It’s the week of love here, and I hope that you’re able to practice some deep self-love and self-care that doesn’t JUST include a dozen over-priced roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates (not that those aren’t just amazing, but, hey, if you’re reading my emails, I think you know that there’s much more to self-care).
Whether you’re in a romantic relationship with another or enjoying the solo life, love abounds all around you. When you can pull up your energy and feel the love and joy in your heart, you’ll radiate all of that love not just for you, but for all of those around you. Added benefits? All that self-love heals your body, mind and spirit!
When you can create your own love, laughter, joy and radiance, the bonus is that it helps create new neural pathways in your brain and body that helps to override the pathways of fear, doubt, worry, anger, and sadness.
The past 2 weeks, I’ve talked about the trauma looping our brains do in order to protect us. In last week’s email I used the dog bite example. To recap, whenever you’re exposed to an experience that your brain perceives as a threat (ie: dog bite, a shouting partner or parent, financial insecurity, etc.) it creates pathways to create a network of safety for you for the next time you encounter such threats.
Over a period of time, these networks can become stronger and more difficult to change due to all of the armoring that your brain does. In the dog bite scenario, your brain/body may react by increasing your heart and breathing rate and intensifying your sight and hearing to prepare and protect you from that next potential attack. This can be merely the thoughts that you replay about the initial attack or when you’re out walking and a dog comes running up to you.
The ‘negative’ side of this hyper-vigilance, is that parts of your brain looking out for trouble will get bigger and bigger. Down the road this translates into over-sensitivity to sound, smell and things that you see that your brain tells you is dangerous when, in reality, it might not really be truthful.
Really the only way to change this wiring in your brain is to override it with other, more powerful thoughts and activities. We want these thoughts and activities to have a higher influence over the alternate wiring. And these need to create an uplifting, warm and joyful sensation in your whole body and you want to stay in the feeling for as long as you can.
For example: remember that birthday party where all the people you loved were there, shining their love on you and you felt warm, loved, cared for, overjoyed. Or the time you went to your child’s play and watching them onstage gave you the warm-and-fuzzies. Or the time you watched that movie that moved you so intensely that it brought tears to your eyes and that glow of joy into your heart.
Pick 3-4 of your greatest moments of joy and write them down. As you’re writing, bring up those same feelings of joy, love, warmth, excitement…..whatever it is for you…and write those feelings down as well.
Your self-care, self-love exercise this week is to replace those recurring thoughts of fear, anger, jealousy, worry with positive experiences. We’re working on trimming back the ‘negative’ pathways and replacing them with new ones.
Additional self-loving activities for this week (and always)
- Color or paint. You know those adult coloring books? I have several of them, and I love getting out my colored pencils and enjoying a good stress relief and getting out of my head for a bit. It’s delightful. This is one of my favorite coloring books someone had gifted to my daughter. Need colored pencils? Try these eco-friendly ones. I take them with me when I travel, too. And I have a set of water colors and pop on a youtube watercolor tutorial for some fun and easy flowers or landscapes.
- Take a walk…..Or run, swim, bike, climb. Whether in the park, the forest or around your block, movement, fresh air and sunshine always changes the vibe.
- Pop on a youtube video and practice some Vinyasa Flow or Restorative Yoga. After work, doing some yoga helps release the stress from the day and helps me sink deeply into my own inner sense of self.
- Make cookies for friends. I always find that when I’m doing something for others, it makes me so happy, that it gets me out of my own funk. I love the look of delight when I can share some of my daughter’s amazing hazlenut coconut cupcakes.
- Listen to an uplifting podcast, watch a funny movie/show, or find a great audiobook.
- Dance. Dancing helps to complete the stress cycle and releases huge amounts of endorphins. I seriously dance like no one’s watching, when no one is watching. The let-loose-in-the-kitchen-singing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-type of dancing. Doesn’t that just make you feel like you’re on top of the world?
Whatever your jam is, do what it takes to get yourself out of the funk (after you’ve given yourself the few minutes you need to identify your emotions, acknowledge what’s there, and then process). Remember that you just don’t want to get bogged down in the feelings. It’s important to acknowledge them so that they don’t get set aside somewhere else in your system for you have to deal with later on down the road.
You’ve got this! You’re amazing! Make yourself that top priority so that you can be your own light and when that’s super bright, you get to shine for all the others around you.
Always, in healing,