Taking care of The Self

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Taking care of The Self is taking care of the full embodiment of You.  Your physical body, your mind and your soul.  We, in the West particularly, live in a world where life flies by at a rate of knots and we often forget who we are and what we really need.  The Self is pushed to the back of the queue as we work hard at our jobs, for our families, striving to better ourselves, getting pushed from pillar to post trying to meet up to standards that are forever being pushed farther and farther away from us often giving us rise to believe that no matter what we do we aren’t good enough – this opinion could be one that we have pushed on ourselves or one that is pushed upon us by others.  This, then may lead to anxiety and depression, other physical health problems, a somewhat diminished opinion of who and what we are and unfortunately in todays society it is becoming more and more common.

As one stands on the merry-go-round of life watching everything flying by but unable to focus on any one thing, it’s important to take a breath and slow down.  I know that sounds difficult when you are on the roundabout of life – ‘how can I do that!?’ I hear the pleading in your voice and the look in your eyes which just tells me that you really do need to do this one thing for yourself in order for you to gain control of your life again.  We all do it, I’m my own worst enemy at times but I’m learning – always learning!

This one thing is looking after You.  It’s important and shouldn’t be pushed away because you are too busy.  Taking care of you from the inside out will slow the merry-go-round and all will appear calmer, you will feel calmer and be able to breathe properly again as well as see things more clearly.  Of course, always consider others and the world around us but often we put ourselves at the back of the queue as the least important.  How can we look after and care for others when we have nothing in the tank and we’ve lost connection with who we are?

Take a breath

Well, take a few steady breaths.  Breathe in through your nose to the count of 5, hold that breath for a count of 3, then steadily breath out for a count of 7, hold for a count of 3 and start the process again.  Concentrate on your breathing, let that be the only thing that holds in your mind.  This may prove Unknown-5difficult at first but with practice it will work.  The mind needs to re-program itself.  Try aromatherapy oils, calming ones like Chamomile Roman, Lavender or Rose to help you concentrate on that breathing.  I like Chamomile Roman, just the smell of it makes me want to breathe it in to every bit of my lungs and I can feel myself calming as my olfactory senses take in the aroma.  The wonderful thing about Aromatherapy is that there are so many different scents and as we are all individuals what one might find relaxing, another might find to be the opposite.  It might help to do this at night before you go to bed as that breathing will help calm down your system ready for the replenishing night ahead of you.  Even pop a couple of drops on your pillow to help continue that steady process of breathing as your mind relaxes into sleeping with an aim to giving you a decent nights sleep.

Cut down the Sugar – especially the refined sort!

Sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol don’t help with your anxiety and mood levels.  If you are packing your system with sugar packed foods which is easy to do without realising it.  You’re rushing from one place to another and haven’t had time to make lunch or indeed have breakfast so you grab a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar – but it’s ok because it’s got oats in it right? Wrong I’m afraid, refined sugar is everywhere in these processed foods as well as salt, not to mention that quick caffeine laden coffee you might grab aswell because you are feeling that 11am or 2pm slump.  The thing with these items is that ok, they’ll give you a boost but within a relatively short period of time you’ll experience that slump in energy and then you’ll want that ‘hit’ again so onwards to the next convenience food.  I’m not talking about going 100% all in and cutting out sugar foods altogether such as fruit or honey (for the non vegans), but the refined sugars definitely aren’t helping.

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I’ll say now that from Day 2 you’ll start to notice a positive difference.  Day 1, expect to feel tired, low in energy, maybe grumpy (yes, I know I’m really selling it aren’t I!?).  Apparently, as I’ve read and heard sugar is more addictive than heroin – which is a lovely thought as you take your first day of no chocolate/sweets, but believe me it’s worth it.  Whatever you do don’t starve yourself, breakfast sensibly (porridge, fruit with natural yogurt, a smoothie with spinach, banana, nuts and seeds for example and instead of the 11am chocolate bar eat some nuts, or a piece of fruit.

Day 2, you’ll start to feel differently – ok you might still have a desire for sweets but stay with it, after all, you got past Day 1 – and that is the main climb.  If you have an urge for something sweet over the following few days then don’t forget to drink water anyway and have a piece of fruit or a few nuts (I’m not talking about a handful, just enough to stave off that craving until lunch or dinner – nothing worse than a craving to turn you in to Dawn of the Living Dead so why put yourself through it!?).  Personally, I remember waking up on Day 2 feeling different, with more energy and a lot less anxious – I did cut out my lovely morning coffee aswell opting for a liquorice, peppermint, chamomile and rose concoction of herbal tea after a squirt of lemon juice in water to clear the toxins and get the digestive system working well after a replenishing nights sleep.

After a few days too you might notice a difference in your waistline as your body isn’t storing up that excess sugar but using the energy up in a more constructive way.  Around Day 3 onwards you will see a difference in energy and mood, you’ll have more of it and your mood will lift, your eyes won’t feel so tired and sore.  Which is why it’s a good thing to take care of your diet in this way if you are suffering from depression and anxiety.

Meditation, Fresh Air, Exercise and You

Take time out for you.  Yes, don’t laugh, I’m serious.  You do have time for that, it’s imperative you do that in fact!

Meditate – whether you can close your mind down or play a guided meditation to help you focus on the moment, or a mindfulness one whichever resonates with you.  Breathe measurably as you do it – breathing helps calm the system down and as you breathe properly fully extending your diaphragm so it’s helping your stomach and intestines to work properly by aiding peristalsis (where the muscles of your intestines pump properly to help food though – helping to possibly alleviate stomach spasms or knotting if you get it).

Fresh Air – walking outside especially in the countryside, a country park, a park, a bit of green is important for your mental health, a walking meditation.  Take time to look around you and appreciate the greenery – the way the long grass, trees etc. blow in the wind, the way the clouds pass over in the sky – what way are they going? If the sun is out where do the shadows touch?  HeaUnknown-6r the rustle of the leaves on the trees and the sound of a bird flapping its wings and hear as they sing to each other – can you make out the different songs they make?  If you have a dog, appreciate this time together, watch them as they sniff and trot or walk along – or even tear about! They enjoy the moment and can teach us a lot! I will add it’s important to leave your phone, don’t be on social media, don’t be talking on the phone – if you have a dog they will appreciate it too!  This is all important in living in the moment and coming back to You – The Self.  It’s also a good time for reflection, when ideas or solutions come to you on their own accord – where they aren’t jumping around at the back of the crowd unable to get your attention because of the bombarding thoughts pushing you at the front.

Exercise – Get your circulation going, get your body moving – it was designed for that after all.  A walk in the greenery near you getting those legs moving and that heart pumping.  A yoga or pilates class to stretch those beautiful muscles and help stretch the fascia to free those tight muscles.  If you fancy something more cardiovascular then a circuit class, a run, a cycle, riding your horse can all help.  Heart problems, blood pressure etc. then ensure you see you doctor beforehand.

You – give something to yourself.  I dislike using the word ‘treat’ for a massage because being a Remedial Massage Practitioner, it’s a necessary aid to help keep your body in working order.   Not only do sportspeople need a massage to keep their bodies working, so do ‘we’ as we get on with our daily lives sitting at the computer, standing on our feet all day, lifting, dealing with the stress of what anything brings (even though we are breathing properly now!) our bodies will still hold stress in our neck and shoulders and/or lower back and legs for example.  Parents carrying babies on one hip whilst getting on with chores may suffer lower back pain and shoulder pain.  Going down the horsey route, grooms and riders sweeping the yard, filling the hay nets, carrying the water buckets and washing them out and re-filling, as well as some professional riders exercising possibly 3 to 10 horses a day – is there any wonder why your elbows don’t want to feel heavy as your shoulder blades push up your shoulders to your ears!

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Healing, whether it be known as Energy, Spiritual or Reiki, is another good one.  A healer will act as a channel for healing energies, bringing in energy from that which is all around us and channelling through their hands, or their body.  The purpose of healing is to enhance, empower and assist this ability so that the individual may find their own point of balance.  Spiritual healing may be given for any illness, stress or injury as a complementary therapy without any side effects. No specific religious or spiritual beliefs are required. Similarly, healing recognises no distinction of race, class, sex or religion.

There are many other complementary therapies out there to choose from; acupuncture, reflexology, cranial sacral, arvigo as well as hypnotherapy and mindfulness to help get you back to the authentic You.  It’s also useful to say that naturopaths, nutritionists, homeopaths and medical herbalists are another helpful complementary therapy.  There are many of us out there all doing different things because You are You and different therapies suit and resonate with different people.  I personally will recommend different therapists to different people if I feel that they will benefit – I believe that we as therapists should work together, yes, it’s marvellous when someone recovers under my care this is why I went down this career route in the first place, but if I feel that a herbalist, naturopath, or a hypnotherapist for example will aid then all the better!  I also find that working with other bodyworkers such as physiotherapists and osteopaths can be of great benefit to the client.

It’s important to note here that advice is given to not stop or change your medication without prior reference to the Doctor who prescribed it and if you do feel depressed or anxious a visit to your doctor is always advised.

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I wish you all the very best in quietening your mind and coming back to the most important person in your life – You.

Tamara Jane Buckley