Every day I see beautiful, talented, smart women who are stressed out of their minds. They are suffering from panic attacks because they feel they're not good enough. They are developing irritable bowel syndrome because their bodies don't feel safe enough to relax (and therefore, digest their food). They are having more and more fights with loved ones because they are constantly on edge. Let's face it, operating from a state of stress has kind of become the norm in our culture. It's become acceptable because we put all of our focus on the external world and what we want to achieve, rather than building a strong foundation in our inner world of how we want to feel.
We can't keep going this way and the world can't handle the stress we are putting on ourselves and each other. Our health, our happiness, our family dynamics, our concept of neighbourhood and humanity are circling the drain - all because we focus more on self and ego achievement than we do about learning to love ourselves or each other.
All stress comes from a place of fear - a fear that we aren't enough, that we won't have enough or that the world won't be enough for us. The only way to combat fear is to actively choose to exit the current reality that we've created where stress is the norm and decide to create our lives from a place of love. When we choose to love ourselves then our health, our happiness and the quality of our relationships will skyrocket. When we love each other, we will see that we're not so different.....and war, racism and terrorism will cease to exist.
It's not naive or idealistic to believe these things. Obviously, we've done a lot of damage to our bodies, our psyche and the world in term of the energy we choose to bring into the world every day and I'm not saying these problems will disappear overnight, but the first and biggest step is to just make that choice....do you want to keep living in this stressed out way that doesn't serve you or the world? Or do you want to be part of the revolution and experience life from a place of really high frequency love and connection?
Here are a few things you can do to start decreasing stress in your body, mind and spirit. Remember: it starts with you, then ripples to your friends, your community, then the world.
De-stressing the body
Your body is usually in one of two states: the sympathetic nervous system or the parasympathetic nervous system. The first is your 'fight or flight' system or your state of stress. This is where most of us are operating from. Whether it's fear of not living up to our boss' expectations, the fear of being single forever or just not feeling good enough in general, we are constantly prepared for an attack. This perception of fear leads to weight gain, stress, IBS, depression and a whole host of other things that destroy your health and happiness.
The way your body knows it is actually safe is all cued by your breath so the first thing you can do to help love your body is to take time out to do some deep breathing. Place your hand on your belly, right up under your ribs and make sure when you breathe in your hand rises and when you breathe out your stomach contracts. Focus on not moving your shoulders at all and instead imagine a balloon in your stomach being inflated and deflated. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system and help you start to get back into a 'rest and digest' mode.
De-stressing the mind
As Eckhart Tolle said, "You have a mind but you are not your mind." This is the game-changer between people that are emotionally happy and people that aren't. We all have an inner critic that lives in our heads and feeds us thoughts about what's "true" or "real" or "how life is"...but this voice is just that - a voice. It's a voice that is based on fear and survival and trying to protect you which is great....but it's not concerned with how happy you feel or how much love you're experiencing. Whenever you think something that makes you feel like crap, ask yourself "What is the fear around this?" and "What would love do in this situation?" You'll be amazed by how empowering this is and how much happier you will feel.
De-stressing the spirit
Spirit, heart, soul...whatever you want to call it, it doesn't really matter. The point is, that this part of you that holds all your unique passions, desires, dreams, preferences and interests is a part of you. When was the last time you checked in with her? If you feel like life isn't working, that you're disconnected or out of alignment then I guarantee you, that's true. That is your spirit telling you that you aren't living from your values or in accordance with what's true and important to you, Chances are you are doing what you think you 'should' do.
Meditation is a powerful tool to access your inner truth, as well as coaching or counselling. So much of the pain we feel comes from a place that we don't even know exists because we've never given ourselves a moment to hear what's really going on in our heart and soul. Starting with a coach can be a great way to uncover these feelings in a supportive environment where they won't overwhelm you. If you feel strong enough, simply sitting in stillness and bringing your attention to your heart space can be another great way to de-stress your spirit. Once you feel connected to your heart space, ask yourself "What do I need to do right now to feel happy?" and just as importantly, "What do I need to let go of?"
These are not just nice ideas. Practicing de-stressing your body, mind and spirit will change the way you see everything in your life and in the world - I guarantee it. All you need to do is be willing to see the world a different way and to open to the tools that help you to shift your perception from stress to love.
I'm hosting a class in Christchurch on Wednesday 20 July in which we will cover all of these tools and many more. If you'd like to come along and learn how to "Relax and Re-Centre', check out the flyer on my Facebook page.
Most of us have life goals that we are working towards. We'd like to lose weight, or make more money or just figure out how to deal with stress, and there are lots of books, courses and companies out there teaching us how to do it. There are many paths that will take you to your goals, but there's one fundamental piece of the puzzle that has to be in place otherwise the rest of it doesn't work; you have to learn how to love yourself.
I know to a lot of you that will sound really wishy-washy or flakey, but seriously - how far are you going to get with your goals if you can't be your own biggest cheerleader? Contrary to popular belief, it's not a lack of willpower that causes us to fail, it's a lack of self love. If you don't believe you're worthy of being thin or rich or in love, how can you ever achieve it? If you turn on yourself with negativity, telling yourself you're fat or lazy or useless as soon as you fall off the wagon (which will happen at some point) then what are the odds of you actually reaching your goal?
Building your self love muscle and getting emotionally fit is the inescapable foundation for being able to attract (and keep!) everything else you want to bring into your life.
Get emotionally fit
So how do you get emotionally fit? Self love is such a broad and vague topic and it covers a lot so when I teach it in my 10 Week Self Love Course I break it down into 10 different aspects of self love, with tools to exercise each one.
Below is a brief taster of some of the exercises we cover in the Self Love Course. Read through the different areas and be curious.... where do you need to spend some time building up your self love muscle? Which areas of life are a bit..um... flabbier than others? Just like building our physical muscles it takes a bit of time doing exercises to build our mental muscles so we can be emotionally fit. This mindset shift will create a strong mental state and enable you to smash your health and happiness goals.
Self Awareness + Honesty
Are you being honest about what you really want in your life? Look at this in the context of your career, your relationships, how many hours you work, how much time you spend having fun....are you doing what you really want to be doing?
Self Love Exercise #1: Your Ideal Day
Spend 15 - 3o minutes writing out your Ideal Day in detail. What time do you get up? Who are you with? What country do you live in? What do you do for a job? What do you wear? Go through every detail of your day as if money, time, qualifications, age, etc were not a limitation. Get honest with yourself about how you'd really like to live your life.
Do you take care of your body, mind and spirit? Have a look over this list and see if there are places where you could invest in a bit more self care. Once you're aware of where you are not taking care of yourself, create a plan to change it.
Self Love Exercise #2: Where do you neglect yourself?
Do you know your unique skills and talents? Do you have a sense of worth and purpose in the world and are you getting paid accordingly? In order to raise our net worth (if your goal involves making more money) we need to raise our self worth. Kate Northrup has a lot of great exercises for this in "Money: A love story."
Self Compassion + Acceptance
How do you talk to yourself? Are you sabotaging yourself by trying to be perfect, live up to impossible expectations or comparing yourself? Realise that your mind is not you and you have a choice to believe what that inner critic is telling you.
Self Love Exercise #3: You are not your mind
When negative thoughts come up, take a deep breath and a step back. Ask yourself "What am I really afraid of? What fear is coming up?" Listen for a response and then realise that you have the choice to believe in this fear but you also have the choice to have faith that you can handle it.
Self Expression + Self Respect
Self Love Exercise #4: Where are you blocking your self expression?
Where do you hold back from being yourself? Maybe you don't speak up at work, you don't tell your partner what you really think or you always cave and let your friend pick the movie even though you hate action films. Realise that telling yourself that your opinion doesn't matter drives your self esteem and self respect way down. Start speaking up.
Self Esteem + Confidence
For a lot of us, confidence is the only thing stopping us from actually doing what we want to do. Do you believe you have the capability to do what you dream of?
Self Love Exercise #5: Don't wait to be confident
If you wait to feel confident, you'll never, ever start anything! Look at your goals and just take the first step. Maybe that's booking a personal trainer or a coach. Maybe it's buying new gym pants. Perhaps it's going to Toastmasters. Whatever it is - act now. Your confidence will grow as you keep showing up for yourself.
Self Trust + Intuition
Do you struggle with indecision? Are you always wondering if you are making the 'right' choice with your life decisions? At the end of the day, only you will know what was right for you, so it's important to stop looking to other people (your mum, your boss, 'society') for what to do and start following your heart.
Self Love Exercise #6: Baby steps to Intuition
There are lots of amazing ways to build your intuition and your self trust, but here's a super simple one. When you're stuck on a decision, flip a coin. Your gut always tells you what you wanted the answer to be. Start acting on your gut instinct for small decisions and in no time you'll learn to trust your gut more and more for the more life-changing ones.
What do you do for fun? I know, we're so used to focusing on what we want to achieve, achieve, achieve, but if you're not feeling joy and pleasure, what's the point?
Self Love Exercise #7: The Chocolate mindfulness exercise
A big part of experiencing pleasure is actually to do with simply being present - i.e. really having a connection with your friend, your lover or your food and enjoying every delicious second of it! Try this with a piece of chocolate. Make sure you won't be interrupted. Unwrap the chocolate. Feel it with your hands. Close your eyes and smell it. Take your time. Then take a bite and just let it dissolve in your mouth. What does it feel like. What does it taste like? What does it remind you of? Really be present. (This is a great tool for emotional eaters as well).
A common complaint from many people today is that they have 'no energy'. Many of us (myself included) seem to be constantly looking for ways to increase our energy so we can finally feel healthy and vibrant. What I find fascinating about that statement though, is that it doesn't really make sense. We are all just energetic beings; by definition we are energy, so it's impossible for us to have 'no energy'.
What we really mean when we say we have no energy is that we have low energy - or in other words, we are running on low vibrations.
Now, growing up I remember the Beach Boys talking about Good Vibrations, but no one ever really taught me the difference between high vibrational energy and low vibrational energy until relatively recently, so I want to unpack that a bit for you now.
Low vibrational energy are feelings like anger, hatred, jealousy, despair, self criticism, shame. You'll notice that even when you say these out loud that you feel lower, murkier and less energised. On the other hand, high vibrational feelings are things like love, peace, joy, gratitude, acceptance. These feel lighter and brighter and more expansive.
If you want to feel more energised then you want to run on a higher vibrational energy and the great thing about this is that it's totally within your control. No need to down a can of Mother or grab a triple shot latte to make you feel more energised - grab a pen and paper and let's get your light shining NOW.
On this piece of paper, write down everything you did yesterday and then next to it, how you felt about doing it. Here's an example:
You get the drift. What you are essentially doing is becoming really aware of whether you are running on low vibrations or high vibrations throughout your day, and more importantly, what things make you feel high or low.
Now, let's change your energy!
Awareness is the first big step in any type of change we want to make in life and this exercise will be a massive leap in creating different energy in your life. You get to change your energy by changing your thoughts, your behaviours and your actions so by looking at your list you can start to choose a different option that will bring you higher energy. Looking at that same list, here are some options you could choose:
You can see that it's relatively simple to come up with things YOU have the power to do to change the level of your energy. Of course not all of these will be easy - perhaps you have to stay in a job you don't like right now, for example, but you can always change the thoughts you are thinking about it and the energy you bring to it.
I recommend doing this for a whole week - write down each day and how you felt and you'll really start to see common themes of things that aren't working for you or serving your highest and brightest energy.
Remember, you have the power to create your own energy. Try this out and let me know how it goes for you.
Are you in a post new years' resolution hangover? If you've fallen off the wagon (or you're worried about it) check out my 7 tips below.