Health Articles,  Live Well,  Mental Health,  Neurofeedback,  Stress

National Self-Care Day

Saturday, July 24th, 2021 is National Self-Care Day!

If you are like many others, we are so ready and deserving of this dedicated day! The past 17 months have presented an array of changes, challenges, and losses. Our social, physical, mental/emotional and spiritual wellbeing has likely been impacted in one way or another. Our brain, body, and heart have been impacted by stress!

So as we begin to emerge into our “new normal”, we all need to focus on our recovery, and what better way to begin, then by actively embracing this National Day of Self-Care!

The very idea of giving attention to yourself might be a rather novel idea, right? It’s ok! Just give yourself permission to embrace self-care, to look after you! But “Where do I begin?” you ask. Perhaps a good place to start is by taking a quick inventory of yourself.

I would like you to think about your brain, body, and heart in the constant presence of all the stress in your life, past and present. The art of “noticing” what is going on, is critical to any path of healing and well-being. Let’s take a look.

STRESS affects BRAIN function

  • Loss of motivation, interest, stamina
  • Blurry vision, impaired hearing and speech
  • Reduced word retrieval
  • Loss of train of thought in conversation
  • Reduced ability to focus, concentrate, evaluate and problem solve
  • Interrupted sleep patterns

STRESS expresses itself physically in your BODY

  • Tight upper chest muscles
  • Muscle cramping and restless legs at night
  • Shallow breathing
  • Locked knees
  • Slouched posture
  • Eyes focused on the ground
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Impaired balance
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, motion, and touch
  • Indigestion, constipation, irritability
  • Irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Cravings for sugar and carbs and binge eating
  • Body pain, inflammation, restlessness (legs)
  • Increased dehydration
  • Migraines and headaches

STRESS is held in your HEART

  • Feelings of loss, sadness, depression
  • Anxiety, nervousness, fear
  • Isolation or disconnection from family or friends
  • Traumatic past experiences (also held in your Brain!)
  • Lost sense of being valued, understood
  • Emotional outbursts of anger, frustration
  • Lack of joy, hope, lightness and fulfillment
  • Decreased level of empathy

If you are experiencing any one or a combination of these effects of stress, then please understand that you are experiencing the loss of “coherence” in your life. The complex connections linking your brain, body and heart have lost their harmony, flow, and ability to work together. The rhythms of your whole self are begging to be restored and hence we come full circle to the very topic of the day…SELF-care.

The key is to want to be your best you! It’s always your choice! Listed here are a variety of strategies that may help you begin.

Self-care strategies for the BRAIN

  • Assess and find ways to regain control of your “hurried” life! Learn to recognize what is essential to do and manage all the other demands on your time. Children can benefit from this just as much as you can. We all need down time.
  • Practice the discipline of graciously saying, ‘No, thank you!”
  • Learn something new. Step out of your comfort zone and give it a go!
  • Create a vision board for your intention.
  • Look for opportunities to offer acts of kindness! A happy heart contributes to a healthy brain!
  • Create your own positive affirmations and post them where you can easily be reminded of them. Believe in them! Notice how your intentions can enhance your state of mind. Notice how your response to life situations is affected.
  • Practice personal reflection. Think about you, your feelings, experiences and lessons learned from them. Ask yourself, “What did I do for myself today?

Self-care strategies for the BODY

  • Practice the art of deep relaxed and regulated breathing. This helps to release muscular tension, calms the heart and contributes to relaxing stress, survival response in your body.
  • Relax your muscles through yoga, meditation, tension tapping, etc.
  • Exercise in every way possible and accessible to you. Movement is magical whether you walk, run, swim, bike, or do jumping jacks!!
  • Walk in nature, without your phone!
  • Focus up and scan your surroundings…this is particularly therapeutic in terms of preventing ocular lock in eyes that have been exposed to excessive hours of screen time.
  • Reduce your screen time! Take regular movement breaks from sitting in front of a computer or cell phone screen. Try blue tinted glasses, dim the brightness on the screen, stay hydrated and always be aware your posture.
  • Hydrate regularly…with water!
  • Moderate, reduce or if necessary eliminate intake of coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcohol and other sugar-laced refreshments. All of these contribute to dehydration!
  • Stand under a warm shower, soak in a lavender induced bath and just have a few moments of peace to soak and relax.
  • Decrease intake of processed sugars, carbohydrates.
  • Increase intake of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Treat yourself to a massage, facial, pedicure (many homemade recipes for facials can be found online!)
  • Become aware of your nutrient intake including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc.
  • Establish regular nighttime routines for going to bed. If possible, turn off your modem, eliminate all electronics from your bedroom. The roaming frequencies from our devices disrupt the natural rhythms of the brain that create conditions for deep quality sleep. During periods of deep sleep, the brain actually benefits from the opportunity to calm and heal!

Self-care strategies for the HEART

  • Make it a priority to create a personal sanctuary or quiet zone in your home and give yourself permission to spend time there each day!
  • Read, meditate, listen to your favorite music. Modeling this as a parent shows your child the importance and value of doing the same.
  • Practice gratitude. Spend a few moments before falling asleep to acknowledge the blessings of your day.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and model gratitude for your family and friends. Gratitude helps us refocus on the positives of our life and physiologically alters the flow of energy in the brain. Expressing gratitude creates a coherence between your heart and your brain…a significant factor to understand and appreciate.
  • Practice personal reflection. Think about you, your feelings, experiences and lessons learned from them. Ask yourself, “What did I do for myself today?

The list goes on, and in all likelihood, you are familiar with some or many of these strategies. Sharing them with friends and family would be a positive way to support their personal journeys of healing and recovery…as well as your own.

Celebrating National Self-Care Day is an important way to kick start new and healthy lifestyle choices. Make yourself a priority…it’s imperative that you do!

Wishing you well as you strive to enhance the daily health of your brain, body and heart!

Linda Ness
NeurOptimal Neurofeedback practitioner and proud member of the SAGE team!

Stay tuned for articles that will introduce you to NeurOptimal Neurofeedback, a drug free, non-invasive, relaxing approach to re-harmonizing and balancing the brain, body and heart connection!

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