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Six Simple Self Care Ideas for Making and Sustaining BIG Changes

Last updated on April 28, 2021

On Sunday’s full moon, I ate my last ever* packet of crisps. And from tonight, my regular bedtime will be before midnight – when not ILL – for the first time as an adult. I haven’t been bodysnatched but I hardly recognise myself.

I didn’t know they were my last crisps at the time but when I saw my new herbalist (the fantabulous Colleen Kennedy) the next day and FINALLY (even though I used to write about nutrition, I somehow thought the whole Crisps Bad thing didn’t apply to ME. Narcissistic much?) connected the dots around some very disparate symptoms and the self care elements I was over-riding by working harder in other areas rather than sorting in a structured, supportive way.

The whole visit reminded me of all the grounding and centering somatic coaching and yoga I did and still do in an effort to feel OK. Back then, every morning and several times during the day, I would be mindful of the way I was standing and correct it in an effort to shift my energy to a freer, more empowered state.

Then, a physiotherapist I’d seen for a recurring shoulder injury practically ignored my shoulder and focused on the the actual ground. Turned out one leg is longer than the other so all my efforts were more challenging than they might have been for others. Getting orthopaedic insoles fitted meant I no longer needed to consciously stand upright in a way that supported my whole skeleton, sent stronger signals of safety to the brain and gave me more confidence. And the shoulder issues haven’t returned!

At the moment, the crisps and earlier bedtime are huge and my relationship to sugar (as a vegan – it USED to be when I’d happily eat 6 KitKats for dinner) isn’t compulsive in the same way. I also know from nearly two decades as a coach and making big changes myself (using the New Moon to start life as a happy, healthy non smoker in February 2001, the Full Moon to quit alcohol that July) how to do this as gently and sustainably as possible.

Read on for some simple self care coaching tips you might apply to changes YOU want to make (whenever YOU’RE ready)

State your goal in a simple, positive way

Anytime we want to make a change, it’s helpful to phrase it in a simple, positive way. It’s NLP 101. Create a ‘well formed outcome’, notice the feedback you’re getting (ie, is what you’re doing working?) and adapt your approach as needed.

Naturally, I’m making two enormous (for me) changes at the same time (but they’re related) and I hope that by sharing my plan for both, it will help you navigate your own big changes.

  1. Start going to bed earlier to improve the QUALITY of my sleep
  2. Balance my hormones and blood sugars to ease a variety of symptoms and boost my energy

Even though I’m sooooo used to setting and achieving goals myself, this took me a few attempts as the early examples were negative!

Be patient with yourself and create a phrase that resonates and inspires you to make the progress you deserve.

I recommend using the phrase (ensuring it’s heartfelt) as a Sankalpa during any Yoga Nidras [Access free practices HERE] to help get the unconscious mind and conscious mind working more harmoniously and achieving your goal becoming that bit easier and more enjoyable.

Why are you making this change?

The stronger your ‘why’ the easier it will be, not just to begin but to keep going when things feel challenging. Right now, I’ve come through yesterday’s hideous withdrawal headache and am feeling on top of the world about these transformations and what they mean for me not just today but into my (hopefully) happy, healthy 90s and potentially beyond.

I also know that increasingly balanced hormones and blood sugars aside, there’ll be times when I REALLY struggle (20 years later, I still miss cigarettes and alcohol on occasion) and being clear on why I’ve made these changes will make it easier to continue,

Colleen explained what (as many loved ones have been saying through gritted teeth as I’ve been evangelising about balancing hormones and blood sugars the last couple of days) people have been telling me for years.

Decades even.

But the time was right for me to hear it AND she was soooooo nice about it (and kept a straight face), it got through.

It’s HARD (yesterday, my head hurt in a way it’s not hurt for decades and I can only imagine it was crisps withdrawal. I used to eat A LOT of crisps).

But knowing the positive impact it will have moving into perimenopause, menopause and post menopause (hopefully) as well as for the hemorrhaghic ovarian cysts, endometriosis AND aura migraines and energy levels – I’m committed. And it’s also easier than I’d have expected (headache has eased today).

Because the aura migraines have been so frequent, my head feels better today than it’s felt for WEEKS and I can see how what I was eating was contributing to the hormone headaches, too.

So much of my work is around helping people support themselves through life’s stresses, I’m embarrassed to only now be recognising how much undue stress I’ve been placing my body under by polluting rather than nourishing it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that as well as the Full Moon energies, an Earth Hour meditation on Saturday helped me recognise this.

I can’t control whether or not Chauvin is convicted for the horrific lynching of George Floyd or not but I can watch bits of the trial without ADDING to the stress of it by making my body work harder to digest and process too much processed food.

I can’t control what’s going to happen with the easing of restrictions but the hormone balancing element of these changes will help stabilise my emotional rollercoasters and personal coronacoaster

Up until this week, I’d felt like I was doing so well to be implementing all my self care practices and doing OK.

Now, the idea of not having to work SO HARD at it is exceedingly appealing.

How are you going to DO this?

Crisps

I’m no longer attempting to eat just one small bowl of crisps a day and instead eating NO crisps.

From the time I quit smoking in 2001, I have been eating Too Many Crisps. I stopped when I became a vegan in July 2017 but when I discovered delicious vegan friendly crisps, well… I cleared out all my crisps on Monday night and donated them to people who’ll enjoy them as a treat. And, at some point in the future, I hope to have a similar odd packet of crisps enjoyment of them as opposed to the (up until Monday) crissssssssssps.

Here’s a picture of all the crisps I donated (on Bad Days, I’d be eating 6 packets in one day because I’d be thinking I wasn’t hungry enough for dinner etc and then…)

hdrpl

I’m also cutting back on the vegan meat alternatives (yesterday was my first day without eating a couple of Denny’s Vegan Sausages IN OVER A YEAR) and cutting back on sugar.

Bedtime

A few weeks ago, I started aiming to go to bed at midnight and then do some Sleep Yoga, read, journal, read my cards etc and turn the lights out by 2am. I’ve been running my own businesses since 2004 and am naturally more of a night owl. Much easier for me to be alert for clients at 9pm than 8am so I very rarely book anyone in before 11am but work most evenings. I got into the habit of regularly working until 1am and not getting to bed until 4am. So I was quite impressed by my 2am sleep time.

Still, now I’m no longer arguing with the reality of the time of night we sleep having an impact on the quality of sleep and overall health and wellbeing, I’m aiming to ultimately be going to SLEEP by 11.30/midnight – this may take a few months. At the moment, going to bed before midnight (will aim for 11 tonight) feels so alien, it might need to be 11.30 and gradually earlier BUT now I understand the impact on my specific symptoms, I’m motivated to do the things I’ve been encouraging my sleep clients and students to do for nearly a decade:

Proper bedtime routine, pretty much the same time of night each day, pretty much same waking time each morning, minimising screen time right before bed etc etc. And, of course, my trusty Sleep Yoga is already something that helps enormously.

Who are you WITH the habit/s you’re contemplating releasing? Who will you be without them?

This, as with my quitting drinking and smoking in 2001, has been my biggest sticking point. Would I still be ‘me’ without being a night owl and crisp monster?

I also realise that my trauma history and limiting beliefs (even though I’ve had SO much healing over the years) meant that at some level, I felt an EASY healthier approach to food and sleep were for other people and I couldn’t manage it.

I could work – with self care practices – at feeling better but somehow didn’t DESERVE the ease that balanced hormones, blood sugars and more energy will afford me?

Am conscious (as with all my writing) of potentially oversharing here but I also KNOW that I’m not alone. I wasn’t eating more crisps than were good for me while thinking self-loathing thoughts (I spent decades thinking such thoughts and would have known it) and yet…

Something has shifted (and the worrying symptoms added motivation) so I decided to stop going against what I tell sleep clients and students around body clocks and sleep quality.

I can start going to bed at a more optimal time (when I did my training, I felt outraged on behalf of night owls like myself and shift workers who don’t get to choose. Now, a little more mature, I can get off my imaginary soap box and be open to earlier nights and mornings and see how that goes).

Where I liked reading in bed at night, my identity as a reader can simply shift and I can make it part of my daytime routine if it doesn’t work with the earlier nights.

After decades of insomnia (from primary school until my 20s) and never thinking I could improve things more than I have already, it’s incredible to imagine the extra energy I’ll gain from improving the quality of my sleep.

When are you going to make this change?

If you’re using lunar energies, the Full Moon is a wonderful time to let go of old habits, to release what’s no longer needed and to complete projects.

The New Moon is a great time for new beginnings, sitting with whatever shadows are coming up for healing and being open to new ways of being.

The Half Moon is all about balance and harmony (which is why I’ve chosen it for my Moon Mná Women’s Celtic Circles this year).

I used the New Moon back in 2001 because the Full Moon was too close to my making the decision (after a pre surgery ECG showed I had a healthy heart and I realised I needed to take better care of it and quit smoking) and with the minor but still surgery and all, the New Moon gave me longer to prepare.

It also meant that I needed to slightly shift my intention from letting go (quitting smoking) to what I was ready to become (a healthy happy non-smoker).

On Monday, when I realised that I’d be foolish to continue with the crisps, I thought about eating a solemn farewell packet of crisps after the appointment. I also recognised how much they’d been impacting my cravings and mood and energy levels and blood sugar and PAIN.

I realised that the Full Moon the night before had been a gift so went with that. I also finally realised that while many (most, I think) people can stop at one packet of crisps, I wasn’t one of them and that one packet as a deliberate last packet might actually wreck that and turn into six packets.

Obviously, there are many many things you can consider when it comes to supporting you in creating and sustaining your healthy transformations – it doesn’t have to be the moon.

I quit drinking when I made the connection between physical pain and alcohol. It happened to be around the Full Moon but I would have stopped asap because I HAD to.

What – depending on your timeframe – can YOU do to support yourself as much as possible?

What can you do to make the environment most influential around your change as helpful as possible?

My bedroom is already one of my favourite places – especially since I moved the bed so I can see the Reek from it. And the whole house is as I want it (pretty much) so my environment is supportive of making this change to an earlier bedtime.

And my home – for the first time since my teens – is a crisp free zone.

Writing this, am reminded that when I was a teenager, my family used to occasionally hide crisps from me because with certain kinds, I would simply eat them all. Seeing the crisps in front of me the other night as I prepared them for donation was a shock. I thought I might have about 30 packets (a lot by any standards) but while I didn’t count, it was closer to 150.

What, in your environment, supports your chosen transformation?

What might get in your way and how might you change this?

If you’d like more support as you learn to take better care of yourself, the Feel Better Every Day online membership programme includes weekly live self care coaching calls to help you stay focused and committed (and compassionate with life’s ups and downs – progress not purrfection).

Whatever you want to improve about your life, I KNOW ewe [insert gratuitous lamb video] can do it.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

*unlike the cigarettes and alcohol, I don’t think it was the last packet EVER EVER. I like to imagine Future Evie with a healthier relationship to crisps, having the odd handful on a birthday etc.

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