How often do you do things because you feel you 'should' or 'have to'?
Do you ever pursue activities simply because they make you feel happier, more content, and relaxed?
We are often so focused on what we need to do and where we need to go, that we lose a sense of how we are feeling right here-and-now. We can end up living in the 'shoulds' instead of listening to what our bodies and minds need in order to flourish and be nourished -- leaving us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
If you feel stuck in 'shoulds', here are a few practical self-care tips that can help you to ground yourself in the present moment and start attending to what you need.
1) Feeling overwhelmed? Take a few slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Put your feet on the ground, and just slow down for a few moments. Check in with yourself, and ask: "What am I feeling? What do I need right now?"
2) Listen to your body. It's a guide to your emotional landscape.
Are your shoulders tense? Do you have a knot in your stomach? Are you clinching your jaw? If you follow the signals that your body is giving you, it will tell you what it needs. For me, I need to spend time outside surrounded by trees, grass, and animals in order to recharge. A hot bath, light stretching, a big glass of water, or just switching off from social media and going to bed early for a couple of nights are also positive ways to feel more grounded and less overwhelmed. Listen, follow, and trust what your body is trying to tell you.
3) Attend to, and adjust, your self-talk. Try changing 'should' to 'could', and start reaping the benefits of offering yourself a choice.
4) Nourish your compassionate voice.
We all have an inner critic that loves nothing more than sucking the life out of our confidence and self-esteem. Take a moment and reflect on what it's telling you, then ask yourself: "Would I let another person speak to me this way? Would I speak this way to another person?". If your answer is 'No' but you're still speaking to yourself in a negative, critical way, you're not alone. It's often easier to practice compassion toward others than it is to be kind to ourselves. Try talking to yourself as you'd speak to a friend or a loved one. If it feels 'cringe', keep trying. It gets easier. Unlike your inner critic, which is learned, your compassionate voice is a part of who you are.
** Remember: Perfection doesn't exist. You can't always get it right, and you don't need to either. As long as you are mindfully nourishing your body and mind with the gift of intentional kindness and compassion, you are practising self care. If you can incorporate it in to your daily life, you'll be amazed at how different you can feel.
If you are thinking of reaching out for support because you're feeling overwhelmed, struggling with negative self-talk, or feeling disconnected from your body, please hold this in mind: asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it actually takes an enormous amount of strength and courage. You don't need to do this alone x