So many of us are overwhelmed by the stresses of life. We are stressed because we work too hard or we don’t have work. We are stressed because we have bills to pay, we are time poor, we get anxious about our future or we are holding on to the past. We are stressed because the life we have is not the life we wished for. We get stressed because we are fixated on a body image out of our grasp. We get stressed because of our living and or working environments. We get stressed because of our inability to communicate clearly. We get stressed because we are taken for granted. Crikey! The pressure we place on ourselves can, at times, be overwhelming.
I see countless options available for retreats and self-help courses, programmes designed to help us get balanced, live our lives to the greatest potential and take charge of our well-being. No doubt these are fantastic options for those with a healthy bank account, as all have a price tag attached. But where is the help for those living on an already stretched budget? The help for people who are unhappy with their present circumstances but are in no position to be able to pay for specialised services? It seems many of the services and courses available are only accessible to those who have both the time and money to utilise them.
So I have been inspired to share some Self-Care tips which are accessible to everyone, no matter what your income level is. Universal and simple ideas that will help to restore your mind, body and soul so you can remove a little stress from, and add in a little happiness to, your life.
ONE ~ REST
The Cult of Busy is taking its toll. The perceived need to always be doing something, anything, to fill in the minutes of the day. That somehow we are being measured and judged by the amount of things we ‘must’ do. Whether it be work, exercise, cleaning the house, checking emails and social media, socialising….. the pressure to race against the clock becomes all consuming. We feel inadequate when we are idle, as if we are doing something wrong.
One of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves, that costs nothing, is simply to stop. Take five minutes once or twice a day (more if you able) to notice your surroundings. Breathe deeply. Appreciate the moment. Allow your thoughts to come and go without acting on any one of them. Yes, you have deadlines, you have lists to work through and people who are relying on you. You may be feeling depressed, overwhelmed, unsure and battling with self-esteem issues. Give yourself a break. Literally. Be gentle with yourself, even in those few moments. Give yourself permission to stop. The more you practise the easier it becomes, until the process becomes second nature. Your body, mind and soul will love you for it.
TWO ~ PASSION
Can you remember the last time you were truly passionate about something? For some of us those moments were when we were children. Carefree, full of life, full of hope. I know that not all childhoods were easy, many of us had great struggles, but there was a time when we were all able to feel excited about the simplest of activities, throw ourselves into make-believe, smile and laugh about the silliest things. That’s the feeling we should try to tap into to bring our passions to life.
My passions are writing, taking photographs of nature, going on road trips, sharing my joy and being honest with my vulnerability. I still love to climb trees and swim in rivers and the ocean. I have recently found that I love baking which has been a delightful surprise. These are the things that bring me the most pleasure. We each have something that we absolutely love doing and feel empty or lost when we don’t find time to enjoy or to express them.
Finding your passion when we have lost sight of it is tied into #ONE….. it is only when we stop, give our minds a rest, let go of the racing thoughts, that we can remember what gives us the greatest joy.
Your passion doesn’t have to cost a penny, but setting a little time aside regularly to indulge in it will give you a huge return on your investment.
THREE ~ BE SELFISH
This is something I have struggled with for years. The idea that it is wrong to put your needs first. If we don’t, at least on occasion, how can we truly find happiness? From my experience and the experiences of others, I now see that by constantly putting others first you simply end up being taken for granted at best and at worst feeling bitter.
So be brave. Make decisions that will make you happy. Don’t allow others to dictate what you should be doing. Don’t give in to the demands of others. For people pleasers this is incredibly hard. You want people to like you. You don’t want to rock the boat. It seems easier to go along with the wishes and needs of others. Well how about I tell you that your needs are just as important as the needs of those around you? That you taking control of what you want to experience will bring happiness not just to your life, but to those around you as well. How do I know? I’ve lived this people pleasing paradigm, and I have transitioned from being the people pleaser to a Susan pleaser….
I am not advocating being cruel, simply promoting the idea that you are worth putting yourself first every now and again. And the paradox? When we are selfish, we become kinder and more compassionate and we gain the respect of those who truly matter to us.
One of THE most powerful things about being selfish is that we step into taking full responsibility for our own lives. We stop blaming others for our situations and we recognise that our choices take us on our path to Self-Care. We may not make the right choices, but we learn that we can find our OWN solutions to problems that arise. This is a daunting reality, but if we want true happiness, no matter what our circumstance, then we must embrace it as truth.
BEING SELFISH is intrinsincly to #TWO and to #ONE…… Be Selfish, Indulge in your Passions, and Rest when you NEED to.
I guarantee you will have more energy, time and love to give to others if you do.
FOUR ~ AFFIRMATIONS
Go on. I dare you. Say something positive about yourself. For many people this is easy, but for others? It’s like getting blood out of a stone, painfully difficult. We have to learn to be our own biggest, most consistent cheerleader. Again, my own experiences have taught me this. Putting yourself down, being hyper critical and being self-negating reinforces thought patterns which strip us of joy. Pure and simple. And we can’t rely on others to do the cheerleading for us, though it is wonderful to have others in our corner rallying us on.
Changing the “I can’t” to “I can” is so very powerful. Yes, we have to dig deep to find the courage to recognise our strengths at times, but dig we must. Many of us have lived lives of not feeling that we are enough. But what is this ‘enough’ we have engrained within us? It is an imaginary and impossible goal we have set to diminish our true worth. It is never too late to change our internal measure of self.
Some of us may need to vocalise our affirmations, others only need to think them, and some may need to write the words. It’s about finding the method that works for you.
Simple starter phrases can be:
I can do ……
I am capable of……
I love doing……..
I feel good when I…….
Affirmations can be applied to oneself as well as to others. As we raise another up we shift our energy to one which is positive and life affirming. It takes practice and repetition, but we are all capable of changing our thought processes, and as our thoughts transform so does our life.
Affirmations are linked to #ONE, #TWO and #THREE…… As we REST we can focus on our strengths, as we live with PASSION we tap into all amazing things we are capable of, and as we practice SELFISHNESS we allow our minds to remember that we are of great value.
FIVE ~ GRATITUDE
This one can be so very tough when we are struggling with self-doubt, when we feel that the world is against us. Believe me, as someone who has lost jobs, lost long term relationships, friendships and self-worth along the way, I know how difficult it is to remember the positive effects that practicing Gratitude brings. At times we get so bogged down we forget that there is anything to be grateful for. When I do remember, my life changes. For the better. Each and every time.
Much like AFFIRMATIONS, we must all find our own way of expressing GRATITUDE. Some like to wake each morning and offer thanks for a new day. Some like to look to the stars, the sun or moon and take in the awesomeness of the skies above, some pray and give thanks to their creator, some simply say thank you for a kindness shown. GRATITUDE allows us to be humbled by the smallest gestures, gives us reason to be kind to others and makes us realise that everything and everyone is connected to everything and everyone.
If you have clothes on your back, be grateful to all who had a hand in making those clothes, if you have food to eat, be grateful to the land that nurtured the seeds that nurtured to ingredients to fill your tummy, if you are sad be grateful for the Facebook meme that brought a smile to your face. Gratitude is about paying attention to the smallest things we so often take for granted, and ultimately it is about remembering how precious life is.
I am GRATEFUL for the opportunities to REST, indulge in my PASSIONS, to be SELFISH and to AFFIRM the great things about myself, others and our natural world.
Please take the time to practice some SELF-CARE. I can’t tell you how much you are worth it. X.