We hear a lot about self-care these days and for good reason. The way people tend to live their lives adds up stress upon stress. The impacts of stress on our health are far reaching and can affect everything from our digestion, blood sugar balance, moods, sleep, and sex drive. Stress is sensed in our brain in the hypothalamus which signals our pituitary gland that in return finally signals our adrenal glands to secrete stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Self-care is a conscious way to prevent chronic stress as we are deliberately taking the time to slow down and hopefully tune in. That means television is not a great form of self-care even if you think its stress relieving, it’s actually very stimulating and it further contributes to disconnection. Self-care can vary from taking time for attending yoga classes, creating a morning and/or evening practice, meditation, journaling, floating, getting outside in nature and sex. Self-care also involves nourishing our bodies, mind and soul. This can include good food, reading, cognitive work and spiritual practices.
One thing I believe is important to remember is that no matter how many acts of self-care you are performing, if you’re thoughts are stuck in a stress inducing pattern you won’t truly benefit from your Epsom salt bath or massage. Our thoughts can trigger the stress response like nobody’s business, as our brain can’t tell the difference between a bear chasing us or our minds thinking about how fat we look in our dress leading to others not liking us. This is why both the cognitive work and mindfulness as well as non-attachment are important concepts to work on and very important aspects of self-care in my opinion.
Often people think of self-care as getting a pedicure or massage, but more importantly it is the inner work we do. Just as dieting is a bandaid approach to deeper underlying issues, so can the external acts of self-care be. Self-care for your mental and emotional health involves digging in and working on shifting thoughts and being able to be and breathe in the moment, rather than attaching to emotions and creating stories that keep those emotions in your system longer, therefore keeping the stress response running. It involves learning how to feel your emotions instead of pushing them down with food. It involves looking at your belief systems that create those faulty thought patterns and shifting them by doing cognitive restructuring exercises, which is the work I do with client’s in my 12 week EAT FROM LOVE Journey for Women.
So what are the 4 Reasons To Overcome The Guilt Of Taking Time For Self-Care?
Self-care calms the nervous system therefore allowing you to become less reactive.
Self-care is about prevention. It’s not meant to just be used once you’ve burnt yourself out or finally exploded. It’s all about prevention and should be used consistently and regularly to prevent you from getting to a place where you lose your shit or fall apart. This is why it’s important and helpful to schedule it in even if you don’t want to. Imagine being in a place where you can keep your cool, pause and respond in a way you won’t feel guilty about later. Or if you can continue to sleep well and prevent that burnt out feeling from happening where all you want to do is cry. It’s the same thing as using nutrition for prevention of disease and illness. We don’t wait until we’ve become sick, we start now so we don’t get to that point and increase our quality of life.
As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Most women feel the need to serve others, help others, do for others, yet can’t do for themselves. Maybe it’s family, friends, co-workers or a significant other. The important thing to remember is that when we take time for self-care we feel better ourselves, have more energy a more positive outlook and can therefore show-up better for those in our life. And we feel better about it instead of harboring resentment because no one ever gives to us. Imagine how much less stress you’d have in your life if for this one simple change. It’s helpful here to work on releasing perfection and people pleasing so that you can say no to others to say yes to yourself.
It will make it easier to tap into your intuition.
When you consciously slow down it allows you the ability of tuning into your body. There is no way we can hear our intuition if we are constantly stuck in our head with our to do list and worries. This is why acts of self-care that involve getting into your body are some of my favourites. Being able to listen to your intuition helps with releasing the need to always be following someone else’s rules when it comes to anything, not just eating and nutrition. It guides you on your own individual and unique path that is solely meant for you. It allows you to flow through life at your own pace, instead of pushing and comparing yourself to others journeys or process.
It will give you freedom and make you happy.
How do you want to feel in life? Many of us know how we want to feel, yet we continue to take action on things that don’t support us feeling that way. Taking time for self-care, nourishing your soul, calming your nervous system and tapping into your inner guidance system will give you freedom from the food and body hatred cycle. Freedom from this internal struggle is what will make you happy, not a thigh gap or weight loss. When we take the time to care for ourselves on the deepest levels our body receives this as love. When we love our bodies it’s hard to stay in that place of using food and exercise to punish or control it. It builds trust with our body as we release control and embrace compassionate self-care.
The next time you notice yourself feeling guilty about taking time for self-care or just thinking about setting that time aside remember these points. Think about how you want to feel and experience life. Screw the housework and the to-do list. I can guarantee some good self-care will make you feel better than clean floors in the long run.