Pouring water on the nervous system...
I’m inspired by several recent conversations with wise friends. We shared stories of the important lessons we’ve learned over the years through the various roles of being a partner, mother, business owner, friend, and family member. These conversations reminded me about how important it is to maintain a mindful and loving connection with myself in order for the relationships in my life to flourish.
That basically, it can be easy to forget to take care of myself when in the midst of balancing the various demands of owning a business, being a counselor and artist, "parenting" a blind dog, being a partner, friend, etc, etc.
What stood out the most from these conversations was this message: I value taking care of myself so that I am able to be fully present with others.
It’s got me thinking about what I’m cultivating in the relationship with myself. I’m inspired to take time, even if just a few minutes, to tune in to what my body and soul need. I’m reminded that when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I can pause for just a moment and take a deep breath. It may not solve all of my worries, but it helps me to be more present with what’s happening in the moment.
I’m inspired to take care of myself so that my relationships can flourish with intention, love, honesty, and presence.
SELF-COMPASSION AND TAKING EXQUISITE CARE OF OURSELVES
"One of the main antidepressant elements of self-compassion is the power to soothe ourselves in the face of suffering. This isn't just a feel-good psychobabble idea; there's a biological basis to it that relates to the hormone Oxycontin, which is known as the hormone of love and bonding... Engaging self-compassion changes our brain chemistry..." -Uncovering Happiness
LET IT LINGER...
"If we know that neurons that fire together wire together, one thing we want to keep in mind when doing any soothing activity is to let the experience linger, even if just for a few seconds. Take in the moment fully and sense how it feels in your body. Be curious about the experience knowing that engaging novelty is one of the best drivers of neuroplastic change." -Uncovering Happiness
CREATE YOUR OWN SOOTHING SELF-CARE LIST
Think: if stress activates our flight, fight, freeze response and creates a nervous system that's "on fire," what can I do that's "like water" to my nervous system? The way we begin our day sets the stage for a happy body and nervous system. Start your day with exquisite self-care by waking yourself up gently and lovingly.
A few ideas to get you started...
♥ be aware of unhelpful thoughts (“I didn’t get enough sleep”) and create a morning mantra for yourself (example: “My needs are being met now and will be met throughout the day”)
♥ use a soothing sound or song as your alarm clock
♥ invest in a battery operated alarm clock (and keep your cell phone
in another room while you’re sleep) so that you’re not waking up and
immediately checking your phone/email/social media
♥ say a prayer of blessing for the day (example: May I move through this day with ease and self-compassion)
♥ spend a few minutes breathing with your hand over heart
♥ do a little stretching or yoga while you’re still in bed
♥ gratitude practice- write or say aloud/silently three things
you’re thankful for
♥ set an intention for the day (examples: Today I will take my
time and not rush. Today I will drink plenty of water. Today I
will not share or listen to gossip.)
♥ drink a glass of filtered water with fresh squeezed lemon
before you eat or drink anything else
“Self-care is just this: lovingly meeting ourselves exactly where we are and allowing things to be as they are.”
-Sara Avant Stover
TUCKING YOURSELF IN AT NIGHT
After a busy day, it’s essential that we unwind, soothe the nervous system, and shift our body out of fight/flight and into the parasympathetic relaxation response.
A few ideas to get you started...
♥ warm Epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil
♥ reduce screen time (computer, t.v., cell phone) 1-2 hours before you go to sleep
♥ sip warm, herbal tea (my favorite is Yogi Bedtime tea)
♥ spritz your bedroom, bed, and pillow with lavender essential oil (add 30 drops of oil and water to a small spray bottle)
♥ rest for 3-5 minutes in supported child’s pose or leg's up the wall pose (you can even do these poses in your bed!)
♥ write in a journal (I highly recommend the DayOne journal app)
♥ listen to a guided meditation (Insight Timer has excellent yoga nidra meditations)
Enjoy a 5-minute Self-Compassion Break meditation by Angela Marino.
Neuroscience has shown that self-compassion has a natural antidepressant effect on the brain. When we practice self-compassion, it regulates and soothes our nervous system, inducing a parasympathetic response, while sending a signal to the brain that we are safe. Listen to this brief mindfulness practice anytime you need support through anxiety, depression, fear, insecurities, grief, or recovery.
Angela Marino is a trauma-informed therapist who views mental health + therapy through a holistic lens. Her approach to therapy is both collaborative and holistic, centering around her values of mindfulness, connection, embodied presence, and deep listening. She's also an artist, writer, and Kripalu-certified yoga teacher in Asheville, NC. Please visit her