We’ve all heard about self care, but what does it mean to you? And how do we weave self care into our lives so that it doesn’t become just another thing on our ‘to-do’ list?
‘You are calm and relaxed’ …
Breathe in … Hold your breath … Breathe out …
‘You are in the forest … Nature is breathing all around you … you hear birds singing quietly in the distance … You. Are. Inspired.
All at once you have abundant time to do everything that needs to be done, abundant energy to do all that you dream, and abundant joy filling your heart …’
… This is you.
Self care means different things to different people. Embracing a holistic self care routine, or increasing the routine you already have, can have huge ongoing (and far reaching!) benefits to your health. Often we wait until we are sick, unhappy, fatigued, or just not functioning at our best to truly get into action and regularly take care of ourselves… (and often we have missed out on a whole lot of joy that comes when we are feeling at our best!).
SO WHAT IS HOLISTIC SELF CARE?
Holistic self care generally refers to any activities, routines or approaches that are undertaken to support and maintain physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health: from yoga and having a massage, to reorganising a more balanced schedule, visiting your health practitioner more frequently, and getting emotional support.
It could include going dancing, or embarking on a career that is more suited to you, to taking action rather that procrastinating, perhaps detoxing, or letting go of things that you just don’t need in your life anymore – these are all examples of holistic self care.
Beyond maintaining your physical health, self care can also be as simple and valuable as doing something that you enjoy, that is relaxing, and makes you breathe a little deeper. Putting that time into looking after yourself is the way to a more balanced and enjoyable life.
WHY IS SELF CARE SO IMPORTANT?
You are precious. Your life is precious. The quality of your life is important. You deserve to be healthy and enjoy your life!
We all have dreams we wish to fulfill, relationships we want to enjoy, people around us that we love to support, roles to play in our communities and a huge potential within ourselves.
To enjoy all that life demands of us, we need to be holistically healthy. In these modern times, life can feel overwhelming. We all know it too well:
Social and world stresses
Disconnection from nature and community
Lack of physical health
and the increase in interaction with technology (to name a few!).
We are seeing people experiencing some of the highest levels of stress and burnout, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalance, and depression ever recorded. Among handling the challenges that modern life presents, our health and happiness is often compromised. Health problems begin.
Too often people wait until an injury or personal crisis occurs before they implement positive lifestyle practices. A slight health condition is an indicator that we are out of harmony, and without addressing what is causing it (physically or emotionally), things may only get worse.
Feeling anxious or stressed year after year takes a toll on the body, affecting our hormones, brain chemistry, sleep quality … Not to mention impacting our relationships and our ability to live and create our lives positively.
When we maintain and implement self care practices, the benefits are far reaching, sometimes immediate, and often long term.
SELF CARE TO SUPPORT RELAXATION AND BALANCE
Our biological system functions optimally when we are relaxed and balanced, happy and calm.
Dr Libby Weaver (Nutritional Biochemist and author of Women’s Wellness Wisdom) talks of ‘Rushing Women’s Syndrome’. She has researched and talked at depth on the effects of a never ending to-do list on women’s health. Through a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective we see this manifest as yin deficiency, creating a host of problems.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, “acupuncture is believed to restore the balance between Yin and Yang.” This can be translated into Western medicine terminology as “acupuncture modulates the imbalance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic activity”. (1)
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for stimulating our stress responses – you may have heard of fight or flight.
Our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the subconscious restorative processes that occur during a relaxed or restful state.
When we are happier and less stressed, we have a healthy balance between these two states.
In our modern lifestyles many people’s nervous systems are locked in a stress fight-or-flight response. This is taxing on the body and it seldom gets a change to relax and restore. Anxiety, sleep disturbances, too much caffeine intake, all hinder the body’s ability to relax and restore naturally.
Self care practices and therapies such as meditation, breath work, acupuncture – anything that relaxes us – supports the body’s systems to take time out to rejuvenate and prevent burn out.
A balanced state allows us to have a pro-active approach to life: when we are less stressed we can be responsive rather that reactive. We make better decisions and life choices.
When we are relaxed and calm we are healthier, our bodies restore while we sleep. We can be fit, excited, energetic, busy and still be relaxed and calm. Unless our lives are at risk, stressed is not a natural state, yet we have adopted stress and busyness as normal.
A holistic self care practice is often something that brings you relaxation and calm. It could be:
a walk on the beach;
finishing that odd job that has been niggling at you for weeks;
creating a more uplifting living environment;
returning that phone call that you’ve been putting off;
perhaps embarking on that artwork you’ve been meaning to start for years.
Sometimes, it’s not as easy as having a relaxing bath – perhaps we need to put down the phone scrolling and go for a brisk walk on the beach, or even re-evaluate life decisions and the things that are important to us.
We feel calm when we are taking care of things that need to be taken care of, and enhancing our quality of living.
SELF CARE THROUGH NATURAL THERAPIES
Natural Therapies can play a huge role in self care:
Acupuncture treats the whole system of a person, creating harmony in organ function and free flow of energy to support health.
Acupuncture may be utilised to promote healing for specific health conditions, and can be a great maintenance treatment to support ongoing wellness and relaxation.
Your Acupuncture practitioner can also provide you with invaluable self care suggestions personalised to you, based on the in depth wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine and living with the seasons.
Most of us love a good massage and no wonder – massage supports relaxation and stress relief through the muscles and body, not to mention the huge emotional benefits. It is easy to let time go by and realise that its been a year or so since we treated ourselves to a massage. Booking in a regular maintenance massage provides multiple health benefits whilst making sure we are getting that added nurturing that supports us in our lives.
Acutonics® is a sound healing therapy that utilises the healing frequencies of sound directly on the body. Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, tuning forks are used to transmit sound through the body’s meridians and acupuncture points. The experience of receiving an Acutonics® treatment is relaxing and soothing, like a sound massage for the nervous system. Following treatment, many clients report an improved emotional state, energy levels, and overall wellbeing, and find it particularly valuable with emotional transitions and stuck patterning.
We are fortunate to have so many and varied quality Natural Therapies available to us here on the Gold Coast. Meditation, Yoga, and Breathing practices can all contribute to a more sustained state of wellness. Find what works for you and enjoy the health benefits! When we are relaxed, we breathe deeper, are happier, think more clearly, and give ourselves the best platform to succeed at all that we hold dear.
STAYING INSPIRED AND FURTHERING YOUR HOLISTIC SELF CARE PRACTICE
As humans we love to be evolving. Nothing gets us down like feeling stuck. Staying inspired is key to happiness, and as we change personally, our needs and priorities change. We need to keep aligning our lives and our self care with the directions we are moving in.
You may already have great self care practices in place (Well done!). To further your self care it can be helpful to book in a time each week to check in with yourself. This can be fun! Take yourself on a date to somewhere you enjoy – the beach, your favourite cafe – ask yourself questions like …
Have my needs changed since I last addressed self care?
Do I need to change anything in my week to look after myself or my goals?
Is there anything I can do to look after my future self?
What makes me happy (in small and large ways?) and how can I include them day to day?
Have I been in nature lately?
Are there things that I can let go of, or things that I can begin that would enhance my life?
Is there anything that I’m not making time for that makes my life easier when I do?
Is my career stimulating and aligned with my priorities? Is there anything I can do to improve it?
Is there anything I could do simply for fun?
START SMALL AND ENJOY THE REWARDS!
The list of self care approaches are endless – how you approach self care will be highly personalised to you.
It can feel overwhelming to implement changes, yet when we consciously make changes and live purposefully we discover an inner strength and reap huge rewards. It is often when we are relaxing or having fun that the answers and inspirations to solve the more difficult aspects of life come to us.
It can help to remember that your self care practice brings more energy and greater quality of life – for you, and for the people around you.
Challenging yourself to prioritise holistic self care into your life may mean some changes, such as:
waking up a little earlier to exercise;
investing in some health care treatments;
saying no to things to make more time for yourself;
or putting some time aside to reevaluate your goals.
These are things however which will bring inspiration and holistic health benefits, rather than take a further toll. This is your self care – for you! Try it! Start small, and once you feel the far reaching benefits ofmaintained self care there will be no stopping you!
Jodie Ramona is an Acutonics® Sound Practitioner, Biofield Tuning Practitioner and Wellness Consultant with a passion for people enjoying healthy and inspired lives