This will be the first blog post in a series about Radical Self Care. The interwebs are ablaze with stories about exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, depression and other malaise of our time. While it may seem an inevitable by product of our productive society, I would argue it is not. It is possible to be whole and well, despite all that seems to be working against us. Radical Self Care is a requirement for vibrant health. For yourself, your family, your employer and society as a whole.
You have a lot on your plate. A hand in every pie. Juggling all the balls. Spinning your wheels. A hamster on the treadmill of life. At the end of your rope. Too many irons in the fire.
As a woman and mother I can identify with all of these statements. I see myself in them, sometimes more than others.
Think of the body like a toddler. When a toddler wants something she asks for it. If she gets it, she is happy and satisfied. If she doesn't sometimes there are tears, throwing things, stomping. Basically no fun city. Your body is talking to you every day. It can seem easy to ignore the things she is saying. Until she starts screaming and stomping her feet. You know that listening to and meeting the needs of the toddler is much eaiser than ignoring them. The body is the same, listening to the quiet talk from your body will get you further than ignoring it.
Why is it so hard?
Many of us have years of conditioning in ignoring our needs. We are told that the experts know best for us. Employers dicate when breaks can be (including bathroom breaks). Magazine headlines tell us we need to be a certain way. We are too busy to listen to the signals our body is sending. We don't want to listen to the truth of what the body is saying.
Five signals your body is sending
1. Headaches - dehydration, blood sugar dips, not enough nourishing movement, lack of fresh air and sunshine can all lead to headaches.
2. Waste removal cues - the urge to urinate or have a bowel movement, this is your body taking out the trash. Ignoring this because its inconvient, public washrooms are embarassing, or you don't have the time can lead to a build up of toxins and waste.
3. Feeling tired or sleepy - yawning, slowing down, feeling sleepy, this is your body telling you it is bed time. Getting clumsy, cranky or not being able to think clearly are all signs you have gone too far.
4. Hunger - those rumbles in the tummy are telling you its time for physical nourishment. Feed yourself nourishing whole foods. Blood sugar crashes and food cravings are often signals you are skipping meals, not getting enough high quality protien or are missing another piece of the self-care puzzle.
5. Physical Pain - This comes in many forms, a stiff neck, a crick in the back, an achy knee, watery eyes.
The first act of Radical Self Care is to listen to the body. Observe the signs your body gives you every day. Honour those signs. Give your body what she is asking for. You deserve it.
Begin each day with a body scan check in. Before leaping from bed to start the day take 2 minutes to scan the body. Simply observe what you feel. Do you feel rested? Are there parts of your body that are speaking louder than others? What is your breath doing? Just notice the body, there is no need to judge or even plan how to address what you notice. The basic act of mindful body scanning is your starting point for the day.
At the end of the day repeat the practice. At bed time it can be nice to take a littel longer to do the body scan. As you mentally move from one body part to the next offer a word of gratitude. "Thank you feet for supporting me and moving me through the day. Thank you belly for processing and using the nutrients I ate today. Thank you voice for sharing my thoughts and connecting me to the people in my life." This practice will help you move into deep and nourishing sleep.
This simple practice of Radical Self Care is a great place to start caring for yourself and your body. You may wish to record things you notice and see what changes occur over time.