How Are You? Self Care Tips to Really Find Out!
How are you? We are asked this question several times a day, and we probably answer “Fine”, or “O.K.” but is that the truth? Chances are, often not, but we say it because maybe it’s a habit, or it’s easier that explaining the true answer, or perhaps we haven’t done the personal inventory to actually know the answer. And, honestly, do we even believe the person asking really wants to know or is it just such an ingrained greeting and response that the sincere answer is irrelevant. Well, I’m asking, and I want you to answer truthfully! Not to tell me, but to get clear with yourself and take an honest look!
Let’s start with the physical self. How are you feeling in your body? Drop your shoulders, relax your forehead, unclench your jaw…Does that feel different or were you already relaxed? It there a crick in your neck? Are you hungry or full? Are your joints stiff? When you have time, I invite you to lay down and check in with the whole physical body. Start with your toes, relaxing each area as you go…ankles, shins and calves, knees, etc. You get the idea. Notice with attention and inquiry what is going on in each area as you scan the body. Where you find pain or tension, think about what you can do to change it. Movement is medicine…heard that a few times? It’s true and getting your body moving supports all systems within, just a 30-minute walk or bike ride can change how we feel. When time is short or the zoom meeting is long, take a few minutes to roll the ankles and wrists, make fists and then relax the whole hand, bring the ear to the shoulder with the shoulder dropped to stretch the neck (both sides). Find small and subtle ways to move the joints throughout the day to keep them lubricated and loose!
Moving on to the energetic self; how is your energy feeling? Are you restless, fatigued, calm, up-beat? Identify the energy (or lack thereof) moving through your body and then take a look at how common this energy is for you. Are you usually energetic and the life of the party but today is off, or is a sluggish vibe your norm? Notice too when the current energy trend started, mid-March perhaps? Does your energy fluctuate throughout the day, based on what you eat, or your sleep schedule? There is no right or wrong here, just notice and maybe even keep an energy log to track how your vibe changes. If you find that you feel charged after a good night sleep or a fresh seasonal meal, maybe incorporate that “thing” into your life on a more regular basis. Do you feel blah or lifeless after watching the news for too long or eating fast food? Maybe do that less. Everything we “feed” ourselves affects our energetic self, from food, to air, to sunshine, to noise from music or news, to the voice of a loved one. All of our senses receive input from everything around us so being mindful of what we allow in can give us the ability to keep our energy up and positive!
How about the mental self? Here I’m talking about your thoughts, daydreams, opinions, and beliefs. Some thoughts are fleeting and on the surface while our deepest beliefs are ingrained in who we are, and came from our upbringing, education, and culture. How do our beliefs affect how we operate and function? In every way possible! Core beliefs are the lens through which we see the world and ourselves. Not inherently bad, but often limiting. What are some beliefs you have that hold you back or stir up feelings that don’t serve you? Can you challenge them and consider a new perspective? Here’s an example of how shifting a personal belief can be life changing…If you’ve read my bio, you know I never took a yoga class until I was 43, and was certain (belief!) that I was too old and chubby for an activity that seemed reserved for young thin women (another belief!). Because the belief of my dear friend and yoga teacher challenged mine, I gave it a try. Long story short, my developing yoga practice had me look deep and consider that my opinion about myself and my abilities was not fact, but the lens through which I chose to see myself. This led to my first teacher training, which eventually led me to embark on my 3-year training to become a Certified Yoga Therapist. Even that decision challenged my lens, committing to a lengthy program in a place I had never been or met a single person was crazy! What if everyone was 22 and looked like yoga Barbie? I changed my belief that I was too old and (less) chubby into I had something to contribute and learn, and this was my path. Point here is that we tend to hold onto the notion that our beliefs are facts. Some of them are (the earth is round, science is real) and some of them are not (I am not confident, I am not smart). I invite you to check out some of your beliefs that may be causing your mental self some unnecessary strife. Pick one and challenge it, find evidence that its not true and see how that can change your outlook and thoughts!
Finally, on to the wisdom self…This is where the thoughts end and the “knowing” begins. Intuition, gut feeling, instinct. This is where we know something without analytic reasoning and the gap is bridged between the conscious and non-conscious parts of our mind. Sometimes we feel most tapped in here in the moments right before we fall asleep, when the thoughts stop, and we feel peace. Another time is during meditation. How is your wisdom self feeling? Are you feeling connected, in tune with your instincts, confident in your gut? One way to tell is if the jibber jabber in your mind has sort of taken over and there is no sense of calm in there! If you aren’t big on meditation (although I highly recommend giving it a try), here’s a way to tap into that wisdom self. Come up with am affirmation or phrase that speaks to where you want to be, “I am calm”, “I am at peace”, “I am safe”…Find 5 minutes in a quiet spot and repeat your phrase to yourself while slowing the breath and relaxing the body, either laying on your back or seated. Every time your mind wanders to the shopping list or work emails, bring it back to the phrase. After the 5 minutes, notice how you feel. Try this daily, or at least when you notice the chit chat taking on a life of it’s own! (and that was kind of meditation, so you can do it!)
So, how are you? Next time someone asks, you can still say “fine”, or “O.K.”, but give yourself permission to really assess, look at all of these “selves” and do what you can to support their well-being. Move, eat well, sleep, hydrate, listen to your favorite tunes, challenge your beliefs, listen to your gut, and raise that vibe! Now is not the time to let these things slip, THIS is self-care…Oh, and VOTE!!!!