What is the best possible love you can give to yourself? How can you invest in you?
I am beginning to think that the most radical form of self love is in what we put in our mouths. When I hold myself accountable to my future self, the food choices I make are infinitely better than when I go with ‘a bit of what I fancy’.
We know that choosing food when we are hungry makes us far more likely to choose instant fix, dopamine boosting easy foods. There are studies which show that when we pre-plan our meals, we make much healthier choices than when we buy hungry. And, if you’ve ever had to squeeze in a supermarket trip before lunch you’ll know that you come back with very different things to usual! Different’s not always a bad thing but in this instance, it usually is!
My lunch yesterday looked like this and today, it was pretty similar just with brown rice and lentils rather than Mortadella.
I know that when I eat like this, my energy is better, that I am contributing to my health in all the forms it’s possible. I have green veg and artichoke for my liver, tahini for calcium for my bones, beetroot and olives for my cardiovascular system, chick peas and butter beans for protein, raw fermented kimchi and raw garlic for my digestive system, avocado and olives for a lot of tastiness and good fats…
That was a power plate. And when I look to my future, I want to be in the best possible health. I want to be around for my daughter in a supportive state (if she wants it!)
I believe I am contributing towards a positive future. We all have much longer life spans than our ancestors but what about a long health span? I intend to be as fit as I can for as long as I can. And then I can enjoy my life for longer, I won’t be a burden on anyone. If we all ate well, it would change so much about our health! And, just think how much more resource the NHS could funnel into other areas of health if it weren’t overburdened by lifestyle diseases.
I belive that food is fundamental to all of this. It isn’t the only factor as we also need to get good sleep, take herbs to address health issues, truly relax so that our nervous systems can replenish and exercise to faciliate and keep mobility.
Start by serving yourself a plate of self-love this Valentine’s.
You’re not sleeping well. You feel like you haven’t had a proper night’s sleep in a long time. I hear you. It’s an awful feeling. You know that everything in your body is not functioning optimally and you are putting yourself at higher risk of every ailment and serious disease going.
So, what do you do?
First things first, the research shows that the more we worry about not getting to sleep or having enough sleep, the less well we sleep! So, STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT!
What do you mean that didn’t work?
It’s so much easier said than done. I remember right in the midst of my new-baby no sleep phase that I felt like I was broken. That my ability to sleep had been broken. I thought I would never sleep again. And, I thought I would die through lack of sleep. I felt terrible. I spent so long teetering right on the edge of being asleep but as soon as I noticed, or my partner moved, or the radiator creaked, I would ping back into wakefulness. I lay awake in my bed for hours failing. It became a place I loathed.
So, how do we stop thinking about not sleeping? How do we shift out of being ‘a bad sleeper’ into being someone who doesn’t have a label for their sleep, they just do it.
Warning: no quick solution!
We start with the daytime. We listen to our inner voice and hear how we are talking to ourselves. How are we mentioning our sleep? What do you hear?
What do you hear?
‘I’m such a bad sleeper’ ‘I’m an insomniac’ ‘I just can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep’
I think our brains and our thoughts are very powerful. When we tell ourselves these things repeatedly even if it seems as though it is just the truth of the situation, how can our bodies do anything but continue to obey?
I think this is a very powerful concept and one I use a lot when I work with my herbal patients and EFT clients.
I needed a lot of extra help to get back the skill of sleep. I wish I had known of the tools I now have and use with my patients. I think I would have been in a very different situation from the one I actually found myself in. And, in spite of that wish, I know that I learned a huge amount from my experience as that drove me to look for more tools. I also firmly believe that the best we can do with our toughest paths is to find the silver lining and use it to our eventual advantage which is where I am now. I know that my skill set is so suited to that kind of situation that I can help more and more people who feel like they are beyond help.
Read Part 5 in my series on sleep to hear about how I help myself and others to get a good night’s sleep.
This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to include yourself when you’re giving out love.
If you take the time to give yourself love, not only will you feel better about yourself, but you will be better equipped to spread the love to others.
Most people think that self-care involves a glass of wine and putting your feet up in front of the telly. You’ll also be told you ‘deserve’ it. And, I’m not knocking either thing – each has its place. But, this concept is not something that is nourishing and restorative. And, it is not self-care.
We ALL deserve to take care of ourselves. We all deserve to feel good in and about ourselves for as much of the time as we can. Alcohol and zoning out don’t do that.
Self-care in my mind is something which helps to restore your core, your well of contentment, your get up and go, your resilience and your facility for dealing with the daily grind. And, life in Lockdown has had a LOT of grind (and some unexpected silver linings too).
Self care comes in many guises. Maybe it’s about putting a well-balanced meal on the table at most mealtimes. Maybe it’s about ensuring your sleep is the best it can be. Maybe it’s about drinking herbal teas to keep calm. Maybe, it’s meditation, yoga and other forms of exercise.
What do I do?
I found the idea of self-care so very hard to contemplate. Something essentially completely alien and whilst the notion was OK, it just slipped down the ‘To Do’ list every day, never happening until it never appeared on the list because it became something else to berate myself for not doing. I just couldn’t summon up the feeling that I could do it. Like so many, I just didn’t know how to prioritise it, how to feel that it was OK to do it. It felt really hard to fit in with so many other pressures demanding my time. I wanted the re-create the pure escapist uplift of that first glass of fizz but found the repercussions for my mood the following day too hard to handle – not to mention it has the potential to create a vicious cycle. I sought out junk foods but the highs and lows of that did nothing for my overall sense of wellbeing either.
In fact, it has only recently become something which feels as though it has any priority in my life. As I got more in tune with my body and how it actually felt each day, I found I needed to choose something healthful. Something restorative in a true sense. I still want to zone out in front of the telly, and have the odd glass of wine now and then but mostly, I am now seeking ways to truly nourish myself.
So, how did I change my perspective? Many, many things helped
Working with others
Seeking help can be a really important first step. Being guided by someone with skills and knowledge has profound benefits.
The first step along my road was getting help from my beautiful Italian friend, Laura Cattaneo. Her deeply restorative Shiatsu energy work massages combined with her words of wisdom enabled me to shift a lot of blocks and obstacles to living a fuller, more contented life. Laura brings a deep wisdom to her work as shiatsu practitioner and spiritual counsellor.
I had been intereted in EFT/Tapping for a while and I began working with an EFT/Tapping practitioner, Tamara Donn. Her sessions have helped me to clear other obstacles in my emotional life which were getting in the way. I am still on this journey and find that regular sessions enable me to manage lockdown and its challenges as well as working on my wider issues.
Herbal tea: As a herbalist, I have a heap of herbs at my beck and call. The primary herb for anyone wishing to begin a journey of herbal exploration is Chamomile. Its readily available and inexpensive.
Let’s get medicinal: To get truly medicinal results from any herbal tea, I suggest trying 2 bags per cup, brewing it with a lid on for at least 20 minutes and drinking three times per day! (This is for a generally healthy adult). I recommend this with chamomile and although it is a bit bitter (that’s good medicine) and may take a little getting used to (I describe its taste as being yellow) it’s worth it. It’s calming to the digestion and nervous system, aiding sleep and reducing anxiety amongst many other benefits.
Loving Calm tea If you want to dig a little deeper, I make a beautiful tea blend which combines herbs which deeply nourish the nervous system with herbs to warm the cockles of your heart. I call it my LOVING CALM TEA and you can have it delivered to your door by getting in touch: Lucy.Blunden.Botanicals@gmail.com
Let me know how you get on – I’d love to hear your experiences of trying out these things.
Disclaimer: If you are planning to self-medicate with herbs, it is always wise to check this out with a professional. Herbalists can tell you whether the herbs you wish to work with are contraindicated with your prescribed medications or heath conditions.
Anything for which we need medicinal help requires caution. So, whilst chamomile is gentle and suitable from birth to death for most people, some people will not find it helpful. In cases of reflux, it can be irritating and a few people find it more stimulating than relaxing! The golden rule: if it feels bad, don’t do it – even if it ought to feel good.
Do you find yourself saying things as though they are fixed and absolute?
Things like ‘I’m always late’ or ‘I’m forever making the wrong choices’ or ‘I can’t stick to anything’? They sound pretty innocuous, don’t they? But what if these kinds of negative-affirming statements, spoken as facts, are a constant inner monologue? What does that actually do to you?
I have had some really triggering conversations recently where people, knowledgeable people, have stated something as fact because it was their experience and because it’s the experience of many others too. An online conversation about the experience of peri-menopause was one recently. It has made me feel really frustrated and upset because the person’s opinion matters to me and once it lodges, it’s really hard to shift it from my narrative. And, I don’t want others to pre-determine my life and experiences. I want to have my own experience. And, I don’t want to fear an inevitable part of my life because it has been described in a particular way by someone I respect.
Things get stuck and lodge there
The most obvious response I can hear forming in your mind is ‘oh, just ignore it’ but that isn’t the way my mind seems to works. Things get stuck in my psyche and lodge there.
There, that’s another one of those statements. ‘Things get stuck… and lodge…’ What’s that done? Have I just pre-determined an uncontested way for my brain and thinking to be?
What am I going to do?
My starting point for anything like this is begining by drawing awareness to it. And, with the awareness, attempting to bring kindness. That’s the hardest bit, actually. Well, it is for me. Being kind. Then I start to find smaller chunks and areas to tap on. And, whilst I work on that, I use Bach Flower Remedies to soothe the critical voice and the associated (usually negative) emotions it has invoked.
Are your internal narratives kind?
I think if we could bring the kindness we offer to our best friend and/or a small child, to ourselves, then the world would be a lot nicer place to be. I can’t help but think about all the politicians farmed out to boarding schools feeling rejected, neglected and unloved, fighting their way to the ‘top’ of the tree and determining the way things are run… it makes me shudder. The ignored subconscious darkness they likely all feel determining our collective futures????????? Let’s not get started on politics, eh?
What will you do?
What would you do about it? For me, this feels like a huge area of work which most likely needs some on-going chipping away at. A block of habit which, with patience, can be gradually whittled into something more attractive, more kindly and just all-out nicer to be around. It would be such a relief to be comfortable in and comforted by, my own company. 🙂
DIY help is ace
Tapping is an obvious place for me to start. If you want to work by yourself, there are a load of ways to do it but mostly, it’s about breaking it down into smaller, very specific areas. Then you can work on them in turn until you either reveal the ‘real’ root – the darkness behind the story, or consistently work away at all the layers until it has just gone. Believe me, once it has just gone, it’s amazing, you can hardly believe it’s possible or that it was even there in the first place! Tapping has the power to be that transformative.
Sometimes, we need a helping hand
It can feel a bit overwhleming to tackle a large emotional area by yourself. I work with another Tapping expert when I want to work on something bigger. So, if you find yourself becoming aware of areas of stuckness, habitual nastiness masquerading as tough-‘love’, and don’t know what do to, come and have a chat. I’d to work with you on your internal negative narratives.
Bach Flower Remedies
I find these gentle remedies to be so soothing and effective. I generally respond better to formulations from others as they have that outside perspective which enables true insight. But, Dr Bach created them as a self-healing modality, so you can do it for yourself. I suggest using the Healing Herbs website to do that.
Contact me to chat about you
Email me: HertsHerbalist@hotmail.com or call 07492 511366 to arrange a chat about how we might guide you to a place of gentle kindness towards yourself. You choose the modality/ies; herbs, tapping, Bach Flowers. <3
Catching the Tapping bug
If you’re new to the idea of Tapping – join my weekly session: ‘Catching the Tapping bug’ on Thursday evenings 8.30-9.10pm to find out what it feels like and how you might benefit. The first session is free to anyone who wants to give it a go. After that, I ask for donation payments with a suggested minimum of £8 or time swaps if you have £ difficulties due to Lockdown.
I look forward to welcoming you to my Tapping sessions, they are such an oasis of shared special energy and calm that they feel like the highlight of my week.
Make an appointment to see Lucy Blunden, Medical Herbalist by visiting the contact page