Practicing Self-Care With Kindness

This is a post by Kirstin on Highway to Healing.

“I feel you, pain… I feel your aching presence throughout my body… I accept you.”

With deep breaths, I repeat this mantra to myself as many times a day as I feel is needed until a calmness settles throughout my body.  By shutting out the external world and stilling my mind and body for just a few seconds, I can dramatically decrease my symptoms.

I learned this mindful technique from a therapist I once saw who taught me this act of self- kindness.  Shelly showed me that if I tune into myself and listen to the way my body is feeling with an open heart, I am capable of reducing my symptoms.  With her guidance, she brought me back to a loving place where I was then able to actively practice self-care.  She reminded me that I am the only person who can be my own advocate because no one else truly knows how I feel.

The greatest tool I took away from my sessions with her was the ability to assess my body, recognize my symptoms, describe them in detail, and give kindness to them.  Magic happened when I changed my perspective from one of irritation in dealing with multiple symptoms to one of understanding that my body was providing me the useful information I needed.  If I would not have changed my views, I would be stuck in a vicious cycle of anger and hating my body rather than being able to provide self-care for myself with compassion.

It took much practice for me to learn the skill of assessing the accurate state of my body and acknowledging it without judgement.  By repeating this act over and over again it has become an automatic task that I practice at least twenty times a day.  I no longer need to force myself to consciously scan my body from head to toe and ask myself “how are you feeling”, as I now perform this exam multiple times daily without thinking.

It is amazing how the human body tells you what it needs, but it is up to me to acknowledge this information and choose listen. For instance, if my heart feels heavy like it has raced a marathon, my body is telling me that I need to rest and that I have done too much. If I am experiencing excruciating stomach pains, my body is telling me that my digestive system is not fully functioning and I need to give it some warm ginger tea to relieve my pain. If my back is aching so bad I am holding back tears, I know I need to give my bones and muscles gentle yoga stretches and a nice hot heating pad.

My body does not always ask negative things from me. Sometimes, when I check in with myself and I am feeling great, I will give my soul the adventure it is calling for.

I have learned to communicate much more efficiently with myself and follow what my internal compass needs. If I don’t, I will lose this battle against myself and chronic illness.  It is extremely important to me to provide the best self-care possible in efforts to keep my mind, body and soul well.

What do you do for self-care?

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