self-care routine

It’s Time to Rethink Self-Care (+20 Simple Self-Care Ideas)

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.rethinking self-care

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.

Rethinking Self-Care

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.

take care of yourself

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.

self-care routine
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.

Sources:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kimberly_Wesley2/publication/254734813_Self-Care_Practices_and_Perceived_Stress_Levels_Among_Psychology_Graduate_Students/links/56312eec08ae13bc6c356276/Self-Care-Practices-and-Perceived-Stress-Levels-Among-Psychology-Graduate-Students.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27819888

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6080382/

learn to say no

Learn to Say NO: A Short Guide for People-Pleasers

Most of us want to be liked by other people. It feels great to know that others think good of us. However, when we believe that being liked depends on how much stuff we do for other people and how helpful we are, that’s when the problems arise. People-pleasers know this issue too well – the inability to say no.

Helping others can be really fulfilling, but if you do it at the expense of yourself, out of fear or anxiety, it becomes an unhealthy pattern of behaviour that can suck all your energy and negatively impact your relationships. You spend so much time on what you think you need to do that there is almost zero time left for what you actually want to do. In the end, you feel exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and even resentful.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. Learning how to say no and not feel awful after is absolutely possible. In fact, knowing how to set boundaries is one of the most important things in sustaining healthy relationships with others and yourself.

Why Saying NO Is So Difficult?

In general, as children, we learn that saying no is inappropriate and rude. If you said no to your parents’, cousins’, or teachers’ requests, you’ve probably been told off for it. Over time, you associated saying yes to requests with getting approval and saying no with criticism. On top of that, early relationships maybe additionally influenced your “people-pleasing” patterns of behaviour.

You may have been raised to be a sweetheart who always took care of other children, especially if you were the oldest child in the family. An influence like this can lead to the formation of beliefs such as: “I am only lovable if I’m accommodating and helpful”. Or maybe you come from a family where providing emotional support was conditional and inconsistent. Thus, in the attempt to secure love from important adults, it’s possible you developed the underlying belief: “If I don’t do everything to make others happy, they might leave or stop caring for me”. Inability to say no can also stem from early experiences with highly-critical parents who severely punished their children, even for small mistakes. Such experiences can lead to beliefs such as: “If I don’t do everything right, I will disappoint others or be punished”.

how to say noWhatever the case is, your self-worth may have come to depend on things you do for others. This is a tricky thing because it forms a vicious circle with no satisfying solution. On the one hand, being unable to say NO can make you stressed, exhausted, and resentful toward others. On the other hand, saying NO might be a threat for your self-image and result in you questioning your decision, feeling bad about yourself, or worrying others will get hurt, angry, or disappointed at you. Either way, with this kind of pattern, you can’t win.

But there is a way to actually win, and that is – change the pattern. Here are some steps you can take to help you say no effectively and create space for a more intentional yes.

Step 1: Get To Know Your Priorities

If you don’t know what you want, it’s a high chance you don’t know what you don’t want. Identify what is important to you, and acknowledge what is not. We all have limited energy and time; decide where you want to direct those, and where you definitely don’t. Before you say no, you have to be clear that you want to say no.

There are, of course, things that need to be done, even if we don’t like it, like finishing that important but boring report at work. But there are also things that you are not obliged to do, like spending another two hours at work helping your colleague finish their task while you really wanted to spend that time at the movies with your significant one.

You can’t be all things to all people. Choose what and who the priority is, and invest your limited time and energy there. The rest gets your resources only in case you really decide it’s worth it.

Step 2: Know What Saying NO Is And Is Not

  • Saying NO means you’re rejecting a request, not the person. Make clear to yourself (and to the other person) that you’re not rejecting them as a whole person; you’re just turning down their invitation. People will usually understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask for the favor, and that your no doesn’t mean “I don’t like you” but simply: “Sorry, my plate is full/my priorities are elsewhere”.
  • Saying NO doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Just because you say no to sacrificing your time and comfort to accommodate others doesn’t mean you’re unlikable, rude, or selfish. It means you’re thinking long term and saying no is a preventative act against self-loathing and resentment in the future.how to say no
  • Saying NO is not a missed opportunity but a trade-off. Some people hate to say no because they feel like they’re missing out the opportunity. However, saying yes to something unimportant often means saying no to something important. So, instead of looking at NO as a missed opportunity, you can see it as a trade-off. You’re choosing the opportunity to do something you value more than the request. It seems like a fair deal.
  • Your NO might be much less threatening than it seems to you. Research from Columbia University found that, very often, people whom others see as appropriately assertive mistakenly thought others judged them as being over-assertive. This effect is called the line crossing illusion.  So, if you feel you might be confrontational, there is a high chance the other party doesn’t see you that way.
  • Saying NO is a form of self-care and self-respect. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first if you want to have the energy to help others.

Step 3: Learn To Tolerate The Reactions Of Others

The reality is, with some people, setting boundaries will unleash some unpleasant emotions and reactions. There is a possibility they get angry or disappointed, especially if they’re used to you being always available and accommodating. Some might even try to cross your boundaries and continue to push to change your NO into YES. However, when you know this, you can be prepared to work to firmly maintain the boundaries that you have set.

Remember that you’re an individual to yourself and that everyone is responsible for their own reactions. Sometimes, deep down, negative response and unpleasant emotions of others are simply not about you. But even if they are, don’t overgeneralize and jump to conclusions too fast. If someone is disappointed or angry, it doesn’t automatically mean they will ditch you out of their life or think you’re an awful person. It means they are disappointed or angry in that particular situation.

If someone keeps crossing your boundaries even when you communicate them clearly and gets upset because you’re not ready to sacrifice your happiness for their comfort, it may be a good idea to ask yourself is it the kind of relationship you want to nurture in the long run. In the end, you want to surround yourself with people who respect you for who you are, not only for what you do for them.

Step 4: Learn Some Practical Skills For Saying NO

Here are some tangible tips for practicing saying a polite but effective no.

✔️ Express your appreciation. More often than not, when people make a request, it’s because they trust your capabilities or they like your presence. Thus, even though you’ll refuse the invitation/request, thank them for approaching you.

✔️ Be kind but firm. Being polite doesn’t need to lead to a YES. Simply expressing your NO with a kind tone can help the other person (and you) feel better about the situation. However, some people don’t give up easily and will test your persistence. In this case, it’s important to know that nobody can “make” you change your answer with their repeated requests; the decision is completely yours. It’s your job to set boundaries. You can be as decisive as they are pushy. This is a good opportunity to practice your assertiveness.

✔️ Give some reason if you want but don’t over-apologize. Some people find it easier to say no if they give a reason for it, and that is okay. If you feel more comfortable saying: “I’m sorry, I have something else in my schedule already” instead of: “Sorry, I can’t”, that is completely fine. Just don’t lie about it and don’t make up excuses, because that will make you feel even guiltier and possibly complicate your life further. It’s important to know that you don’t need the good excuse to say no – having your priorities elsewhere is enough. Remember, you’re not asking for anyone’s permission to say no – you already have the right to it.

✔️ You can take time to think about it. Sometimes we just babble out YES and commit to something we don’t want to because we feel pressured to give the answer right away. It’s okay to take some time to think about it. That way, we give ourselves the opportunity to answer from the logical and realistic point of view instead out of anxiety and desire to please. If you’re really not sure about the request, tell the other person you’ll get back to them when you think about it. Just make sure you actually do it in a timely manner.

 

Saying no is a new thing for many of us, and therefore takes practice and courage. But with time, it becomes easier and brings amazing benefits. You are unique, important, and valuable even when you say no to being everything to everyone and take time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to practice it.

 

What are your experiences with saying no? Share it with us in the comments below! And also, share this post on social media; some people-pleasers you know might be thankful ?

 

Sources:

Smith, M. J. (1975). When I say no, I feel guilty: how to cope–using the skills of systematic assertive therapy. Bantam.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shrink/201210/are-you-people-pleaser

Forget About Self-Esteem And Replace It With Self-Compassion

You probably heard that self-esteem is one of the most important things for leading a productive, successful, pleasurable life. But the term is a little confusing – does it mean self-worth? Self-respect? How do you know your self-esteem is too low and how much of it is too much? What is the optimal level of self-esteem?

Cambridge English Dictionary defines self-esteem as “belief and confidence in your own ability and value”. Self-esteem is also often defined as “One’s own sense of self-worth or personal value”. What is problematic in this concept is that it refers to “worthiness” and “value” of the human being.

The Illusion of Self-Esteem

Let’s stop for a second and see what value means: “The regard that something is held to deserve”. Indirectly, the term “self-esteem”, therefore, suggests that holding ourselves in high regard is something to be deserved. It suggests that we need to have certain traits or do certain things to earn to be “worth” of respect and love. It inevitably includes self-evaluation. But here is the thing…

You are “worthy”, “valuable” and “deserving”, if you want to use these poor terms, simply because you exist, because you are alive. There is no such thing as “more valuable” or “less valuable” person. Achievements, skills, talents, or some qualities or lack of those can’t determine our human value, because our worthiness is already set simply by our existence.

It is important to note that self-esteem is a concept different from self-efficacy, which refers to how well you believe you’ll handle future actions, it represents your belief in your own abilities. Someone can be appreciated by many people, accomplish great things, be successful in several areas, and those are all amazing things that are certainly pleasant. You may achieve greater happiness or more efficiency by achieving your goals or by believing in your abilities, but that doesn’t increase your intrinsic worth, nor do your failures can lower your human value.

Chasing Self-Esteem Won’t Make You Happier – Maybe Even the Opposite

Another problem with the concept of self-esteem, other than the fact that it is based on non-existent, or at least unhealthy, premises of “worthiness” and “value”, is that it also obliquely requires comparison with other people. Evaluation can’t exist without comparison to some “standard” or some external object. Therefore, determining our own worth means we first have to compare ourselves with others. As Albert Ellis, the father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) claims: “Self-esteem theoretically rests upon an often inaccurate and unstable global rating of the self in comparison to others”. This necessarily means that, to have high self-esteem, we need to feel above-average. You can easily see it in the simple fact that today, in our culture, being seen as average is considered an insult. But for every human being to be special and above average is logically impossible.

Trying to see yourself as better than others all the time is exhausting and can easily lead to self-criticism. To retain superiority, we have to meet very high standards. As soon as our feelings of superiority slip – which is inevitable because there are so many different people in this world and there is always someone better, smarter, prettier etc. – our self-esteem easily goes down.

self-compssion

For a long time, mental health professionals believed that high self-esteem is a predictor of greater happiness and life satisfaction. However, as much as this notion seems like common sense, research shows that there is no scientific evidence of a correlation between higher self-esteem and pleasurable living.

Another study states: “Self-esteem in the West is not based upon an unconditional appreciation of the intrinsic worth of all persons. (…) Research, in fact, demonstrates that high self-esteem displays associations with a broad range of psychosocial dysfunctions, including, for example, narcissism, poor empathy, depreciation of others, prejudice, aggression, and distorted self-knowledge”.

Okay, if not self-esteem, then what? Well, there is actually a healthier alternative to self-esteem that really predicts better mental health, greater life satisfaction, and overall happiness – self-compassion.

What Is Self-Compassion?

“Self-compassion means that the individual fully and unconditionally accepts herself whether or not she behaves intelligently, correctly, or competently and whether or not other people approve, respect or love her” (Ellis 2005, p. 38).

Self-compassion is the way of treating yourself – in a supportive and non-judgmental way, with kindness, understanding, and love. Being self-compassionate mean that you recognize previously mentioned notion about all humans having value simply by the fact they exist in this world, not by the set of traits and abilities they possess. Self-compassion encourages you to acknowledge your flaws and limitations, without forcing yourself to meet some high standards to feel that you are okay as a person. It allows you to look at yourself from a more objective and realistic point of view without evaluating or comparing yourself with others.

Why Nurturing Self-Compassion Over Building Self-Esteem?

Opposite to high self-esteem, studies haven’t found any negative effects of self-compassion yet. In fact, self-compassion predicts better psychosocial adjustment and resilience while avoiding the liabilities associated with high self-esteem.

Self-compassion gives us a more stable sense of self-love because it comes from within. On the other hand, as it’s based on comparison with others, self-esteem is unstable because it depends on external circumstances. This often results in having a more negative emotional reaction or protecting behaviours when people evaluate us negatively or even neutrally because we are trying to protect our self-esteem from collapsing. With self-compassion, in contrast, we don’t need to defend or protect ourselves from negative feedback, because we know that it won’t affect how we see ourselves as a person.

Self-compassion provides emotional safety to see ourselves as we really are. Instead of labelling ourselves as good or bad, as of high-value or worthless, we should accept our flaws with an open heart, take responsibility for our behaviour and choices, and still be kind to ourselves. It’s okay that we are imperfect humans leading imperfect lives, and we don’t need to strive to be “better” than others to love ourselves or hold ourselves in high regard.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17484611

https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Stephenson2017.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1025098225171

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/try_selfcompassion

https://centerformsc.org/learn-msc/self-compassion-vs-self-esteem/

Ellis, A. (2005). The myth of self-esteem: how rational emotive behaviour therapy can change your life forever. Prometheus Books.

loving your body

Guest Blog: How Yoga Can Help You Embrace Your Body As It Is

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.

 

You’re grateful

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.

 

meera wattsAuthor 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.

Website: https://www.siddhiyoga.com/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/siddhiyogaacademy
Instagram: https://instagram.com/siddhiyogainternational
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/meerawatts
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meerawatts
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/siddhiyogateachertraining

 

References

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.

5 Tips to Increase Self-Esteem

Are you very critical of yourself? Do you often tend to focus on your negatives rather than your accomplishments? Are you often comparing yourself with others? Do you engage in negative self-talk? If you said yes to one or more statements above, you may have a low self-esteem.

Self-esteem refers to thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we have about ourselves. However, it is not something we are born with, so it is amenable to change. When we think negatively about ourselves, it lowers our self-esteem. How we feel and think about ourselves extends to how we look and behave. Having high self-esteem helps us overcome difficulties and obstacles with ease while having low self-esteem makes us focus on our weaknesses and mistakes setting us up for failure. An example of improving self-esteem would be a climbing tower that aims to make people feel more confident and positive about themselves when they are faced with challenges.

There are a myriad number of causes of low self-esteem. It could be due to difficult experiences in childhood, negative life events, past relationships, stress, negative thinking patterns, discrimination, loneliness, trauma or abuse.

However, no matter what the cause, its impact is the same. Low self-esteem leads to negative thinking which might, over time, even lead to mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem limits your career and social development.

Changing the way you think about yourself changes the way you feel about yourself.

So how do we go about increasing our self-esteem? Here are 5 easy tips:

1. Positive Self-talk

How you think about yourself marks the cornerstone of your self-esteem. If you constantly tell yourself you’re no good, you might start to believe it. Self-talk is your inner voice, your thoughts that you don’t say out loud. Negative self-talk makes you feel bad about yourself. It could be something like ‘I look fat in those jeans’, or ‘everyone thinks I am dumb’, or ‘everything is going wrong with my life, nothing is going to change’. These statements act to bring you down. Over time, you start to believe them as if they were true. This results in negative thinking which opens the door for further problems including mental disorders.

Ok, But How Do I Counter Negative Self-talk With Positive One?

In order to bring about change in your self-talk, the first step is to notice what you have been saying to yourself so far. Hear what your inner voice is saying. If needed, even write it down. Once you have started listening to your inner voice carefully, assess it.

  • Are you engaging in more positive or negative self-talk?
  • Are you keeping things in perspective?
  • Is there actual evidence for what you’re thinking?
  • Can you try to look at it differently?
  • If a friend was in a similar situation, what would you say to him or her?
  • Can you change the situation somehow to feel better about it?

Once you have monitored and assessed your self-talk, you need to change it. Counter negative thoughts with positive ones. Omit ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘ought’ from your self-talk. These words put unnecessary pressure on you to perform. Do a quick reality check when you encounter a negative thought. Assess the truth in the statement.

  • Do you have evidence for the thought?
  • What about the evidence against the thought?
  • Are you jumping to conclusions, negative ones at that?

Try to look at alternative explanations for the situation.

  • Can you try to look at the situation from a different perspective?
  • How would an optimist look at this situation?

Put the situation into perspective. Look at the bright side.

  • What best can come out of the situation?
  • Will this matter in a years’ time? Five years’? Ten years’?

Jump into action mode. Make goals to counter the thinking.

  • How do I solve this problem?
  • Have I learned something from the situation?
  • Will this learning help me in the future

increase self-esteem

2. Assertiveness Training

Oftentimes, it is others who bog us down. They say nasty, cruel things making us feel bad about ourselves. We believe their words which start resonating within and become our inner voice. This needs to change.

Being assertive means you value yourself and set clear boundaries. Here’s how to go about being assertive-

  • Use ‘I’ statements. Say statements that start with ‘I’ such as ‘I think…’ or ‘I feel…’. Statements starting with ‘you’ are often misinterpreted leading to an argument or fight. Avoid saying statements that start with ‘you always…’ or ‘you never…’.
  • Let go of guilt. Are you that person who wants to do everything for everyone and always wants to be there for everyone? Yes, this tip is especially for you. You can’t. You can’t do everything, you can’t be everywhere and you can’t please everyone. So stop feeling guilty when you can’t attend your child’s recital, can’t bake a cake for your husband’s birthday or couldn’t meet a friend who was in the city for only a day. You don’t have to do it all to be a better person. You already are one.
  • Express your feelings. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want. Be clear, specific, honest and respectful. Focus on the real issue and say it out loud. For example, you might be cribbing about the towel on the floor but the real issue might be that you want your spouse to spend time with you. Say it loud clearly.
  • Learn to say no. You aren’t being selfish when you’re saying no; you’re simply setting healthy limits. Identify your boundaries, be it physical, emotional or mental. Know how far you can go and tolerate. Stick to these boundaries and don’t let anyone transcend your limits.
  • Agree to disagree. Having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong. Talk it out. Respect the other person’s point of view. You might not agree with them but it doesn’t mean you are right in what you think. Be tolerant of other viewpoints.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others

A great deal of low self-esteem comes from the fact that we compare ourselves with others who are better off than us. We don’t have that limo, that bungalow, that job or that petite figure. Social media sites heighten this social comparison where we nag our spouse about the fact that our colleague went on a vacation to a country miles away while we haven’t gone on one for so long.

Stop doing that! Stop comparing yourself to others. Compete against yourself. You don’t know that person, their life or what is it really like to be them. And even if you do, you are not that person. You have a different life and a different set of priorities. Compete with yourself on how you can better your grades, lose weight, get that salary package or simply eat healthy. Take a step ahead from where you were earlier; engage in a healthy competition with yourself instead.

4. Set realistic expectations

If you plan to lose 11 pounds in a week, you are setting yourself up for failure. Having unrealistic expectations makes you feel worse about yourself. Set realistic goals that are achievable. Setting expectations from others also set us up for failure. Wishing your spouse won’t criticize you might not work until you tell him or her so and make sure he or she works on it. Check your expectations if they keep disappointing you. There’s a chance you have set them too high.

5. Take a 2-minute break

Break from what, you ask? Break from putting yourself down. Take a 2-minute break to highlight your accomplishments and to appreciate yourself. Every day, set aside 2 minutes to ask yourself what 3 things you appreciate about yourself. It could be something you mean to your family, friends or colleagues or it could be a skill you are good at. These don’t have to be big things. Small but meaningful things work best. Write down these three things every day in a journal. An added benefit of this exercise is that you can go back and look through it when you are feeling low. This little break will help you put everything in perspective and rev your mood.

These tips work great when you actually get down to practicing them in real life. They will take some time and lots of practice, however. Don’t give up though. There’s sunshine at the end of the night. Keep trying and you will get there.

On the last note, I personally think you are awesome!

Are You A Perfectionist? You Might Be Interfering With Your Success!

perfectionism counselling mississauga

Are you the type of person who needs to do everything in a particular way? Or perhaps things need to be “just so”. It can be tough to let it go and let things just be but maybe it’s time to give it a try! New research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shares that perfectionism may lead to stress, burnout, and potential health problems. The researchers took a look at the results of 43 studies, over the past 20 years, and found that concerns about perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school, or on the playing field.

Fighting Perfectionism

When we think about it, those with perfectionism tendencies have a hard time accepting flaws. They can be hard on themselves, as well as others, because everything needs to be perfect. If you’re never pleased with your work, then things will never be good enough for you. It will be very difficult to stop working because you’ll always wish to make things better.

To work on reducing perfectionist tendencies, try setting realistic goals. Also, accept failures or less than perfect standards as learning opportunities that help you improve for the future. Most importantly, forgive yourself when you fail, and reframe failure as a growth opportunity, rather than defeat.

time-for-yourself

6 Reasons Why You Need To Schedule A Date With Yourself Now

Finding time for yourself is essential for a happy life. Yes, being ambitious is important, finding time for family and friends also, helping others as well. However, it’s important to take a break and to give yourself some love. Only this way, you will have enough resources for everything else that you strive to achieve. Look at that as a time to refill and charge your batteries. You can’t use your phone when its battery is empty, right? It’s the same with yourself. So, here are 6 reasons why you should schedule time for yourself now:

1. You Love You!

If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you know that before take-off during the safety demonstration the Flight Attendants remind you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping the person next to you. The same goes in every day life! You have to help yourself before you help others, which means unconditional, self-love, all the time.

2. You Have Hobbies to Enjoy

There’s something so exciting about scheduling into your planner that badminton class you’ve been thinking about all month that makes you feel giddy all over! Spending time doing hobbies; whether it’s working in the garden, sitting in the sun, reading a book, taking a class…whatever it might be you own it, and savour the time, for you.

3. Exercise is a Habit

Your exercise is such a habit that if you *don’t *schedule the time in to do it, you feel like you’re missing something. Your body feels like it’s missing the thorough work-out you give it 3 times a week.

4. Slowing…Things…Down

Between work, friends, family, your iPhone, your relationship, you’re always on the go! Scheduling time for yourself includes locking your phone in your sock drawer, unplugging and putting away your laptop/iPad, and actually listening to the sounds of the birds chirping in the distance, or, going for a walk along a new path. Sometimes, there’s a need to just be by yourself, in more of a present, peaceful way.

5. Prioritize Time to Set Goals

You know it’s easy to get carried away with life. Often you say to yourself, “where has time gone!” You think back to the days of your early 20’s and say, “that feels like yesterday”. You know that setting goals in all areas of your life helps you succeed, and that taking the time to visualize and plan where you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years is the key to your success.

6. Peace and Quiet

That’s right. Studies show that even today, women work as long as men and have more responsibilities around the home than men do. So, scheduling solitude for the tranquility that comes with quiet time helps you hone in on your creative skills, unwind, and find more pleasure in the present moment (which research says really does make people happier. If you want to find out more about mindfulness and great benefits of focusing on the present moment, read our article: “6 Reasons Why Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Life Is Helpful”. ).

 

And remember…

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

 

 

insecurity-in-a-relationship

How to Overcome Insecurity in a Relationship

Let’s face it – feeling insecure is draining! Insecurity in a relationship can be the main cause of jealousy, accusing, a constant need for validation, misunderstandings, and fights. In order to make your relationship work, you need to overcome uncertainties about yourself. Enjoying more of life and your partner will empower you with positive feelings.

What Can Help Me to Overcome Insecurity in a Relationship?

Insecurities can happen as a result of a rocky childhood, a relationship that went sour, or people with low self-esteem. No one is perfect, but we really don’t have to be. This article, by uncommonhelp.me, outlines quite nicely how to overcome insecurities in a relationship. Here’s the link to read more: http://www.uncommonhelp.me/articles/overcoming-insecurity-in-relationships/

Insecurities in a relationship can ruin even the happiest moments. Thus, discovering where your insecurities come from is important for resolving some issues you might have with your partner. Maybe your insecurities are coming from the type of attachment you developed throughout your life. Read our article: “How Attached are you?” to find out more.

What do you do to improve your self-esteem? Moreover, did you tell yourself you’re gorgeous today? Because you are!

negative beliefs

Negative Beliefs

Have you grown up with certain beliefs about the world? You know how life works, what is possible and what’s not, what you can expect and what you can only dream about. Hence, you think you have a clear picture of the reality, right? Well, think again. Maybe the world is not exactly how you look at it right now; maybe if you change your perspective, you’ll find out that what you believed as a definite truth is actually a lie. We lived our whole life with a certain set of rules and a certain set of beliefs. However, some of these beliefs are not helping us grow. Additionally, they are simply wrong. These are called Negative Beliefs, and they can stand in your way to be happy.

Psychology Tomorrow Magazine posted a great blog about Negative Beliefs. Read it here.

Snigdha Gharami gives some good examples of negative beliefs and how they are wrong. For instance, the idea of “never changing” in life is a false belief- some people have a habit of not accepting changes, but changes are actually good for us. Or, here is another example – some people believe admiring something (even something good) will create a lack of self-control. However, it is also false, because you cannot lose your value by admiring something good. There are other good examples in the article, so take a look; maybe you find yourself in it, and challenge some of your beliefs.

In the end, she wraps it all up well: “It is you who makes and breaks these patterns. Take a chance, live life your way because you only have one- this opportunity and this day will never come back.

Embrace change, take a chance and live big!

 

Happy Holidays!

 

women in media

5 Minutes Of What The Media Actually Does To A Woman

Have you ever thought about the impact that media has on the images of the world we have? More importantly, have you ever thought about how powerful media can be in shaping the images we have of ourselves? Ads are selling more than products; they are selling concepts, feelings, and images of success, love, sexuality. Media are setting certain norms in society. But how does it all affect women? How are women in media portrayed? And, above all, what message does media send this way?

Jean Kilbourne in her famous talk says that today’s media has an extremely negative impact on women’s self-esteem. Women in media are ideal; they have a perfect figure, flawless face, beautiful hair and everything else that falls into the category of the ideal beauty. However, in reality, these beauty standards are impossible to reach. Moreover, girls from the very young age learn that they have to invest large amounts of time, money and efforts to fit into that category of ideal beauty. Otherwise, they lose their value and they will fail in life. But those standards are absurdly high, and almost inevitably set all women to failure.

Here is the video where Jean Kilbourne talks about this issue. What do you think?