Many people believe self-care or putting yourself first is selfish - the truth is far from it. It's so important that we are well cared for and who better to do it then ourselves. We can't help others or contribute well unless our own lives and wellbeing is prioritised. If not we burn out, get too tired, have low energy, are badly nourished, hungover, unkind to ourselves or simply put ourselves to the bottom of the pile where is hard to achieve even the smallest thing.
Self care brings energy, compassion, vibrancy, a sense of worth and encourages our purpose and meaning. We will be healthier happier, stronger, more creative better able to cope with challenges, stimulated - need I go on?
Profound change can come with a simple change in attitude towards ourselves, and some action too. So make a list of 10 things that you can do that make yourself feel good that don't cost anything but you know they make you feel relaxed, calm, happy and worth it. If you treat yourself well, you role model to others how they might treat you, themselves and others. You can see my list - what's on yours? Take a pen and paper and write it down, make sure you stick it up where you will see it and do at least two every day (getting up to doing all ten ideally!). It's your human right to be kind to yourself, so you can take a firm place in this world - the rest will follow.
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There are different methods of managing or reducing anxiety because of the different causes and uniqueness of each individual. This technique is so quick and the result can be profound. First a little background:
When we experience high anxiety our adrenal gland is pumping and we've gone into fight, flight or freeze mode (the Autonomic Nervous System - ANS - becomes active). For example, when an animal realises there is a predetor they go into this state to get them out of danger - they are alerted by their senses to make one of these choices to maximise the chance of survival. These three strategies of fight, flight or freeze are excellent if you are in danger (anxiety to address a particular situation is normal), however often people feel anxiety and intense, acute anxiety even when there is no current danger.
Causes of Generalised Anxiety
When anxiety is persistent state has become fixed. It can be a result of a past trauma that may be re-activated out of awareness, childhood neglect or abuse from others - (deliberate or accidental) that remains unprocessed and possibly forgotten. Additionally problems with parental attunement (and empathy) is thought to contribute to anxiety in later life, again accidental (parents usually do their best) or through negligence.
Alternatively (or both) an overload of difficulties in current circumstances or repeated challenges can also result in anxiety rising and rising until and that seems like there is no way out or way down into a 'resting' state. Our culture has almost reached breaking point in terms of what human beings are expected to deal with, and busi-ness and stress has become the norm. Alongside the usual existential challenges we face (illness, death etc) it is beyond human capacity to tolerate for many, if not most of us - especially sensitive people.
Thirdly some of us have higher amounts of cortisol and cortisol receptors in our nervous system (thought to be a combination of genes and parental attunement/response when our minds are forming in early life) so were prone to experience higher anxiety than most. So we need to act and do much to help manage it - and we can! (It's important not to label yourself an 'anxious person' as this just fixes it further and gives the impression that there can be no change.) Others are generally more relaxed but may still benefit from these techniques if life circumstances are the cause.
Switch ANS to PNS - Fight or Flight - Regulation to Homeostasis:
One way of turning off the autonomic nervous system (clinically tested!) is this very simple breathing technique.
Breathe in for a count of four
Breath out for a count of eight.
Repeat 2-3 times
That is it!! If you don't like the counting just make the out breath longer than the in breath as this is what stimulates the activation of the PNS or regulatory state.
It's so simple you can do it at work, on the bus, in the loo, on the street or on the sofa. Please try it before you move on - it takes seconds!!
If you find it difficult focussing on your breath then whole you do the exercise focus your attention elsewhere - just outside your abdomen, your feet on the ground, something you can see in front of you. Let me know how you get on!
I'll be writing more techniques to address anxiety in future posts so watch this space! For further support for anxiety, if this isn't enough, find a therapist or consult your GP. Although I believe most problems can be addressed naturally a course of an anti anxiety medication or natural remedy (such as Ashwaghanda) can help hit 'reset'. Neither are a substitute for processing the events that have lead to the state arising in the first place which a good counsellor or psychotherapist can help with.
So let's slow down, do less, increase self care (see my other tips!) and talk about our issues together.
A counsellor (Prof. Dip) and psychotherapist (MSc) sharing inspiration and tips for better wellbeing. My knowledge is freely given, please feel free to share after asking! Let's help each other lead satisfying meaningful lives.