When exhaustion depletion and stress become the norm… self-care, is radical. And I’m not talking about a prescription of bubble baths, manicures and netflix (as nice as these things are) No ma’am. With growing numbers of people experiencing what is being called TATT (Tired All the Time) and symptoms of chronic fatigue brought about by long-term stress and overworking. We need a new paradigm for the way we do LIFE.
It’s time to stop glorifying “busy”, take a deep breath and slow the F down.
Especially women, who are renowned for their ability to multi-task, the toxic mix of a massive workload, not enough time and generally not enough sleep = profound exhaustion. The juggle is real. And we are tired.
In just a few mindful moments a day you can begin to create islands of calm to help anchor yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed. And the best thing is, the more you do it, the collective benefit (i.e. joy, peace, happiness) snowballs.
By choosing slow and mindful over being run in to the ground by your schedule, you are creating new neural pathways that support you in a happier more sustainable lifestyle. Say yes to peace over stress, joy over fear, and take your power back by living according to your own rhythms.
5 soulful self-care practices to use when “busy” has become overwhelm:
Breathe, consciously. When we suffer from stress and emotional turmoil, the mind is racing about in the past or the future. Right here in the present moment, conscious breathing allows you to reconnect with yourself and the peace within.
When you notice the signs of overwhelm or stress creeping in… STOP. Just stop. And breathe consciously for 3 minutes, making an ocean like sound with your breath. This is called Ujayi Pranayama and is a powerful yoga breathing technique to sooth a frazzled mind.
Practice: Conscious breathing using the Ujayi technique for 3 minutes.
Gratitude is a balm for the soul. It takes us straight to our heart. Use gratitude when you are feeling overwhelmed by fear or negative thinking. It works because the pessimistic thoughts are replaced with feelings of deep appreciation.
When we practice heartfelt gratitude, we connect with greatest joys and blessings we have received in this life and there is no longer any space any for the contractedness of fear and negative thinking. Gratitude expands our heart to feel the beauty and natural abundance of life.
Practice: Close your eyes and connect in with something you are truly grateful for. Once you have it clear in your mind, take it from a memory or idea, and drop it down in to the body. Feel your gratitude expanding so it becomes a fully bodied sensation of thankfulness.
3) Intention Setting
In the same way we dress our body, our thoughts dress our mental landscape. If you chose your clothes with intention, why not choose your thoughts with intention (at least to kick the day off and start well aligned with how you want to feel)
Like attracts like. When you are thinking negative thoughts, you will attract more of the same. When you are thinking positive thoughts, you attract more of the same.
Start the day aligned with your most heart felt desire. In Yoga practice the Sanskrit word for heart’s desire is “Sankulpa” (also sometimes translated to mean, intention or resolve).
Practice: Start your day by asking yourself one of the following questions (pick the one you most resonate with)
“What does my heart desire today?”
“How do I want to feel today?”
“What is my intention for today?”
Allow the answer to come to you, rather than thinking/ going hunting for it. Stay open, present, clear and listen until it arises. Then flow in to your morning routine.
Note: Intention setting is especially powerful to do right before a meditation, if you’ve been feeling the call to meditate maybe now is the time to start?! I can’t recommend meditation highly enough, and to be honest the only reason it’s not got a category of it’s own in this list is because I know the word scares people who have tried and ‘failled’. I’ve snuck the M word in here ¾ of the way in to the article for those of you who are ready for it. You are not a skimmer, you are reading this because you are feeling the call to make a change and jump off the overwhelm bus and get some serious chill in to your life. So, friend, how about it? You, Meditating. Why not? Give it a crack starting with #1, "conscious breathing" for 3 minutes and work up adding 1 minute each day. No need to push thinking away or try to clear your mind. Just make the tome to breath and be and BAM, you're meditating. "One Conscious Breath, a meditation" Eckhard Tolle.
4) Sacred Self-Care Ritual
So often when we let our mind rule our life, the poor ol’ bod gets dragged around a bit: late nights, too much coffee, toxic foods, and skipped exercise sessions. And when the body cries out to us with back pain, fatigue or digestive upsets we may find we curse at it to shut up with pain-killers or negative self-talk.
Loving on your body in a sacred self-care ritual, supports the alignment of the mind and positive self talk with the act of physically nourishing your body. Self-massage and body scrubbing are wonderful ways to reconnect with your physical self, slow down and honour your body as a temple. Choose some delicious body products (if you can get cruelty free, natural ones – even better!) and dive in.
Practice: Light a candle and set your intention for your sacred self-care & body -love ritual Begin to exfoliate the skin; scrubbing away dead skin cells as a metaphor for releasing toxic thinking. Then shower to wash away and cleanse yourself. Once you are dry, lather your skin in nourishing body oils or lotions as you speak your intention/ affirmation, silently or aloud, sending the love in to your beautiful body!
Research shows that journaling boosts our emotional intelligence as we become more attuned to how we feel. Writing about what is going on in our inner world brings to light parts of ourselves which may have previously been unseen. We become more mindful, more aware and we get to know ourselves better.
Journaling daily also helps us become more disciplined and can help us to achieve our goals - clarity is so empowering! Additionally, journaling has been shown to boost creativity, release stress and improve self-confidence.
Practice: Find a place to sit where you can connect with yourself and feel at ease. Face the page, fearless and purge what you need to purge; celebrate what you want to celebrate. Write your way through tricky situations, grief, anger, fear, falling in love and surges of ambition. Later you can read back over it and reflect. Look for patterns, themes and deeper layers of insight. It’s not about finished product, it’s a process so let it be messy, imperfect and 100% you.
If facing a blank page is not for you there are loads of amazing journals out there to get your started with writing prompts and I've actually just made one.
The Radical Self Journal (which I have just launched via crowdfunding campaign) is 14 week journey of self-exploration to help you create a positive change in your life and know what you stand for in world. Based off the online program Radical Self-Care Project, I've consciously crafted 100s of daily writing prompts, covering topics such as mindfulness, creativity, boundaries and conscious activism. The journal also includes tools for tracking progress on goals (such as meditation, exercise and hours of sleep), a space to reflect on the week passed, set your daily intention and a cycle tracker to record ebbs and flows of energy through the lunar phases and menstrual cycle (if you have one).