, sink low in the water and listen to my breath and watch my body rise and fall in the water as I inhale and exhale, swish my hair around and pretend I am a mermaid. The outcome of both scenarios is the same – I have taken the time to have a bath, but the feeling and energy of the two is dramatically different. When I set the intention to be mindful and enjoy my bath time the stress reduction and joy I feel is very different.

When I work with clients I can clearly see the difference between the ones who move with intention in their self care. They are:
More in touch with themselves
Hear their inner wisdom more clearly
Able to clear blocks quicker
Sink into the depth of the work

This does not mean that you shouldn’t step into the work you encounter when you do the self reflection work and engage with an alternative health care professional. It is just an understanding that the work you do with them will be dramatically enhanced when you are consistently participating in self care. Pretty much every client I work with get the body work, but also the list of homework to do between the sessions to make the work that much more effective. In a time where we are facing extreme levels of stress and poor health, if there is a way to increase the efficacy or potency of our health practices, shouldn’t we embrace in and harness that synergy? So for me, this is why I consider self care to not only be