Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Self-Care, Healing, & Forgiveness Pt. 1

I have the kettle on for my second cuppa joe and I'm mentally bemoaning the time change. Every time Spring comes around and we have to spring forward, I am reminded that time change works directly against taking care of ourselves. For those of us who try to become more balanced and aligned with the natural rhythms of nature, the illogical, human-mandated change of time wreaks havoc in our systems. How are we supposed to live in harmony with ourselves, nature, AND societal standards and edicts? I mean, we can't ALL move to Arizona and live it up in a non-time-changing zone.   ;)

This is to say that self-care has been pushing its way to the front of my mind. A big part of self-care has to do with eating habits, exercise, and spirituality. I already touched on exercise and spirituality, although I might do so again. But, I haven't talked about eating habits. I might do that at a later post, but that topic has become so prevalent that, quite honestly, I don't want to become part of the debate.  I believe in a few basic rules when it comes to the foods we consume.  Number one: Try to eat organic foods, or the closest thing to it (chemicals and hormones are bad).  Number two: listen to your body.  If you eat something and you feel icky afterward (gas, stomach/intestinal pain, headaches, etc.), try eliminating it.  Number three: If you cook it yourself, it is more likely to be healthy.   I may do one post about my various trials and tribulations with what I've done with my eating habits, but not today.  Today I am going to touch on self-care.  I did a presentation on this in one of my graduate counseling classes, but since then, my understanding and passion has grown.  I am a huge proponent of taking care of ourselves.  Each of us has to, at some point, become a little selfish.  We each have to think about our own well being.  Even the kindest, most giving individual will begin to feel horrible physically, emotionally, and spiritually if he or she doesn't take care of him or herself.

With time change, one of the best ways to combat imbalance is to try to go to sleep earlier.  Ideally, this would be an hour earlier, but starting with 15-30 minutes is still a good idea.  Maybe you can allow yourself to go to bed 15-30 minutes early and wake up 15-30 minutes late.  That way you aren't throwing yourself off by too much.  I know that our bodies will eventually reset themselves and we will grow accustomed to the time, but I love to find ways to help my body NOT suffer. Here are some things we do every night to help us sleep.  My husband is on medication for insomnia associated with nightmares because of PTSD.  Even with his medication, he can wake up at night and have a difficult time getting back to sleep right away.  His doctor recommended using white noise as a way to lull him to sleep.  We started off with using a fan, but graduated to nature sounds using Sleep Pillow on the iPad.  (Here is a website that lists sleep apps for Android).  We found that when we go camping, husband sleeps better.   With that realization, we decided to create our own mix of his favorite nature sounds.  He likes wind, crickets, and rain.  I've found that now I can't sleep without it.  I have a problem sleeping sometimes for two reasons, my mind won't shut down and sinus issues.  When I need my mind to quiet, I make a cup of a blend of sleep-aid tea I've created (one day I will be able to offer this tea for sale) and I either sit in the dark until I'm falling asleep and have finished my tea, or I sit in bed and read a "bedside" book.  The books I read in bed aren't spellbinding.  Usually they have to deal with spirituality.  (My bedside list right now consists of: Women Who Run with the WolvesGaia SpeaksA Calendar of Wisdom, and Standing in the Light). If I have things going through my mind that won't leave, I journal my thoughts and do a grounding exercise similar to the ones I described in my last post.  I am still researching the best natural ways to deal with my sinuses.  For a long time I took Claritin-D.  I couldn't sleep without it, but then i started having dizzy spells and vertigo feelings.  I quit taking the medication and it went away.  Now I'm using this organic breathe easy rub from Honest.com.  I rub it on the bottom of my feet, chest, and nose.  I also use doTerra lavender and peppermint essential oils.  I massage them into the base of my skull, temples, and eyebrows.

The last one I made
So, what if you go to sleep early and still feel like you are way too drained the next day?  Grafanaki and colleagues (2005) describe "leisure" as being a way to help us de-stress.  Leisure is defined as, "the ability to experience timelessness, letting go of the need for structure and boundaries, a melding of the sacred and secular" (Grafanaki et al., 2005, p. 31).  Roland (2009) expounds on leisure, "Find what helps, embrace a stress-free zone now and then (whatever that is for you), and then allow the time and attention to use that help" (p. 66).  Leisure and stress-free zones differ from one to another.  For one, it might be exercise, for another it may be reading or watching a movie.  Whatever it is, take time out to do it.  My mom is a business woman, oversees several different bank branches, often requiring a lot of travel.  Her way of decompressing after work is to play games on her phone or kindle, games like Candy Crush.  They help distract her mind from work and allow her to relax physically.  For me, I enjoy making things.  I recently started a new crochet rag rug, this one will be rectangular.  I also enjoy listening to books, they help me escape mentally.

So, ways of taking care of yourself include: eating healthy, making time for exercise (and spending time outdoors), pay attention to your soul-health,  sleep well, and schedule leisure.  Finally, be open to emotional healing by practicing forgiveness.  In my next post (or two), I will go more in depth about healing and forgiveness.  For now, focus on your sleep, your body needs it, your brain needs it, your spirit needs it.  Focus on your leisure time; do things you love, even if it is for five minutes.  Focus on what your body naturally wants for nutrition (not addictions like sugar!), and happy health to you all!  If you have something specific that works for you in taking care of yourself, share it in the comments.

Light and Love!

Grafanaki, pearson, Cini, Godula, McKenzie, Nason, & Anderegg. (2005). Sources of renewal: A qualitative study on the experience and role of leisure in the life of counselors and psychologists, Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 18(1), 31-40.

Roland, Catherine B. (2009). Wellness: A review of theory and measurement for counselors, Journal of Counseling & Development, 87, 216-226.

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