When the lovely Gemma from @calmmamasclub asked team Yoga Leggs for their top three self-care tips, my first thought was who will want advice from me, I am no expert, what do I know? I have been accused in the past of leaning towards self-deprecating behaviour. The accuser was a highly trained therapist (she may have had a very good point).
So I searched the top of my head without over thinking and came up rather spontaneously with three top tips.
Tip 1) Get to a yoga class, you will never ever leave it worse than when you started. Stretching and breathing, no interruptions, best me time ever.
My yoga practise has changed dramatically this last year, going from very slow and steady meditative Hatha yoga which was completely within my comfort zone, to a strong Vinyasa flow, where at first I thought the teacher might be trying to kill me (who has time to be consumed with troublesome thoughts, when you’re concentrating so hard on your ujjayi breath, holding onto mula bandha for dear life and willing your limbs to contort and find your inner thirteen-year-old gymnast whilst balancing on one leg. (I never went to gymnastics!) But I must say that after the initial shock I now love it love it love it. My body thanks you @fringeyoga I swear you will have me doing handstands. You ladies are hardcore. The best. I have also discovered this huge enthusiasm for Kundalini yoga. Thanks @loveuyoga it is crazy mind blowing makes you feel alive goodness. I will never have bingo wings and it’s got my hips moving, trust this was no easy task. The teachers I have met light up the room. Ageless, beautiful and vibrant. Yoga works, but Kundalini Yoga is pure magic.
For me the avoider of all things active for so many decades I’ve found the formula that suits my fitness needs. Although I have recommended Yoga I know my husband gets exactly the same fix from boxing (he enjoys being punched. And he thinks I’m weird). It could be running, walking, bike rides, tennis, horse riding, Pilates or golf taking time out to strengthen your body, (it’s got to last us a very long time) to show it the respect it deserves that’s a good tip.
Tip 2) Buy a new self-help book and actually get around to reading it; even if you only take one piece of good advice from it, put it into practice then share what you’ve learnt.
So I have an addiction to buying self-help, spiritual, yogary books and confession time I don’t always read them all. The pile grows. I probably buy a new one about every five days (damn you Amazon prime!) I just ordered Russell Brand’s Recovery in the hopes he can offer some practical advice. I love the inspirational, witty genius of @rustyrockets, His podcasts are amazing but he’s just leading me down the path of more book titles with his interesting book writing guests!!! I did just switch it up a bit and read the new E.L.James the Mister (Spoiler alert she has quite the obsession with virgins and sex again!).
Anyway so I have my very own path to enlightenment library going on, it might look like I am a dysfunctional, troubled soul searching for answers to the outsider (maybe I am) but I love a good book that encourages self-development, positivity and growth. I do try hard to put into practice what I have learnt and I do like to share the wisdom. Sorry friends and family I know some of it’s a bit way out there. Yes I know I am very annoying. Book of the week Zero Limits by Joe Vitale it’s all about the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono (I can’t pronounce it) healing method. My new mantra is I love you I’m sorry please forgive me thank you. Powerful stuff. What has intrigued me is just how resistant people are to sending out love and forgiveness. Some of the people I have shared this new technique with were quite adamant that it’s never going to happen. I’m up for giving anything a go for an improved more productive way of life and for probably ninety-five per cent of the time I’m at least willing to try but the human being in me gets triggered by a situation usually man/woman made and the love and light flies out of the window taking nice Mandy to a dark ranty place. On a positive note, swearing is supposed to be excellent for clearing your throat chakra. John C. Parkin has built a business empire just by encouraging us to say F**k It. (It actually is quite a brilliant book and concept.)
I understand that some spiritual suggestions sound utterly ridiculous and it’s easier to be more open to them when life is treating you well. But it’s in the darkest moments that we need these practices most, and may require a super strong will to go against everything your mind is urging you to feel. If I had the answers to not reacting to those triggers and not falling into that trap of losing self-control and allowing that situation or person to take something that is so precious, my own peace of mind my calm and happiness I would write my own book and you’d see me on Oprah.
Books are escapism they can take you anywhere you want to go. With the number of books I have read maybe I am qualified to give advice after all!
Tip 3) Spend time with women (friends or family) they get you, offer sane advice when you are feeling nuts and make you laugh.
When I gave this suggestion I had just returned from two separate afternoon teas. One served at nine pm followed up by lots of prosecco some very childish game playing and a sleepover to celebrate a friends fiftieth birthday, the other was spent with an army of female relations welcoming in our latest arrival baby Elsie; named after my beautiful Nan. Both these occasions made me thankful for the wonderful women in my life. Time spent together is nurturing and fun. Anytime spent having human interaction and physical face to face contact with the people we love is nourishing and the best kind of pick me up.
Now I can’t stop!
Music, I’m seriously into the chanting (blame the kundalini) you can just imagine how much my teens enjoy this. Sing along to your favourite songs, play them loud in the car. Dance around the house with the kids, it is a sure-fire mood lifter.
TV or film, I think it goes way-way back to ‘Little House on the Prairie’ but I’m partial to a nice little series filled with people juggling life’s ups and downs. Anything medical (greys anatomy) I loved Nashville they had emotional turmoil and country music. This is us guaranteed to make you cry. Crying is self-care it releases toxins. I love a good cry. Six feet under was a favourite, lots of death and dysfunction in that one. Laughing might be better for you if you’re not into tears. Watch your favourite film or reruns of a classic comedy.
Meditation, I am a big fan of sitting in stillness. Even just five minutes of quiet alone time. Watching the breath or repeating a mantra brings with it an element of peace. Actually, I’m a bit addicted I like the escapism not sure if that’s good or bad.
So I’ve been taking care of my energy and my chakras for years with regular gong baths and reiki healing sessions but tend to neglect the more physical aspects of self-care pampering. I colour my own hair (just like Davina and Holly, yeah of course they do!)And have never had a facial in my life (shocking I know!). Recently I have found myself in the capable hands of the very talented therapists, reflexologist Sylvia Coloma and acupuncturist Anthony Green. I am full of admiration for their extensive knowledge of how to treat the body in such a holistic caring way. I feel better by being in their presence. I once would have felt the indulgence of these therapies were something that I probably didn’t deserve. With everything else taking priority. (Like food and clothing for my many offspring) But truthfully what is more deserving than our own well being. Treat yourself to a massage; your body will thank you. It is the perfect gift to you.
There is the obvious hot detox salt or bubble baths or freezing ice cold ones(loving Wim Hof at the moment, whatever floats your boat) candlelit if that’s the way you like to wash away the day. There are grounding walks in the forest or if you are especially lucky by the sea; that can clear your head and fill your lungs with fresh air. Sometimes it’s just about taking a moment. Having a rest, I know I can keep going until I am a worn out wreck. Like the Duracell bunny on speed. My adrenal glands screaming their displeasure. (Ask Sylvia). Take a break, have a cuppa, go sit in the sunshine (if we ever get any!) Let’s not forget sleep, OMG I love sleep. Recharge.
I think the best act of self-care is communication. Honest open conversation. I am not talking moaning here for the sake of moaning. I think we need to share how we truly feel. Try and work it out. Fix the stuff we can and let go of the stuff we can’t. Because that stuff wriggles its way into your body. Your reflexologist will find it crunching away in the soles of your feet and your massage therapist will have to pummel it out of the knots in your shoulders. Do not let your troubles take root. A million treatments at the spa won’t fix what’s buried underneath, it will mask it and provide temporary respite but we all know deep down when something is festering away inside it will find a way to grab our attention. Nothing wakes us up like pain.
I also think self-care is about finding time to do the thing that makes us happy. Whether that be knitting or sky diving, painting a masterpiece or learning to play the trumpet. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have our dream job or fantasy partner that’s life; but each one of us is capable of finding a hobby that lights us up, something fulfilling and personal. Find your passion and make time for it.
Bringing me on to boundaries, yes boundaries people. This one is particularly troublesome if like me you struggle with the no word and find yourself saying yes too often for the sake of people pleasing. How the bloody hell are you going to have time for crystal healing and rock climbing if you can’t make you your number one priority. Bit of self-indulgence isn’t a crime.
The Reiki enthusiasts among us encourage a set of principles called just for today.
Just for today do not worry, just for today do not anger, just for today earn your living honestly, just for today be grateful for your blessings, just for today be kind to every living thing. Russell Brand shares how powerful the twelve-step system is in overcoming addictive behaviour. What resonated was the one day at a time approach. Isn’t everything less daunting and more achievable taken in twenty-four-hour segments? It’s virtually impossible to set yourself the goal of giving something up or doing any task that you think you don’t want to do for the rest of eternity, but just for today…
I like to have faith in something bigger than myself; I’m aware it’s not for everyone but I often hope and trust that the universe doesn’t actually want to torture me. A wise teacher said recently that it’s okay to pray for this or that to happen or not happen, but sometimes certain situations are unavoidable and necessary for our growth. It is strength and a calm state of mind we should be praying for. This is a simple truth.
The final tip for self-care, speak kindly to yourself, show yourself a little mercy. Ignore the spiteful inner critic that resides within. Be your own biggest fan. I think your body responds to what it’s told on a regular basis. I’ve probably got a book somewhere on the power of affirmation. If not I can always order one.