There’s been a lot of talk about self-care lately, and it’s for a good reason. Self-care is an essential part of managing stress and living a balanced life. And yet, so many people struggle with it.
But what is it exactly? For many, the first association to self-care is pampering yourself, like taking a long bubble bath or going to a massage. And yes, self-care can surely look like that, if it works for you. But it’s also so much more.
Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
In other words, it’s any activity that restores your energy, promotes your health, and makes you feel nurtured and taken care of. Shortly, self-care is care provided to you by you. What makes it so important is that it is a vital starting point for dealing with stress and challenging situations in life. Think of it as an armour to protect the energy you need to survive and thrive. It’s not just an escape from the daily grind, but an ongoing routine that increases your resilience and overall vitality.
Struggling With Self-Care
While a part of self-care is taking care of your physical health, it also means – and here comes the tricky part – paying attention to your needs and allowing yourself to act on them. Many of us don’t know how to practice self-care because we weren’t taught to pay attention to our inner states, trust them, and be honest about them. Instead, we learned what we’re ‘supposed’ to feel or think, and try to ignore things that are opposite to that. For example, you may feel upset about something, but at the same time you think that you shouldn’t feel like that but be strong, positive and grateful. So you suffocate your anger, sadness, or anxiety about the certain situation.
If this is something that sounds familiar, there is a chance that you apply the same mindset on self-care too. In other words, you have the idea of how self-care should generally look like and force yourself to do activities that fit into that picture. So self-care becomes a chore, which is exactly the opposite of what the whole concept is all about.
Despite its huge importance for mental health, self-care still sounds a little yucky for some. The reason for it probably lies in the fact that, in our culture that glorifies self-sacrifice and ‘hustle’, it’s easy to feel guilty for wanting something different than that. We may feel wrong or shameful if we put our needs first, if we take some time to relax and do something nice for ourselves instead of helping others all the time or tirelessly working toward our goals. As a consequence, we might label ourselves as being ‘selfish’, ‘weak’, ‘lazy’, or ‘entitled’. And, of course, because we don’t want to be any of these things, we neglect meeting our needs, sometimes to the point where our body and mind beg us for it. The end destination – exhaustion and burnout.
Considering its significance for our wellbeing and at the same time so many misconceptions attached to it, it’s time to rethink self-care, don’t you think? Let’s debunk some common misbeliefs about it.
Misconception: Self-Care Is Selfish
Truth: Self-Care is Necessary for Maintaining Loving Relationships And Investing in Them
Think about it like when you’re in an airplane. The flight attendants always tell you to, in case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask first, and then help others. It’s similar with mental health – if you’re not properly taken care of, there is a chance you’ll end up not helping anyone, including yourself. The lack of ‘me’ time can drain your energy and lead to resentment toward others. And that, you’ll admit, is not the most positive starting point for investing in relationships.
Self-care is the opposite of selfish. It means you’re preparing to be there for others and to give and help not out of guilt but because you honestly want to.
Misconception: Self-Care Means I’m Weak
Truth: Self-Care Is a Necessary Part of Being Strong and Healthy
Self-Care is not a sign of weakness, but a fundamental aspect of staying healthy, emotionally and physically. Practicing self-care is not proof that you can’t persevere and cope with challenges, but a sign that you’re thinking long-term. Almost everywhere we turn, there is some sort of messaging to push it harder, to stretch our limits, to go, go, go. Self-care doesn’t fit in this kind of mindset society imposes on us, and sometimes it takes courage to go in the opposite direction – to slow down and take some time for yourself. And something that takes courage is surely a sign of strength, not a weakness.
Misconception: Self-Care Means I’m Lazy/Is a Waste of Time
Truth: Self-Care Boosts Your Productivity
Today, many of us are addicted to busyness. We always have to be on the move, make plans, have things scheduled in. But your energy is not limitless. If you never stop to take some rest and you neglect your needs, it is a well-known road to stress, overwhelm, and burnout, which all lower your productivity. On the other hand, self-care is a way to recharge and prepare for new challenges. It’s not a lack of self-determination, but exactly the opposite – a smart strategy to keep you in line with your goals in the long run.
Simple Self-Care Ideas to Try
Self-care routine doesn’t have to be something big, expensive, or time-consuming. In fact, it might be better if it’s not any of these things. Rather, it should be a series of small and simple actions that you can easily practice throughout your day. So, to create a self-care routine, you need to know yourself, your likes and boundaries, and act on them.
Still not sure where to start? Here are some simple self-care ideas that might give you some inspiration to start exploring what works best for you.
1. Eat a healthy meal. If you’re into cooking, prepare it yourself. Experiment with new tastes.
2. Set a date with yourself. Visit a museum, go to a cinema, or treat yourself with a nice dinner or, yes, a massage or a long bubble bath ?
3. Get a solid eight hours of sleep.
4. Go to your favourite workout class.
5. Take a walk in nature.
6. Stretch. Multiple times a day. Pay full attention to your body.
7. Take time to breathe gently and deeply. While doing that, say some kind words to yourself.
8. Switch off all your electronic devices (laptop, tablet, phone, TV), and enjoy the silence.
9. Meet with a friend whose company you really enjoy.
10. Learn something new that always interested you. Wake up that curious inner child.
11. Write in a journal. Get honest about your feelings and needs.
12. Meditate or practice mindfulness.
13. Practice gratitude.
14. Write yourself a ‘well done’ list at the end of the day to celebrate your achievements, however big or small they may be.
15. Curl up with a cup of tea and read a book or watch your favorite TV show. Extra points if you light up a yummy smelling candle ?
16. Tap into your creative side. Try sewing, writing fiction, painting, dancing, or buy some crayons and a coloring book.
17. Say NO to activities or gatherings that drain your energy.
18. Seek therapy.
19. Practice self-compassion. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to a close friend.
20. Practice taking ‘should’ out of your vocabulary and freeing yourself from feeling that you ‘should’ do things.
How do you take care of yourself? Let us know down below in the comments. And also, if you like this post, please share it on your social media. Let’s raise awareness about the importance of self-care.
Are you stuck in your head? Do you feel like you are worrying about anything and everything all day long? Repeating the same scenarios in your head over and over and spiraling down the hole of anxious thoughts is tiring!
Sometimes, worry can be a good thing. When there is a realistic possibility of failure or unpleasant thing occurring, worry can motivate us to work harder, prepare and focus on what we can control. However, when it slips into rumination about the things you have no control over, it doesn’t lead to productive or practical solutions. Instead, it triggers unhelpful thought patterns and excessive worry that repeat over and over. It’s completely useless and simply frustrating. But how to stop?
Why Simply Telling Yourself to Stop Worrying is Not Helpful
Your excessive worry isn’t there without a reason. You bother yourself with worst case scenarios and anxious thoughts because they give you a false sense of control. If you worry too hard, bad things might not happen, right? And if they happen, you’d surely be prepared?
Still, you don’t feel any better if the thing you were worried about really occurs, do you? Think about it.
Remember, worrying gives you a FALSE sense of control. We have a tendency to believe that rumination will bring a sense of relief, but it doesn’t because that tailspin has no end or solution, which just intensifies anxiety more.
Simply telling yourself to stop doing something is not enough because, as mentioned above, somewhere deep down you might believe that worry gives you some sense of control and relief. That’s why your subconscious mind doesn’t let go. However, this sense of control is extremely weak, and the damage to your mental health far outweighs that illusion of the “benefit”.
So the first thing you need to do is to consciously decide to give up on trying to control things you can’t control. Second, stop blaming yourself for feeling anxious. It’s enough you feel overwhelmed in the first place; you don’t need additional pressure. Simply telling yourself to stop worrying doesn’t work. So, what does?
Schedule Worry Time
It may sound counterproductive, but forcing yourself to worry during a specific time of the day may actually help you worry less. Studies consistently show that dedicating 15 to 20 minutes during the day to purposely obsess over things that worry you actually decreases the number of worrying thoughts during the day and helps to ease anxiety.
Rules are simple: schedule 15 minutes at a specific time every day to worry about your problems. Pick a time when you know you’ll be able to focus all your attention to worry without interruptions. However, try to make this time at least 2 hours away from your bedtime to avoid possible difficulties falling asleep.
Okay, now that you made your appointment with worry, spend some time with it. Dedicate your full attention to your anxious thoughts during those 15 minutes, without fighting them or trying to make them go away. Don’t try to think positive or to convince yourself these thoughts are unnecessary. Exactly the opposite – strive to come up with as many worries as you can, and try to be as uncomfortable as possible in reviewing them. If you run out of ideas in those 15 minutes, it’s important to not walk away. The goal is to fill the whole 15 minutes with worry, not a minute more or less. If you spent all your anxious ideas in the first 10 minutes, repeat the ones you already thought over.
When your scheduled date with worry passes, get up and go on with your day. You’ll meet your worry at the same time the next day, but not until then. Anxious thoughts will, of course, try to sneak in and occupy space in your head during the day. Just politely tell them that now is not the time, and they will have to wait until the appointment when you’ll listen to all of them. If they are persistent, instead of getting stuck in your head with them, try some of the mindfulness techniques like focusing on the outside sensations or on your breathing.
There is a little mind twist here. You’re probably frustrated with not being able to run away or combat all those worrying and uncomfortable thoughts; it just seems there are too many of them all the time. However, when you turn tables around and purposefully try to find as many of them as possible, you realize three things:
- There are not so many of them after all,
- Facing your worries and letting unpleasant feelings those obsessing thoughts evoke is not so terrible or unboreable,
- In the end, worrying becomes boring.
These three things change the way you approach your worry and gradually ease your anxiety over anxiety. Instead of becoming all tense on the first thought of worry, you become to experience other emotional responses, like boredom for example. That creates space for making a distance from unhelpful thought patterns and for taking a more realistic perspective.
In the end, one important note: be persistent. Give time for change. When you start practicing this technique, it’s possible that your worry will intensify in the first few days, and it will be more difficult to resist rumination between worry times. That is frustrating, but also totally natural. Just keep up the practice. Emotional changes need time. However, if this technique stirs up extremely strong emotions in you after a week, stop practicing it. Additionally, don’t hesitate to ask for additional support. Your therapist will work with you to discover what lies behind your anxious thoughts and feelings, and find techniques and tools that suit you best.
Imagine how life would be if you loved the way you looked? Yes, including all those beautiful imperfections. Instead of wanting to change that certain part you dislike about your body, what if you came to completely accept it? What if loving your body became natural for you?
Living in a social media driven world, what’s online may make one feel anything but empowered and self-assured. Unfortunately, media has led us to believe that if we look a certain way, our lives will magically become perfect.
We get it, feeling confident in the modern world may not be easy but it’s totally possible. There are many women out there who love their bodies – and they’re all in different shapes and sizes.
Loving your body completely simply boils down to respecting yourself and accepting how you look. Using yoga as a tool, we assure you that the journey to this place is going to be an incredibly joyous one, and we will explain how in this guide.
Asana in yoga helps you reconnect with your body
Asana, or yoga postures, allow you to connect with your body via breath and movement. When you undergo yoga training India, you can help your body achieve a much easier state of relaxation through regular practices.
Postures in yoga allow us to separate different aspects of our body, comprehend their functioning and understand how these areas work together.
If you’ve suffered from negative body image at any point of your life, you’re probably aware that it largely involves avoiding and isolating oneself from aspects of the body that induce feelings of shame and self-loathing.
Yoga helps you extricate yourself from this escalating form of neglect by encouraging you to listen to your body. To perform any yoga posture, you have to acknowledge each part of your body and understand how it prefers to move.
Pranayama promotes peace of mind
Yoga comprises of two main parts: breath (pranayama) and posture (asana). Pranayama, or more specifically, Ujjayi, is a specific style of breath in yoga. It develops heat in the body while stimulating rest and the feeling of peace.
Ujjayi is a deep and potent type of breath that fires up the lungs and throat. While this may sound counterintuitive in promoting rest, one of the main purposes of Ujjayi is to relax the body. It is a long, smooth breath created by lengthening your inhale and exhale.
A longer breath signals your body to relax. Taking some time to rewind is a great way of promoting self-love.
Yoga is an excellent stress-reliever. A 2005 German study indicated that women who described themselves as “emotionally distressed” showed significant improvement in their mood and overall sense of well-being after being treated with 90 minutes of yoga per week for 3 months. Well-being scores improved by 65%, and depression and anxiety scores improved by 50% and 30% respectively. Complaints regarding back pain, poor sleep and headaches had also been resolved.
Yoga encourages positivity
One of the key aspects of yoga is performing mantras. Contrary to popular belief, mantras are quite simple and can help you during meditation. They’re simply words or phrases, each with different purposes, such as helping you overcome challenges and showing gratitude.
Repeating mantras is a great way to understand the power of a positive mind. When you repeat a mantra every day, you start believing that it is true. With each passing day, the mantra and your belief in it become stronger.
“I love myself. I am beautiful, intelligent and unique.”
You don’t have to limit yourself to traditional mantras. You can even create your own. A mantra (such as the one above) that holds meaning in your heart and resonates deep within you can be easily brought to life by you. You are the creator of your positivity.
You’re always amazed
Just a few weeks of yoga is enough to fascinate anyone. You’ll be surprised to know that it is not the yogic postures, but watching what your body is capable of that will amaze you.
With time and practice, you become capable of moving your body in ways you never even imagined. With time, you’ll be able to effortlessly stand on one foot, wrap your arms and legs into an eagle, and even balance your whole body-weight on your arms.
Whether you’re performing an advanced posture or you’re in the process of deepening one, you’ll understand that your body is strong, flexible, and incredibly beautiful.
Even though some magazine covers may make you think otherwise, yoga is for everyone. Yoga is a beautiful journey where you can witness your body’s full potential and truly appreciate what it can do.
In most cases, people never discover their body in their optimal strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga is an invigorating experience which can make you feel like a warrior every day. Once you discover this strength within you, it’s hard not to feel grateful for the body that gives you so much.
Yoga creates communities of love
Yoga retreats, classes, and online platforms bring in several like-minded people, helping in creating a strong and supportive community. Practicing Yoga is not only fun, but it is empowering.
People join yoga classes for a variety of reasons. While some join it for physical reasons such as toning up and building flexibility, others join it to relax their bodies. Whatever your reason may be, you’ll soon realize that yoga brings about another essential outcome: feeling comfortable in your skin.
Almost anyone who joins yoga wants to learn to love his or her own body. Yoga creates a space where everyone, at the same time, is thinking about their connection with their bodies.
When you join your first yoga class, be sure to introduce yourself to someone and ask them what brought them to it. Listen to their response and share your reason as well.
Author Bio: Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining
Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: Part I — Neurophysiologic Model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;1:189–201.
Catherine Woodyard. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jul-DecExploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.
Collins C. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicine, and treatment. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 1998;27:563–8
McCall T. New York: Bantam Dell a division of Random House Inc; 2007. Yoga as Medicine.
I came across Tim Ferris @tferriss a few years ago when I read “The Four Hour Work Week”. For any of you who haven’t read it, I’d highly suggest it. By far one of the most inspiring books out there to help you automate your life and live the “new rich” way @4hwwapp.
I follow Ferris on various social media outlets, and paid particular attention to his blog post this morning, “How to Cure Anxiety — One Workaholic’s Story, Six Techniques That Work”.
Rather than trying to paraphrase his whole article, I’ll let you read through it here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/02/19/anxiety-attacks-2/
My Short Review of Ferris’s Article
My thoughts as a Registered Clinical Counsellor are that a lot of his suggestions sound appropriate. Evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) suggest that this type of therapy gives you a new way of understanding and thinking about your problem. It also provides you with the skills to deal with the issues that you are struggling with right now. Additionally, it’s also nice to practice more mindfulness, to help you “get out of your head” and enjoy more of the here and now.
While reading through Ferris’ list, my favorite is his first suggestion is this:
Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends.
When was the last time you got out there and played with your friends? As Ferris contends, exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety, and of course, it doesn’t always have to be the formal “gym” exercise. Why not throw a frisbee around? It can be a great way to be present, enjoy time with friends, and be outdoors.
Overall, it’s important to find and learn techniques that work for you. Stick with them! It takes patience, practice, and positive attitudes.
Most of us feel immense relaxation when we breathe in that breath of fresh air on a cold winter day. Or, lying at the beach listening to the waves, or playing in the sand brings us to that care-free state.
Nature helps most people relax; that’s why there are so many wallpapers with pictures of nature out there. That’s also why numerous apps designed to put you in a relaxed state have sounds of nature built-in. But does these artificial manifestations of natural beauty really help people relax, similar to being in nature in reality?
Here’s a great article verifying the relationship between looking at nature and decreasing stress: Nearby Nature Effect
Making headlines today was the release that Jennifer Lawrence, from X-Men and more recently, the Hunger Games, suffered from Social Anxiety. Although our society is becoming more understanding of mental health issues, stigma still exists. When it comes to discussing mental health issues and getting treatment, there is still not enough openness regarding this topic.
For a celebrity like Jennifer Lawrence, to publicly share her challenges is inspiring for us all. It helps to reduce stigma and increases awareness about mental well-being.
Social Anxiety And It’s Prevalence
According to Statistics Canada, social anxiety, is one of the most common anxiety disorders. Social anxiety is
“a disorder characterized by a fear of situations in which there is potential for embarrassment or humiliation in front of others. There are generally two subtypes of social phobia: one involves a fear of speaking in front of people, whether it be public speaking or simply talking with a person of authority; the other subtype involves more generalized anxiety and complex fears, such as eating in public or using public washrooms, and in these cases individuals may experience anxiety around anyone other than family”.
In Canada, anywhere between 8-13% of Canadian’s will be influenced by social anxiety. The disorder is more common in women than in men. Also, there appears to be an environmental and familial link to the disorder.
Jennifer Lawrence’s story of facing her fear of social scrutiny head-on teaches us all one important thing. Facing the things that cause us anxiety is the best form of treatment. Hence, the best example is exposure therapy combined with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
If you’d like to inquire about social anxiety treatment in Mississauga or Bradford Ontario at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.
The year was 2005.
I was in my last year of my Bachelor’s program, meticulously spending hours checking my research data and putting the final touches on my thesis defense. Night after night, I found myself ruminating over having to present in front of my professors, not to mention mine in front of my peers. Ever since I could remember, public presentations, regardless of size or length, caused me grief. I mean, not your typical 11th hour jitters, but…blushing, shaking, nauseous stomach, cold sweats – you name it, I had it.
So, the day had come. I was to defend my thesis. Although most of the day felt like a blur, a few moments still stick with me. The first was feedback from one of my peers as we were standing in the halls practicing our scripts. I shared with my friends how nervous I was, feeling unable to control the physical and emotional reactions happening in my body. My friend, Susan*, turned to me and said, “…instead of telling yourself you’re nervous and scared, why don’t you say you’re excited!”. I listening, and thought to myself – “heck, I have nothing to lose!” So, minutes before my hour of fame, I said, “I’m excited”, “I’M excited”, “I’M EXCITED!”. I think after the 3rd excited, I was starting to feel it. The reaction kicked in! Then, before I knew it, I was done.
I think that’s the second part of my memories of my thesis. My accomplishment. I “felt the fear but did it anyway”. There’s no better feeling then working through a tough obstacle. Or, overcoming a fear.
I encourage you to feel inspired, to reach out for help if you need it, and to “feel the fear and do it anyway” (as Susan Jeffers would say).
Ashley J. Kreze
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, thought to create a feeling of calm. Have you ever practiced Mindfulness? Do you remember to remind yourself daily of the present moment? If your answer is no, or rarely, well, you should; it’s good for you. Mindfulness helps in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It helps you connect with yourself and be in the present moment, which makes you more relaxed and less worried. Additionally, research shows that mindfulness improves self-esteem and builds confidence.
How Mindfulness Improves Self-Esteem
The Institute of Coaching shared a great article about the impact of mindfulness on our confidence and self-esteem. Here is an interesting part of it:
“Mindfulness practice improves self-esteem.
Why would sitting and sensing the present moment improve our self-respect and self-value?
Here’s one way to think about it. Recall that a mindful brain state is one that doesn’t judge. It is simply open and accepting of the present moment. On the other hand, self-esteem is the conclusion one makes in the role of a judge of one’s status and role: “Am I enough? Have I accomplished enough?” It evolved as an essential biological force, ensuring our survival by keeping us ever-vigilant about whether we are meeting the standard set by our tribes, avoiding rejection and being an outcast.
Non-judgmental moments allow us to step off of the self-judging roller coaster, and experience, even for a few breaths, the natural brain-state of what I call “it’s all ok-ness”.
What a lovely place to sit and rest. You may want to become a regular visitor.”
Will you set time to practice mindfulness today?
Pepping, C.A, Donovan, A, and Davis, P.J. (2013) The positive effects of mindfulness on self-esteem. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(5), 376-386.
If you’d like to inquire about mindfulness or self-esteem enhancement in Mississauga at Real Life Counselling, don’t hesitate to call us at 289-231-8479.
I hear my clients struggling with different kinds of problems. Some are shy and have difficulties making new friends, some are constantly getting into conflicts, some are staying in destructive relationships or on the job that’s making them miserable, and some are dreaming about their perfect life without making any move towards it. This is just a teeny-tiny portion of all the different struggles my clients are facing; but every one of them is unique to that person’s life situation. However, one thing stands out as the background issue of almost all of the problems I hear about. It’s fear. Fear of rejection, fear of uncommon, fear of change, fear of failure. Even I myself was struggling with anxiety in public-speaking situations, which you can read about HERE. Additionally, many have no clue how to overcome fears, so it can all get pretty messy.
Once you learn to face your fears and stop running away from them, but instead do the thing despite the fact you’re scared, you’ll transform. You’ll discover there are many great opportunities you’re able to catch, you’ll learn to live the life you want and you’ll discover some awesome parts of yourself you maybe didn’t even know existed. Sounds exciting? I agree. But it needs work and effort.
How to overcome your fears?
The first step is to discover and make yourself aware of your fears. Second, and the most difficult step, is to face your fears. To let yourself feel the fear, and do the thing you’re scared of anyways. Only this way, you can come to the third and final step, and that is overcoming your fears and, with that, transform your life.
This is exactly what Susan Jeffers talks about in her book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”. This book contains tons of enlightening ideas and useful techniques that will help you get out of passivity-mode and start working on facing your fears. Additionally, Susan teaches you how to stop negative-thinking patterns and start implementing positive thinking into your daily habits. There is much more to this incredible book, so I recommend you start your transformation by reading it.