How to fall in love with yourself after illness

How to fall in love with yourself after illness

Learning how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury felt like the most appropriate topic to write about given Valentine’s Day is this week. We see so much about being in a couple at this time of year, but how are we in being with ourselves? And what about after a challenging illness or injury which has changed your body?

Learning how to fall in love with yourself after an illness or injury can feel difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel like your body betrayed you, or you have this illness that is like an invader you are trying to fight, or you’re frustrated with how your body has changed and what you can no longer do as a result, or you live with the fear of relapse.

A woman is sitting on an ottoman thinking, 'My body has changed so much I don't recognise it anymore. I'm afraid to do anything. I've changed so much. I don't like myself.' It's understandable how you can fall out of love with yourself due to illness or injury. So you have to learn how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury.

How can you fall in love with yourself after illness or injury with all that going on?

I believe you can. Because I’ve helped myself to do that and have helped others too. So I know it can be done. And I share an exercise here to help you do that.

This exercise is a bit different. It asks you to be with yourself in a way we may not always do in our society because we are rushing around, thinking what to do next, etc, etc. This exercise is about slowing down and listening to your heart/ gut/ intuition/ soul, whatever you call that part of yourself which may or may not have much of a voice in your life.

I’d like to acknowledge Heart of Business whose work around acknowledging your needs when in business for yourself inspired me to write this blog.

An exercise on how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury

Have you felt like you have fallen out of love with yourself due to an #illness or #injury? Want to learn how to love yourself again? Then read this blog. #selflove #selfcare Click To Tweet

Make sure you’re comfortable enough. You can stand, sit or even lay down for this exercise. And you have a bit of quiet time to yourself with hopefully no or minimal interruptions.

Remember a time when someone asked you, ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘Can you go out with us today?’ with that questioning look in their eye and you just didn’t want to give them the honest answer about how tough things really are for you. Or maybe you tried to do something but due to all the changes you have experienced, you struggled and felt frustrated. Or it could be one of those times when you feel hopeless that your circumstances will change for the better.

Just notice how you felt in that moment and what you wanted. If it felt uncomfortable, hard or you felt like you had to give people the answer they wanted to hear, annoyance or something else, just be with what you felt at that time.

What do you notice?

What are you feeling? If that feeling is a sensation in your body, where in your body do you feel it? What is the sensation like? A knot, waves, a pounding, a numbing sensation, something else?

As you feel whatever you feel, ask yourself:

Is love available for me here?

What is the purpose of that question?

It’s to raise our awareness of how we are or aren’t tapping into our own self-love when we may most need it. This quote explains it well.

“When you find the love, you find yourself.

The secret is in the love. You are the love, not another.

Everything is in the love, and everyone needs the love.

When you have the knowledge of the love, you feel peace

in your heart.

The jewels are inside you.”

Music of the Soul, by Sufi Sheikh sidi Sa’id al-jamal

Think of love as a jewel, which is inside of you.

A woman is standing holding her heart. In her heart is a diamond. She is saying, 'My love for me is a diamond.' Love is something which you can give to yourself. So think of love as a jewel which is inside of you. You can have love be any kind of jewel you want. This is about learning how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury.

Ask yourself that question again: Is love available for me here?

Notice again how you feel as you ask yourself that question.

When you ask yourself that question in a moment of discomfort, your needs can feel heightened.

Then ask yourself:

What is it I truly want for myself? What am I yearning for?

An original quote by Return to Wellness. When learning how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury, some key questions you need to ask yourself are: What is it I truly want for myself? What am I yearning for?

Sometimes what people often want is to go back to the person they were before their illness or injury

That is understandable. After a serious illness or injury, you are a changed person.

You may yearn for that or something else: acceptance of your situation, a person to love you as you are now, understanding from the people around you, something else.

If you yearn for something physical – and it could be anything like money, a new wheelchair, a new job, whatever – ask yourself:

And if I were to get that, what would that give me? How would I feel then?

Often times it is a quality like acceptance or acknowledgement, self-compassion, certainty, strength, truth, belonging, or something else.

This is a need you have

Just be with yourself and notice you have a need without any expectation of changing it. This isn’t about judging the need as bad or good. It’s also not about judging yourself as less than for having this need. And it’s not about collapsing into the need in a way that depletes you. It’s about acknowledging the need. It is what it is.

As you sit (or stand or lay down), open yourself up to receiving whatever it is you need. So if it’s acknowledgement of your situation, open yourself up to receiving acknowledgement.

This may sound kind of abstract. You may be wondering…

How do I open myself up to receiving what I need?

There are different ways you can do this. How you do it may be different from someone else and that’s ok.

Some people like to physically arch their back a bit so their chest is open and shoulders are back. They then consciously think of receiving acknowledgement for example. Or acceptance. Or self-compassion or whatever it is you need.

Or you may skip the physical gesture of arching your back to open your chest and just consciously think of receiving whatever quality you need and notice how that feels in your body.

Hint: I recommend you focus not just on the thinking aspect, but also how it feels in your body. This helps to make change happen because you are doing that on different levels – the body and mind – which is a holistic approach to change.

I like to think of a watering can above me that pours the quality I need over me. Like in this picture here.

One of the things to do to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury is to give yourself whatever it is you need. Often times this is a quality like acceptance, acknowledgement, self-compassion, love. One way of doing this is to think about a part of you showering yourself with that quality. In this picture the self-compassionate part of the woman holding a green watering can high above the head of another woman (who is her actually) and she is showering her in love hearts saying, 'It's time for your self-compassion shower! Oh, and I put your self-criticism in the rubbish.' The other woman is sitting in a chair holding hearts and is enjoying her self-compassion shower.

You may imagine someone real or imagined giving you what you need.

You may journal it.

Or you may simply write down the word of the quality you need. Or draw a picture of it. Or make a collage.

When you do this, you are not waiting for someone else in real life to give you what you need. You are actually giving it to yourself.

Practice receiving what you need

When you start doing something new, which this may be for you, you may wonder if you’re doing it right, or wrong, or is it working. Those questions are natural as we can feel a little uncomfortable when we do something new. But you can put all those questions to one side.

Just have a go and notice what it’s like for you.

I encourage you to make this a practice you do several times a week, daily even. This increases your familiarity and comfort level with the exercise. It also helps to make the practice of giving yourself what you need more automatic.

A good time to practice it is when you feel yourself wishing for and wanting things to be different. In those moments, ask yourself if love is available for you here, what you are yearning for and open yourself to receiving what you need.

More important tips on how to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury

It helps to hold the intention ‘I can love myself again’ and ‘I’ll take action to help make that happen’.

Then take action to make that happen. This can be in addition to the exercise above. And these can be small actions of self-care: spending time in nature, setting an intention for your day, consciously noticing what goes well for you, asking a family member or friend to spend time with you, a bath, a cup of tea from your favourite mug, journaling, doing a favourite activity, etc. Whatever healthy act of self-care that you enjoy.

When you practice self-care, you are saying to yourself and the world, ‘I matter’ and ‘my needs are valid’.

When you practice #selfcare, you are saying to yourself and the world, 'I matter' and 'my needs are valid'. #wellness #chronicillness Click To Tweet

Nurture your relationship with yourself daily. Be mindful of self-criticism, calling yourself not-very-nice names, relying on others to feed your self-worth and pleasing people.

Also be mindful to surround yourself with people who support and love you. Keep in mind they won’t be perfect at it and you may have to help them to help you.

Why you must fall in love with yourself after illness or injury

Because the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

Also, when you love yourself, you implicitly give the message to others, ‘Yes, I am worth loving.’ And this helps your sense of belonging.

The greatest reason why you must fall in love with yourself after illness or injury is because the most important relationship you have is with yourself. This is an original quote by Return To Wellness.

What’s it like for you?

How have you found this exercise in self-love? What else is helping or has helped you to fall in love with yourself after illness or injury (even if it was a loved one’s)? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

How to contribute to your health in a healthy way

A challenging health issue is often a wake-up call to contribute to your health more mindfully and consistently. And there are many things you can do to contribute to your health. In fact, if you read a lot of the health and wellbeing articles in the press, you probably come across a lot of information, some of it contradictory, and it can get confusing.

So I want to share a range of questions to help you think through what you can do to contribute to your health in a healthy way. You’ll also see how the questions demonstrate that health is multi-faceted. This is a framework to help you think through the actions you are taking (or not) rather than a top 10 hints and tips list.

This picture shows a person sitting down looking at a board that has written on it: What do you do to contribute to your health (or not)? There are two columns underneath, one with a green check indicating actions which contribute to her health and the other containing a red X meaning actions which don't contribute to her health. The woman is saying, "Hmm... I yo-yo diet and don't move as much because of the pain."

Food, exercise and lifestyle habits contribute to your health

Obvs! This is what we often first think of.

For example, the food you put in your body

Are you feeding yourself premium fuel or substandard fuel? I reckon you can discern between premium and substandard fuel food-wise and if you are unsure, speak with a qualified dietician or nutritional therapist.

We may also have to change what food we eat, how much, how often and even how we take in food.

A challenging health issue can also exacerbate a not so healthy relationship with food. The shock and challenge of a big change in your health is a lot to bear. It is not uncommon for people to find emotional comfort in food. And I certainly don’t say that to judge. To just acknowledge that you are trying to cope.

How much can you/do you move?

How much you can physically move about now may have changed due to your or your loved one’s health issue. So there is something about being mindful of the amount you are eating. Does it correspond with the amount you’re moving?

Also, our lifestyle and how sedentary it is can have an impact. If you can still move about as you did before your illness or injury, is your lifestyle full of movement or more lifestyle?

If you have a physiotherapy routine to follow to maintain or regain functionality, do you follow it? Sometimes in physiotherapy we may not see much improvement but continuing with it despite that can help us regressing.

What are your lifestyle habits like?

Habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol excessively and snacking on sugary food may serve a purpose – providing a break, putting social anxiety to one side or give you emotional comfort for example. But in the long run how good are they for you? And I don’t say this to judge. I know very well what it’s like to have one of these habits. (I quit smoking in 2008.)

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking or any other habit that isn't helping your health can help you change your habit for the better. And this can contribute to your health.

Managing your health issue

If you are dealing with a challenging health issue, how proactive are you at managing it?

What kind of relationship do you have with the health issue?

What kind of relationship do you have with your body now? How closely do you listen to it?

How are you at managing symptoms? Do you take your medications?

What are your expectations of treatment? Of a cure?

What kind of preparation do you do for your medical appointments? How do you help the medical and healthcare profession to help you?

Note that everything else mentioned here can impact your health issue too.

What do you do that contributes to your health and experience of feeling healthy? #health #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The pursuit of health is so much more than our physical health

It’s also about how you tend to your inner world. I I think of this as physiotherapy for your heat, mind and soul.

Do you self-criticise yourself more than you show yourself self-compassion?

What do you do to nurture your self-worth? Do you generate your self-worth internally or are you relying on others to feed it? Or a combination?

Do you know when get yourself into vicious circle patterns of thinking and hence behaving?

What strategies do you use to get on with your life, people and situations which may no longer be serving you? Hint: Those people and situations that cause you a lot of stress.

Pic of a woman in a bath and the water is her self-worth. Bathing in your self-worth is something important to do to contribute to your health.
Take the time to bathe in your self-worth

How much do you focus on the negative in your life as compared to the good and what makes you smile?

How often do you put your needs as ‘less than’ or on the back burner in comparison to others’ needs? Do you know how to get your needs met? Or are you just out of practice?

What level of control do you feel you have over yourself and your life? Do you feel you can take control of things that matter to you and what you want for yourself? Or is it down to others making things happen for you?

What is your window of tolerance like for stressful situations? What is happening when you easily snap? Or when you get through a stressful situation pretty well?

To what degree do you feel you can learn to change things for the better? Or do you feel that isn’t possible?

Your relationships contribute to your health

What is the quality of your relationships? Are you satisfied with the level of connection you have with people?

What kind of people do your surround yourself with? Do they lift you up and support you? Or criticise you and generally don’t support you?

What kind of relationships might you need to let go of?

Do you have a network of people you can rely on for help? Remember, it’s great to have several people as often times one person cannot meet all of your needs. Keeping that in mind, who might be willing and able to help you? And how can you help the people around you to help you?

Who isn’t a part of your life but you would like them to be?

What kind of relationships do you want going forwards?

Your job can impact how healthy you feel

How does your job, whether paid or volunteer, meet your motivations for doing it?

We all have different motivations for doing the job we do. Sometimes we do a job because it pays the bills which allows us to get loads of satisfaction from our hobbies. Sometimes it gives us a sense of purpose in our life. Or it gets us out and connecting with people.

Some jobs can demand a lot of you – whether it’s a hard commute, long hours, lots of responsibility, not much resources to do the job, stressful relationships, job security, or something else. This can have an impact how healthy you feel – the level of stress, happiness in the job, etc. You may have to address how you approach aspects of the job to manage the impact of stress.

A lack of a job and experiencing difficulty finding one if you haven’t worked for some time or you experience discrimination in the recruitment process because of a disability can also have an impact.

And other aspects of your life contribute to your health

Our hobbies, personal interests and activities can do so much for our mental health. I have already written about that here and here and I encourage you to read those blogs.

Your hobbies and personal interests can contribute to your health in a healthy way. This picture shows a virtuous circle of how hobbies do this. Our hobbies increase enjoyment which in turn increases relaxation and reduces stress.
The impact of hobbies on our mental health is a virtuous circle.

Your physical environment can impact being able to get around and your level of independence. For example, you home may not be wholly accessible particularly if you use mobility aids. It may have mould which exacerbates existing health issues. It may not be in a great part of town. Or you may live in the country so have to drive everywhere but driving is an issue. Or maybe where you live is good for where you’re at in your life.

Our financial situation can contribute to your health or not. Accessing benefits can be a stressful affair. Or trying to afford equipment or having to move home to facilitate your independence. In some countries it can be very difficult to afford the treatment and medication you need to manage your health issue and have a quality of life.

The culture we were raised in and/or live in now and expectations of us in that regard can have an impact. For example, a culture may have a lot of stigma associated with an invisible illness or disability for example. That can impact our stress levels, or whether or not we seek treatment even.

If you subscribe to a faith or have another kind of spiritual practice, this can have an impact. For some people, it is of enormous benefit to them. For others it will not feature.

What do you find meaningful in your life?

Even if you are stuck at home a lot more than you would like due to your or a loved one’s health issue, or your life isn’t quite what you had hoped for, what gives your life meaning?

What contributes to your life feeling like it’s a good one to be living? Even though you may have some tough stuff to deal with. It doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you.

Your life purpose doesn’t have to be anything big or grand. It just has to suit you. And it can also change as you grow and change #lifepurpose #chronicillness #health Click To Tweet

So how can you contribute to your health in a healthy way?

Reflect on the questions above. Remember, you know yourself best and what you’re like. So it’s ok to be honest, it’s ok not to like some of your responses, and it’s ok to celebrate what you feel you are doing well.

If you are looking for a way to answer some of the questions above to assess where you are regarding how you contribute to your health, you can download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook. It’s a do-it-yourself exercise that helps you figure out where you are now and where you would like to be in the areas of your life mentioned above.

This picture show the different aspects of your life which can contribute to your health (or not): how you manage your health issue, your physical environment and getting around, nutrition, your emotional health, your relationships, finances, life purpose, returning to work, volunteering or education, leisure activities, spirituality/faith, cultural factors.

The workbook is very flexible. You can focus on one, two, some or all of the areas listed above and you can re-use the exercise in the workbook. Also, you don’t have to use the categories I mention here. Or you can use different names for them. You can adapt the exercise to suit you. And it’s free. You can get it here.

Heads up – when you download the Wellness Appreciation Workbook, it does subscribe you to the Return to Wellness newsletter, which I typically send out weekly (although not always). I do not sell or give your email to any third parties and you can unsubscribe at any time.

What’s it like for you?

What action might you take or stop to contribute to your health? And what support do you need to do that? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

What is the danger in the pursuit of health?

How can there be a danger in the pursuit of health? Sometimes I wonder if it has become a bit like: “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Do X, Y and Z and you will be healthy!” A magical formula that gives quick results.

The pursuit of health is a great and meaningful aspiration, but…

A woman is walking towards a hill and there are signs which say "Your health transformed in only 3 weeks! Don't delay! This way!" The woman is saying, "So glad I found this plan! It will give me what I need!" The point is there can be a danger when we view the pursuit of health resulting in an end destination and a magic plan will get us there.

We can end up pursuing health as if it’s a destination and with expectations of getting to that destination quickly. If it doesn’t happen quickly enough for our liking, we can quickly give up.

Also, what can happen when we arrive at our destination of health? Celebrate, of course. We did what we had to do to get here. We’ve made it! Hurrah!

But what happens next? For example, weight loss is a common goal in the pursuit of health. After the holiday or special event you lost the weight for, do you maintain the changes you made?

It’s not uncommon to see that once people lose the weight, they return to their previous habits. And eventually regain the weight. How many of you have found yourself in that cycle? Or a similar cycle regarding another change?

Two women are sitting on top of The Mountain of Health. They have recently finished climbing it. One woman is saying, "We made it! We're healthy!" The other is saying, "Let's go the pub and celebrate!" The caption reads: What happens after you arrive at your destination of health? The point is we can end up viewing the pursuit of health as an end destination. Once we get there, we can end up going back to our old ways, i.e. lots of drinking in the pub, or not eating very healthily for example.

So I think we need to approach the pursuit of health in a different way

I want to share four things you can reflect on to help you ensure your pursuit of health and wellness is a healthy one.

First, define what health and being healthy mean for you

This is especially important when you or a loved one are living with a challenging health issue. It’s not uncommon to define health and being healthy as how you were and felt pre-illness or injury.

My recommendation is to be very careful in doing that. This can be a double-edged sword.

Sometimes trying to get back to your ‘previous self’ can be a source of positive motivation to look after yourself in healthy ways which helps your rehabilitation.

What you don’t want to do is work to your pre-illness/injury expectations and personal standards to the point you experience a terrible quality of life. That can happen and can be a hard place to be. You can end up continually focusing on what you’ve lost rather than what you can be doing now. Read this blog if you are doing that.

How do you define #health and being healthy? Particularly if you’re living with the impact of a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

Ask yourself: What kind of health can I have within the reality of my illness or injury?

This isn’t about having a lower level of health than you had before or being less healthy. That form of comparison can be emotionally draining.

It is about what being healthy and not healthy is like for you now, as you are.

When you are living with the impact of a challenging health issue, you have good days, so-so days and some downright awful days. Therefore, your health and experience of being healthy fluctuates.

Answering this question in conjunction with your medical and healthcare team can also help you determine what is realistic and appropriate for you given the health issue you are dealing with. Or the health issue a loved one may be dealing with.

Second, health ensues due to the action we take. We create the conditions for experiencing health (or not)

It’s the same as with happiness. We create the conditions for our happiness. And those conditions are many. What contributes to your experience of health and feeling healthy is also multi-faceted. It is so much more than just our physical and mental health.

Note: There are some things which can have a negative impact on our mental and/or physical health which we cannot fully control. For example state systems regarding benefits, a relapse, or what other people say to us. What we can control is our response to these situations and people.

Third, ensure the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of health and wellness are healthy actions

Are the actions you’re taking in your pursuit of #health and #wellness healthy actions? Read more here. Click To Tweet

The actions we take to pursue health may not always be healthy for us. For example, the diet products that have no evidence base, or yo-yo dieting as mentioned above, or forgoing meals in an effort to lose weight, or doing too much exercise so we end up hurting ourselves, or completing disregarding the advice of your medical or healthcare team without giving it due consideration, or expecting results very quickly which could be unrealistic.

You can always double check your actions with experts and I recommend this if your action involves your medical routine, change in medications, your diet/nutrition and your psychological health.

And remember, your actions can be small. I often say that a range of small actions in various parts of our life can be a tidal wave of change for the good.

A woman is riding a tidal wave and within the wave are these small actions such as set my intention for the day, take a walk at lunch time, eat dinner earlier, and knit whilst watching tv. The woman is saying, "All these small actions are at tidal wave of change!" A fish is near the wave saying, "This is wave I want to ride!" The point is the actions we take in our pursuit of health need to be healthy actions. It's ok if they are small. Lots of small actions can be a tidal wave of change.

Fourth, the pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process

There is no end destination. Health and wellness are resources readily available to us. It’s up to us to create the conditions, to take actions which are within our control and influence, for them to flourish for our benefit. Whilst keeping in mind our health and wellness will fluctuate over time.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: The pursuit of health and wellness is an ongoing process, not an end destination.

What’s it like for you?

How do you think about the pursuit of health and wellness? How has your definition of health and being healthy changed over the years? What’s it like now? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

Three things that will make your new years resolutions successful

Three things that will make your new years resolutions successful

You can make your new years resolutions successful by doing three easy things. If you set resolutions now or at another time of the year, chances are you want to succeed at achieving them. Yet sometimes things get in the way which means you don’t, despite well-meaning efforts you made. This happens a lot. It has happened to me.

I want to share these three things as it’s not any kind of secret, but I notice a lot of people often don’t follow them. They’re important as it’s about laying the foundation for a resolution which will help you get what you want for yourself and your life this year.

Note: For some people the word ‘resolution’ really grates. Use the word that works for you. Goal. Objective. Intention. Possibility. Something else. I’m going to use the word resolution. Also, some people don’t set resolutions at New Year’s. That’s fine. What I write here applies at any time of the year.

Here are the three easy things to do to make your new year’s resolutions successful #change #wellness #newyearsresolution Click To Tweet

The first thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want

When we want to do, think or feel something different, we often phrase it as

I don’t want…

There is a focus on what we don’t want or what we want to lose. Understandable. It’s a good starting point.

You need to balance that by also focusing on what you want instead.

Because when you take something away – i.e. what you don’t want to be doing – putting something in its place will help you know what to focus on.

If you don’t do this, you can end up focusing your energies on what you no longer want rather than moving towards what you do want. And this is when people tend to give up.

A woman is sitting reading on a yellow sofa and wondering, 'I know what I don't want, but what do I want? I want to be more focused so my intentions needs to be specific.' The caption reads - What do you want for yourself this year? The point is that if we know what we want and we create specific actions to achieve that, then those actions help to make your new years resolutions successful

Here’s an example

Not be so critical of myself.

That’s a very common new year resolution. The danger is leaving it like that. You risk just saying, ‘Don’t be so critical of yourself!’ when you notice yourself being self-critical. You end up criticising yourself for being self-critical. Not helpful.

Think about what you want to be doing instead and include specific behaviours

To make your new years resolutions successful you can reword them to include specific behaviours of what you will be doing differently. For example:

When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The second thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Figure out how you will incorporate what you want to do into your daily routine

This is important. So many people don’t think about this up front. They may have the resolution to ‘get fit’, they get a gym membership, go to the gym after work, do this for a few weeks in January, then stop because at the end of the work day they are so tired and just want to veg out in front of the tv. Or they have kids to put to bed.

If you give a bit of thought as to what action you can take and when during your day, it can help you figure out if your resolution is realistic. Or do you need to adapt it in some way so it is more achievable for you.

For example, I learned that I either have to live close to a gym, less than a mile walk, or I have to have a mini gym in my house. As I don’t live close to a gym, I opted for the mini gym in the house.

Picture of exercise equipment including a yoga mat, resistance bands, weights, a stepper, foam roller and Fit with Frank online bootcamp videos. Exercise and physiotherapy can help you move on from the depression about your illness or injury.

It is also a trial and error process. I learned I have to work out first thing in the morning after waking up and before any coffee or breakfast. The workout gets the highest priority. If I do that, the workout gets done.

Be open to trial and error

If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. Just find another way. You will eventually land on a way that works for you.

Remember, when you were a baby, you didn’t walk perfectly or eat well with a spoon the first time you attempted it. It probably too you several weeks to months to learn.

This is an original quote by Return To Wellness: "When you start to make a change, be open to learning and that it will be a trial and error process. Remember, you didn't eat with a spoon or walk perfectly the first time you attempted it as a baby." The point of this is to be gentle with yourself and to watch any tendencies towards holding yourself to your pre-illness or injury high standards or to be perfect. This will help you make your new years resolutions successful

The third thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Make your resolution specific

The other thing we often don’t do is make the goal specific. Let’s go back to the examples we used previously.

Not be so critical of myself.

versus

When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The first one feels kind of big. When something feels big, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Too big to start making a change.

But when you break the resolution down into smaller actions, it can feel so much more do-able and manageable. That’s a key ingredient to make your new years resolutions successful.

The second resolution above is a good example of that. It outlines specific things the person will do so she is no longer so critical of herself.

Keep your actions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

I was working with carers not long ago and a common goal they often have is to get fit. When we broke that goal down, taking more exercise became an important component. But the carers were worried whether they would actually take the time to exercise. So I said do it for 5 minutes at the start. That’s all.

When I re-introduced exercise back into my life in 2018, the first routine I did was 6 minutes long. That’s it. Since then, I’ve slowly built up the amount of time I exercise.  I dropped a dress size in the past year, my body shape has changed, and my cardio function has improved.

These are the benefits of keeping your resolutions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

A small (tiny even) action enables you to get started. Getting started is important.

It’s easier to take smaller action as it may not take as much time. So you’re more likely to keep taking the action(s) which makes it easier to build habits. Habits are good for lasting change.

Smaller actions allow you to work to a pace you are capable of and comfortable with given everything else going on in your life. It may mean change happens more slowly, but chances are much greater it will be long lasting change.

There are important benefits to keeping your #NewYearsResolutions small. Read about them here #change #wellness Click To Tweet

There is another reason why specific and small actions are important

When you or a loved one is dealing with a challenging health issue, you are dealing with some big changes. And all you want is to get your life back and feel like yourself again.

It can feel overwhelming. My clients have said this to me. I have personally experienced this.

Specific and small actions help you to not pile expectations onto yourself. But to take things at a gentler pace.

Small is good, achievable and gentle.

The caption of this picture reads: Small and specific actions help you to be gentle with yourself. A woman is standing and looking contended at a table. On the table are three actions. Go to yoga class once a week. Walk at lunch three times a week. Go out with a friend once a week. The woman is thinking, "Having just a few small actions this year feels much more possible to do." Small and specific actions will make your new years resolutions successful

What’s it like for you?

What do you think will help you to make your new years resolutions successful? What has worked in the past for you? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to change your snacking habit for the better

How to change your snacking habit for the better

You’ve tried to change your snacking habit and you may have made improvements at times, but they don’t seem to have lasted for very long. You end up dissatisfied and maybe even angry with yourself.

After all, you’re on a quest to improve your health because you’re dealing with your own or a loved one’s health issue. Or you just want to be and feel healthier. Also, if your snacking habit is a sugary one, that can have an impact on symptoms you or a loved one may be living with.

This is a common issue people have. I’ve been working with carers over the past year and more than one person has this issue on every course I do. So here I share what you can do to change your snacking habit for the better.

Have been working with #carers and an issue many of them have which they would like to change is their snacking habit. You can get a snapshot of how I work with them via this blog #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Note that this blog is less about the surface level things you can do to change your snacking habit

The internet is awash with it. It’s the hints and tips like don’t go down the snack aisle in the supermarket, limit what snacks you do buy, or substitute the chocolate and crisps with grapes, cucumbers and unsalted nuts. You know this stuff already.

What I offer here is an opportunity for you to dig a little a deeper. To get closer to the root cause of why it may have been hard to change your snacking habit.

You can’t look at snacking in isolation

To change your snacking habit for the better and for the long-term, it really helps to examine your relationship with

  • Food
  • Your emotions
  • Your body
  • Life events both positive and negative, small and large, past and present

A woman is looking at a circle which has been divided into four areas: Food, Your Emotions, Your Body, Life Events (past and present). She is saying, "I'll have to reflect on how my relationship with each of these areas influences my snacking habit." Considering how these four areas do that can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

You do that because snacking could be serving a purpose

That purpose could be connected to your relationship with food, how you view your body, your emotions, or it could be connected to something which happened to you in your life or even your present-day circumstances. These four areas can influence one another.

Sometimes people snack because they are bored. Snacking is something to do.

Or they snack alongside another activity – working on the computer, watching tv, driving. In this case, cares I’ve worked with described the snacking as ‘mindless’, i.e. they weren’t thinking about it. When you don’t think about it, you can very quickly go through a packet of biscuits or a bag of sweets.

Or snacking can provide comfort when you’re feeling down or upset.

Snacking could also be a distraction from difficult emotions and feelings which may be related to how you feel about yourself generally, an earlier life event or present-day circumstances.

Or maybe you grew up having a snack after school and have continued that tradition into adulthood even if you’re not hungry at that time.

Or you don’t like your body, you ignore it, and snacking is one way of dealing with that.

How to become aware of the purpose of snacking for you

When you next go for a snack, notice how you’re feeling.

Bored, restless for some reason, wanting to ignore a difficult task/project/activity you’re meant to do, you just had an argument, you did something well and want an award, something else?

This is about noticing your triggers.

Next time you go to get a snack, pause.

Give yourself a couple of minutes to notice what is triggering you. Notice what you’re telling yourself. And how you feel. You can even write this down including the time of day. If you do this over a period of time, you may start to notice patterns.

When you are eating the snack, what is that like for you?

How do you feel then? Satisfied? Disappointed? You’re not noticing anything?

What are you telling yourself?

What are the downsides of eating the snack? And the benefits?

As you’re snacking, you can write the responses to these questions. At this stage it is all about noticing without the intention of changing anything. You just want to raise your awareness and identify any patterns in your snacking.

Raising your level of awareness can be enough to help you move forward with changing your snacking habit.

Raising your level of awareness about your snacking habit – when you snack, why, how it helps you (or not) – can be enough to help you to change your snacking habit for the better. Read more here #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

But the following is good if you are finding it hard to change your snacking habit.

What can be particularly helpful to change your snacking habit

Go back to the trigger for wanting a snack in the first place. Notice if you experience any sensations in your body as well. Do you feel anything in your legs, feet, stomach, solar plexus, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, head, somewhere else?

Notice the sensation you feel. Is it a buzzy feeling, or more like shocks, a wave, or like knots, rocks, ache, hot, cold, something else? It can be anything. Or you may feel nothing.

Notice how big or small the sensation feels. Even if you feel nothing. What shape does it take? How much space does it occupy in that part of your body?

What colour is it? Does it have a texture, and if so, what is it like?

If this sensation could speak, what would it say?

Sometimes emotions accompany this. And that’s ok. It’s actually very valuable information so if emotions do appear, give them space to be there without judging them.

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

That sounds a little bit woo woo, what are you having me do?

If a habit like snacking is difficult to shift, the underlying reason could be resting in your body somewhere. By working with the bodily sensation, we are by-passing the rational mind which can be quick to discount and question everything. When the rational mind gets out of control like that, it can get in the way of us making change for ourselves.

Also, working with our bodies in addition to our minds is a holistic approach to change

In our society, we are sometimes very quick to discount our body and all the information it contains. People often think they are in full control of their bodies.

But given you have dealt with or are dealing with a challenging health issue, or know someone who is, you know that is not the case. There is a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves.

Discover how working with your bodily sensations in relation to the snacking habit you wish to change can help. There’s a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves. #change… Click To Tweet

So back to working with your body…

When you work with your body in this way, you can discover what the various parts of you need. If you are not used to identifying the bodily sensations you feel and working with them, this may take some practice. And that is ok. It is a skill that can be learned. And you don’t have to get this ‘perfect’ or ‘right’. Fumbling along is normal and acceptable!

If you feel nothing, sit a while longer. If you still feel nothing, it could be that this is a skill to develop. Or it could be a sensation of numbness.

When reading that it might be numbness, if you feel a reaction to that, it could be numbness you are feeling. And you may feel numb for any number of reasons.

A question to ask yourself is, ‘What could I be numbing?’ An answer may not appear readily. That’s ok. Just let that question percolate for a while and something may come to you.

If an answer does spear, it may be in the form of images, thoughts, events you remember and/or other sensations.

Identifying what you really need

You’ve identified the bodily sensation, its colour, texture, shape, how much space it occupies and even what it could say if it had a voice.

What does this part of you want?

What is driving this want? Is anything missing?

If you could have what you want, or what is missing, what would it be? What would having that give you?

Change your snacking habit by bringing more of what you want or what is missing into your life

How can you bring more of what you want or what is missing into your life?

When people share what that part of them wants, what is missing, I hear things like:

  • ‘A hug.’
  • ‘Love me.’
  • ‘You were a little girl. It wasn’t your fault.’
  • ‘Please slow down.’
  • ‘Don’t take on anything else right now.’
  • ‘I’m tired.’
  • ‘Pay attention to me.’

That’s really important information. Many times it’s a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement or recognition. There’s this part of us that hasn’t been seen, heard or understood for some time. What you can do now is look at ways of bringing more of what that part of you needs and wants.

Sometimes when we examine and feel into everyday habits we do without thinking, like snacking, we discover a doorway to something much more meaningful and fulfilling.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: "An unhelpful habit can actually be a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement and recognition." This is sometimes the real purpose behind snacking. If you become aware of what plea snacking is covering up, then you are in a better position to change your snacking habit for the better.

What’s it like for you?

What purpose does snacking play in your life? What strategies have you used to help you change that habit? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

Figuring out how to deal with your life now versus how it should be can be hard. Frustrating. Sad. Something has happened to you and your life that wasn’t in the plan. And it means that the life you had planned for yourself – your life how it should be – may no longer be possible.

Maybe what has happened was a challenging health issue has come into your or a loved one’s life. Your life or theirs may be changed forever as a result. Or maybe it’s a relationship betrayal or breakdown, redundancy, bankruptcy, move to a new home/city/country, or even the death of someone close to you. Or your life just hasn’t panned out in the way you had hoped for any number of reasons.

So how do you deal with your life now versus how it should be?

You expected your life to be a certain way. But now all that has changed due to a challenging #health issue. Read what you can do to deal with your life now versus how it should be #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that title

Look at the words

‘your life now versus how it should be’

There are two things happening in those words. I’m going to outline what they are and what you can do to reconcile the differences to help you deal with your life now versus how it should be.

The picture shows a woman trying to figure out how to deal with her life now versus how she thinks it should be. She is saying, 'I want to find the clues.' The caption reads: The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that sentence. Written in one box is 'my life now'. In another box, is written 'how it should be'. Should is underlined. Between the two boxes 'versus' is written. This is underlined too. Can you figure out the clues?

First, what is the ‘versus’ like for you?

When at a sporting event or playing a game, we use the word ‘versus’ to indicate two teams playing ‘against’ each other. The versus has connotations of winning and losing. One team will win the other will lose.

We then take that versus and use it on other areas of our lives. A union versus the government. You versus your boss. Boys versus girls.

In relation to how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what is the energy in the versus for you?

Does the ‘versus’ feel like a fight? One that you aren’t winning? Are you in this perpetual state of losing? Or something else?

Second, notice the use of ‘should’

The use of the word ‘should’ is ‘used to show what is right, appropriate, etc.’. And it can be ‘used to say that something that was expected has not happened’.

Sometimes, the use of the word ‘should’ can fuse these two – what was expected to happen was the right thing to happen.

But there can be difficulty when the ‘should’ becomes a rule

When a person holds on tightly to what they consider the right and appropriate thing to do or be, that is when ‘should’ becomes more like a rule. The harder the person holds on to that ‘should’, the more fixed it becomes as a rule.

We often inherent such rules from the primary caregivers in our families of origin. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even teachers and friends’ parents. When we inherited them, they were useful at that time.

So how do you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it should be?

Read here to learn how to reconcile the differences between your life now versus how it should be #health #change #wellness Click To Tweet

Check if your ‘shoulds’ are outdated strategies

Because sometimes the should you learned in childhood was appropriate for that stage of your life but isn’t now. But you may learned the should more recently from people around you or even social media. Do this by asking yourself:

  • If someone from my past would have said this, who would that be?
  • If I learned this should more recently, from who or where did I learn it?
  • Is it helpful for me and my life to continue operating to this should?

If you’ve identified someone and you’ve realised it’s no longer helpful to carry around this should, then you can give that should back to them (on an energetic level).

Also, whenever you notice yourself using the word ‘should’ to show what is right, appropriate and correct, replace it with the word ‘could’. Notice what that is like for you.

The woman is looking at two boxes one which has 'my life now' written in it and the other 'how it could be'. The word could is underlined. Between them is written the word and and it is underlined. The caption reads: Notice how the use of 'could' rather than 'should' creates possibility and the potential for movement. The woman is saying, 'That feels so much better!'

Check the kind of energy you are putting into the ‘versus’

Is it the kind of energy where you feel like you are fighting to get to your life as it ‘should’ be but you’re not getting anywhere?

What if you were to let go of that fight and just be with how your life is now?

I appreciate that this can be a big ask because some situations are very tough to be in. As a start, just put the fight to one side for a bit and notice what that is like for you. You can return to it if you choose to.

So why did I suggest putting the fight to one side?

Check if you’re in the grip of ‘comparsion-itis’

Comparison is a common strategy people use to deal with their life now versus how it should be.

If you are constantly comparing your life as it is now versus how it should be, you are not happy with your life now and you are happy with the vision and hopes of how your life should be, yeah, that is gonna be hard. It can feel very negative.

Sometimes your life how it should be is your pre-illness/injury life and you are striving to get back to that. Reading this blog will also help.

That kind of constant comparison is energy draining. Your life now will never be good enough. And do you want to live your life like that?

I reckon you are probably shaking your head no.

So change the nature of the comparison you’re making as you deal with your life now versus how it should be

‘Should’ can be used to refer to a possible event or situation, so something in the future.

Your life ‘as it should be’ could be something in the future. It may be possible to achieve, it may not. Or maybe something in the middle of those two is achievable.

If the life you have dreamt for yourself is truly not possible, then mourn that loss

It’s a very real loss. Although our western society doesn’t always embrace or even allow mourning, it is a legitimate and healthy thing to do. And you can mourn without unpacking and living in it forever and ever. When you mourn you are honouring someone or something you valued. That is ok to do. It also helps to put an end to unhealthy comparison.

Reflect on the possibility of creating a life that is somewhere between, even beyond, the life you have now and the life you had hoped for

Depending on what you had hoped for in your life, how can you create it or aspects of it now in the life you do have? It may take a different form. It may take more effort on your part to make happen. It may take a while to make happen. But what are the possibilities? And what actions can you start taking to make them happen? However small those actions may be.

This is about purposefully creating the life you want given everything that you have dealt with and may have to deal with.

These possibilities can be flexible and adaptable goals. I use the words flexible and adaptable to highlight that you may need to be open to changing how you reach the goal, aspects of the goal or even the goal itself. This can help lessen a ‘rule fixed should’ taking hold.

Reading this related blog on finding the new you after a difficult experience like the onset of a challenging health issue or something else, will also help.

If it’s not yet possible to create the life you want, then notice the good in your life now and what makes you smile

A woman is sitting down looking at a continuum above her and smiling. She's in a good place. At one end of the continuum is 'your life now'. Above it reads 'notice the good here'. At the other end of the continuum is 'how your life should be' and the word should is in quotes. Above it is written, mourn what you've lost and valued. Between those two points of the continuum is highlighted the middle and there's the questions: What are the possibilities here? How could you life be? Below near the woman who is sitting down, there's a rubbish bin and in it is 'comparison-itis'. The emphasis here is how you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it 'should' be by looking at all the possibilities between the two.

That may sound really cliched, but it has value because it’s true.

Maybe you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty so until some of that lessens you can’t say what you want your life to be like or you know but don’t have the energy to create it just yet. For example, when you’re in the acute phase of a challenging health issue and having treatment, or in a flare, or even for situations such as divorce, bankruptcy, redundancy, something else.

So take a deep breath.

Let go of the struggle.

Notice the small, even tiny things that make you smile and remind you of the good in the world.

Someone who smiles at you on the street. A funny meme on social media. The bird outside your house. The sun shining. A hug a loved one gives you. A cup of tea someone makes for you or you make for them. A news story about something someone did that was kind.

Just keep noticing those small things day-in and day-out, day after day. That helps you to keep some good in your life which helps to keep a sense of balance. It also makes sure you don’t forget how to notice the good things, which is so important.

Finally, if comparison-it is ever starts to take hold…

Remind yourself that you only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday.

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness reads: You only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday."

What’s it like for you?

What resonated with you in this blog? In learning how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what would help you? Or has helped? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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