Do you ever get psyched out by the enormous gulf between where you are and where you want to be with your self care (and Self care) practice/s? This post encourages you to aim high AND bridge the gap
When I wrote 365 Ways to Feel Better; Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing in 2016, I emphasised the need for readers to congratulate themselves for all they DO do already and to not make self care yet another stick to beat themselves up with.
A little glimpse into my brain
Is going for a walk right now (having had an hour long heated pool swim this morning) going to feel better now AND later or am I best off finishing a big work project before my evening sessions and then going for a night time walk if I feel like it later, smug that I’ll have FINALLY finished this project completely?
Normally, my daily walk is non-negotiable. I still can’t get over the beauty of where I live and post loads of pics of the nature that keeps me grounded and feeling better on my social media
But beCAUSE of the pool swim and deadline, I think I will feel better prioritising work for today! Later on, after my sessions, I’ll ask myself again and see if a night time walk (with the exceedingly gorgeous peacefulness AND a lack of lighting that could potentially see me falling into a stream or ditch) feels better than watching some telly. Maybe I’ll do both.
My point with this unsolicited glimpse into my brain is that SELF CARE IS MY BUSINESS.
All my work – writing and with clients and groups etc – has been based around supporting people in doing what they can to help themselves feel better AND help themselves connect with their Self (that Highest, Wisest, Truest, Wildest most Miraculous part of themselves) to take each next best step.
And I STILL struggle with certain self care decisions. But by honouring what feels good, I know that it’s ALL good.
By starting each day with some yoga (even if it’s just one or two poses) and meditation, not only does it set me up for the day but it gives me a better sense of what I need that day.
If you’re wanting to start (or rekindle) a daily yoga practice, ask yourself what you’re hoping yoga will offer you. Mine, initially, was for pain relief so I was highly motivated. You might have a pose that helps with a painful part of your body.
Or maybe it’s one that supports a better mood, either uplifting you or helping you feel calmer or more grounded – there are lots of videos you can choose from HERE if you want some ideas around the mental health benefits
Maybe you simply have a favourite pose to wake up to because it feels good for your body. My favourite definition of yoga continues to be David Emerson’s. I was fortunate enough to interview the author of _____ who had developed his trauma sensitive yoga approach while working with trauma therapy pioneer Bessel Van Der Kolk. He talked about how 10 minutes, working with traumatised teenagers, was often more than enough. Far better to do a little than to overwhelm and put people off. He said, ‘Yoga is a way to get friendlier with your own body and mind.’ We get a better sense of what feels good for us, physically, mentally, emotionally and – because of course yoga is a psycho-spiritual practice – spiritually.
What would feel GOOD for you right now?
It truly is this simple.
It’s why I started the jokey but also very serious Cat Coaching element of my practice. Cats and other animals (you might choose a puppy going for a swim or a lizard lounging in the sun) can help us connect with our body’s wisdom and HONOUR rather than repress it.
Our nervous systems are designed to encourage us to move towards what feels good.
What does ‘ventral vagal wellness’ mean to you?
It sounds so complex and jargony but our nervous system is wired to respond better to the places, situations and people where we feel safe, welcome and loved than in places, situations and with people where we feel threatened, unwelcome and unloved.
I mean, it’s hardly rocket science and yet how often have you STAYED in a situation that your whole being was screaming at you to get away from? You can read more HERE
If I could have one wish for the planet, it would be that every baby, child and adult would be safe, welcome and loved. It would transform EVERYTHING (and we need to make reparations and sort historic systemic injustices so all groups who share this planet can do so more equitably).
If you’re worried about becoming too hedonistic and falling off the planet, there’s no need. You can also ask yourself, What will help me feel good LATER?
By delaying gratification, we’re boosting dopamine levels (improving mood and motivation, as with the Yoga Nidra) and remembering that by doing some of what we’d rather NOT have to deal with, later will feel even better. Balancing feeling good now (rather than working through and never giving ourselves a break) with responsibilities and hopes and dreams so we are congruent, taking all the steps we need to create and sustain a more enjoyable life.
Simple self care
The term may immediately bring Instagram images to mind. Self care ideas that are FAR from simple or attainable for most of us.
And yet getting into the habit of asking yourself, ‘What would feel better right now? What would help me feel better later?’ will help you refine ALL aspects of your life as you start by recognising the gulf (or tiny gaps) between where you are and where you want to be AND recognise the enormous difference doing more of what feels good has on overall motivation and mood.
It’s part of the reason I started incorporating a weekly Yoga Nidra into the Feel Better Every Day online membership programme at the start of this year. The better we feel as we connect with our Sankalpa (positive intention or resolve that comes from the heart), the more aligned our unconscious and conscious minds become and the EASIER it gets to take those daily steps that may feel deathly dull (Hello, Theory Test revision!) but which ultimately lead to freedom and success.
When you pause and ask yourself, ‘What will help me feel better (right now and later on)?’ what springs to mind?
Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.
And please feel free to share this post on your social media etc so others who may find it helpful can read it.