When You Need to Take a Break From the News: How Sensitive Souls Deal With Tragedy

what I want for Christmas

I have been very tired this week. At first I thought I was coming down with something. Or that I was fighting off a virus but not actually getting visibly sick. Finally, I realized that I was grieving. Waking up … Continue reading

Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

Self Care is notA Luxury

I choose to do some self care by receiving a deep tissue massage today. Now many of you may be thinking “Oh how nice, a spa day. What a nice way to treat yourself.”

I used to believe that massages were something to be indulged in once in a while as a nice, relaxing treat. But after suffering a debilitating bout of muscle spasms in my neck a few years ago I have come to realize a different truth.

Massage for me is a necessary part of taking care of myself.

Because guess what my friends?

Self Care is Not a Luxury Item

I know this can be a hard motto to live by.

As a woman, a mom, and a type A responsible overachiever,  I tend to put others needs before myself.  There is making sure the fridge is full of food that then has to be cooked and served and cleaned up. There is laundry to do and errands to run. There is work and carpool and volunteer responsibilities. There is cleaning up after the dog . . . again.

Who has time to do anything for themselves?

But when I ignore my body’s needs long enough, it starts speaking louder so it can be heard.

Maybe my neck will spasm. Maybe I’ll get a monster sinus infection. Maybe the panic attacks will return.

Someway, somehow, our bodies will let us know they need rest and care.

At some point while waiting in a doctor’s office to heal my body’s latest cry for help, I realized I had two options. I could either continue having semi annual medical issues that ended in me loosing at least a couple weeks of productivity and paying hefty medical fees,

Or I could choose to put in a little time and money on a regular basis to take care of myself. And if I took care of myself well enough, I wouldn’t keep pushing my body to the breaking point.

So I started eating better most of the time. I started exercising a couple times a week. I get monthly massages. I make sure I have a few hours a week where I can come away from my family and work responsibilities and REST.

I am by no means taking perfect care of my middle aged body. But I am trying to do better at self care. And knock on wood, it seems to be helping.

Since making the commitment to self care I have been to the doctor less, been more productive, and had a better overall mood.

There are times when I am tempted to backslide. When I recently looked at our bills for the month and saw how much money I was spending on massages and the gym, much less how much it costs to buy healthy food for 4 people at the grocery store, I was tempted to cut something out.

The Type A momaholic in me said, “Oh, I don’t have to pay for that gym membership and trainer. I can just exercise at home.”

But then I had to remind myself that spending money on self care is not the same as spending 4 bucks on a latte. It is not wasteful spending.

Because even though cutting the gym membership would save time and money, I would still lose out. For in my heart I know I won’t exercise at home without that appointment with the trainer. Instead I would find a million other things to do. And when I have an appointment with a trainer I keep it, because, well, I am a type A overachiever who wants to make my trainer happy.

But putting in a good workout away from home makes my body and mind happy too. So I’ll keep paying that monthly bill knowing the time and energy I spend on taking care of myself is a wise investment.

Because when I care for my body, mind, and spirit I am at my best. And that is a gift I can’t put a price on.

What does your body, mind, and spirit need to be your best?

How can you commit to one act of self care to nurture those needs?

Feel free to share your best tips below!

Be Good to Yourself!

Dena

 

 

Learning to Relax

Learning To Relax

 

People who struggle with anxiety often get told to “Just Relax” a lot.

But honestly, relaxing is sometimes harder than it sounds, and not just for people with anxiety.

Our culture is so fast paced and our demands are so many, that relaxation often seems a pipe dream. Sure if I had a week on the beach in the Caribbean I could relax (not really, we’d have to be a little further out of hurricane season for that to be true 🙂 ) Seriously, sometimes we get so amped from the stress of living life that it can be quite difficult to calm down.

So, how in the world do we de-stress? 

There are shelves of books out there that teach many types of relaxation techniques. I myself teach people to deep breath, stretch, progressively relax their muscles and practice mindfulness meditations in my role as a yoga teacher.

But all the knowledge in the world will not help us relax if we don’t practice these techniques sometime every day.

And there in lies the rub. Even when we know how to relax, we have to make it a priority in our life.

Learning to Relax

 

 

For the past couple of months I have given myself the guilty pleasure of a hot bath every night. (Three weeks in Africa taught me that  a tub full of hot water was quite a luxury. I guess I should just donate monthly to the Water Project so I don’t feel so bad about my copious use of clean water).

In the category of guilty luxuries, I am also getting a massage regularly right now.

(Honestly,  when you get super tense from anxiety a massage is more of a necessity than a luxury. I guess it just takes time to change our mindset that it is okay to spend time and money to take care of ourselves. This may be half the battle here, eh?)

I also take some time each day to practice counted breath practice, usually also at night.

I really want to get back into a regular meditation practice (20 mins a day). I am honestly still hit or miss right now, but I know it would help me so much. I usually practice Centering Prayer when I meditate, but also sometimes use mindfulness meditation.

Of course there are also the slow walks and netflix sessions on the sofa, but although this is de-stressing I am not sure if it technically counts as relaxation the way breathing and meditating would.

(Still, it doesn’t hurt to enjoy oneself. Again, getting into that mindset may be half the battle.)

I’d love to hear how the rest of you out there de-stress and relax.

Are there others with a regular mediation practice? If so, how do you make thing a regular part of your day? Anyone else looking to recommit to their own practice and wanting to be an accountability meditation partner with me?  

Be Kind to Yourself

My husband and I just finished writing and teaching an eight week course on anxiety management from a faith perspective. (Hence the silence on the blog. Thanks for your patience while my creative energy went to creating a curriculum).

It was such an honor to hear our group’s stories each week as we talked about how to find that peaceful place deep within us even in the midst of life’s storms. As they shared and we shared, I noticed a common theme emerge week after week.

 

We are way too hard on ourselves. 

 

This may not be universally true, but it is true for most of us much of the time. We are our own worst critics. We expect unreasonable things from ourselves day after day. We give ourselves grief instead of grace when we fail. Even when we succeed, we barely pause to enjoy the moment. We are quick to move on to what bigger and better things should come next.

I think of my own reaction this weekend after finishing our last class. As we were looking over the surveys which gave us good feedback, my husband asked happily, “so what do you think?” My only response was this. “I know we can make it better.”

Really? I’ve just finished the first class that I’ve taught on managing anxiety, just finished polishing off what is now basically a book waiting to be published, and the best I can come up with is, “I know we can make it better?”

Later on that evening the familiar words of a dear friend surfaced in my mind. It is the line with which he often ends his grace-filled letters and cards.

Be Kind

I doubt our friend knows the power these words have had in my life. They have prompted me to let go of crazed dinner prep and give myself the grace to order our favorite pizza during a stressful week. They have reminded me to slow down and care for myself with a cup of tea or a nice hot bath when times are tense. And today they reminded me to take a day to rest and celebrate after weeks of hard work that in the end bore good fruit.

So today being kind to myself looked a bit like this.

IMG_4219

 

Be kind to yourself

 

 

I reclined on the sofa reading a new fiction book for hours (Written from a dog’s point of view? I’m in!). Then I baked my favorite Paleo friendly apple/egg muffins. I let the kids alternate between playing outside for an hour and then playing minecraft for an hour instead of insisting we have an actual activity to pass the time.  It was nice. It turns out being kind to myself feels good. And it helps me be kind to others too which is always a nice result.

So whether you are struggling this week or celebrating, I encourage you yo take my friend Harry’s advice.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF.  

Do you have a favorite ritual for being nice to yourself? Feel free to share below.