Be Gentle with Yourself: what that means for your body and mind
What does ‘be gentle to yourself’ mean to you… Are they words that you hear, but don’t really process; are you unsure of how you can be kind to yourself; maybe you’ve heard it so much that it doesn’t really mean that much anymore.
If so, I want to assure you that you’re not the only one. The terms ‘self-care’, ‘self-love’ are used frequently to a point where they may have lost meaning for many.
We often override what our body craves and instead force it to do what we want it to do. We live out of alignment with ourselves. The constant force and push leads us to hit a brick wall; here we fall prey to illness, injury, low mood, decreased energy, disrupted sleep… I could go on, but you get the gist–it doesn’t feel good. When we’re in this state, it’s our body and soul crying out to be noticed. For you to notice.
Ignoring the Signs
For many of us, we don’t notice. Instead, we turn to pharmaceuticals, stimulants, such as caffeine and alcohol, we reach for sugar-laden and overly-processed food to help us ‘level-up’, yet we inevitably hit another wall, another slump and feel even worse. We criticize and shame ourselves for what we do and believe that as we are is never enough. This cycle is damaging.
So how can we really listen to what our body needs? How does being gentle with ourselves get us to where we need to be? Can I keep up with all the things if I’m slowing down?
I hear you.
Life is demanding, time is always of the essence and the thought of slowing down, resting and letting go can seem counter-productive. Mainly so, because that’s how we’ve been conditioned. Resting is deemed to be lazy – you don’t get your badge of honour. You know the one I mean–the one where you are obviously only successful if you work hard, play hard and have that “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude.
Your body needs rest, it needs it to heal, process and digest.
Yes, breathe. As soon as you start to notice your breath, it slows down. Now breathe a little in deeper, exhale a little longer. Notice any tension lingering in your body, give it permission to release. To let a little bit more go.
Accept that you may not get everything you had hoped to get done that day. It’s okay. The world will not fall out of space; everything will continue. If you don’t get time to fit in your workout, yoga session or indulged in all the goodies – it’s okay, let it go. In fact, if you just feel too tired to workout, don’t. Maybe some gentle movement or yoga, a walk or maybe resting on the sofa. One day won’t change or unravel everything.
If you’re working from home, could you take even 10 minutes to take a walk outside (don’t look at your phone). Walk and watch your breath, notice everything around you, look at the details. Give your mind space, your eyes a rest from a screen and any demands.
Can you get to bed a little earlier, even 15 or 30 minutes earlier? Turn your phone off and read a chapter or two of a book, listen to an audio book or talk to your partner… even better, have a cuddle or make love.
Could you commit to switching your phone off or logging out of social media at a certain time each day? Maybe each Sunday could be a digital detox, maybe your family could do the same.
When you speak to yourself harshly, stop. Notice. Take a deep breath and replace this with something kind, thank your body for what it does for you:
Instead of: “Ugh, I’m so fat, look at those rolls!” replace with “Thank you for always being there for me. My tummy holds such power and wonder”.
Repeat a gentle affirmation or mantra to yourself and repeat this as often as you would like: “I am at peace with my body, I find joy in its strength and resilience. I accept my body as it is, right now”.
It’s not easy to change negative habits but being gentle with ourselves only takes a little bit of practice. When you have a bath, notice how the bubbles feel against your skin. Appreciate the colour of your eyes. Slow down when you need to, say no when you want to. Let go of other peoples expectations of you and trust in your inner wisdom. You achieve more with less effort when you embrace this way of being. I promise.
“Be careful how you speak to yourself. You’re listening”.
You are enough. You do enough. You, as you are right this moment, are a billion times more than enough.