I want you to think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember those nights you were out playing with your friends?
Your mom would yell, “Time to come in and eat”!
And you’d beg her to let you stay out longer, because you weren’t hungry yet. When you finally got to the table, you gobbled a few bites of food and asked to be excused, so you could go back out and play. At the end of the day, you returned home, exhausted and satisfied. You quickly fell asleep, without thinking about food, or stress.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, I do remember that. But good luck getting me to return to that way of thinking; I was a kid then!”
Here’s another scenario for you:
Think back to the first few months of a relationship. Those butterfly feelings you experienced, every time you got together. Your first date, first kiss, the first time you made love. Those times with your lover made you feel high; infatuated with their presence, and the connection you shared. Everything in the world, including food, become secondary.
Now, let’s shift gears. Think back to a time you were depressed, stressed, experiencing not-so-great self-worth. During these times, you were absolutely hungry for those euphoric feelings felt as a kid, or with your lover. With hopes of feeling that way again, you would eat to find some sort of satisfaction, except when those feelings were attained, it drove you to eat more.
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition describes nutrition as a secondary source of energy (secondary food). Primary foods, nonfood sources of nourishment, are what really fuels us. These nurture us on a deeper level. The more we fuel ourselves with these primary foods, the less we begin to depend on secondary food. At the same time, the more we fill ourselves with secondary food, the less space we give ourselves for primary food. That make sense? These primary foods include:
Career, Relationships, Physical Activity and Spirituality
How’s your primary foods list looking? Is there something you can do to bring more love into one of these areas?
In my opinion, primary foods are where proper self-care really begins. Sure, you can take a bubble bath twice a week, for an hour; but that bubble bath isn’t going to do squat if you don’t feel valued in your relationship and at your job. Instead, take action to start creating a life of self-care!
What does a life of self-care look like? I’ve created a list of ideas to slowly begin incorporating into your life. The trick here is starting out small, and then gradually increasing what you do, and how often. Instead of using these tips as ‘luxuries’, incorporating them into your life when you’re too stressed to function, create your life of self-care, turning these into every-day essentials.
Slow Down More
In today’s day and age, everyone is on the go, and letting their slew of social media followers know all about it. The crazy amount of tech-related tools now allows us to simplify tasks, and accomplish things quicker than ever; and yet time seems way too short and flies by before our eyes. These are a couple of exercises used to help you slow down, focus on the important things and enjoy your life a little bit more.
· Cut personal internet use by half – What would you do if you didn’t spend every night scrolling through Facebook, on your phone? Give it a try. Start by cutting back just 10 minutes, and seeing how you feel.
· Eat slower – Did you know that we need to chew our food around eight times before our saliva starts to secrete and help us digest our food? Did you know that gas, bloating and upset stomach can sometimes just be caused by eating too quickly? Start to chew your food slower and be more mindful of what you’re eating.
· Make time for yourself – When did you last spend some quality time with yourself? Reading a good book, watching a movie, trying a new recipe or going to yoga? (also: see ‘meditation’ below)
· Remember your goals and aspirations – Every day, take the opportunity to think about your goals and aspirations. Celebrate the accomplishments you’ve already achieved, and use that to drive you to achieve new ones. Try doing this about five minutes after getting out of bed.
· Give yourself more time – Is your schedule always booked? Do you feel as if you’re constantly running from place to place? Just as you typically schedule events in your phone, take the time to schedule events for yourself! 30 min. of ‘me time’.
Let go of:
Comparing yourself to others – We’ve all done it; it’s easy to do, especially when everyone’s Instagram makes their life look ideal. However, comparing yourself to someone else is like discarding everything you have going for you. Instead of comparing, try admiring. “I like this person because….” vs. “I wish I was more like this person because…”
Negative self-talk – There is no critic worse than our own self, yet what good is that negative talk doing? The next time you catch yourself saying, or thinking, something negative, switch that into a positive, even if it doesn’t feel right. Then, say that positive out loud! Positive affirmations, baby!
Resisting change – This is what My Q-Life is ALL about; embracing those changes in our lives! Remember, if you want different results, you need to do something different. Changes don’t need to be all-or-nothing! Make the changes small and slow – baby steps.
Make space for:
Surrounding yourself with like-minded, uplifting people – You know how they say you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with? This is all about that! Spend time with the people who vibrate positive energy, get you inspired and keep you connected to what’s important. They’ll help you believe in your best self, as well!
Gratitude – Suffering from the phrase “I don’t have”? Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have, today! Write down the things you’re grateful for, each day, and re-read them, at the end of the night.
Reflection – Take the time to reflect and release the thoughts and emotions you’re feeling. Get back to a natural state of your mind and body.
You know the phrase, “you are what you eat”? Well, that saying stands true for the state of our environment, as well. How does your house add up? Here are a couple of things to keep tabs on, at home.
Cleaning products – Begin switching to more natural alternatives. Hint: anything with the words, “DANGER! or HAZARD!” aren’t natural. Just as we shop for healthy foods, use the same tactics when shopping for cleaning products. Shorter is always better; make sure you can pronounce most of the ingredients; plant-based is good. Sometimes, you are even able to make your own cleaning products at-home (think baking soda and vinegar)!
A couple of additional ways to create a healthy home environment:
· Grow plants indoors
· Switch to energy saving light bulbs
· Recycle trash
· Buy recycled goods
· Open windows and allow fresh air to filter your house
Meditation is beautiful because there literally is no wrong way to do it! My recommendation? Schedule 15-30 minutes for yourself, each day, away from all distractions. Find a comfy place to sit, and start breathing. All meditation is different, yet I enjoy the idea of allowing the thoughts that come into your mind to stay there; show them love, and see why they’re in your head, in the first place. Instead of quickly trying to push them away, bring whatever your brain thinks of in, and see where it goes. Sometimes, we can learn a lot about ourselves, just by sitting in silence!
After a while, start practicing in other places/times – at your desk, before a meeting, after exercise, at bedtime! Using meditation as a calming focal point during your day.
I like putting this directly under meditation because the two go hand-in-hand! It’s amazing how much better I feel when I take ten seconds to breath, deeply, during a stressful situation. I wanted to share a couple of my favorite breathing techniques to try, to find your own state of calm.
I love how simple this exercise is, and the relaxation it allows.
· Exhale all of the old air out (feel free to be as loud as possible here)
· Close your mouth and inhale, through your nose, as you mentally count to four
· Hold your breath for a count of seven
· Exhale, through your mouth, to a count of eight
· Now, inhale again, and repeat the cycle a few more times
If you have trouble holding your breath, speed up the exercise, but keep with the 4:7:8 ratio. This exercise works as a natural stress-reliever, a tranquilizer of sorts. Do it when you’re feeling anxious, upset or worried.
This technique reminds me of my flute-playing days – breathing from the diaphragm!
Place one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath, through your nose, ensuring the diaphragm inflates with enough air to stretch the lungs. I like to describe this as ‘belly breathing’. As you deep in, your belly inflates, as well. Take these deep, slow breaths for ten minutes.
This breathing works best for my fellow woodwind players (lol), as well as for stressful events. I always like to point out that trying a new breathing exercise, especially while stressed, might be difficult to control, at first. Practice makes perfect, love!
Sama Vritti “Equal Breathing”
This might be a familiar breathing exercise for my fellow-yogis! To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Make sure that all of this is done through the nose, which can add some natural resistance. As you continue using this method, see if you can work your way up to six or eight seconds (from four).
This is a great practice for yoga, as well as at bedtime, since it’s similar to counting sheep! Whenever you’re needing help getting away from racing thoughts, this exercise is for you!