In a world of external focus where a scale determines your worth and your salary defines your success, you need to turn inward to find wellness and well-being. In order to survive and create balance, start connecting with your inner core — your true self. But how can you make this connection when everything around you points to the polar opposite of looking outward?
Here are my favorite ways to self-care that allow for connecting with yourself and feeling the best. The beautiful thing is that you don't need to shell out money in order to utilize these methods. All of the following tips ultimately affect food intake, so pay close attention. They will help lead you on your journey to feeling and being well.
1. De-Stress Your Nervous System
That's right! Rid pain, inflammation and more with my favorite at home self-care set. It is the "melt method" and props. This method is not about melting away your love handles. It's about ridding pain while also restoring balance to your nervous system ultimately affecting digestion, energy levels and more.
I was first introduced to this method by my master gyrotonic and pilates instructor, Michelle Spinner, at Kinected Studios in NYC. Michelle, as well as my rolfing practitioner, Marie Zahn, always told me, it starts in our feet. If your feet are "off," your body will be "off." It makes perfect sense, yet most people never think about their feet when contemplating well-being.
So start from the tips of your toes, and work your way up. Use the melt hand and foot treatment with the melt balls. These little balls may not exactly feel heavenly the first time you use them, but they work. I started using them last Fall, and by the time winter rolled around, I noticed remarkable change.
This was the first year that I was able to ski pain-free since 1996! I used the melt method every night after skiing. The best thing about this new tool? The balls are travel-friendly! You can easily transport the balls with you wherever you go. The melt balls enable you to be proactive with your own form of manual therapy!
2. Find Awareness — Not Calorie Burn — with Yoga
If a yoga studio is practically screaming "burn calories!," walk the other way. This is not the type of yoga practice that I, personally, recommend. When you hear the word "yoga," you may think, "I can't be still" or "My mind will not stay quiet that long." Well, take a chance and try it anyways.
Every form and practice of yoga varies from studio to studio. You can even do yoga in the privacy of your own home or hotel room. Just download a yoga session from the web and then tune into your body. Become aware of what your physical body needs, as well as what your mental body emotionally desires.
One of the beautiful things about yoga (if you find the right studio or practice) is that it embodies a form of movement that honors your body. It allows you to connect with your internal cues. You can work with your body while still challenging it. You may feel things you have never felt before and become aware of your body's capabilities as well as its limitations. The latter can seem daunting, but if you practice with a phoenix rising yoga instructor such as Maria Mora or with Yogi Abbie at Katonah Yoga in NYC, you may walk away from the experience emotionally lighter and truly in awe of yourself.
The best part of yoga, from a nutrition perspective, is its helpfulness in connecting you with your hunger-fullness signals. By listening to your body and being mindful in yoga, you can transfer lessons learned in practice to the dining room table.
3. Eat Mindfully
Get rid of the diet mentality, and start eating for physical reasons. People tend to eat for three reasons: emotional, behavioral and/or physical.
Emotional eaters soothe themselves with food when attempting to cope with stress, depression, etc. The emotional eater may also eat in order to reward happy feelings. Is this you?
Or are you a behavioral eater? Eating when bored or simply because food intake linked to specifics in your daily routine (i.e. during lunch hour, upon reentry to your home, when watching TV) defines someone who eats for behavioral reasons.
Eating for physical reasons encompasses a brain-belly connection. You are aware that your body is in need of food, and thus you provide it. You can use hunger and fullness signals to gauge how much of the food to eat. Don't worry, it's okay if you identify with all of the above. For the most part, everyone does. The goal of eating mindfully is to take care of your health by eating out of physical necessity the majority of the time.
If you are ready to embark on this approach, consider reading the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, RD, and Elyse Resch, RD, and/or Moving Away From Diets by Nancy King, Karin Kratina and Dayle Hayes.
4. Feed Relationships with Date Night
Whether you are single or married, schedule a night just to yourself and one out with your best friend or your partner. Every relationship needs tending — just like a garden. If you neglect the first and second most important relationships in your life (the relationship with yourself being number one), it will ultimately affect your mood, behavior and self-care. This neglect can lead to rash food decisions and eating for emotional reasons rather than physical ones.
Plan one to two hours of alone time for weekly self care sessions. This is time for reading, meditating or even just resting. Also, add a date night to your calendar once a week. This is for time with your second most important relationship. It may be cooking dinner together, rock climbing at an indoor gym or seeing a play. Whatever the activity may entail, be sure to stop and make time for yourself and your loved ones. These relationships feed us.
Use these four foolproof methods to start your self-care program. Let me know how it goes!
More on self love from YourTango: