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Give a Little Love to Yourself

The month of February brings to mind love and romance, roses and candies.  It has become a month dedicated to lovers, finding ways to remind them how much you care for them.  But what about showing some love to yourself? 

So many of us spend our whole lives being busy, running around getting things done without a moment to rest. In spending so much time taking care of others, we neglect to take care of our own needs and wants. We run ourselves down, and no one can pour from an empty cup. In this month of love and romance we are presented with an opportunity to focus on loving ourselves. 

Here are a  few suggestions to show yourself some love and boost your own love bucket:

Step out into nature  

Whether it is sunny, cloudy or rainy, just step outside. Even if you only take 60 seconds, make it a sensory experience – take in the sights, smells, feelings, and sounds that surround you. There is plenty of nature wherever you are. What do you smell?  Maybe it’s the wetness of the rain on the grass or the sidewalk. What do you hear? It could be bickering squirrels or the wind through the trees or the silence that comes from a fresh snowfall. How does the outside feel on your skin? Turn your face up to the rain or sun. Love on yourself by simply being in nature.

Make time for movement

Run, walk, dance, stretch – it’s really that simple. Get yourself into the opposite stance than you spend your day in. For those of you who sit most of the day, stand up.  Stretch your arms above your head, as if you are trying to reach the sky.  For those of you who are up on your feet most of the day, bend your body.  Standing with your feet comfortably apart, bend forward using your hands for support if needed.  Just hang in this folded posture. Try this while sitting. Fold your torso over your legs. Breath into the change of position. Show your body some love by moving it in ways that feel good! 

Practice gratitude

We hear about practicing gratitude, and there are so many ways to be grateful that it is almost overwhelming.  Well, damn it, it’s time to just do this loving thing. Studies show that noting what you are grateful for from the day gets you better sleep, reduces anxiety, and improves mental health.  Let’s take it a step further and note what you are grateful for about who you are today. This might be difficult at first, so start with just one thing. Maybe you like how your eyes feel when you smile, maybe you like your hair today, or maybe you’re grateful you showed yourself some love by taking a moment for yourself. Writing down your gratitudes for the day gives you an extra boost to your brain and etches a new habit pattern.

Now that you have a different angle on February as the month of love and romance, let’s redefine how we really play it out.  Every day. We do have to live with ourselves for the rest of our lives, so lets make it the best we can. Now, say it with me everyone: I LOVE ME!

Getting Back on Track After the Holidays

Why is it that every festive occasion seems to demand we stuff ourselves? Whether its a wedding or a birthday, a family reunion or a special holiday, our celebrations tend to center around lots and lots of food. So, we eat it, because it’s too good not too! But then the downward spiral starts. We overeat, overdrink, and then wake up the next morning feeling guilty and generally icky. The happy occasion we were meant to commemorate has transformed into an event that leaves us with all sorts of negative feelings.

Well, I have some tricks that can help you next time you’re at a food-centric event: 

The Fullness Scale  

fullness scale diagram 10 = Stuffed, 0 = famished. Optimal 7 = Satisfied.

The Fullness Scale is one of the most powerful tools I have found that helps when learning to eat intuitively. Since we don’t yet have an app to measure our true fullness for us, we have to rely on a bit of self-awareness. I visualize The Fullness Scale as a thermometer with hash marks from 0 (famished) and 10 (that feeling when you have to undo your top pants button or you can’t seem to take even a shallow breath of air…ouch).

The idea is to stop eating when you are feeling about a  7 out of 10, just 70% full. At this level, you’re at a happy medium. You’re satisfied and have fueled your body, but you’re still a far cry from that can’t-move-can’t-breath kind of full. It’s kind of like a pause or a comma before the heaviness of FULL kicks in. 

At your next meal, try checking in with yourself before, during, and after you eat. It might take a little while to learn your own bodies hunger and fullness cues, but once you start paying attention to how you feel during a meal you’ll quickly learn what a level 6-7 feels like to you. 

Take a pause and just breathe!

Next time you feel that overwhelming need for MORE, try this: instead of reaching for another bite, pause for a deep, cleansing, centering breath. Take 20 seconds to just breathe some deep breaths and check-in with your body. In those 20 seconds, think about where you are on the Fullness Scale and what deeper need is showing up. 

Sometimes our wanting of more food might actually be a signal for wanting more from life. It might be a response to a lack of love or praise, or maybe eating has become your unconscious way of drowning out negative self talk. Taking the time to check in with yourself emotionally is a great way to separate real hunger from emotional hunger. 

Prioritize your body signals over being “polite”

Most of us were raised in a world where politeness came above all else. We grew up being told to always say yes when offered something, because it’s the polite thing to do, even when it wasn’t what we really wanted.

Has that habit stayed with you in your adult life? It sure has for me, and I still find myself worrying about hurting someone’s feelings if I say no. Sounds kind of ridiculous, no? It wasn’t until I realized that it’s my responsibility to myself to listen to my OWN needs first that I realized it’s actually totally OKAY to say no sometimes. Turns out, “No thank you” works wonders, and I no longer leave feeling guilty. 

Now that the food overload of the holidays has passed, let’s get curious about how we can listen to our bodies better. Practice using the fullness scale during your meals and snacks. Remember that you have a few choices when reaching for another serving. And finally, you can still use your manners and honor your body wisdom.