VidyEssence

Just say yes!  or when taking care of ourselves include others

Posted by in Self-Care

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When my son went to bed  last night, he started crying. I could tell something was bothering him in the last 30 minutes because he kept looking at the clock while his sister was playing a song on the piano for us.

Now, to put you in context, you have to know that he is sensitive and caring and has a big, generous heart. He is also an introvert, so to recharge, he needs time alone. He needs time to transition so being rushed does not work well for him, at least not when he is not well grounded. The most important thing to him is connecting with family members, one on one or as a whole, but we need to be present to each other. This is his motto.

Back to the story, my nine year old boy realized that he gave too much of his time to big sis, happily helping her in a project for school, offering  to do her chore to lend a  hand and listen to her song. Now, he ended up not having enough time to recharge and it was time to go to bed. We talked about setting firm boundaries, about the oxygen mask theory, refilling our cup. Now he has a plan to make sure this won’t happen again (we all know it will, he probably knows too, but we want to do damage control). I’ll be there to remind him if he forgets. I bet he won’t.

In emotional self-care, setting boundaries is something to look for.  We need to honor ourselves first and sometimes this means saying no. Now, not that it is not important when we talk about social self-care or what some others call relationship care; it is still something to be mindful of.  

When it comes to looking at our relationship with others, we need to remember:

  • At times, we want to interact with others. Frequencies and needs may vary from one person to another but still, human connection is something we cannot deny. Who would not like to spend time with friends or family to celebrate their birthday, as an example?
  • We are interdependent so we need to interact with others; Nobody can attend to all of their needs on their own. When we are going through hard times or exhilarating joy, having someone to talk to or to spend time with makes all the difference in the world.

 

There are a lot of other ways to take care of our relationships, as you can attest when looking at  this exhaustive list to assess our social self-care. Some seem to be done  to help others but they benefit us as the same time, like connecting with friends and family especially those abroad. Others requires us to do what directly benefits us first and foremost. WARNING: Do not see these as selfish. If  you think you are when taking care of yourself, think about what would happen if you got cancer or have to deal with depression? Do you think that by neglecting your needs and ending up in a difficult situation you are better equipped to help and support others around you? Are you then able to fulfill your life’s mission? Take the time to read and see where you can improve. The ones I want to focus on today are in bold.

    • Developing assertiveness skills, not passive or aggressive ones.
    • Balancing social and personal time.
    • Developing the ability to be who you are in all situations.
    • Becoming engaged with other people in your community
    • Valuing diversity and treating others with respect.
    • Enlarging your social circleaka continually being able to maintain and develop friendships and social networks.
    • Creating boundaries within relationships, boundaries that encourage communication, trust and conflict management.
    • Remembering to have fun.
    • Scheduling regular dates with your partner or spouse.
    • Scheduling regular activities with your children.
    • Making time to see or stay in contact with friends.
    • Call, check on, or visit your relatives.
    • Allowing others to do things for you.
    • Asking for help when you need it.
    • Sharing a fear, hope, or secret with someone you trust.
    • Remembering who you are in any relationship.
    • Creating for yourself a community of support (network of family and friends.)

 

Creating for yourself a community of support and asking for help when you need it

As much as we need to learn to say no to others more often, we also need to say yes to others more, by asking for help and recognizing our intrinsic need to connect, to give and receive. For some reason, probably from with all the availability of services almost 24/7, the development of consumerism and actualization of our needs, it seems like there is a rise of individualism. In plain words: we became reluctant to ask others for help. So first we need to acknowledge our needs and second we need to ask for help when we need it. Sound simple? When was the last time you asked a neighbor for some eggs or sugar when in a middle of making a recipe?

Here is  a quick assignment to guide you through saying yes more often. It  part of a bigger picture called the emergency self-care plan:

1-Make a list of people you can contact if you need support or distraction. For example, your best friend, other friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, other relatives, community members, therapist, coach, or any member of your wellness team, etc.

2-Divide the list of people into categories by asking yourself the following questions:  

  • Who can I call if I am feeling depressed or anxious?  
  • Who can I call if I am lonely?  
  • Who will come over to be with me if I need company?  
  • Who will listen?  
  • Who will encourage me to get out of the house and do something fun?  
  • Who will remind me to follow my self-care plan?  

 

Share your plan

Once you have developed your plan and made your commitment, remember that friends, family, peers, and/or colleagues may be good additional resources for exchanging new self-care ideas/strategies and to provide support and encouragement.  Chances are by being open to communicate your plan you may be enabling them to feel ok to do the same and add you on their support team list.

Consider taking your commitment a step further by joining or starting a support or discussion group. Our Self Care event could be the springboard to exchange ideas toward caring for oneself.

 

The ability to be who you are in all situations and remembering to have fun

In order to sell more and make money Big Corps have created and encouraged consumerism. With this, the advent of media are doing a  good job at telling us we are not enough of or too much of and what to buy be happier, healthier, sexier. It is as we developed self consciousness to a degree where it looked ridiculous to be ourselves in public without (feeling) people frowning at us.

It seems though there is an ever growing movement to celebrate our uniqueness now. Thank goodness! It is tiring to deny who we are! Seriously, we need to be able to have fun and not worry about what people think. It is of great importance to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Playing tough is not a sign of courage and strength, it is a sign of not allowing vulnerability and genuine feelings to emerge.

When we are able to be ourselves and not be too self-conscious about what people think we are exuding strength. Being vulnerable is the utmost sign of bravery. Now, I am not saying this is easy. I have times when I am totally frivolous to the extent that my teenage daughter wants to deny she share blood with me :-) (this will pass, I know). I have others where I just want to hide. This is part of being human. If I remember even just a tiny bit about the core message from Brenée Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection, this is it: Do not let shame or guilt define what you do with your life or how you feel about yourself. Be authentic, be real!

There might be some need for emotional healing but this is feasible. One day at a time you can recreate the perception you have of yourself. There is a lot of work that can be done to heal our trauma and love ourselves more. Be patient and forgiving.

Do yourself a favor, this week: DO one thing that you want so badly but did not because your self-consciousness stopped you in the past. It does not need to be fancy, complicated or expensive. Do it first in your shower or living room if need be and get acquainted with it until you try to do it with family members and friends and in public. Chances are that when you do this, you will again help someone not there yet thinking this may not be such a bad idea after all!

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The mind of a fool is not mindful

Posted by in Self-Care, Spritual

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And by fool I mean:  a person lacking in judgment or prudence. Now that this is out of the way, let’s start!

“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit.”

― Jack Kornfield

Ah…  Letting go. Would you agree that this is easier said than done? I know it is for me! Same for forgiving. Sometimes I can do it fast but if the sadness and hurt is still there, that is another deal.  Of course we have looked at our emotional self-care  and we could spend some more time doing this here but this is not the point. I think that sometimes we need  to just drop it. I like when clarity is brought into a conflict or situation. As we look back to see what went wrong and how it has impacted someone negatively, we can find ways to deal with similar situations in the future in a more positive and beneficial way.

However what happens sometimes is that by always going back to the past we tend to stay in our mess way too long, so long it starts to stink. Get the garbages out! This is where spiritual self care comes in, through mindfulness. As Jack Kornfield’s quote mentions, staying in the past binds our spirit. Not only does it bind it, it also blinds it to the point that, in the moment, our focus is either on the past, creating a sense of hopelessness which may turn into depression, or anxiety towards a similar future. Either way, we are not letting our spirit enjoy the present moment.

Mindfulness is by far the best tool I have found to make peace with whatever is obscuring my being. It brings me back to the present moment. In the here and now, there are no doubts or worries, no regrets or guilt. Neither the past nor the future are an option. We let the flow of life take its course, we let go of any expectations we have. Slowing down and introspection are key to create the time to be mindful.

 

2 ways to practice mindfulness

Of course meditation is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think about mindfulness. It took me a long time to feel at ease with meditation. Now, even though my mind still wanders a lot when meditating, I am more at peace when dedicating time to my meditation practice. It grounds me like nothing else! Then it is easier to release negative emotions, detach and  forgive. I am also a more patient and understanding mom. That is making it for me! Without being an expert on meditation, I can tell you that merely focusing on your breathing and noticing thoughts without judgment as they come  is my way. I also have a mantra I recite as it helps to stop the mental chatter.

One other way to live mindfully is to incorporate mindfulness in our daily lives. How? By  being aware of our willingness to create consciousness in everything we do. There are so many habits we have that go unnoticed and over time we have routines that are helping us stay healthy, but do we really care for them anymore?

 

From habit to routine to ritual

This is where rituals come in. Habits are behaviors we have. They may not involve consciousness when done, like sleeping on the same side of the bed every night or always adding honey to our tea. Habits can be good, bad or neutral for us.

Routines are activities that we do repetitively or regularly like a daily chore. My husband routinely does the dishes after dinner. I routinely sweep the floor after breakfast, before I start my home office workday.

When we turn habits and routines into ritual, we add consciousness, intention and mindfulness to our gestures. There is  a ritual that I developed out of a routine, and now that I take time to think about it there are really deep reasons why I do it this way. Every Monday, before I can settle into my work in my office, I feel the need to sweep the floor of the entire house. I could see this as creating a distraction and avoidance, but no! If I don’t do it I feel unsettled. While sweeping, I also clean up and put away things we have used over the weekend. Being weekend homesteaders, we tend to have long days outside and need to do as much as we can before the sun comes down. So obviously other areas of the house are neglected and we get mud, sand and probably some tools in the house too. We may not have been that keen on noticing the kids’ toy left in the living room, or the pile of clean clothes that needs to be folded.

By sweeping the floor and putting things away where they belong, I can review my weekend in my mind. I can add things on my calendar as I remember our conversations. Once this is done, I have a blank slate to start off my week and be hyper productive!

Let’s use another example, this time one I need to work on. As I tend to go to bed late, I have the habit of falling asleep while working on my laptop, only to realize it later and drag myself off the couch and into my bed half awake.

A routine would be to decide to stop using all screen and media at 10 pm so I can get ready and naturally fall asleep and go to bed at a reasonable time. A ritual could look like mindfully adding face washing, flossing and mouth rinsing as a way to honor my physical self and tend to it so I feel fresh, clean and more relaxed as I go to bed. I could also add visualizing my days and consciously trigger positive joyful thoughts to fall asleep with. When done this way, there is attention on what we do and why we do it. Therefore the how we do it is taken care of.

Of course, there will always be times when we get off course. When we are late, we need to rush and rituals can go out the window pretty quickly. This is part of life! We notice without judgment and get back on track as soon as we realize what happened. To be successful at first rituals need to be planned. At some point you may realize this is so ingrained in your life you cannot forget about this. It becomes so beneficial that it is like eating or sleeping. This is literally food for the soul.Try this: Set the alarm clock earlier in the morning to have time to write morning pages, count your blessings,  walk your neighborhood or meditate.

Slowing down and creating intent and mindfulness is an easy way to add a spiritual twist to everything you do without feeling like you have to become a monk. Try it and please share what you have experienced. Were you more at peace?

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How to bring the sacred in the ordinary

Posted by in Self-Care

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“As surely as there is a voyage away, there is a journey home.”

Jack Kornfield,  After the Ecstasy the Laundry

The journey home is exactly what I am experiencing since I went through a series of difficult eventsand strong reactions to themlast year. This includes a concussion and being on a watchlist for greater breast cancer risk. With this breaking news came the search for solutions, sustainable ones, because the short lived ones, I did try.

I knew I was burning the candle by both ends. I knew I needed to slow down, maybe even stop certains activities in some cases. I pushed through a little too long. I should have know better not to. But I did. The gift that came with it is the spiritual quest I am going through. I have found that from everything, what I crave the most (no, exercise even though needed, is not the one) is spiritual self-care. The search for meaning and a sense of purpose and contribution to the world has been haunting me. I toned it down because I had let my mind take over for far too long. As my coach of the time said to me: ‘’Let the heart lead and the head will follow’’. Now I am ready to quiet the mind chatter and listen to the whispers of my heart.

I looked many places for a spiritual self-care assessment and finally came up with the following list:

  • Ability to spend reflective time alone
  • Being able to find meanings of events in life
  • Spending time in nature
  • Finding a spiritual connection or community
  • Being open to inspiration
  • Cherishing optimism and hope
  • Being aware of non-material aspects of life
  • Trying at times not to be in charge or the expert
  • Being open to not knowing
  • Identifying what is meaningful and noticing its place in my life
  • Meditating and/or Praying
  • Singing
  • Having experiences of awe
  • Being able to practice forgiveness and compassion in life
  • Contributing to causes in which we believe
  • Reading inspirational literature or listening to inspirational talks, music
  • Developing a purpose in life

 

I am attempting all of this and some days are quite better than others. We may not be thinking about spiritual self-care at first, but what I realized is even though everything else would fall into place, if there is no peace inside, it is hard to feel joy and lightness of the heart. Let me explain briefly. You have done your morning exercise, ate healthy food all day long, slept well the night before and had good sex on top of that. Still you are not able to let go of what was said about you from a superior at work. This is not the first time you have to deal with a situation like this. You are getting exhausted mentally and emotionally.

These words have really hurt your feelings and you cannot get them out of your head.  ‘’What am I doing wrong?’’ you think. You wonder how to resolve the issue, ask for advice, mumble the words to make sure it will be clear and not offending when voiced. Now, after all this, you even wonder if you should bring up the subject in the first place or try to make peace with it on your own!

Obstacles on our path have a greater meaning. I am sure this is not a new concept to you. There is a teaching that is aching to be learned. If not learned this time, the message will just get stronger. This could take the shape of a greater roadblock or a more intense physical sign. The digestive upset maybe now transmutes itself into stomach ulcer. The event is just too hard to digest!

When we do care for our spiritual self, we take and make the time to inner reflect and find tools to help us address the greater meaning of each and every event. We may learn detachment, forgiveness, or speaking up for ourselves. As we open up our heart to the spiritual growth, we become closer to our divine self and better equipped to fulfill our life’s mission.

This is why spiritual self-care is essential to be happy and by default, healthy. We all care to a degree or the other about our contribution to the world, whether it is by being a loving parent, an excellent contributor to our work or ending suffering at a large level on this planet. Microcosm and macrocosm, it is all the same. All work is important. It is hard to live thinking that we do do not matter. We all need to feel our life has a purpose. When our emotions take over, we need to quiet the mind and let out spirit soar to make some magic happen. The need to let go is definitely there.

I invite you to take inventory of your current obstacles and note how you address them in a way that nurtures and nourishes you. It is important to not just get rid of the issues asap but to be in the moment and to feel the pain, cry the tears. As we bring more spirituality into our care it is easier to see life as it is and bring more contentment and gratitude on a daily basis. As we know, there is light, it might be just crowded momentarily with the  shadow of our thoughts.

I am curious to know what works for you? Share your comment below so we can all learn from each other!

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When your emotions guide your life

Posted by in Self-Care

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When comes the need for more self-care, inevitably I can easily say now that there is a need for more self-love in the first place. I can tell this now because not so long ago, I did not connect the dots between the two. Let me tell you part of my story and you will understand why.

For as long as I remember, as a child and still until recently, there was one emotion I wanted to  avoid as much as I could: fear. I know that fear would still creep in my life from time to time. Yes it could delay my course of action but never stop me though! After observing  my elders’ many fears and witnessing how this had impacted negatively their life, I was to fight this thing with all my might.

My dad seemed to live either in the past or the future. He kept a lot of things, and yes some real physical ‘’stuff’’ to accomplish, read, and do for when he will retire, and then finally threw them away once my parents moved into a retirement home. I heard him talk so vividly about acts of courage and the vibrancy of his life as a young man.This was his story. It seems like his real self died when he committed to marry my mom.

My mother would see things with shaded glasses all the time. Her glass was always  half full. There was never enough money to do this or that. Worry and anxiety were part of her daily life, (now not as much though, seems like aging polished a lot of her edges). It was so normal to me that it took a long time to realize and name this as anxiety. I thought she was just negative, stressed out by life, work, finances, and not very lucky in life. I became her best defendress!

Turns out there are a lot of things that she could have seen differently. We all do. When I say this there is no judgment; I  am merely stating a fact. Now I know we have the choice to perceive things for the best. However, for the longest time, I unknowingly kept the same thinking process I had when I was a child; this had become a pattern, a habit. As a young child I saw one scenario: through their lenses.

As a young adult I discovered self-development books. What a treat for me! I was determined not to live in fear and in insecurity like they did. It would be boring and I may miss out on my life, I thought. By being so focused on what I did not want, I did not look around to realize that some of my fiercest decisions were made out of fear of missing out or fear of living in fear! All this time, until in my forties, my focus could have been on fear’s opposite emotion: love.

I am sure we can all testify with similar stories of ours. I thought I was in charge and in some sense I was. I made tremendous progress during those last 20 years. However, I still did a lot of things based on fear without knowing. The point I am bringing up here, is that we need to constantly create time for introspection so we can redirect our lives as we discover ourselves and our values, in order to keep walking in the only path that will brings us happiness, ours.

Now, please take a break from the screen and go grab a pen and a piece of paper.  We  will do a quick one question exercise. Do not ponder too long on the question, just let the words that come to mind to be written on your paper without analyzing them.

If you were to list the emotions that rule your life what would they be?

If you want to get further in the process you may want to know why, where this came from. For me personally, it helps tremendously releasing the trauma. Be mindful not to be over pensive though as it moves you away from taking a direct action to create a new life for yourself. You can start by being aware when those emotions surface and find a new sentence or affirmation to positively phrase what is felt, and thus change your experience in the moment. For those of you who work with essential oils and emotions, this is where they come into play. Associating multiple senses multiply the effect of any action. Furthermore it has been scientifically proven that the sense of smell is the one that retrieve the oldest memory.

If we would refer to the self-care assessment as we did in the previous  blog posts, you would have a list that looks like this:

  • Spend time with others whose company you enjoy
  • Stay in contact with important people in your life
  • Treat yourself kindly (for example, by using supportive inner dialogue or self talk)
  • Feel proud of yourself
  • Reread favorite books and see favorite movies again
  • Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, and places, and seek them out
  • Allow yourself to cry
  • Find things that make you laugh
  • Express your outrage in a constructive way
  • Play with children
  • Give myself affirmations, praise myself
  • Love myself

As you can see I want to help you dig deeper, even though applying any of these suggestion is an amazing start. By understanding why we don’t do some of these items on our self-care list, we are getting closer to creating sustainable habits, routines or rituals to incorporate what would be beneficial. This will be the subject of a post to itself. For now, let’s say at least that logging in a journal when you skip reading the book or playing with your children and what was the reason for not doing it may help you discern some patterns and correct the course.This is one simple, effective and easy way to  bring consciousness into our self-care.

DIG!

How about we put our focus on a few subjects fear, self-love, setting boundaries and  creating a support system or team.

Fear and Love

I could write many articles on fear and still would have a lot to say about it. What I have learned that was the most beneficial piece is that the opposite emotion is love. Love, along with joy, is said to be one of the highest vibration on earth. Every time we do something out of fear we are subtracting love from the equation, is isn’t it sad? By bringing more mindfulness and consciousness into our daily gestures and life, we can have an enhanced experience of love and joy. It is a lot about making a conscious choice to think and live differently, to cut the negativity, to turn our back on the false belief from our childhood and create a brand new positive experience for ourselves.

By slowly moving up into the highest vibrations, self-love will show up more, without any doubt. In the present moment it is all about creating conscious positive thoughts about ourselves in order to feel more joy. Believe you deserve it! As you live more often in higher state of vibration, you create higher vibration for you to be in. The perfect vicious cycle! Also the opposite is also true. This is why we are attracted or distancing ourselves from certain people. It is all about how we  all vibrate!  

Setting boundaries and creating around yourself a community of support

At first these two statements in the same sentence may seems contradictory. Life is about starting all over again so we need to deal with darkness and light, motion and motionless, yin and yang, etc. Both opposites have their importance in specific circumstances. It is all about balance!

I have learned this year to say no. How bad I felt at first, letting guilt creeping in! Now I feel so good about it because I know that when I say no, I do it mindfully, not to hurt someone else, but rather in order not to hurt myself more. Nobody can give from an empty cup anyway.

Now, write  this down and place it in your planner or on any visible helpful place so when you are about to commit to something you make sure you took a good look of the impact on your life before stepping in. Saying no to others means saying yes to me! Now because you are starting this new habit for yourself how about rewarding you by doing something you love for 15 minutes? Chances are it will prompt you to say no more often. And if you’ve stepped in and said yes too soon, it is not too late to retract yourself and explain in plain truth. I bet that by modeling it with your behavior you will help someone learn to say no too!

On the other end of the spectrum we also need to balance this out with asking for help. If you are the kind of person who gives a lot and rarely let yourself receive, you are creating a perfect terrain for un-ease, and further on, dis-ease. Human beings are interdependent, remember. We can’t do it all on our own! Again self-love is  about being able to see our limit and ask for help. Look around at your family members, close friends and community members. Think who you can ask for help and what you can ask for help with. If you have once given help for a friend who asked for help, it should be easier to reach out and ask them when in needs. As we learn to setting healthy boundaries and rely on our support system or team, we will be taken better care or our emotional self.  

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Mental Self-Care, starts with the ‘S’ word

Posted by in Self-Care

 

 

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No,  I am not referring to the one in a sentence like I don’t give  a s***. This is anger, careless,  avoidance or denial, and even though this describes a bit what I will talk to you about here, this is not the word.

Before I get to tell you what the word is, let me get a few things out of the way:

  1. Some may also refer to the appellation ‘’intellectual’’ or psychological. Mental, intellectual, psychological, these words will be used interchangeably here. To me, in this blog post, they mean the same thing.
  2. As I am referring to a wellness wheel and as I did, and still do extensive research on anything self-care, I need to give you the list of most physical self-care assessment tools I found out there. This is  a way for me to bring some continuity and also give you access to a quick tool to evaluate where you are at in your life but there is  always more as I do not believe quick self assessments are deep enough to find sustaining healthy solutions.
  • Take day trips or mini-vacations
  • Make time away from telephones, email, and the Internet
  • Make time for self-reflection
  • Notice my inner experience – listen to my thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings
  • Have my own personal psychotherapy
  • Write in a journal
  • Read literature that is unrelated to work
  • Do something at which I am not expert or in charge
  • Attend to minimizing stress in my life
  • Engage my intelligence in a new area, e.g., go to an art show, sports event, theatre
  • Be curious
  • Say no to extra responsibilities sometimes

 

We will go back to some of these items later in this post but let’s keep our eyes on the list so we can really address the subject.

  1. Stress’s definition. I want to strongly link our mental wellness and self-care into how we deal with what we call stress. With this in mind, here is what I found that resonates with what I want to talk about.

Merriam Webster partly defines stress as:

‘’A state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.’’

At the Oxford dictionaries dot com, there is this complementary  explanation to the first:

‘’A  state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.’’

 

Now let’s get clear!

So what we are looking for is basically to be mentally sane. Without saying that anybody that live under stress is mentally ill as I know this is not the case, I like to point out the second sentence here on this definition of mental health on medicinenet.com:

‘’Mental health is more than just being free of a mental illness. It is more of an optimal level of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.’’

As we often hear it is not only what happens to you that matters, but mostly how you decide to react to it. And I will stress the word choose.This may be an unconscious choice but the truth is, we can control our mental more than we often do and this is still a choice, whether we like to admit it or not. In my case, anything I learn about something I can control,  I am happy because this means I can change my life’s journey to the best!

Of course there are as many definitions as there are people. One person may say stress is when you have a lot to do, not much time to do itread feeling overwhelmed. Another person might say it’s being unemployed, while a third might say it’s his boss. Most of those stressors refer to how we react to what is happening and are directly linked to our relationship with first and foremost ourselves but also other people, time, space, objects, situations, etc. In the end, it boils down to mainly these few questions:

  • Are life events going as expected?
  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?
  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

In everyday situations,  a lot of us automatically react to stress with the flight or fight response. To me, this is when my essential oils come in handy (The how to is for another post!) However, because we can’t run away from the tiger because there is none, it becomes more of a “rough, tough or ‘’stuff” reaction. We may  feel rough and act irritated or we “stuff” our emotions, and we are also good at toughing it out. Repression, as we know will always come out later in other ways. The biggest and saddest problem with stress is that it accumulates.

At first we can witness some physical or emotional un-ease: headache, difficulty to fall asleep, digestion issues, skin irritation bouts of anxious moments, to name a few. When we are not asking ourselves the critical questions and acting upon the answers to create an appropriate course of action to make sustainable transformation it may lead to physical or mental-emotional dis-ease. For sure, the misalignment is real.

So I am sure you have not forgotten about the s word. Me neither. The word is Simplify. Simplify your life! And by this I mean the many different aspects (8, from the wellness wheel, more or less, as you wish) of your life.

As we feel un-ease  we may need to un-do,  aka change the way we do things in general, recreate a different thinking process as to not repeat the same detrimental experiences consistently. Unplugging literally and figuratively is a good example and metaphor. In some ways this is somewhat similar when we are referring to dis-ease.  We may need to ‘’dis’’ and ‘’de’’ a lot.  dis-connect de-cluttter, dis-charge, dis-engage.

Going back to the questions  above:

  • Are life events going as expected?

We may want to  look at our expectations and see if any of them are  unreasonable, or are questionable in a sense that we can lower them and we can still be happy. I am sure most of the time we can lower our expectations down a few notches. I am also sure we can still be happy when things do not turn out like we had planned. I am not saying I can do this easily. Not-at-all!

This is where the perfectionists in us will have difficulty. This is where we need to release control and let life flow. This is where we ought to simplify our to do list, ‘’forget’’ a few things and still be content.  For my oil fans, this is where you want your cypress nearby as a reminder.

Mothers! Yes you! You know deep down in your heart that your children would rather have your fullest attention when they share a wonderful discovery rather than have you make sure the counter is cleaned up right after lunch. Yep! This was me a lot when my kids were younger and this is still me from time to time. We need to go see behind the need for cleanliness here. What is it we are avoiding?

  • Are things happening in my life congruent with my value systems?

In order to find an answer to  this question, we need to first clarify our values. This in itself is quite a process, an important one that is. For this reason, I  will make sure we address this either in a blog post series but most probably in a webinar and playshop program. Let’s say though that at least asking ourselves this question is the first step towards clarity. When we have clarity we have what is needed to  head in the right direction: a map!

  • Do I live according to my life purpose?

This is another huge question, I know one that I cannot briefly go into. No wonder why? this is the work of a lifetime! Another program on it’s way! One clue, notice when you feel the most joyful, what you really like to do when there is not time nor money constraint. This is a great first observation.

So when overwhelm comes your way de-stress and ask yourself one of these additional questions:

  • Where is the dis-connect and where do I need to really disconnect?
  • Where and when can I create stronger boundaries and say no? to others, to activities, to more stuff?

What can I de-clutter?  

  • My address book or contact list (relationship)
  • My space (stuff)
  • My planner (activities)

Relating to your life purpose or values you can ask: ‘’How does this (activity, person thing) add value to my life or serve my higher purpose?’’ Those are not always easy questions to find answers to but they are surely the ones that will render you more happiness once you find the answer.

Now enough said, this is your turn! Share you thoughts and tips so we can all benefit from each other’s experiences.

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Our body: The messenger we need to decode

Posted by in Self-Care

 

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When we look at most people’s New Year’s resolutions, there are a lot of those who are falling into this category-physical health. Have you  ever wondered why? Here is my theory. Either we fail year after year to keep our resolutions, going back to old habits or we have an easier time referring to this aspect of the self when it comes to health. It is obvious that our society focuses more and more on  physical perfection goals. No need to go far to understand this; we are bombarded by images of  “ideal people” showing off their body as if this was the standard everyone should achieve. Even if we are somewhat immune to this and understand that fact in our brain, we are still influenced by these images and comparing comes easily. Of course we also know well,  I assume at least you, my readership, where we need to make some changes. The issue is not what to change, it is how to do it in a way that will be sustained. This is why I am in the making of something refreshing and original for you in the Spring so we can all look at this with a 360 degree view rather than an  “I have to make a resolution today” one on December 31st.

Back to physical health. Body-mind connection is real and even though more people believe in this, we are still navigating what this all means and how to read in between the lines. I love to do that! In fact I have been doing this for the last 20 years, slowly learning with my personal experiences and also by dealing with all the human beings who have crossed my path. Without becoming  a full-blown detective, I want to open a new door for when it comes to caring for your physical self.

Most physical self check lists include something similar to this:

  • Eat regularly (e.g. breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Get regular medical care for prevention
  • Get medical care when needed
  • Take time off when sick or needed
  • Get massages or any holistic care
  • Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other fun physical activity
  • Take time to be sexual – with myself, with a partner
  • Get enough sleep
  • Wear clothes I like
  • Take vacations

This is exactly where most resolutions go when we are talking about our health! If you have tried any of these self-care items above and have not made sustainable progress, chances are there is a deeper need to evaluate what is preventing you to get there  and most importantly  how to sustain the healthy habits over time.  This is what I want to start talking about here: the real thing! Of course gyms, weight loss programs, pharmaceutical companies and retail stores gain from you playing yoyo with your  body. In fact they love it! It keeps their profit margins high and their shareholders happy too! Now I am all about  creating a sustainable conscious  life and hopefully you are willing embark on this Journey too!

So what I would like to encourage you to do today is pick one area of physical health you want to care for and ask yourself these questions below. I will use one personal example to help you see how digging deeper can really affect your overall success and what we are really truly looking at, greater sustainable health. As you are doing the exercise think of it as if you were having a discussion with a friend and you are the one asking the questions (and of course you will also dig deep inside to find the truthful answers). This way, there are less chances for self judgement. The questions in bold are part of a script whereas the others typically flow naturally from the answers as if in a real conversation. Think of having tea, coffee or a green juice with one of your friends and this is how the conversation goes.

Q: How do you want to better care for your physical self?

A: I want to … Get to bed earlier and sleep at least 7 hours each night.

Q:Why?

A: I tend to go to bed late, after midnight, and when I wake up at six am to get ready for the day, I am still tired. And grumpy. And less effective; I lack concentration.

Q:But why are you getting to bed so late? What are the obstacles keeping you from sleeping more?

A: You know, working from home and  the demand of still being what I consider a mother at home. I want to be involved in my kids’ lives but mine takes a toll!

Q: How will you find a solution ..You do not want to become burned out, do you?

A: Of course not! Then I would not be involved in their life at the level I want either. I  think I need to find new habits and reevaluate my priorities.

Q: So what are the options you are thinking about? What are the self-care habits you could implement to go to bed early and sleep better?

A: To allow myself only to work until 9 or 10 pm and then have time to wind down and go to bed at around 10:30 pm. I guess I will  fail a few times before it is the new habit for me but any night I can get more and better sleep is a gain! I guess I could put aside a few things. I would really benefit from watching where I spend my time while working. Social media is a tool for me but I often get distracted by it too…

Q: I think these are wonderful ideas! Think also how much more present you will be with your children by  being more alert and more patient too… How will you make sure these new habits are sustained? Are there any ways you can reward yourself for doing the right thing?

A: I could set up an alarm on my calendar so I know I need to stop. Like a reminder. Oh! I can set up an appointment with myself to do something I  really enjoy doing.I could read 10 pages of a good book before going to bed.

There are a lot of web sites on nutrition, exercise and anything health wise. I will soon start to make a compilation of my best alternative health resources but today, the point is not about telling what is best for you. Ultimately you are the one best equipped to find what works for you by observing and listening to your body. One thing I may suggest is journaling or if this sounds too new age-y, having a real or electronic notebook to log, in a simple format, bullet point like, so you can see patterns emerging.
If you have any physical health related questions please post them in a comment below and even though I do not have a medical degree, I can certainly point you in a healthy direction, using all of the alternative health resource and contacts I have.

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Are resolutions the solution for January 1st?

Posted by in Self-Care

If you feel like all you did was cook, buy, celebrate, eat, sleep and start again, you may not feel ready to answer the crucial question: “What are your resolutions for 2016?’’.  We have  enough stress and pressure all year long to add this one to the mix, don’t you think? Isn’t it  about time we bring more mindfulness to this tradition?

When hearing from most of us, it often ends sadly before spring comes. By understanding why  we took on some great or grand resolutions in the past just to watch them fall  to the wayside,  we can learn how  to make sustainable changes that will last all year long and beyond.

Although I had time to relax in the past two weeks,  with family around, it seemed like there was not enough time  alone for me to really figure out what my intentions are for the New Year. I love introspection and with all of I experienced this year especially, I need even more time to figure out what I want my life to look like, not only for 2016 but this year and beyond. (Fortunately,  I realized that depending on the calendar we use there are other dates for the New Year!

If we make some resolutions, they should be done when we feel ready to do so. Personally I plan on spending most of the winter in soul searching mode., I am balancing my life, relaunching my career according to my dharma, and creating a  lot of new habits to reflect this new journey. This is no small task but this is feasible and… highly desirable! I want to  devote enough time to really reflect on what and why long enough to have a sustainable approach to it. I know the how will come naturally if I bring in faith and trust in the process, even if I will also plan it a little bit. As you know a dream without action stays a dream and I want to live the dream I will paint. The most important piece is to let things flow and believe there is a reason to everything that happens in our lives in the present moment.

If some of you feel the same way, I invite you to use this next upcoming 8 weeks of  Self-Care Sunday on Facebook and blog posts on the web as I will share about the many aspects of the wheel  of wellness and  see how these sharings could help you use this winter season to inner reflect and be ready to act on real, well thought out goals and dreams for your life when everything is renewing itself in the spring.

When we really think about it, resolutions  seems to be a lot about self-care.

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Self-Care: Digging deeper into emotional health

Posted by in Self-Care

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I guess that because we are made of flesh,we tend, as human being, to think about physical health first. I believe that there is a strong, if not huge, mind-body connection and that what we think and how we feel influence greatly what happens on our physical plane. Self-Care is an inside job.
What comes first? The chicken…

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or the egg?

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Are the thoughts managing our emotions or our emotions dictating our thoughts? Does this work both ways? Whatever the process is, we are still the one to be accountable when it comes to creating the reality we put ourselves in. I tend to think the mental (i.e. the thought) is the one tricking us into associating a specific emotion with a circumstance, but who knows? Still, the emotion remains. Fortunately, we can utilize the emotion of love to be able to care better about ourselves.
This is why we can really tackle Self-Care in all its beauty when, and only when, we are in Self-Acceptance and Self-Love mode. Otherwise we will be able to keep certain routines for a while but we will easily fall back into the old habits as fear predominates. If love is the main player, self-acceptance will be there and then self-Care will become a long lasting lifestyle. If you add presence, you will even turn these routines into rituals.
Some emotions might come to the surface every time we live a similar situation in the present moment that triggered some specific reactions and emotions in the past. As children, we have interpreted some events in a way that served us. Oftentimes, it was our only way to understand and conceptualize what was going on in our lives. It may have been a defense mechanism, a way to emotionally survive. As adults, we may not have revisited these events and reasons to evaluate if they still are of service to us. When they are no longer serving us, they are hurting us… and probably others as well.
When will we know what needs to be changed? It starts when we have inner conflict, when we get irritated, annoyed, impatient, angry, sad, tensed, anxious, depressed, and the list can go on and on. Any negative emotion is here to teach us and by the same token, if we accept the challenge, help us grow. This is when we need to make time to reassess the needs from the past, versus the ones form the present, forgive, let go and create a new paradigm for who we are as adults.
EASIER SAID THAN DONE
Some of those ah-hah moments can come so quickly that we are able to resolve them easily. Others, well, may linger for a longer time. This is mostly because we are not ready to look at it in the eyes. We unconsciously know the truth will be difficult to hear. Chances are we think it will create a lot of movement in our lives and the fear factor create paralysis.
As mentioned above we may have had circumstances in our childhood where we came to the conclusion that we were not enough. This happens a lot. We may have felt abandoned, rejected, humiliated, treated unfairly, or betrayed. If we have not felt loved it is hard to turn around and accept ourselves.
As we age, we accumulate experiences that leave emotional scars. We can also feel the transformation in our physique, or see our limitations, the real ones and the ones we create for ourselves. This can initiate a cycle of non acceptance.
As a child, I wanted so badly to have my mother’s love and affection that I would have done anything for her in exchange for some positive attention. Nowadays, I have dealt with most issues related to this fact. I can attest though that, for the longest time, I was not able to say no, I easily felt guilty, I went overboard and overdid it a lot in order to get some attention and love.
For those of you who know me, you will not be surprised to learn that in these circumstances, this is where my essential oils come into play. If I had to make an essential oil kit for someone who is ready to embark on a self transformational journey into emotional health, bergamot would be the first one in. This is the oil of self acceptance. It is said to relieve feelings of despair, self-judgment and low self esteem, and to have a cleansing effect on stagnant feelings and limited belief systems.
There are multiple facets of personal growth and some other oils as well as some other tools, professional help are worth exploring too. Journaling is also an amazing way to bring up to the surface those emotions we need to deal with. There are many more ways we can open our hearts to all of this. Each person has a different experience and each of us has the key to find what works. When we are ready and open to transformation, the solutions will come easily and effortlessly. Still, it starts with love.
When feeling unworthy of love you can add a few drops of bergamot in your hand, take some deep breaths and use an affirmation you create (a positive statement made in the present tense, or as if it had already happened) and say something similar to these two examples:
• I love and accept myself unconditionally and this self love radiates out my entire being and manifests as proper self-care.
• I am opening my heart more to give and receive love.

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As you consciously give yourself time to do this daily, observe how things start to shift in the direction you need. Even when things do not seems to be going where you want to go, be open to the lessons and messages Life is sending you, and trust that the universe or God, that higher power however your beliefs are, has a grand plan for you living the life you were meant to live.

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Self-Care Sunday

Posted by in Self-Care

As I thought about how I would share my new love for, and adventure in self-care, I came up with the idea of sharing with you some insightful information on my Facebook business page under the Self-Care Sunday event. Sunday has been the rest day for some religions for quite some times, hence, most of us have this conception of rest on that day, even though we may not be practicing it consistently. It seems to me that it is ingrained in my family culture as I have been raised with the idea that Sunday was a day to do the pleasurable stuff: socialize, play, practice your hobby, rest etc.

As I take action toward a more sustainable life for myself, I know journaling and inner reflection will be needed. Of course, sharing my self-care journey  with you is something I am thrilled of doing! I truly want this to have a positive impact on you as well, as I know we are all going too fast, doing too much, and not saying no enough.  If my life experience can serve others to be more proactive with their health, that makes my day.

This is why I am inviting you to click here now and like my Vidyessence Facebook page and accept my invitation or join the FB event as this is where I will share articles, thoughts, quotes, posts, and videos. Exceptionally, today’s  post will be all about self-care, and starting next Sunday, December 20,  you will be able to get some WOW (Word Of Wisdom) from connecting with me on this particular day.

What is self care?

Of course it is in order to really understand first what we are talking about. Self Care implies the care of one’s self.  I am not revealing to you a big truth here. It is a very active and powerful choice to engage in the activities that are required to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health. What is the most revealing aspect of this is that it requires accountability and being proactive.  There are a lot of things in life that require us to  take actions in a positive manner. We have more choices than we can think of, meaning we are more in control of our lives than we realize. As an example, joy and forgiveness are choices and to a certain extent, health is as well. Most of the time, it is a matter of training our brain to choose what we want in life and creating new habits to make it happen. I know, easier said than done. However one cannot succeed without even trying…

Back to Self-Care. Most experts agree that focusing on the following five areas will create the greatest impact on our lives: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual and social health. I was aware of the first four as they are  the four aspects of what comprise our entire being. Now that I think about it, it make sense that, as social beings, we need to create social  health as well. We are interdependent species so we need not to forget that interacting with others in positive ways is part of caring for our very own needs.

So where do we start? By understanding what self care is all about, and maybe recognizing what it is not. Then, cultivating  awareness of what we do in terms of self care, and finally, adding some well needed and deserved self-care time and rituals into our routines. Over time, we will come back to each of these five components in more depth, but let’s go over them briefly today so you can make your own self-care list.

Physical health:

We do not need to look that far to find enough for us to care for.  Nutrition, sleep, exercise are some of the key elements to greater health. We often don’t think about removing toxins from our environment though. Since the industrial revolution more and more chemicals are entering our lives. Consciously creating healthy habits to remove any of these harmful products will also greatly impact our physical health.

Emotional health:

Enjoy the company of those you love, be playful, allow yourself to cry. Do things you love just for the sake of it like reading a book or watching a funny movie. Anything that can help you access your emotional self and live the emotions as they arise is good!

Psychological health:

Engaging your mind as a muscle is as important as physical exercise too! Trying out something new, being curious or attending a cultural event are just a few ways to do it. Taking care of calming the mind with meditation is also something worth trying. Same for therapy. If there are some mental-emotional blocks in your life, or relationship or situation you need help with, there is no need to try to do it all on your own.

Spiritual health:

We often forget to nourish our spirit, as if it doesn’t need our attention. When we do so, we are unknowingly dimming our inner light. We need this vibrancy to be fully alive and to live every moment with grace and gratitude. Living your purpose in life is the one amazing way to acknowledge your spirit. Denying our calling can cost us our health. I can tell you a lot about that!

This may sound like a long journey and sometimes we may feel as we will never get there. Rest assure that the best way to live your calling is by starting living your dream, one day at a time. Listen to your inner voice, journal about what makes your heart sign and add more of that joy list in your life. Maybe you can find a like minded community of people to spend some time with? My all time favorite is spending time in nature. This is my sanctuary: always free, always giving and forgiving. Just pick one and block your weekly schedule to make it happen!

Social health:

We are interdependent being. We were not meant to live isolated and yet this is what we are doing more and more. We  live in a culture of competition rather than collaboration, in  a culture of individuality rather than community.  It is about time to reverse this. Offering help but even more having the courage to ask for help is something we all need to work on more. Spend time with ourselves is important. Same apply with our meaningful relationship: one on one time with each of your children? A date with our spouse? An  impromptu call to a friend? How much rejoice this can cause? The giver is also the receiver. I know you have felt this, at least once in your life….Keep doing it!

We live in an amazing  time where there is a plethora of professionals to help us on our path to joy.  It is a matter of researching and evaluating which type of workers will be best suited for your needs. Creating a team of expert to guide and help you on your overall well being is not a bad idea. We will come back to that at another time.

If you read this article until now, it shows you are ready for an authentic change. I want to be your first act of self care kindness witness, fan and accountability partner. Post here your #Self-CareActOfKindness so we can all inspire each other on this path to Joy and health!

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Breast Cancer Prevention at its best !

Posted by in Self-Care

I am like a kid today…Really! Yes I have been waiting to share with you the number 1 tip for breast health for more than six long weeks. I do not know if you are as excited  as me; probably not, because you have no idea of how this could impact your life in a positive manner. This was such a revelation to me that it totally shifted my world around this summer. And it still does. Yet this is so simple and easy…and yet so hard to do all at once.

When Renée handed me the pink breast health tips card and said to me: ‘’MJ, tip number 1 is the most important tip of all. If you are not willing to do it, I might as well keep the card’’,  I knew she was damn serious! I made a promise to myself to give it my best, to go slow if need be but stick to it. Change one thing at  a time but start. I also knew exactly where to start…

Self-Care

Yes this is it! These two  words are at the cornerstone of the tip number 1, but this is not all! And this is where the secret sauce is. Tip number 1 is  Balance stress with self-care! Aim to give to yourself at least 30 to 60 minutes of self care each day. If you are a mother like I am, well, chances are you may be the least person on your list. BIG mistake!  Have you ever realized that a Happy Mother makes Happy Kids? Also if you are living through a difficult  or stressful situation, you need to add some extra self-care in there. Remember that the idea is  to balance your level of stress with your level of self-care. As North Americans, in general, we are already deficient in self-care time. It is not rare to eat on the go, sleep less than needed, skip exercising here and there or altogether, etc.  It is as if we need to learn how to care for ourselves again.

Imagine if on top of that you have to deal with a stressful situation like a sick family member, a divorce, job loss, a child with issues at school, or you need to care for an elderly parent. Those situations are the ones where we need self-care the most… and what do we do instead? We cut the little bit we had! This is why I think when we are in a difficult and stressful  time in our lives it can look like it is an eternal downward spiral. When you have more stress you also cause more acidity in your body.This is in turn causes inflammation and creates a PERFECT environment (terrain) for more disease! You see, the spiral already, don’t you? This is why self-care is the foundation to health!

Processing stress the healthy way

When it comes to stress, I am right here! I have a certain way to  build up stress when some people don’t. My husband could probably write a book on this…poor guy! For me it is manifesting when I feel the urgency to finish something: a deadline coming or any type of performance stress like sales goals, being on time,  etc. If you couple this with working from home and having kids around from time to time..this is often a disaster! It is important for our health to be able to realize what triggers stress and as part of the tip number 1, to learn how to process our stress in a healthy manner. Spirituality, journaling, therapy, physical activity and even 12-step work are a few suggestions.

Testing the water

Life is all about trial and error. By journaling, we are able to notice patterns and discern what is best for us. Personally, I realized what helped and added this to my rules to live by. To make it work better for me, I have two rules to make it happen more effortlessly.

  1. Early morning: I plan my self-care time for early morning. I do meditation for 30 minutes before the kids get out of bed—I need absolute quiet time not to end up grumpy rather than peaceful—and then the rest of my Self-Care time  happens after they leave for school and before my work day starts. This way, there are no excuses that can be made, like I had no time. Also, when I do  start my days like this, they are so smooth compared to those where my Self-Care is neglected.
  2. DO IT no matter how long: I used to wait for the perfect timing, length of time, etc to do my yoga home practice. I felt that, as a yoga instructor, I needed  to do at least an hour a day. Well, with young children, this did not work at all! It took me so long to realize that it is more important in any kind of Self-Care, to create the habit rather than doing nothing at all!  Once a practice or habit is established, the want and desire becomes stronger, so that eventually, you really want to do it, no matter what and you find and create time to increase your practice as it becomes like a drug. YOU NEED it to feel good. Now I have changed my expectations and relationship with my yoga practice. Some days I just stretch for a few minutes, sometimes I attend a local yoga class. Some others days, my yogic practice is my meditation or simply conscious deep breathing.

If you apply this last tip you are in for success as it is more about intention than punishment. We need not to be hard on ourselves. TLC applies to us first!

This Self-Care idea has taken such an important role in my health that I decided to make it part of my mission! Stay tuned as I reveal the way you can take a stand for yourself by caring more for yourself and unite with other women about the importance of creating self-care in our lives.

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