Recently I was inspired by a post by Renee Heigel of Love Yourself Naked who discusses the importance of self love and care.
I often see female clients in a caregiving role who have put themselves last to the point that they have developed diabetes and high blood pressure and yet still struggle to make time to exercise and make healthy food choices They nurture everyone except themselves and miss the point that to take care of the family, they need to take care of themselves first.
Many of us are so busy rushing off to complete the next task, we never check in to see how we are feeling emotionally or physically.
Others bury their emotions with food. When we do this we often ignore signs from our bodies that things aren’t right.
Dr Rick Kausman, author of If not dieting, then what?, uses the term non-hungry eating to describe eating for reasons other than physical hunger. It is normal to do some non-hungry eating, but when done to excess, it can contribute to weight gain.
We think that we’ll feel better once we’ve had that chocolate or chips or take away but the feeling is very transient and we are usually left feeling full, bloated and guilty! Recently I discussed how we can use mindful eating to increase our enjoyment of our favourite foods without the added calories of eating them to excess. When I’ve taken the concept of mindfulness a bit further and taken a moment to check in instead of blindly reaching for whatever I think will make me feel better, I’ve found that sometimes I just want a cup of tea and 15 minutes to relax instead of the high fat, high sugar fix I thought I ‘needed’.
It can be really useful to have a whole list of ways that we can nurture ourselves other than with food.
Renee Heigel lists 21 ways to love yourself and challenges us to come up with even more. I’ll list a few of my favourites here:
Take a bath. I love to dim the lights, light a candle and perhaps add some bubbles.
Sleep. Many of us are chronically tired and it can be very nurturing simply to allow our bodies to rest and recuperate. Dr Craig Hassad, author of ‘The Essence of Health: The Seven Pillars of Well being’, discusses how improving our sleep can assist in improving or resolving depression. I need to take my own advice on this one as I all too frequently stay up late or get up early to write a blog post or take something off the to do list, sacrificing precious sleep time. A good reminder for me to talk the talk and walk the walk!
Meditate. There are many forms of meditation and even gazing into a fire or watching a beautiful sunset can be considered forms of meditation. My favourite is mindfulness based stillness meditation, and the effects on my life when I practice regularly are amazing.
Declare a Be Kind to You Day. I sometimes do this if I am feeling a bit stressed. At this time I will consciously put into place a number of these strategies and also think loving thoughts about myself. It is like wrapping my inner child in a warm cocoon of love.
Loving ourselves can be a bit of a stretch for some of us.
It is all too easy to put ourselves down. What if we lighten up and have a bit of fun with it? Sometimes I’ll look into my eyes in the mirror and say ‘Look at you, you gorgeous thing!’. It’s fun and I have a laugh but underneath it all is a lovely warm, fuzzy feeling that I take with me throughout the day.
Whitney Houston probably says it best when she sings, ‘Learning to love yourself it is the greatest love of all’.
I challenge you to add to the list of ways to nurture yourself and pick one and try it this week.