What month would be better than February to declare it as “Me” month. A month dedicated to myself. I started this tradition February 2015. After some particularly rough bumps in my life, I realized that I had been living for everyone else but myself. I felt empty and depleted. Yet, I knew with the events that lay ahead of us, my children needed me to be their strength, their role model and a source of love. I didn’t second guess my intuition that night, I made a commitment to sit in the discomfort of my raw emotions, to feel the scary place of vulnerability so that I was able to rebuild the missing link to living my life with a full and whole heart. Loving myself…wholeheartedly.
10 WAYS TO GIVE BACK TO YOU
Every day that February I did one thing for myself without guilt. The challenge was, doing these things without spending money, just using what I had around the house.
♥ Rising With Gratitude: Every morning I wake up (yes even those morning when I’m feeling prickly), I say “Thank you for this gift of life”, and drink from my glass of water.
♥ Affirmations: As I brush my teeth, I look in the mirror say positive and loving affirmations to myself. An example of one that I say every day is “I will love myself, just as I am. I will accept myself, just as I am. I am beautiful person, just as I am.”
♥ Eat Nourishing Meals: It’s important to recognize that when we are in a place of emotions, we don’t always reach for the most nourishing meals. If I am reaching for a bag of chips, I know that my body is feeling stressed and that I need to have a meal that is comforting and will help me slow down the pace, like a warm bowl of soup or a big gulp of water. Check out my blog post Emotions In A Dish for more information on the hidden meanings of cravings.
What better way to show yourself that you matter, than to nourish it with foods that help your body feel it’s best version possible. I kept a journal of foods that I ate and how I felt afterwards for up to 4 days, if I felt nasty or heavy I eliminated them from my diet. I didn’t know much about nutrition back then, but I knew enough to remove certain foods that caused inflammation, boosted foods to improve my gut flora and stayed hydrated. I wanted to eat for my energy to be elevated, my mood to be stable and for my body to be as strong and able. This was very challenging, I made the choices to remove some of my favourite foods and when I did I noticed a huge change in my body.
♥ Baths: A great way to reduce stress and detox is by having an Epsom salt bath. I already had this on hand and I would add a few drops of lavender and cedar wood essential oils to to help me relax.
Another way I reduced stress when I didn’t have time for a bath was to take a shower meditation. In a shower meditation I literally did the 4-7-8 breathing technique and visualized the stress washing away. I pictured the stressors, gave it love and as I come to peace with the stressor, I pictured it wash away (It’s amazing! I still absolutely LOVE doing this! )
♥ Love Notes: When I made Syra’s lunch, I would always leave a little note in her lunch bag for her. Why not do that for myself? I would write a little note and place them in random spots such as in my purse, or in my truck, or under my pillow and it would be a surprise (let’s face it, when you have a busy day the last thing you are going to remember is where you left a note) I loved seeing this little hand written message, just for me.
♥ 30 Second Dance Party’s: Psychologist Dr Peter Lovatt of the University of Hertfordshire says, “You appear to get a much bigger release of endorphins when you dance than during other forms of exercise; it also connects with the emotional centres in the brain. For many people, dancing prompts an emotional release – often that’s uncomplicated happiness, while for some it can make them cry. It’s cathartic – a letting go of pent-up emotions.”¹ So dance like no one is watching. Jump around to the House of Pain, head bang to some Metallica, line dance to Brooks & Dunn, get your dance routine out to Spice Girls and just have some fun. It works! It’s amazing and even in that short time that little bit of movement will boost your mood.
♥ Hugs Are Awesome: Some might find it odd, but I hugged myself. Sure I hugged the girls, or my friends but I wanted to be hugged because I wanted to feel the love I had for myself. Whether it be hugging yourself or hugging others, the simple act of hugging releases oxytocin and dopamine, alleviates pain by releasing endorphins, increases serotonin and elevates moods, increases empathy (amongst other benefits)² When I gave myself a hug, I also said something that I loved about myself.
♥ Being Still: How many of us mothers or fathers out there crave silence to just be? At first, this was really difficult, because my mind would keep spinning or wondering. I kept these times to when I knew the girls wouldn’t interrupt me such as early morning before they woke up, during nap times or before bedtime. Even sitting for 10 seconds felt like an eternity. There was no goals or guidance. My first step was to closed my eyes for 10 seconds. Then I would close my eyes and breath deeply for 10 seconds. Eventually, I would increase the time by 5 seconds, and after a few weeks I introduced guided meditations. How does this give back to loving myself wholeheartedly? I gave myself permission to just be, without judgement. A safe place and time to be with myself.
♥ DIY Home Spas: One of my favourite things to do! My go to facial mask is a milk and turmeric mask (my mom used to make this for me as a teenager). There really isn’t a recipe, I just mixed some honey, ground turmeric and some milk into a paste and then painted my face (yes it smelt odd but was very relaxing). Honey has amazing anti-bacterial, antiseptic, and moisturizing properties, while the ground turmeric has anti inflammatory properties as well as vitamins C, and B, calcium, magnesium and potassium all of which are beneficial to our body.³ Turmeric gets its health benefits primarily because of curcumin, a bioactive component. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 4
♥ Make a Cuppa: What’s a cuppa? A cuppa is a warm cup of what ever you want! Hot chocolate, tea, coffee, water, broth, soup…the list is endless. I would make a warm cup of something and take it outside and go for long walk with Sophia (or alone when they weren’t home). I would enjoy the elements (yes even in the cold) and just be. I would reflect on all of the trials I had endured and be grateful that I persevered. I would remind myself of all the great things I accomplished during the day. I would practice forgiveness to myself and to others, innately knowing that we were all just trying our best in this life.
I didn’t read books or follow a mentor or anything like that, I just tried to love myself the way that I believed I deserved to be loved, with a full, honest and whole heart. Loving yourself wholeheartedly isn’t just about eating the right foods or exercising, it’s also about getting to know your vulnerable self in order to build an authentic self.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
― Brené Brown,
So friends as we enter the month of love, make the choice to love yourself first…with a whole heart.
Sumbul Zafar, R.H.N.