In our latest Blog, Theta Healing and Reiki master Jessi Maybury talks about why self-care isn't selfish.
We live in a society that is quick to judge our actions as selfish, to make us feel bad and guilty about putting ourselves first but the reality is that no one else can take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves. No-one else, no matter how close we are to them, knows how we truly feel inside, how our body feels, how we are coping with the stress of the world and what we need to make us feel better. Only we truly know what we need and sometimes even determining that for ourself can be difficult, we need to take a moment of quiet, to stop and listen to ourselves.
We get so caught up the in the ‘rat race’, Our jobs, our families, our commitments and responsibilities seem to consume us and few of us really listen to ourselves. Even when we do there is often an excuse at hand, we are too busy at work, our kids need our attention, we have too many things on our ‘To Do’ list or my personal favourite… we just can’t say NO!!
The reality is that we can all make some time for some self care, it is not a whimsical ideal - it is an absolute NECESSITY!
I think this saying really sums up the trap we often find ourselves in….
STRESS IS WHEN YOUR MOUTH SAYS YES BUT YOUR HEART SAYS NO!
Self love and care is not just an occasional bubble bath or a new pair of shoes, real Self Care is making a commitment to yourself and putting your needs first. This is not selfish! In Fact it is the most unselfish thing you can do! The better you feel the more able you are to GIVE to everything and everyone else! If you don’t listen to yourself and just keep going until you are exhausted you may experience all kinds of negative emotions, anger, resentment even depression, and more commonly illness, as your body will just create a situation to make you stop and listen!
When you board an aircraft and listen to the Safety Demonstration they ALWAYS tell you that you must put on your oxygen mask BEFORE helping anyone else, why do you think this is?? Because if you don't you will pass out and not be able to help ANYONE. This is the same lesson, you can not give from any empty tank! So if you need it I am now giving you full permission to look after yourself, to take some timeout and to put yourself first! Be kind, be compassionate, be empathic but make you do all of this for YOURSELF as well as other people!
I treat so many people that are overwhelmed, over tired and energetically, emotionally and physically exhausted yet they still find it so hard to make time for themselves or take proper care of themselves because they feel some kind of duty to everyone else or guilt for putting themselves first. This is trauma response. If you keep going in this state you will become sick. Our body develops illness when it is trying to communicate something to us but we are refusing to listen.
Rest is such an important part of taking care of our body and our mind. Rest is how we process and release emotions and triggers so they do not turn to illness or distress. Many people are currently living in a permanent state of ‘fight or flight’. This happens when we are experiencing prolonged periods of stress or anxiety. It is our survival instinct firing into action so that we are ready to deal with the imminent danger. The problem with modern life is that we are so often in this adrenaline state that our body no longer knows the difference between ‘real’ threat and the threats we imagine and run in our minds when we are anxious.
It is caused by our Autonomic Nervous System (or ANS). That is our survival instinct system and every 4 seconds it scans our internal and external environment to check if we are safe. If it perceives any threats (real or imagined) it fires our ‘fight or flight’ response. This in turn creates physical changes in the body, it causes our hearing to alter and perceive different frequencies, our vision changes causing our peripheral vision to narrow. Our body is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol so we can react quicker to the danger. Living in this state for too long can cause adrenal fatigue and problems with the organs, it can have many physical effects on our system
and cause us to overreact, get over-emotional and feel we are unable to cope.
So how do we help ourselves? Well the only thing within our body that has the power to reset the Autonomic Nervous System is the breath. Deep, slow breaths can reset the ‘fight or flight’ response, especially the exhale breath. Taking long, slow deep breaths can really help us to reconnect back in with our bodily systems and communicate to our body that all is well.
Anxiety Breathing is when we breathe in deeply for the count of 4, hold our breath for the count of 7, and very slowly exhale for the count of 8. Done for several minutes with focused attention, this can quickly slow the ANS and return our body (and our mind) to the feeling of safety. It may feel strange at first and it may take a few practice breaths but if you persevere this deep breathing technique can really help with all forms of anxiety.
Meditation is also very helpful and again has physical benefits to the body, mind and soul. It is not just sitting cross legged chanting OM. When the brain is monitored both before and after meditation real physical changes can be measured. The brain following meditation naturally produces more calming hormones and happy chemicals and also it helps that ANS reset into a feeling of safety. Combining meditation and breath can really make a difference to anxiety disorders and all mental health issues. I have personally seen people greatly improve their wellbeing simply by adding a little meditation and breathwork into their daily routine.
I often hear people say that they cant meditate or they are no good at it….. to that I reply ‘stop trying’. To successfully meditate all you have to do is lie down and rest and allow your mind to stop thinking, i know sounds easy right… but most of us find that so hard!
My top tip is to listen to a guided meditation (there are many great ones on YouTube or other apps), find one with a voice you like (I often hear how the voices are annoying). Then simply lie down in a quiet place, put your headphones in and listen to the voice. Don't ‘try’ to do anything. Just allow their voice to be your main focus and just listen, with no pressure, no expectation, just allow their voice to carry you away. This is the main point of meditation. To stop that busy monkey mind and all the overthinking. So stop thinking about it and just listen and lie there. Don't worry of you fall asleep or if it takes you a while to relax… just give yourself permission to
just lie there and see what happens.
Like everything these things take practice! You wouldn't expect to go to the gym once and then be able to run a marathon. Your body needs to get used to doing new things before they feel comfortable. So stick with it, even if it isn't great the first time. You will get much better at it and probably very quickly and you will really start to see and feel the benefits.
IF YOU LISTEN WHEN YOUR BODY WHISPERS YOU WON’T HAVE TO HEAR IT SCREAM!