Why is self-care so hard, and so important?

(Click on the beating heart to see this weeks video)

Why you need to lower the self-care bar and check in with your body before making commitments.

Most of us know the basics of self-care, but we struggle to practice them. Why is that? There is a huge emotional payoff for focusing on other-care. Imagine saying “YES” to every body who asked for your help in the last month. Imagine that you adore every one of those folks. Imagine how happy they would feel when you say yes, and how happy you would feel to see their smiling faces and hear the delight in their voice.

Sweet, right? You get an instant dopamine hit when you say yes… until you realize you’re totally overcommitted and don’t have time to hear yourself think or feel yourself move. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying get hip to the price you will pay down the road, even though our culture doesn’t support you doing that.

Realistic Self-Care Option #1: Pause and check in with your body before giving an answer when someone asks you for help.

Even better, tell them you will get back to them tomorrow, so you aren’t distracted by your love for them and their beautiful smiling face. Take time to center in yourself more fully before you reply.

Here are some of the things that happen to us when we abandon self-care for other-care:

• Low energy
• Difficulty focusing on our own most important, creative work
• Trouble sleeping
• Feeling Anxious
• Eating unhealthy food really fast
• Irritability with children and loved ones
• Increased body aches, headaches, and other health issues

I used to habitually abandon myself to stay connected to my friends and community. I was trying to make sure they wouldn’t abandon me. It makes no sense, but that is totally how I rolled! So human! Eventually, some of my friends got honest with me about how sad watching me abandon myself made them feel.

Now, imagine yourself saying “No. I’m sorry, I can’t do it right now.” How will your heart feel when you say that? Ouch! That’s why self-care is so hard. We are often afraid of what might happen if we don’t honor social bonds and relationships. It is not a black & white issue, so how can we navigate the grey? By listening to our bodies, of course. That takes time, and a little know-how.

At times, I’ve actually worked too hard at self-care, like thinking that a three day meditation retreat would refresh me. Instead, it just exhausted me even more! Meditation retreats are rigorous, not relaxing. You need rest time before and after them.

We set ourselves up for failure by setting the self-care bar too high with lofty goals far, far away from where we are right now, in this moment.

Realistic Self-Care Option #2: Lower the bar for what successful self-care looks like and practice it more often.

Simplify self-care for success. Lower the bar. Get off the wellness gerbil wheel. Go for a walk. Give up an aspiration and watch the clouds float by for 10 minutes instead. And, if you commit to a sustainable embodiment practice for 10 minutes a day and keep doing it, I guarantee you will start to make more life affirming choices on daily basis.

It’s a lifelong process and commitment once you start practicing – because you will love it. You may also feel more emotional, be more sensitive, and actually pay more attention to the ordinary mess and beauty of your every day life. If you are going to sustain this, your practice needs to be fun, interesting, and doable. That’s where I come in!

When I started studying the Alexander Technique, I discovered how good it was possible to feel. 30 years later, I’ve learned how to keep it simple and sustainable. I know what steps need to happen in what order, and how to keep the process lively and relevant to my students lives over time. Cranial Nerve Sequencing is the result of my research.

Cranial Nerve Sequencing is a series of practices that honors the fundamental building blocks of your nervous system: smell, breathing, light perception, focus and eye movement, hearing, sensation at the level of skin, the movement of your face, tongue, swallowing…all of these activities are usually below your level of consciousness. How you bring them into your awareness is profoundly important. Too much control causes more stress; having no choice at all in your body is no good either. There is a sweet spot!

Simple practices like the one in this week’s video are often all that is needed to activate your own self-care superpowers.

Cranial Nerve Sequencing slows your mind down until it returns to your own body – your best friend, the one who will guide you to the sweet spot every time.

No one who really loves you wants you to stress out to please them. Your loved ones want you to be happy, joyous, and free. If that’s what you want for yourself and you instinctively know you need some guidance, I hope you will check out my upcoming workshop covering cranial nerves 1 – 4.

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