self-care

Happy new year to you all! This month’s article is not about resolutions, but about something we should be doing regularly (and probably should have been doing all along): that is self-care of the mind, body, emotions and spirit. It’s never too late to start – anytime is a good time. How about now?

Sure, it’s nice to take a steamy bubble bath, or buy something nice for ourself when we can afford it, even indulge in a sweet treat, or get a mani-pedi…you name it. However, caring for the self goes much deeper. I was exposed to this concept around 1999 or 2000 after having worked in the child abuse prevention and trauma field for a brief period of time. For the last 20 years, I have had a self-care regimen of some kind. Still, I have been treated for vicarious traumatization (VT) and secondary traumatic stress (STS)/compassion fatigue (CF) due to all the exposures in my field and my particular work as a trauma therapist over the years, in addition to my own history. Life can be complicated and we can be complicated creatures. No one self-care routine is best. They can differ drastically from individual to individual. One routine may feel sufficient for months, then suddenly more support may be needed in one or more areas. A lot of what professionals teach regarding self-care, we can learn on our own with some research and thoughtful consideration. If you are experiences symptoms of VT, STS/CF, consult with a professional – that is a licensed psychologist or licensed psychotherapist specializing in trauma. After all, it is an opportunity to have another offer evaluation, new ideas and emotional support through a heightened self-care process.

Sometimes, self-care is divided up into physical, mental, emotional, spiritual categories, which is alright, but I prefer to look at things differently because one action, or domain, can support each of these categories.

One major self-care domain is Time in Nature. Getting regular time in the great outdoors and away from busy city life can do wonders for our nervous system and for calming theIMG-4846 mind and the emotions. Taking in fresh air while surrounded by plants and trees is a gift in itself. We can connect spiritually in nature as well. After all, everything is alive. Some people I know go camping (sleeping on the ground directly) every season while others dedicate a weekend day to beach walks, forest trail running or engaging in the practice known as Earthing. Earthing, sometimes also referred to as Grounding, is basically walking barefoot on dirt or grass (not on concrete) for example, like our ancestors did. The last time I did this, it was 45 degrees outside. My feet felt the chill of the ground, but I was bundled up everywhere else, so I was fine. The practice of Earthing is recommended in order to absorb some earth energy, as the planet is negatively charged. IMG-4842The build up of positively charged free radicals throughout the day can be tamed through Earthing due to it’s antioxidant effect. It’s an anti-inflammatory technique! Instead of coffee, try 15 minutes of Earthing in the afternoon as a caffeine substituting self-experiment for relieving grogginess. If getting your shoes off is impossible, do not give up – do it with bare hands instead.

Another major domain in my life is Organic Whole Food, Plant-based Eating. I used to complain (a lot) that organic purchases were too expensive, and that I didn’t have time to cook. Then I had a wake-up call teaching me that buying cheap food on the fly can lead to expensive medical treatments needed to correct a problem I encouraged through my behavior and choices. The inflammatory garbage I was putting in my mouth most days came with a cost. Basically, it’s pay now or pay later with a potentially bigger cost. This decade, it is even more critical since hundreds of new chemicals are being introduced into the environment each year. We know (for years now actually) that babies are born with toxins in their umbilical cord blood. Pregnant mothers’ blood carries many toxic chemicals too, of course. This develops by way of environmental exposures, one being the pesticides in processed and conventional foods. Thinking more about costs, some organic choices are very affordable, such as bulk beans, grains, and even certain fruits and vegetables are similarly priced to conventional. If it’s possible to grocery shop with a friend or family member with similar interests, the experience can be educational, curious, and maybe even fun. Eating as clean as possible offers benefits not just for physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. It’s true – consuming organic foods can be a support for optimal mental and emotional functioning.

An additional major domain is what I’ll label as Cleaning. Our entire being –mind, body, emotions, spirit – can benefit from regular cleaning. By cleaning, I mean committing to actions that invoke reflection, gratitude, clarity, protection, and especially release. Here are some examples:

Unstructured, reflective journaling,

Warm epsom and Celtic sea salt baths,

Writing gratitude lists (at least 10 things I am grateful for),

Mindfulness practices including meditation and guided imagery,

Energetic services such as Reiki or acupuncture,

Tracking dreams and looking for patterns and themes,

Adopting a short home-based energy medicine routine (see November 2019 article),

Getting lost in a craft such as knitting, painting, or coloring mandalas.

That’s only eight examples, but naturally, there are dozens and dozens of ways to clean. I clean daily-to-weekly. How about you?

Most of the ideas I have shared here can be combined in a variety of ways and many of them support more than just one aspect of ourselves. What you see here is by no means an exhaustive list, so add to it, and please share your ideas with me. Remember, a solid self-care routine can be done at-home and cost nothing, or if you have extra funds, hiring a service provider can be very nice.

Everyone wants their personal compass pointed in the direction of good health, happiness, meaning and connection. The power to make changes lies within each one of us. There is no rule saying that changes must be drastic or come all at once. Every small step we make in the right direction for our lives and the lives of our loved ones is well worth it in my book. May this new year bring all good things your way!

 

2020 blessings to you and yours,

Kim

#selfcare

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mindful intentions for 2017

Happy new year! May 2017 be filled with good health, inner peace, creativity, and prosperity for you and your loved ones. I just now realized that conscious chimera is almost a year old – 2016 flew by – incredible!

Last year I touched on the use of affirmative statements in self-hypnosis (see ‘the application of self-hypnosis’ released on June 1, 2016). Now, as a new year begins, let’s expand on this idea. Our use of language, whether it’s self-talk or something said aloud, can help or hinder. For example, negative self-talk and particular thought patterns are associated with depression and other disorders. As people all over the United States are making new years resolutions, why not resolve to add affirmative and positive language use to our ‘to-do’ list? Speaking to ourselves and others with more positive and affirmative language is not only easier to process and even more kind, but it can carve a path for greater success. This is especially true for young children, who process much slower than adults. Often, children are told “don’t run,” “don’t hit,” or “don’t fall.” Run, Hit and Fall are processed first, and more easily and quickly. If we are to change these directives to affirmative ones, we are more likely to see the results we want. Therefore, they can become, “Walk please,” “Use safe hands,” or “Hold on tight” (or “Pay attention,” for example).

Consider how often we may say or hear something like this: “You’re not dumb.” Or “I’m not stupid, but…” In either case, the ‘not’ is processed afterward, and more importantly, the mind moves the listener (with mental self-talk, that listener is you) in the direction of the dominant thought, no matter if the statement is in the positive or negative. Essentially, we are hearing “You’re dumb” or “I’m stupid” first. Just as was done above, these statements can be changed to “You’re smart,” or “I’m capable, but…” or any other positive and affirmative configuration.

Non-affirmative language dominates the many cultures. Making a change to state what you do want takes a little practice and attention – with time and practice, it will become the norm. Other common examples and how they can be worded differently are:

Don’t worry.  -> It will work out.

Don’t be nervous.  -> Remain calm. Or stay relaxed and breathe.

Don’t hesitate to call/ask for help, etc.  -> Call anytime/I can help.

Don’t forget to _________.  -> Remember to _________.

These are some ideas. Of course, every situation is unique and more appropriate adjustments may be necessary.

Affirmative and positive language takes a leading role in hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis (or any other tool one uses for personal growth and making positive changes). As we think about, describe and list our new years resolutions, we can attain them with much more ease when they are in positive and affirmative language. For the most common resolutions, such as exercise, setting time limits, specific routines, and a daily log can help with motivation, specificity, and accountability. These are examples of particular points one would attend to when doing self-hypnosis, or working with a hypnotherapist. When I was young, I heard many adults talk about starting diets after the new year. They would list off certain foods they would not eat (Cake, French fries, sugary cereal, milk shakes, candy bars). Whether the list was actual or a mentally rehearsed one, the foods to be avoided held a special status and were constantly given attention. A higher success rate could be expected if the list contained healthy alternatives (hard-boiled egg, hearty salad, vegetable juice, fruit smoothie, grilled veggies). In short, the goal is to focus on what we will do and how it will get done in affirmative language.

When it comes to dreamwork, some want to increase dream recall frequency or increase awareness and lucidity. Like hypnotherapy, I work in a similar way here. First, it is understood that all recollections are to be recoded. All value judgments are set aside because often people only write what has been judged as good enough, or worthy of recording. Then, once we recognize that pitfall, mental scripts and exercises for increasing recall and awareness are created. They are worded in affirmative and positive language that is specific and attainable. For example, “As soon as I wake up, I will write down my dream and include every detail” (referring to the journal and pen on the nightstand). By setting intentions in these ways, we directly support the attainment of our most desired goals.

 

All good things in the new year,

Kim