Love yourself first; A self-care guide for teachers and parents.

July 20, 2018

 

 

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

- Eleanor Brown -

 

As teachers and parents taking proper care of ourselves can be difficult but giving ourselves some much needed ‘me time’ is important.   Caring for children, coupled with having to balance our home lives and our own children, leaves us little time for ourselves.  Long hours, tight schedules, and late nights have us overworked.  Many of us are trying to be everything, for everyone, all of the time.

 

Somedays feel like a loosing battle.  You know those days, we’ve all had them.  You wake up feeling like you never slept and struggle to get out of bed.  How is it even possible to wake up exhausted?  You could quite easily go back to bed but instead of responding to a need for rest we push through, because we have too many responsibilities and we don’t want to let anyone down.  We don’t want to let ‘anyone else’ down.  But what about us, aren’t we letting ourselves down?

 

We are constantly on the go and by the time we get to focus any attention on ourselves we're too tired.  Our self-care rituals start to resemble a bunch of unhealthy coping mechanisms and compulsive habits that temporarily take the pressure off, but long term they don’t do us any favours.  Things that are ok in moderation but soon become our vices.  Things that we rely on to make us feel better once we already feel stressed, rather than care routines to stop us from feeling that way in the first place.

 

Many of us have lost touch with ourselves. We become numb, we no longer feel, we no longer want to feel, we no longer let ourselves feel.  Instead of waking up naturally we set alarms. Instead of going to bed when we are tired, we go to bed far too late.  Instead of eating when we are hungry, we eat during scheduled breaks.  Instead of drinking more water for a headache, we take a pain killer.  We pick on sugary snacks to help us feel better.  We reach for a cup of coffee or energy drink to keep us awake during the day and drink a few glasses of wine (or something stronger) to help us relax and sleep at night.

 

We constantly fight our own bodies natural urges.  Instead of looking inward and listening to ourselves we have started looking outward for immediate solutions and instant gratification.

 

Many of us have come to believe that this lifestyle is just part of life, that being this busy is just part of life.  We become so busy, that taking a day off to rest becomes out of the question, no matter how run down we’re feeling.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re burning the candle at both ends suddenly your body decides to get sick?

 

Stress lowers our natural immunity and has a negative affect on our immune system making our bodies more vulnerable to illness, infection and disease.  But for most of us ‘we don’t have time to be sick’ so we just keep going, even when we shouldn’t.  How many times have you felt awful but dragged yourself into work anyway?  Or reached for a coffee and a couple of Panadol instead of cancelling your commitments?

 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.  For what ever reason, we often feel like we have to, like we can’t afford to stop.  We loose track of who we are, where we’re going, and what we want.  We become so focused on everyone else that we forget about giving ourselves what we need to feel nourished and healthy.  The sad truth is, when we are unkind to ourselves, we are unkind to others.  We don’t mean to be, but it’s hard to be great at anything when you don’t feel great inside and when we don’t take care of ourselves, we end up exhausted.  

 

Living this way eventually causes us to burn out!  I know because I did.  

 

It was years ago now and I’m happy to say that I have been mostly well ever since.  I lost three years of my life to illness from the onset of symptoms until I was officially recovered.  In hindsight I should have realised that having headaches everyday wasn’t good.  My body was screaming at me and I wasn’t listening, instead I kept pushing myself.  

 

The first year was the hardest.  I was determined to keep going and tried desperately to stay afloat until I found out I had Chronic fatigue.   With the realisation that things would only keep getting worse I was forced to surrender.  I had to let go of everything I was trying so hard to hold on to and accept that my body was telling me to stop.

 

This invisible illness had been triggered by a virus, a virus that anybody can get.  Instead of slowing down, instead of stopping, I tried to carry on doing all the things I normally would.  Everyday got harder and harder.   It fed on my stress, my busyness and lack of self-love.  Instead of taking the time I needed to devote some much needed healing energy to myself, I ignored what my body was trying to tell me and I progressively got worse and worse. Overtime things began to pile up and I started absorbing the stress, negativity, unrealistic expectations, internal and external pressure, criticism and pain as part of me.

 

When we internalise these things it produces a build up of toxic energy that manifests itself into physical and psychological symptoms.  Our hormones, immune system, digestion, detoxification processes, organs, basically our entire human system becomes exhausted and unbalanced and our mental health begins to suffer.   

 

If I had of taken 3 months off in the beginning it may not have taken 3 years to recover.  But instead I put everything else before my own health.  Work, money, our house, relationships, commitments; everything and everyone.  Some people consider self-care a luxury.  I used to believe that but I feel like I’ve learned so much since then.   

 

Imagine a bucket, each moment of stress that takes place is a cup of water being poured into that bucket.  A fight with your partner, work disputes, bullying, injury, reactions, infections, viruses, toxins, deadlines, loss, financial difficulty, self-doubt, even just a chaotic afternoon with the kids.  All these things on their own can be managed, they are part of life’s struggles but if you don’t take the time to stop and care for yourself, if you don’t off load some of that water, it becomes one on top of another, until your bucket is full and eventually it spills over. 

 

When your bucket is full, it’s easy to blame the water but you have the power at any time to empty it out.  We have the power to empty it out, but we don’t.  Why not?  Because we get so caught up in trying to be the best, the best mum, the best dad, the best husband or wife, the best daughter or son, the best employee, or the best employer.  Sometimes it’s not even trying to be the best, it’s just trying not to feel like the worst.  The problem is we’re comparing ourselves, instead of focusing on ourselves.  We try to be all these things when instead we should be trying to be ourselves.  We can only be our 'best' selves if we look after ourselves.  “Doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of breakdown”.

 

When your bucket spills over, this amount of unmanaged stress initiates the 'fight or flight’ response.  In other words, it is toxic to our health.  Sometimes when we think we are ignoring, accepting or managing our stress, we are really just internalising it, we don’t recognise it for what it is, we don’t talk about it and we don't ‘get it out’.  To externalise our stress we need to adopt methods of RELEASE.  That’s where self-care comes in.

 

Self-care is about emptying our buckets.  Emptying the stress, and filling it love, because when we love ourselves, that love then spills over to others and that’s what we do want.  What are you filling your bucket with?

 

 

How do our children benefit from our self-care?

Self-care is something we are never taught about in school.  We aren’t taught how important and essential taking care of ourselves is.  Thinking back I don’t recall ever been taught the value of self-love or self-care, not really and until recently it was not something I thought of gifting my children.  Sure I was encouraged to eat my vegetables, get a good nights sleep, drink plenty of water, exercise and look after my physical body but as a child I was never encouraged to establish healthy boundaries, say ‘no’, listen to my intuition or taught to openly express and embrace my emotions.  It was a different time where we were encouraged to put others first, do what we were told, be compliant, fit in and abide by structured social rules.  

 

Self-care is one of the best things we can do for our children.  Without it we become disconnected and fatigued.  Our everyday treasures and precious moments start to feel like everyday chores.  When we are feeling run down, we are not the only ones that feel the strain.  Not only do we feel impatient, rushed and frustrated but our children, our families, friends and colleagues feel it too. 

 

The way we feel internally is projected externally. Our external world is a reflection of our internal one.  How we feel inside, creates thoughts, which translate into our words and fuel our actions.  Our actions affect everybody.

 

When we feel awful; we feel negative, we talk negativity, we see the world negatively and act negatively towards others, which makes them feel negative and the cycle continues.  But when we are at our best; we feel positive, we talk positively, we see the world positively and we act positively, which makes others feel positive too.  This is the exact reason why they say “you can’t make a child do better by making them feel worse”.  When we feel good, we do good and when they feel good they do good.  

 

“You will see in the world what you carry in your heart.”

 - Creig Crippen -

 

When we consciously make an effort to incorporate self-care into our lives we have more energy to care for others.  By loving ourselves enough to practice self-care we are modelling this to our children.  By accepting ourselves for who we are and listening to our internal needs we are showing them how to do the same.  When we invest time and energy into our well-being we teach them how to live a healthy and well-balanced life.

 

When was the last time you felt free and lived as nature intended. You ate when you were hungry, woke up naturally, rested when you were tired, cried because you felt like you needed to, spoke your mind without fear or gave yourself the time needed to pause without the pressure to keep going.  We need to learn how to listen, to listen to ourselves, what we feel inside and respond.  We need to learn this so that our children will learn this.  No matter how fast the world might be moving around us, we need to pause, because when we pause for ourselves we pause for our children too.

 

 

What is Self-Care?

 

“Self-care is a deliberate choice to gift yourself with people, places, things, events, and opportunities that recharge our personal battery and promote whole health

-body, mind, and spirit.”

- Laurie Buchanan, PhD -

 

Self-care is not something we resort to because we are absolutely exhausted, it is what we do to ensure we don’t get absolutely exhausted.  It’s not something you do once your world is already crazy but something you do to stop your world from getting crazy in the first place.  It’s not about pampering ourselves.  It’s not getting a massage every few months, although that could be part of it.  It is choosing to do what you know will make you feel good tomorrow, rather than just today.

 

Self-care is simply slowing down enough to connect, listen and respond to what our bodies are asking us for.  It’s making time for the things that refresh and energise us.  Self-care is about loving ourselves for who we are, our perfectly imperfect selves.  Honouring our inner voice, being true to who we are and doing what replenishes the soul. 

 

 

How do we incorporate self-care into our lives?

Prioritise!  Work out what’s important. What do you need to thrive?  What helps you feel relaxed? What brings you joy? What lifts you up? What takes the weight off your shoulders?  What helps you feel balanced and improves your sense of wellbeing?  

 

Think about how you can incorporate these things into your life.  It may mean that you need to eliminate some of the things you do, that are not the best use of your time. What can you let go of to create space for yourself?  

 

 

Dimensions of self-care:

We talk about caring for children holistically but have you considered caring for yourself holistically as well?  Most people link health exclusively to the physical body therefore when they think about self-care it only encompasses the things that we do to nurture our physical selves but many ancient cultures have made the connection between the mind, body and spirit and recognise that each of these separately only make up part of who we are.  Our health not only involves the physical body but our spiritual, mental, and emotional bodies.  Our well-being also extends beyond us and is influenced by the environment, and our relationships with others.

 

In 1976, Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, developed a model for wellness which over the years has been added to and altered.  According to this research there are multiple dimensions to health, wellness and self-care which are interwoven and interconnected and each of us benefit from some more than others.

 

The framework that I have found to be the most beneficial during my healing process includes 6 Dimensions of self-care which I explain in more detail below.  These include; heart, mind, body, environment, social and spiritual wellness.

 

 

 

BODY  

“Everybody is different, and every body is different.” 

- Beverly Diehl - 

 

Nourishment

The body is the most well known dimension of self-care, with nutrition being at the top of the list.  The human body is incredible.  Part of what makes it so impressive is its ability to regenerate itself.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat”.  Did you know that your skin replaces itself every 35 days.  You get a new liver every six weeks.  Your stomach lining replaces itself every 4 days, and the stomach cells that come into contact with digesting food are replaced every 5 minutes.  Our skeletal structures are regenerated every 3 months.  Your brain replaces itself every two months.  And the entire human body, is replaced every 5-7 years.  Every cell in our body is created from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.  What we ingest literally becomes us.  

 

Food and water are essentials to the human body.  Water is vital for keeping us hydrated and flushing out toxins.  The adult body consists of up to 60% water, and the recommended intake every day is between 2-3 litres, which averages at about 8 glasses depending on your age, weight and gender.  For many that will seem like a lot but once you’re in the habit of drinking a good amount of water each day you will wonder how you went without it.

 

Finding the right food for your body is a little more complicated.  I have lost count of all the different diets I have been recommended over the years; Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, Paleo, sugar free, Ketogenic, elimination, FODMAP, alkaline, ‘eat right for your blood type’ diets.  There are so many to choose from and explore.  

 

One thing is certain, intuitively eating and consciously choosing what you put into your body is one of the easiest and fastest ways to fuel yourself with everything you need.  In many cultures food is considered medicine as it directly influences not only our physical bodies but also our energy levels, our emotions, our brain function, and overall health and well-being.

 

Our bodies are all so beautifully unique and each of us require different things to thrive.  By paying careful attention to how we feel after eating and drinking we can soon identify what it is our bodies need and what they don’t.  

 

Movement

Making time for exercise, even just a little extra movement does so much for our holistic well-being.  It could be gentle stretches, yoga, Tai chi, dancing, walking, running, sports or going to the gym.  If you can’t find the time to exercise then make the most of small opportunities whenever possible; Take the stairs, park your car a little further away, do a few stretches as you get out of bed, play with your pet, have a running race with the kids or even an impromptu dance party.  Fitness isn’t always about going hard and fast.  Listen to your body, do what you can and make it purposeful.  It will transform how you feel.

 

Rest & Sleep

When we treat rest and sleep as a self-care necessity it can drastically improve how we feel mentally, physically and emotionally.  

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have a midday nap?  I think so, but you don’t always need sleep to get rest.  Even stopping to take a few minutes for yourself, to close your eyes and tune out can help you recharge and clear your head.  Switch off, find somewhere quiet to retreat to, block out external stimulation and just appreciate a moment of peace.  

 

When we prioritise rest and practice good sleep hygiene our health benefits.  We have more energy, a more positive outlook and overall quality of life, renewed vitality and a rejuvenated body.

 

Toxins

As much as we try to avoid them, we are often exposed to many toxins through our food, water, personal care products, cleaning products, the environment and yes, even stress.  Overtime we accumulate these toxins within the body which can burden your internal organs.  Our bodies have the remarkable ability to detox themselves but sometimes they need a little help.  

 

Healthy nutrition along with the combination of certain foods and supplements can aid in detoxification but the best thing to do, is avoid as many toxins as possible in the first place.  A few rituals that aid in detoxification include dry brushing, epsom salt baths, massages, acupuncture, cupping, sweating, intermittent fasting, exercise, drinking plenty of water and of course a good nights sleep.

 

If you’ve tried everything else and your still not feeling great it might be time to look into incorporating some form of detox into your routine, your body will thank you for it.

 

“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you wont have to hear it scream.” 

- Unknown -

 

 

 

 

MIND 

“If you truly want to change your life you must first change your mind.” 

- Unknown -

 

Learning new things 

We nurture our mind and intellectual health when we make a commitment to lifelong learning.  Learning something new strengthens us for the inside out.  By expanding our current knowledge and learning new things we create new neural pathways in the brain which keep it healthy. 

 

Personal Growth 

Reflection and journalling for personal growth allow for internal shifts to take place and can make a significant difference to our lives.

Journaling and reflection take us from passively observing our thoughts to actively engaging with them.  It gives purpose to a wandering mind and aids us in personal growth.  It’s a valuable tool that can be used to help us achieve our goals, it can be used as an outlet for expressing our thoughts and emotions, increase self-awareness and it can also aid in healing by clearing stress caused by emotional blockages and overthinking.  Studies have shown that the release obtained from writing significantly lowers anxiety and stress and can help create better quality sleep. 

 

Creativity 

We are all creative.  We all have something original we can offer the world but we struggle with self-doubt, fear of judgment and the inability to let it flow.  Through creativity we unleash our imaginations and the need for self-expression.  From writing to dancing and everything in between; when we create we become completely present, absorbed in what we are doing, and even loose track of time.  Creativity improves cognition and gives us an increased sense of psychological well-being.

 

Get organised 

You might be surprised to learn that there are many health benefits to being organised.  When things get unorganised we quickly become overwhelmed.  Getting organised can give us a much needed energy boost.  Think about how you feel after sorting out your desk or room, you can think clearly and often become more motivated.  Clutter, unfinished projects and huge lists of things to do can be stressful, create unnecessary anxiety and negatively impact sleep.  

Mindfulness 

There are countless ways to apply mindfulness to our everyday lives and just as many benefits.  Through becoming presently aware in each moment and paying attention to the things we would normally do on auto pilot we become mindful.  Mindfulness helps us deal with stress, and enhances our ability to manage everyday struggles.

 

Positive mindset 

Researchers are finding more and more benefits to positive thinking.  Positive thinkers are healthier, less stressed, more resilient and have greater overall well-being. If positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to you, there are plenty of great reasons to start cultivating affirmative thoughts and minimising negative self-talk.

 

Self-talk 

Pay attention to your thoughts and the voice inside your head.  How do you speak to yourself?  Is it the same way you would speak to a loved one? When we treat ourselves with love and compassion we start to view the world differently.

 

“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.”  

- Brene Brown -

 

 

 

 

HEART 

“View all emotion as energy in motion”  

- Michael L. Brown -

 

Embrace emotion

All emotions are essentially “energy in motion." They are neither good nor bad. They are just energy.   Our emotions are not part of who we truly are, even though they may feel like it sometimes.  They come, they go and they change just as the weather, but unfortunately many of us try to hold on to them.  We hold on to those things that make us feel good and repeat patterns of behaviour that produce those good feelings.  We also hold on to the uncomfortable emotions, we hold them inside, cover them up and lock them away so we don’t have to feel them. 

 

We don’t usually have a problem embracing emotions that we deem more pleasant; love, happiness, joy, and excitement but we often struggle with fear, sadness, anger, anxiety and regret.  We need to make a conscious effort to welcome all emotions without judgment.  We need to practice slowing down.  We need to allow ourselves to feel, acknowledge those feelings, release the emotional energy and let it go.  When our hearts are open we allow emotions to move through us.

 

I like to think of emotions as a language and as with all forms of communication they desire to be listened to.  By being fully aware of our emotions in the present moment we can gradually get to the root of their existence.   As children we have this amazingly natural ability to feel and express ourselves which we seem to loose touch with as we get older.  Emotional intelligence is recognising, understanding and responding to the emotions we experience; identifying what it is that we are feeling, learning how to ‘be’ with those feelings, and then moving forward in a way that honours those feelings in order to release them and let them go. 

 

Identify triggers

If you haven’t heard this term before, it refers to an events that stir up unwanted emotions.  It may be a particular behaviour or situation that leads you to feeling excessively stressed, angry, or upset. 

 

Negative emotions can eat a hole in your soul.  Although we can’t always change a stressful environment, we can learn more about what triggers stress in us so that we can manage these situations more effectively.  

 

Letting go

Holding on to negative emotions will only extend our suffering.  Holding on to pain, stress and anger doesn’t fix anything or stop it from hurting.  Replaying the past over and over, wishing that things happened differently doesn’t magically make it happen.  

 

We need to accept whatever it is that we are holding on to, make peace with it and let it go.  Forgive ourselves for our mistakes and forgive others for the mistakes they have made.  It helps to consider that we all do the best we can with what we’ve got, at our current level of understanding.

It’s ok to feel hurt, angry and sad even if it feels difficult to experience. Accept it, feel it, process it, free yourself and move forward.

 

“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.” 

- Jack Kornfield -

 

Have fun

Have some fun, tap into your creativity, enjoy life and schedule in time to play.  Do more of the things you love, the things that make your soul happy.

 

Ask for help

Some things can get too overwhelming and we simply can’t work through them alone.  It can help to seek support from someone you trust or a mental health professional. 

 

 

 

 

Environment 

“Our soul is like a soft and gentle flower.  It needs to be nurtured, cared for, tended to, with sufficient sunlight, fresh air and freedom to bloom into its most precious and beautiful form.  This, my friend, is self-love.” 

 - Miya Yamanouchi- 

 

Get outside

Many of us have experienced the restorative feeling of spending time in nature. Research shows that getting outside for a minimum of 15 minutes a day can reduce our stress levels, improve our mood and concentration, and increase vitality.  

 

When we make an effort there are many ways in which we can connect with nature daily.  Eat lunch outside instead of indoors, go for a walk, or plant a garden.

 

Grounding

Next time you are outside, kick off your shoes and really pay attention. If you observe closely you may notice a tingling feeling, warmth on the soles of you feet or a sense of well-being rising up through your body. 

 

That sensation is subtle energy which you experience as the direct result of barefoot contact with the electrons on the earths surface.  A number of studies have revealed the many health benefits which come from placing the soles of our feet in direct with the earth (soil, grass, or sand).  As well as feeling good it increases energy, and supports our mood, health and overall wellbeing.

 

Fresh air and Sunshine

For many of us our exposure to fresh air and sunshine is limited in comparison to the many hours we spend indoors, especially during the winter months.   This can quickly lead to headaches, fatigue, and illness due to breathing in stale air and a lack of Vitamin D.

 

Unless your indoor air is ventilated and purified you’re probably inhaling all sorts of dusts, wastes, and toxins floating about, and the air in spaces shared by many people can be depleted in oxygen. To improve air quality increase air flow and ventilation by opening doors and windows when you can.  The best way to filter toxins from the air is with indoor plants.  Other natural ways to ionise the air and neutralise toxins include the use of Himalayan salt lamps, pure beeswax candles, activated charcoal or bamboo charcoal, essential oils, herbal incense and smudging.  

 

Along with clean fresh air we also need sunlight.  Vitamin D is produced when sunshine interacts with our skin.  Researchers are discovering that this vitamin is far more necessary to our bodies than previously thought.  Many people especially in UK and Europe are finding themselves with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) more commonly known as seasonal depression as it involves symptoms like difficulty focusing, decrease in energy, moodiness, sleeping too much, and losing interest in things people normally enjoy.  So give your body a break and your energy levels a boost by going outside to soak up some rays and breath in a good dose of clean, fresh air.

 

 

 

 

Social 

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” 

- Steve Maraboli -

 

Social balance

Balancing having a social life with the need for alone time can be tricky.  We are all so very different.  Some of us are introverts, some extraverts and others a blend of the two.  Some people prefer to be out mingling while others would prefer stay home.  Introverts tend to feel drained after too much time spent socially interacting with others while extroverts on the other hand thrive off the energy of large crowds and are easily bored with too much time by themselves.  Knowing and understanding your ‘social type’ can make a huge difference to your life and will help you find balance between being social and having solitude.  

 

What ever your personality, it’s important that you get the right amount of social interaction that feels right for you.  Ensure you choose the people you want to spend your time with wisely and create a tribe of supportive and trusting people you can turn to for guidance.

 

Occupational Wellness

In full-time employment we work an average of 1,880 hrs a year and this isn’t including meetings, overtime and other commitments.  We do this from the moment we leave school or complete university until we retire.  More of our time is spent working than it is with our families which is why it is incredibly important that we think about our occupational wellness.  However, work does not only mean paid occupations.  It also includes our life roles such as being a Mum or Dad, caregiving, our hobbies, and volunteer work.

 

Occupational wellness involves aligning your work with your interests, skills and values.  It is ensuring that your job is fulfilling and meets your needs on a soul level.   Many of us stay in jobs that clash with who we are, long after we should have moved on.  Occupational wellness is recognising this and making decisions based on what is best for us.  It may help to ask yourself a few questions and reflect on your current attitude towards work.  Are you feeling positive, passionate, enriched, satisfied and appreciated? or do you dread going to work, find yourself venting alot about your job and consider your environment toxic or negative? If you keep getting sick or your feeling overly stressed it may be time to consider some of the reasons behind why this might be.

 

Distractions

More now than ever before we are consumed by distractions.  We feel this much needed escape helps us relax and unwind when in reality it is probably causing more harm than good.  Self-care is more than a need to escape.  TV and social media may have some benefits when used as tools to assist us in achieving our goals but the fact is that when we are pulled into these virtual worlds we disconnect from life and more importantly those around us.  If you can’t seem to pull yourself away there is a real threat that you have become a media addict.  With set boundaries, clear limits and a little discipline we can ensure that these distractions don’t hold us back. 

 

Programming can also have a huge effect on our mental and emotional wellbeing.  If we are constantly engrossed in fear based media it can have a very negative impact on our thought patterns and mindset.  Choose your content wisely. 

 

Boundaries

If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to everyone else, but you never say ‘yes’ to yourself, it might be time to make a change.  You can be a good person, with a kind heart and still say no.  

 

From a young age many of us a taught that we shouldn’t say no.  We then go through life finding it really difficult and uncomfortable to say no to people, we feel guilty and end up doing things we don’t want to do or agree to things we don’t have the time or energy for.  

 

Setting clear boundaries is vital.  It’s about respecting ourselves, our rights, our needs and asserting these to others.  Healthy boundaries create healthy relationships.  

 

 

 

 

SPIRIT 

“Spirituality is the life we live inside ourselves, versus the life we live outside ourselves.”

- Dr. Badri Rickhi -

 

Get to know yourself

Of all the dimensions, the human spirit is the most neglected aspect of ourselves.  

 

Spiritual wellness can have a different meaning to each of us.  For me, it’s looking inward instead of outward. The basis of spiritual wellness is discovering who we are by exploring our inner selves; our beliefs, values, ethics and morals.  

 

It’s what makes up who we are individually while also being aware of the interconnectedness of all life.  It’s about finding a state peace, appreciating all of life’s experiences for what they are, accepting ourselves without judgement, balancing our internal needs with the rest of the world and giving meaning and purpose to our lives.

 

Self-reflection and introspection are valuable tools.  The practice of self-reflection allows us to stay true to who we are and can guide us towards creating a more positive life.  Introspection is the process of looking inward to observe our conscious thoughts, feeling and memories to find meaning.  

 

Living Authentically

We are often told who we should be and how we should act.  It is defined by society, our upbringing, our parents, even our gender; all these things impact and define who we are supposed to be.

 

Creating an amazing world must happen from the inside-out.  Living authentically can offer tremendous benefits.  As Brene Brown said, “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”  When we have a clear understanding of who we are, we are able to align our lives with what we believe, we embody our values and allow them to guide our decisions and actions. 

 

“To be beautiful means to be yourself.  You don’t need to be accepted by others.  You need to be accepted by yourself.”  

- Thich Nhat Hanh -

 

Spiritual practices

Many of us want to bring more spirituality into our lives but we don’t know where to start.  Spiritual practices are things you do that help you connect with yourself and nourish your soul.  

 

It could include some of the more common spiritual practices such as spending time alone, breathing, meditation, progressive relaxation, gratitude, affirmations, yoga, and mindfulness.  Or it could be something more specific to your interests.  Spiritual practices are rituals and routines that you incorporate into your life to encourage you to slow down and be present.  Everything we do can essential become a spiritual practice; gardening, art, cooking, writing, or walking.  It could even be how you wake up in the morning, taking a moment to set a positive intention for the day.  

 

I strongly believe that for children ‘play’ is a spiritual practice.  I define a spiritual practice as being something we love to do, something that is part of who we are, something that lights us up, and something that makes us feel good.  A spiritual practice is re-connecting with ourselves to bring us back into alignment instead of seeking fulfilment from outside sources. 

 

Learn to stop

Taking a moment to stop, to do nothing but breath is like having access to your own reset button.  Just like on your computer, when you have too many tabs open things start to slow down.  Taking the time to shut it down for just a few minutes and start fresh can make the world of difference.  How often do you just sit and do nothing?  Find a moment during the day, it may even be while having a cup of tea, be silent, shut out all external stimulation and be still.

 

“Give yourself permission to stop.  There’s healing and beauty in the pause.  

- Michelle Maros- 

 

 

 

Conclusion

It’s easy to to get stuck.  We’ve all been there, some more than others.  If your bucket’s overflowing with stress instead of love it’s never too late to make some changes.  No matter how low you might be feeling there’s always a way out and it starts from within.  Pay attention to your body, listen to what it is telling you.  What foods make you feel good and which ones make you feel sluggish?  What activities drain you and which ones leave you feeling energised?  How do you feel when you don’t get enough sleep, does it affect your mood?  As teachers we take countless observations of children, take some time to observe yourself and find out what’s working for you and what’s not.

 

“Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It's about listening to the needs of your soul and then honouring them.”

– Kristi Ling -

 

Ask yourself “what do I need?” and make sure you get it.  “What would it look like if I truely loved myself?”, “How would it feel?”

Imagine you are your own best friend.  What would you do for you? 

 

These things can make a huge difference.  When we take care of ourselves we have the energy to take care of others because that care doesn’t come at our own expense.  The more love we give ourselves, the more love we have to give to others.  Keep your focus on how you want to feel.  Start with one thing at a time.  You would be surprised the difference one little change can make.

 

“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” 

- Katie Reed -

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** This advice is based purely on my own experience. 

I am not a healthcare professional and encourage you to

use your own judgement in determining what is best for you. ***

 

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