Treat yourself: Why self-care is a priority, not a luxury.

Ask anyone how they are these days and the usual response is "Good, but so busy!". I'll admit this is often my default response. While there's nothing wrong with working hard, we have to stop the glorification of busy, and remember that busy doesn't always mean productive. It's okay to take time out - in fact; it's crucial if we want to be at our best.

Quit the guilt game

"Guilt is a totally useless emotion. It never makes anyone feel better, nor does it change a situation."
- Louise Hay

I have days where I'm tired and grumpy, and all I want to do is sit on the couch with a cup of tea and a book. When I do, I immediately start thinking about my enormous to-do list, and the guilt creeps up on me. How ironic that my attempts at relaxation often lead to more stress! I'm writing this as a reminder to myself, and all of us, that we are deserving of rest.

We owe it to ourselves to take time out to refresh and reset, even if it's just five or ten minutes.

We deserve time to be still and calm.

We can't care for those around us or build meaningful careers and lives if we're tired and strung-out.

We owe it to our health to take some time-out if we are exhausted.


Self-Care ideas

Run a bubble bath. If you can't have a bath, hit the shower and visualise the water washing away your stress.

Stretch. Do some quick stretches with some deep, slow breathing.

Listen to some uplifting music or a guided meditation.

Have a cup of herbal tea or coffee. Sit somewhere quiet (without your phone) and savour it.

Make something nourishing to eat. Rather than rewarding myself with food, I choose to reward myself with nutrients. Pick a snack with nutritional value like a smoothie, fresh fruit, nut butter, or raw chocolate. 

Paint your nails, shave your legs, do a face mask, or wash your hair. The physical act of showering and grooming always makes me feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to conquer my to-do list.

Get moving. So many of us view exercise simply as calorie burning/weight loss/weight maintenance. Physical activity is phenomenal for stress relief, anxiety, low mood, bone density, and so much more! Our bodies WANT to move. Even a brisk walk is hugely beneficial. I know when I need to exercise the most  - when I'm tired, and resisting it. No one ever regrets a workout.

Disconnect from technology. Sunday is the perfect day for this - turn your phone off and reconnect with life.

I pledge to drop the guilt and start taking this sacred time for myself.

Will you do the same?

Steph x

 

Calm Yourself Quickly | Anxiety Busting Breathing

Breathe.

Breathing deeply and purposefully is instantly calming to the body and mind. When our stress gets the better of us and we feel anxiety rising, breathing is an effective way to relax and centre ourselves. Meditative and yogic breathing practices are particularly good for those dealing with ongoing anxiety and stress - find a reputable local class or practitioner who can assist you with these techniques. 

CALM YOURSELF FAST - The 5 | 5 | 5 Breath

This exercise can be done anytime, anywhere to slow your heart rate and calm your body and mind. It's up to you if you would like to inhale and exhale through your mouth or your nose; sometimes alternating the two can feel pleasant.

1. Be seated or recline if possible, and try to release any tension in the body. Relax the muscles in the shoulders, neck, jaw and brow. Close your eyes if you wish.

2. Take a full, deep breath IN, counting to five. Feel your lungs expand to full capacity. Count as slowly as your possibly can to prolong the breath.

3. HOLD this breath to the count of five. Don't rush, and keep your count at the same pace as your inhale.

4. RELEASE the breath, and count to five again at the same pace.

5. Repeat as many times as necessary. Keeping your counting steady will create a calming rhythm for you to work with. 

 

Finish your breathing exercise by creating some positive thoughts. No matter what is going on in our lives, we have the choice at any moment to take control and redirect our thoughts. The affirmation below by Louise Hay is excellent for any stressful situation or problem that may arise in your life.  

 

All is well.
Everything is working out for my highest good.
Out of this particular situation, only good will come.
I am safe.

Why You Should Love Your Body + Healthy Body Affirmations

Affirmations are a powerful tool that can help create the life we dream of. By stating what we want as if it's already true, we make a statement to ourselves and send out the intention of our desires. As Louise Hay says, an affirmation is like planting a seed. A seed may not look like the plant it will grow to be, but if we tend to it, it will grow and come to fruition. 

For affirmations to work we must repeat them with conviction often. It may feel strange initially, especially as we may not feel these statements are currently true. Remember that to change we must change our thinking first. Everything external in our lives is created internally in our thoughts. Be open and receptive to change, and allow good to flow to you. 

Body image is something that most of us struggle with. Unrealistic standards are rife, and we are bombarded daily with photoshopped imagery of "perfect" models that we compare ourselves to. The advent of social media hasn't helped the situation. Instagram is filled with edited images of beautiful, slim women in swimwear, doing yoga, and drinking green smoothies. How is the average woman supposed to compete?

The problem lies within the very notion of competition. Living in our bodies is a privilege. There is NO competition - we all have days when we feel fat, tired or unattractive. We all cry and laugh and feel the same spectrum of emotions. This separation - the "perfect" vs. the normal - is an illusion. We are all connected. Each one of us is beautiful and worthwhile, and comparison only serves to steal our happiness.

One of the very best things you can do for yourself is to stop comparing and go on a media diet. Stop reading women's magazines, unfollow those Instagram accounts that make you feel awful about yourself, don't seek "fitspiration", and quit speaking negatively about yourself.

You are beautiful, and you are enough. Healthy body image starts and ends with YOU. 

Affirmations for a healthy body

In the mirror

I love and approve of myself.

I am beautiful.

I am deserving.

My body is strong and healthy.

I love every single part of my body.

I love the way I look in the mirror.

I accept myself exactly as I am.

 

During exercise

I am fit, strong, and toned.

I am filled with energy.

My muscles are strong and healthy.

I get stronger with every rep.

I love to exercise.

It's easy for me to push myself.

I am motivated.

I am capable.

I can do this!

 

Food and general health

I choose to eat healthy, energising meals.

My body craves vegetables and nourishing foods.

I drink plenty of water.

I absorb nutrients easily.

I am vibrant and full of energy.

I become healthier every day.

My immune system is strong.

Every breath I take restores me to full health.

I allow my body to heal.

I feel wonderful.

 

What other affirmations do you use? 

5 Ways To Lift Yourself Out Of A Low Mood

Feeling down sometimes is a very natural part of the human experience. We are designed to feel the entire spectrum of emotions, and often we are left overwhelmed when things aren't going so well.

Although we all experience this, it can feel very isolating. Remember that you are not alone. Everyone has bad days, even people who appear to have a perfect life. Many of us hide this side of ourselves, and don't reach out when we're feeling low. Everyone in your life has been through something similar, so don't be scared to ask for help if you need it. Sometimes just having a cup of tea and a talk with a loved one is enough to elevate us.

Feeling depressed or down can be overwhelming and all-consuming, and we can easily lose perspective. Below are five practical strategies for working your way out.

 

1. accept that emotions & moods are like the weather.

"Some people feel the rain, others just get wet." - Bob Marley

We accept the natural fluctuations of the weather, and watch it pass overhead. It is the most natural thing in the world. Our moods are the same. Once you realise that everything is temporary, you take your power back.

See your sadness or low mood as a rain cloud moving through your energy field. That's all it is. See it, recognise it, and watch it pass through, because it WILL pass. Everything does. This is also a wonderful way to appreciate the good in our lives; when we are happy, we must revel in it and be grateful for every moment.

Once you understand and see the natural patterns of your moods, it will allow you to surrender to them, and know that things will get better.

 

2. Be thankful.

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into joy" - William Arthur Ward

The simple things in life are the best. But how often do we take these things for granted? Bringing yourself back to gratitude will remind you just how beautiful life is. We tend to let our problems overshadow everything else; and its easy to feel overwhelmed.

Many people in the world would do anything to have what you have. Having our basic needs met is a blessing. If you have shelter, clean water, food, clothing, and a few dollars in your pocket, you are doing better than most people on Earth.

Writing a gratitude list is such an effective way of creating happiness, and quickly puts things into perspective. Most of us have more than the basics; we have freedom, love, family, friends, a job, and lots of little luxuries. Write these down. Make a list in your phone if you don't have a pen and paper handy. Make a habit of doing this, and soon you will see just how much you have to be grateful for.

If there are people in your life you're thankful for, tell them. Another wonderful way to lift yourself is to lift others. Write a letter, make someone a meal, pick flowers for a friend, or simply be present with your loved ones.

 

3. Get moving and / or in nature

"No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everybody on the couch."

One of the quickest ways to boost your mood is to exercise. Exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind, and can make a tangible difference for those who experience depression.

Often, it's the last thing you feel like doing when you're down, but will reap huge rewards. Push yourself, and get to the gym, or even go for a short walk. Listen to some upbeat music as you go.

Getting outside is also very healing. Take your shoes off and sit in the grass for ten minutes, and notice the beauty of the natural world around you. We get so caught up in our heads that we often fail to notice what a beautiful place earth is. Get back to your childhood roots and watch the clouds in your lunch break, pick some flowers, or take a swim in the ocean. Don't underestimate how powerful these small things are.

 

4. Change it up

"A change is as good as a holiday."

Refreshing your surroundings can make you feel like a new person, as can changing your routine. Sometimes this stuff takes a little internal push to get going; but remember that taking action will make you feel productive and boost your mood. Here are some ideas to mix it up:

  • Rearrange your bedroom - new cushions or a duvet cover will totally change your room.
  • De-clutter your belongings and rearrange your wardrobe.
  • Create a Dream Board and hang it in your space.
  • Listen to a new playlist - find something fun and upbeat.
  • Talk a different route to work.
  • Go for a random drive. Play your music loud and sing along.
  • Try a new class at the gym, or grab a skipping rope for a fun at-home workout.
  • Cook something completely different for dinner.
  • Go and watch the sun set on the beach.
  • Wear those items in your wardrobe you've been saving for a special occasion.
  • Book a leave day, and take yourself somewhere in your city you've never been.
  • Take yourself out for lunch or a coffee somewhere different.
  • Get up early and watch the sun rise.
  • Have breakfast in bed.

 

5. Treat yourself

"Treat yo self!"

Don't forget how special you are. If you're feeling down, be gentle, and handle yourself with love. Learning to love and cherish yourself can be a lifelong journey. The little things in life can bring so much pleasure, and we must remember to treat ourselves when we feel low. If your budget is limited, don't be dissuaded; just use your creativity. The best gift we can give ourselves is simply some time out.

Be mindful not to use food, shopping, alcohol or drugs as a way to numb or distract yourself. If you suspect you are doing this, it's important to talk to someone who can help you work through any underlying issues (see links at the end of the article).

Loving ways to treat yourself

  • Run a bubble bath with candles.
  • Take time out alone and put on a movie.
  • Make a cup of tea and sit in the sun with a book.
  • Go and get a massage or spa treatment.
  • Have a meal at your favourite cafe or restaurant.
  • Cook yourself a special meal at home.
  • Put fresh sheets on your bed, and light a few candles in your room.
  • Browse a bookstore, and choose a magazine or book to take home. The self-help book section is a great one to browse if you're feeling a bit flat.
  • If budget permits, consider booking a weekend away in the near future to have something to look forward to.
  • Book in to a new class; try meditation, yoga, cooking or something creative.

 

When to get help

If you've been feeling down for a while, or feel like you are too low to get out on your own, it's time to ask for help. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek help immediately. You don't have to suffer alone. There are so many ways to get through depression, and many wonderful resources around. Click on the links below for more information.

www.depression.org.nz | Depression helpline freephone 0800 111 757

www.mentalhealth.org.nz

www.mentalhealth.org.nz

http://www.livemoreawesome.com/

http://www.talkingworks.co.nz/

8 Ways To Love Yourself (And Why It's So Important)

I am LOVE 

To transform our lives, self-love is essential. But what does that even mean? And where on earth do we start? The good news is, simple steps and changes can completely change our lives.

Self-love is about caring for and respecting ourselves every day, in every action and thought. It's about supporting ourselves and being gentle when things get tough. It's about making healthy choices that honour our bodies and minds.

Our inner chatterbox can be incredibly harsh. We wouldn't speak to our loved ones the way we speak to ourselves, so why do we allow this barrage of negativity in our inner world? And why do we listen to this voice? As women, we critique ourselves constantly, which confirms to our subconscious mind that we aren't good enough. At the root of it, this is what we all fear.

Here's the catch....

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.

You are absolutely perfect the way you are.

You are unique.

You are beautiful.

You are gifted. 

You are love.

Slowly changing our belief set can be tough but will reap wonderful rewards. We must learn to be our own biggest fans. We must love ourselves unconditionally, and be able to create happiness and joy from within. As you make these changes, you will notice that things in your life start to change, and people start responding to you differently. Simple practices built into our daily routine can make an enormous difference. The best part is, no one can ever take this gift away from you.

 

Easy ways to practice self-love

 

1. Be aware that your mind doesn't rule you. You rule your mind.

Start to notice the negative thoughts that come up day to day. Be aware that you do not have to take these thoughts on board. Observing them from the outside will help you see that they do not hold any truth. Visualise placing these thoughts in a river, and watch them drift away from you.

 

2. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

For instance "I feel fat and ugly today" could be replaced with: "I love and accept my body. I am beautiful inside and out". Don't underestimate the power of positive self-talk. What you think becomes your truth. It may feel weird and downright unnatural to think this way, but your subconscious mind is always listening. Raise your vibration. Whatever you give energy to will amplify.

 

3. Nourish yourself with beautiful food.

We are all human, and it's okay to eat treats on occasion. Adhere to the 80 / 20 rule. Respecting your body by feeding it plenty of healthy food is a wonderful way to love yourself. Extra fruit and vegetables are a great place to start. Eat the rainbow, and you'll feel amazing.

 

4. Create rituals that make you feel happy and beautiful.

This may be a bubble bath with candles, a ten-minute meditation, or a cup of herbal tea while reading a book. Taking time out just for ourselves is essential. We devote so much of our time to other, but we can't look after anyone else if we are running on empty. Direct some loving, nurturing energy back to yourself, and make time for this every single day.

 

5. Every time you pass a mirror, compliment yourself.

This may feel weird and unnatural at first, but persist with it. Repeating positive thoughts and affirmations daily will help with body image and self-love. We are all special in our own way, and it's up to us to embrace this; waiting for others to validate us will only leave us disappointed.    

 

6. Get moving.

Regular exercise is vital for the mind, body, and soul. The endorphins released during exercise give us an instant mood boost - and exercising is the perfect time to work on positive affirmations. Try repeating "I am healthy, fit, and happy. I love my body" during your workout. Or even simply "I approve of myself."

 

7. Practice gratitude.

Every day upon waking, think of at least three things you are grateful for, and do the same before you go to sleep. It could be as simple as being thankful for having a comfortable bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, and loved ones around you. If you're having a bad day, writing a list of things you are grateful for is a quick way to gain perspective and improve your mood.

 

"Acknowledging the good that you have in your life is the foundation for all abundance."

- Eckhart Tolle

 

8. Eliminate anything from your life that doesn't serve you.

Stop idolising celebrities, unfollow Instagram accounts that don't make you feel good about yourself, and switch off the reality TV. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don't forget that everyone has bad days, and we all struggle with the same issues. We create separation between us, but we are all here having this crazy human experience together.

Focus on the good, and surround yourself with positive influences. This may mean re-evaluating friendships and relationships that are causing more harm than good. It is said that you are a product of the five people you spend the most time with, so choose carefully. Sometimes we have to let go of the old for wonderful new things to come into our lives.

 

Know that you have all the tools within you to transform. A simple decision to cultivate self-love will set the wheels in motion and can change your life. 

 

BEAUTY GURU SELF-LOVE MANTRAS

Repeat. All day, every day. 

"I approve of myself."

"I love myself."

"I am beautiful, inside and out."

"I allow my higher self to take the wheel."

"I trust in the process."

"I allow myself to be fulfilled, joyful, and abundant."