Self-Love

Finding the "OFF" switch

 

The other day I took part in my first ever Twitter chat.

The #LightenYourLoad Twitter chat - hosted by Chivon John - was centered around the following topic: The New Normal – Have We Forgotten How To Relax?  Considering the fact that the focus on my blog this month is “Practice Good Self-Care”, I thought this was a very timely and relevant topic.

 The Sad Truth…

According to a survey conducted by Women’s Health and The Doctors

  • nearly 63% of women said they rarely prioritize daily downtime
  • 55% of women surveyed said they felt guilty scheduling time to relax
  • 91 percent of all millennials (people born between 1980-2000s) blow off the concept of relaxation altogether
  • 42% of women today considered a high-paying career extremely important (compared to 25 percent 15 years ago)
  • Women spend less time on R&R than men do

 

 

This belief about what it means to "have it all," is fuelling an unhealthy mindset (especially in women) that every moment you take to shut down/decompress/relax is a moment you could be using to get ahead.

Not to mention it's also kicking our body's natural fight-or-flight response into overdrive and putting us at risk for health issues such as exhaustion, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease (source) - to name a few.

So what does that mean for self-care?

In today’s keep-up-or-else world where being “on” 24/7/365 is considered the new normal, when is it acceptable to press pause and take a breather?  And if/when we do stop to catch our breath, can we do it without being ridden with guilt?

Absolutely.

Here are 5 ways to sneak in some well deserved “YOU” time guilt-free:

Create a daily ritual.  Whether it is a morning routine like dry body brushing or drinking lemon water, or a nightly routine like watching your favourite TV show or meditating, find something that you enjoy doing and do it daily.  If you look forward to it, you are more likely to stick with it and the more consistent you are, chances are it will become a well-ingrained habit.

Recognize that you deserve some time to yourself each day.  When you are tired, stressed out and being pulled in a million different directions, it is virtually impossible to give your best to all you must accomplish.  Commit to just 15-20 minutes a day and let yourself reboot.  I promise you'll be better for it.

Decide how to best spend “me” time.  If yoga is your thing, do that.  Into meditation? Fabulous.  How about an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians?  Splendid.  How each of us chooses to spend free time is as individualized as we all are.  Make a list of the things you would do if you had just one extra hour in your day – and make it happen.  Schedule it into your smartphone if you have to!

Pay attention to the things that are wasting your time.  Do you check your emails every time your phone vibrates?  Press the refresh button of Facebook every 15 minutes? Go to the grocery store multiple times a week to buy lunch and dinner rather than doing one major grocery shop and batch cooking?  Set out specific times each day or week to attend to these kinds of tasks, it saves so much time in the long run.  Or better yet, pick up The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and learn from the master.

Be gentle on yourself.  There may be days when you just can’t seem to keep your head above water and the thought of a 30 second break let alone 20 minutes fills you with dread.  Resist the urge to beat yourself up.  Instead, give yourself a hug, whisper a quiet “I know this sucks right now, but you’re doing your best” and get back to it.  Tomorrow is a new day and another opportunity to try again.

Remember, self-time is not selfish—it's a necessary dimension of self-care!

 

Do you find it difficult to fully disconnect? What do you do to help yourself shut off?

Self-Compassion: the overlooked secret to a healthy life

I am so excited to be featuring Chivon John today as my first guest blogger EVER!  I had the pleasure of meeting this incredible woman a few weeks ago, and let me tell you, she is beautiful inside and out.  Her message about Loving Yourself To Healthy is powerful and is one I believe we all should hear.  Thank you Chivon for sharing your story and for reminding us that loving ourselves first is the greatest gift a woman could give herself. <3

 “In a disordered mind, as in a disordered body, soundness of health is impossible.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Did you know that the word health is traced back to the word ‘hale’ meaning “wholeness, being whole, sound or well”?

Somehow, at times it would appear that this definition gets lost in translation when it comes to loving ourselves.

I know this first-hand because for many years I equated my definition of health to ‘getting and looking fit’.

It may sound harmless; except this definition meant doing anything I could to achieve what I believed to be as the ‘perfect body’.  For years, I mentally and physically abused myself all in the name of keeping up appearances to mask my true feelings. I convinced others and myself that I was ok but in reality, I felt like an invisible girl that desperately wanted to be seen.

Years later I would learn that instead of searching for someone to say that they loved me, I should have been telling it to myself.

When it comes to our health and happiness, we often overlook a key secret to success and fulfillment.

Too often we delay our happiness until we do more, look a certain way or feel that we are worthy enough.

But here's the truth. You are enough right now and the key to unlocking fulfillment and releasing yourself from the hustle for worthiness lies in self-compassion.

It won’t matter how many crunches you do, green smoothies that you drink, or how you change your body. If your mind is left unchanged you’ll always be yearning for more.

Remember that the way you treat yourself is the standard that you set for others.

Here are 3 ways that you can show yourself more compassion and love yourself to healthy: 

1.     Affirm your greatness

Two of the most powerful words in the English language are I AM – because what you say after those words will shape your reality. Can you name at least 10 reasons why you are amazing? Grab a sheet of paper and write down 10 qualities about yourself that make you the amazing, unique and beautiful person that you are. Don’t feel bad if you struggle with this exercise. Phone up a friend or family member and have them help you by sharing what they love the most about you.

Allow this list to elevate you when you’re feeling down and also empower you daily to know why you are the master of your life.

2.     Stop Comparing Yourself

You’re not doing yourself any favors by comparing yourself to others, worrying about why you haven’t reached your goals yet or counting yourself out before you start. Don’t fall into “compare and despair’ syndrome by worrying about what other folks are doing.

Re-frame your thoughts from competing with others to competing with yourself. Everyday, challenge yourself to think of ways that you can be a little better than yesterday. Ask yourself how you showed yourself love today or helped others. Create mini challenges for yourself to be a better YOU.

3.     Practice Forgiveness

According to Deepak Chopra, holding on to “resentment is like holding on to your breath; you will suffocate”.

In order to heal from my past struggles with my body image I practiced forgiveness by writing a letter to myself to apologize and re-affirm my love for me exactly who I am by creating a manifesto. In the same way that you would show compassion to a loved one and forgive them, think about how you need to extend the same compassion to yourself and release old wounds.

The strongest relationship in your life should be the one with yourself.  It’s not easy by any means but fight for you. You’re worth the effort! People will come and go in your life but the one constant is that you'll always be with yourself. Love the one that you're with and stand up and own your awesome.

When in doubt remember this:

"If you insist on measuring yourself, place the tape around your heart rather than your head." – Carol Trabelle

 

Over to you:  What does self-compassion mean to you? What is the hardest part about showing yourself compassionate?

 

Chivon John is a Wellness Advocate who is passionate about empowering people to put self-care at the top of their priority list, release limiting beliefs and learn how to be fully engaged in every moment of their lives. She’s also the creator of Lighten your Load, a 21 day course to help women burn their cape and become Superwomen of self-care. You can learn more about her work on her website chivonjohn.com

healing through self-compassion

 

Each month of my blog has a different focus; October is all about learning to be self-compassionate.

But what does it mean to be self-compassionate?

Put simply, having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others.  It is about treating ourselves with the same kindness, caring and compassion we would show a good friend or even a perfect stranger.  The bottle of wine & tub of Ben & Jerry’s you bring to your bestie after she has a fight with her boyfriend or the coffee you hand the homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in the middle of winter?  That’s compassion.  It is the act of noticing and being compelled to alleviate the suffering of another.

Now let’s say you miss a deadline at work, gain a few pounds or break up with your significant other, is your first thought to stop for a moment and tell yourself,

“this is really difficult right now”

or

“how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?"

Probably not.

Most of us would skip straight to the part where we call ourselves degrading and hurtful names, berate our shortcomings and compare ourselves to other more seemingly “perfect” people.  Sound familiar?

Self-compassion teaches us to be kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.

Because honestly, who the heck says we have to be perfect all the time???  It is inevitable that I’m going to make mistakes, get frustrated, fall short of my ideals, get heartbroken, experience loss, become derailed...and the list goes on.  Self-compassion involves being kind to ourselves at the very worst of times and rather than suppressing painful feelings, allowing the pain to flow and then calming ourselves with gentle words or soothing touch.

I finally began to see changes when I stopped being so fixated on the state of my skin and the severity of my acne.  When I finally said: “F this! I can’t and WON’T live like this anymore.”  The day I stopped waking up hoping my skin would miraculously become perfect again was the day I began to heal.  I would look at myself in the mirror, let the feelings of sadness and anger wash over me and then  give myself the compassion I deserved.  I stopped fighting against my body and started to work with it.  I’m not completely there yet, but I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of all I've accomplished.

My intention this week was to be open, to allow myself to be vulnerable and to not let the judgments of others affect me.  And so, I would like to share with you some photos I took of my skin late last year and some from the present day.

October 1, 2012

 

 

October 1, 2013

 

 

 

I’m finally ready to put all my cards on the table and declare for all those who will listen: I am not perfect - far from it in fact.  I am a work in progress and I am bound and determined to be the best version of myself I can be.  I will make mistakes, I will slip and fall and I may have the odd acne breakout from time to time.  But I will be gentle with myself, I promise to show myself kindness and I will learn to listen to my body rather than fight against it.

And that’s good enough for me.

 

What do you think about self-compassion? If you've practiced self-compassion, have you found it helpful? Why or why not? 

my name is Samantha & I'm self-centred

 

If you’re following me on my Facebook page, you’ll have seen that I’ve started a new tradition in my life and on my blog: Self-Centred Sundays. This concept, birthed by Tara Bliss of Such Different Skies, is literally the virtual permission slip I’ve needed to slow down and revel in “me” time. It’s a new way for me to approach self-care and really tune in to what my body needs, instead of giving in to the constant chatter in my brain. Self-Centred Sundays are a day devoted to ME, where I can be as lazy and self-indulgent as I please….guilt free!

A lot of the impetus for me starting this blog and embarking on this self-compassionate journey was because I was feeling overwhelmed, out of control and completely out of balance. And unfortunately, the stress of it all was evident all over my face....literally. My poor skin was taking the brunt of the attack and I was suffering serious breakouts. You'd think this would be a signal for me to stop pushing so hard, but it seems I am a slow learner.

I finally realized: I was tired. Tired of dreading Mondays. Tired of having to force myself to the gym. Tired of feeling guilty every time I took a few minutes to myself to just relax and recharge my batteries. Tired of the things I loved the most (soccer, yoga, school, spending time with friends) feeling like yet ANOTHER thing on my to-do list. My doer personality was so used to making the most of every waking minute that the thought of a work-free Sunday was positively unheard of. But instead, I listened to the little voice inside me, the one I normally actively ignore and put MYSELF on my to-do list. And what a day it was!

HERE'S HOW I CELEBRATED SELF-CENTRED SUNDAYS THIS WEEK:

 

 

 

A day at the Leslieville Farmer’s Market, feasting on homemade spaghetti (a childhood FAVOURITE), family time and a glass of red wine to finish off a deliciously indulgent day.

I feel relaxed and recharged for the week ahead and I seriously can’t wait to do it all over again next week! Self-Centred Sundays is truly a mini revolution. So go on, put yourself at the top of that never-ending to-do list and dedicate a day to you. I promise, you won’t regret it.

THE WEEK AHEAD:

Things are pretty hectic this week, both in my personal and professional life.  Normally, I would be racing around, trying to be everywhere at once, trying my hardest to keep the proverbial "balls in the air".  This week I intend to take what comes one step at a time and trust in the process.

Be More: Patient

Do Less: Thinking in the negative

Start: Celebrating wins, however small

Stop: Going to bed past 11pm

Now over to you my lovelies! What are your intentions for the week ahead? Perhaps you'll join me next week for Self-Centred Sundays? Give yourself permission to do something for you and don’t forget the hashtag #selfcentredsundays!

 

 

Strengthening my self-love muscle

 

 

Think of all the time we put into exercising and nourishing our bodies with nutritious foods…

It’s a given that if we want a flat stomach, tight glutes and toned thighs that we have to put in the work, both at the gym and in the kitchen.  But what if we put that same amount of time and energy into loving ourselves more?  (Which, I would argue, is equally, if not more important than a nice set of abs).

This brings me to my mission; I am embarking on a rigorous, high-intensity training program to help strengthen my self-love muscle.  The next year of my life will be focused on looking inside myself for happiness and learning to connect with my body and listen to its messages.  My unending struggle with acne has been my body signaling to me that my life is out of balance and that I need to nourish my mind, body and spirit from the inside out.  And just like the six-pack I’m working hard to develop, my self-love muscle is no exception.  It needs to be worked consistently and often.

Each month on the blog, I will explore a different theme or “exercise” to help work my self-love muscle.  I will offer recipes, health tips, daily learnings, inspiration, guest interviews and more as I chronicle my journey.  As a teaser to what I've got in store for you over the next year, I’ve put together a  little visual "Year At A Glance" that I hope you’ll enjoy.  I can’t wait to get started – here goes nothing!

OCTOBER – Learn self-compassion

 

NOVEMBER – Practice good self-care

 

DECEMBER –  Set boundaries

 

JANUARY – Be grateful

 

FEBRUARY –  Practice unconditional love

 

MARCH - Be mindful

 

APRIL –  Detoxify your life

 

MAY – Use mantras, quotes & books to inspire you daily

 

JUNE –  Stress less

 

JULY –  Act on what you need rather than what you want

 

AUGUST – Forgive

 

SEPTEMBER -  Live intentionally

 

It's going to be an amazing year and I thank you all for being here!

What could you do to strengthen your self-love muscle?  Which month's theme resonates most with you?