Just one question.

I have been writing a lot about the need for self-care for some time now. It’s an important part of loving ourselves, as we all know. So, today, I wish to ask you, dear reader, just one question that tells us why self-care is important. 

A question that will help us all know (if we answer it truthfully) whether we truly prioritize ourselves, which in turn will tell us if we have, indeed, made self-care a part of our everyday schedules.

Ways to self-care

I would appreciate it if you share your replies with me because of the bond I have developed with you all over the years. Also, it will help me reflect upon my own ways of self-care and show me where I need to make changes and where I fair well.

So, here goes…

What is that one thing you do just for YOURSELF, each day, every day, without fail? Something you never feel guilty spending time for?

And, what do you do, or how do you feel, on days when you somehow miss doing it?

The second part of my question should reveal how we treat ourselves, especially when we fail to make time for ourselves, so please be honest–with yourself–when you answer this question.

Thank you!

 

So, beginning with me–well, shouldn’t I be the first one to answer the question and see how well I know why self-care is important?

In answer to the first part:

The one thing I do just for myself each day, every day, is going for my evening walk, come rain or sunshine, even on days when hubby is home in the evenings and suggests watching a movie together. For me, my walk (by myself) is my me-time, and I shall not miss it for anything in the world.

Well, all the stress we deal with everyday is precisely why self-care is important. 

And, since the past week now, since hubby gifted me the perfect set of earphones (Ah, how they fit me PERFECTLY!) I play my favorite music when I walk or listen to TED talks. The 45 minutes that I am outdoors are the best 45 minutes of my day!

And, to answer the second part of my query:

On days, when I miss my walk (and those days are few and far between), I feel like I missed out on something supremely important and make sure I walk around at home after dinner. It isn’t the same thing, but it means a lot to me that I walk, move around, for the sake of my body and mind.

No, I do not reprimand myself if I (sometimes) prefer talking with a dear friend over the phone instead of going for my walk, because for me my friends are very precious, so I just tell myself, “Chill, Shilps. It’s perfectly okay if you missed out on your walk. At least you enjoyed an hour of adult human interaction!”  I do need that human conversation after chatting with my parrots all day! 😛

So, that’s all! Easy, isn’t it?

Now, it’s your turn. Do leave your replies in the comments section. I would love to hear from you all!

 

Much love,

SHILPA…

Importance of self-care

10 significant ways how writing helps us.

I read a post by my dear friend, Vinitha Dileep, on Morning Pages a while ago. It’s a concept introduced by Julia Cameron in her best selling book, ‘The Artist’s Way’–have you read it?

The Artist's Way

A very dear friend gifted me this book on my birthday back in June 2013. Then, I wasn’t a lot into reading self-help books, or non-fiction, so I was quite apprehensive about going through this particular tome.

But, something changed in me when I began reading Julia’s words. It felt like this book was written especially for me!

Six years ago, I wasn’t into blogging. Heck, I wasn’t into anything back then except looking after my home, my pet and my mom-in-law!

Having quit my job, I was experiencing the “An empty mind is a devil’s workshop.” syndrome. Plus, there was the endless stress that gnawed at me right from the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep at night.

Stress, when not dealt with, creates havoc on your entire system. Not just your mental health, but also your physical and emotional health take a massive beating. And, if there’s no one you can turn to for help, then, trust me, you will soon find yourself in an endless abyss, with no soul to get you out.

So, it was during that time that The Artist’s Way landed in my lap and, what can I say, reading its pages felt like the Universe was trying to help me!

Writing the MORNING PAGES:

I began writing the morning pages in earnest. Not because I wished to become a writer or a blogger, but because I had known the health benefits of writing.

So, it was only after I began writing the morning pages that I realized two things:

  • I got a clearer look at my writing, and
  • a better way to deal with my stress, first thing in the morning.

So, today, I would like to share the health benefits of writing.

10 Ways how writing helps us

10 HEALTH BENEFITS OF WRITING:

How many of you maintained a diary as a kid? I remember I did, back when I was in college. I shared everything with my diary–the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the ugly stuff. I also remember how I hid it from prying eyes.

But, what I most remember is, feeling relaxed after sharing my thoughts with my diary.

I quit writing in my diary after some years, and it was only after receiving The Artist’s Way as a birthday gift that I began writing in my diary, once again.

Writing the morning pages was like sharing my deepest secrets with my closest friend–one who would never disclose those secrets to another soul.

Dealing with mental illness is not easy. And, being the caregiver of not one but two mental illness patients is…well, it wrung the life out of me.

The stress is an everyday companion who refuses to leave you alone. And, it is this stress that I needed to deal with before it broke me completely.

And, so I began writing and relieving myself of the stress that clung to me like a cloak all day.

  1. Writing helped me pour out my feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, and guilt. I couldn’t share those with anyone as freely as I shared those in my morning pages.
  2. Writing about those emotions was a release I needed then because bottling up these emotions is injurious to your health! Simple as that.
  3. Your anger can kill you, and your fear can leave you anxious, panic-stricken. And, being the caregiver of two mental illness patients and one canine, I couldn’t afford to take my health for granted.
  4. Writing gave me a clear perspective on everything. It helped me realize how I was wasting mental energy on issues that were not in my control. It helped me understand the issues that needed my attention and also those that I needed to ignore.
  5. Not having a close friend whom I could meet every day, I needed someone I could talk to. And, it was writing that gave me that friend. My diary became my best friend who would never judge me or shut me up for chewing her brains with my problems. My diary would listen to me patiently, be the strong shoulder I needed to lean on.
  6. Writing the morning pages basically helped me to understand Life, understand the problems I was facing and how nothing about it all was in my control, so I might as well learn to just control my emotions!
  7. Today, writing helps me not only share my fears about certain personal matters but also draw up goals to follow.
  8. Listing monthly goals at the beginning of each month gives me a clear picture of what I need to work on.
  9. Writing helps me realize how far I have come from where I started a few years back, especially where my blogging/writing is concerned. But, most importantly, it makes me realize how I have changed/am changing as a person. In that, it helps me work on myself to be a better version of myself!
  10. And, finally, writing helps me keep track of my successes, and my achievements, however minuscule they may be. For, we do need to remember our triumphs, our wins, to encourage us when there’s no one else to do it for us! it’s what keeps us going, isn’t it?

Writing is, therefore, an exercise I would urge you to take up to be better able to deal with your stress and express your innermost emotions, freely.

Whether you deal with chronic stress or acute stress, the health benefits of writing are aplenty and it’s only after you begin doing it diligently will you realise what a precious tool you hold in your hand!

Actually, irrespective of how much stress you are dealing with, or how good you are at managing your stress, write.

Irrespective of your profession or your passion; whether you are a creative person, or not, just write.

For yourself.

We deal with stress every day. And, finding a release for that stress is an important part of self-care.

Stress stored in our mind has great potential, you know? It could ruin our peace, wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing, affect our relationships with others and with ourselves and affect our everyday life in a way we might not even imagine.

Of course, you can share your stress with your close friends/family or even your therapist. But, for those times when you have no one to share your stress with, write.

HOW TO WRITE THE MORNING PAGES:

Just pick up a pen and a paper (I believe in writing the old-fashioned way when doing this particular kind of writing) and pour your heart out.

Do not stop to think about what you ought to write. Just let it all out, however ugly it might be.

Do not read what you write, if you are writing your morning pages. Read if after a few days, but not immediately.

And, finally, do not…I repeat, do not judge yourself for what you write. Remember, you are a human, blessed with the ability to think all sorts of stuff about life, about people, about anything and everything.

So, writing fearlessly, wholeheartedly, and non-judgementally is what will help you not only unload your stress but also understand yourself better.

Have you tried writing the Morning Pages? Do give it a try, if you haven’t already. It’s one of the best ways to unburden your everyday stress.

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Writing to de-stress

 

 

10 signs your anxiety is reducing.

Let me just say that Anxiety Disorder isn’t like the common cold or the flu that gets cured with OTC meds in a matter of some days.

It’s more a condition of the mind that makes one feel less enthusiastic about life and living and more panicky about every little matter.

A condition that may reduce with time with the help of counseling, medications and loads of self-care and positive affirmations, but, which needs to be followed religiously.

It might not seem very serious an issue to many, but it’s the sufferer who knows where the shoe pinches.

So, coming back to the topic of discussion today, I have personally experienced anxiety and panic at its worse, but with the help of medication for a few months, counseling over a couple of months, and loads of positive affirmations and self-care every day for the past 6 months, have experienced a lot of improvement in myself.

Read Generalised Anxiety Disorder: Care and management.

It feels like I have attained freedom, you know! Freedom from so many feelings that kept me from living peacefully; freedom from the incessant fear that would haunt me all the time. It’s not to say I don’t feel anxious at all. I still do, but I know how to manage these anxious thoughts now.

If you, too, have been a victim of GAD, and if you have been working on yourself religiously, and if you have been experiencing the following, then know that your anxiety is reducing.

10 SIGNS YOUR ANXIETY IS REDUCING:

YOU SLEEP PEACEFULLY:

That’s the number one sign that will tell you your anxiety is no more your boss. If you are able to enjoy an uninterrupted sleep of 7 to 8 hours without any medications, know that you are getting better. And, on nights when you are unable to sleep soundly, yet don’t fret over it but wait patiently for the sleep to arrive, then trust that you are doing wonderfully!

YOU DON’T ALLOW PANIC TO DISTURB YOUR PEACE OF MIND:

I would get panicky over the sound of the television, or even while riding in the car. Now, I am much more cool about it and have devised ways to push out the panic and take things in my stride.

I don’t get frightened with the TV volume going up; I focus instead on what’s going on in the scene. And, if I feel the terror creeping into my system when traveling in a car, I merely ask hubby to slow down a bit and/or enjoy the music.

YOU AREN’T ANXIOUS IN STRESSFUL SITUATIONS:

Instead, you find ways to solve the issue. You know that Life will never be a smooth ride and that there will always be curveballs coming at you from unexpected quarters at unexpected moments.

But, you also know, that come what may, you will face it all, coz you have it in you to face the uncertainties! That, you are brave and capable enough, and that you are a hero, so no matter what happens, you got your back!

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS ARE YOUR DAILY MANTRAS:

You begin your day with gratitude and you spend your day counting your blessings. Positive affirmations during difficult times are your best friends that help you brave it all. My favorite mantra is, “Everything happens for the best.”

Knowing the uncertain nature of Life, I don’t expect anything otherwise from Her! In fact, I have stopped expecting anything and am only grateful for all that happens–good or bad. It’s like, if things work out, good if things don’t work out, great, for, there’s definitely something better in store for me!

YOU DON’T GET HASSLED WITH YOUR SCHEDULES GETTING DISTURBED:

Okay, now this one does bother me sometimes, but most of the times, I just breathe when my schedule gets all disturbed because of change in plans. So, then, I just reschedule! Simple, isn’t it?

YOU ARE HAPPY FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON:

It’s when you realize, that the key to your happiness lies in your own hands, and that you don’t need any particular thing, or person to make you happy. You just are happy!

YOU LOOK FORWARD TO EACH DAY:

Whatever be your work, you are enthusiastic and energetic as you begin your day. You don’t feel any lethargy (unless it’s a Sunday!) and you look forward to meeting your goals or completing your activities, either for a hobby or for your work.

YOU TAKE YOUR HEALTH SERIOUSLY:

Your health matters to you a lot and you take extra care of your health–physically, mentally, emotionally. Self-care is your mantra and you know what’s good for your health and what’s not, and you consciously stay away from what’s not.

YOU AREN’T DISAPPOINTED WITH THINGS GOING WRONG:

You accept that you are human and you will make mistakes. So, you learn from your mistakes, get over your disappointments and vow to work better the next time.

MINDFULNESS IS YOUR EVERYDAY HABIT:

The most important of all, you learn to be mindful. You live in the present and don’t rue about the past or worry about the future. Be it while working or relaxing, you make it a habit to be mindful of every moment. Mindful and grateful. These two words are, in fact, the secret to your reduced anxiety!

None of the above is possible without conscious efforts on your part, though. It’s an everyday practice that will help you overcome your anxiety to an extent that it’s manageable.

The affirmations, the self-talk, the self-care has to be the most important part of your daily To-do list.

It needs to become second nature if you wish to fight your anxiety and your fear. And, believe me, both these–the anxiety and fear–will always lurk somewhere in the shadows. It’s up to you how you learn to keep them under control.

So, do you find yourself overwhelmed by Anxiety, or have you learned to keep a tight rein on it? Do share with me your story of facing and fighting your anxiety.

Take care,

Love,

SHILPA…

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SIGNS that show you are winning against your ANXIETY

 

Why we need to unfollow diet fads.

Disclaimer: I am not a dietician or a nutritionist. I am sharing my views on diet fads based on what I have personally experienced and what I have learned from dieticians who use doable, logical techniques to help people achieve good health, and not just lose/gain weight.

Diet fads are in an abundance, isn’t it? Almost every day we come across some or other new diet fad being introduced by the fitness industry. No, actually, more than the fitness industry, it’s the celebs who endorse these fads.

I am sure they get all the advice from their dieticians, but it’s they who publicize the fads thanks to the huge fan following they enjoy. No offense meant to the dieticians, by the way.

And, sadly, most of the fans follow them blindly, mirroring their lifestyle, their fitness regimens, and those diet fads in the vain hope of achieving a body just like their idols.

Diet fads are, often, weird. I just found out that Wikipedia has listed around 63 diets in two categories: Clean eating and fad diets.

There are diets ranging from the 5:2 diet (I have no idea what that is) to the No breakfast Plan (Imagine, no breakfast!). There’s the Cabbage Soup Diet (Yuck! ONLY cabbage soup for 7 days to lose weight!) and there’s the Cookie Diet (again, for weight loss).

There are some among these that make sense to me, in that they urge you to eat whole foods in their natural state as opposed to processed foods. But these exclude gluten, grains and dairy products, so I personally wouldn’t approve of it, at all.

The reason why we must not follow fad diets is that these fad diets do not take into account an individual’s genetic makeup. Each individual is created differently. Everything about us makes us unique, so a particular diet that may help one person, might not necessarily help another in any way.

So, some time back, when I read a post by my blogger friend, Modern Gypsy, on diets, the fitness industry, our battle with our bodies and how we crave to look a certain way, I could totally relate to what she had to say.

Reading her post gave me the idea for this post on why we must not follow fad diets and create a diet plan that suits our health and our body type.

DIETS Vs BODY WEIGHT:

Right since childhood, I have weighed on the lower side of the weighing scale. Even after I got married (a phase in life when women are expected to put on weight), I didn’t gain an ounce.

Of course, there was some stress that played a huge role in maintaining my weight to below 50 kilos, but even otherwise, I couldn’t gain a gram whatever I ate.

For a long long time, I battled with this problem but failed to find a solution. I ate all I could– healthy food as well as junk– in some hope that I would put on at least a few grams if not a few kilos.

No, please don’t even wish you were in my place because it’s not just overweight people who have to bear the brunt of having “not-so-normal bodies”; it’s underweight people, too, who have to put up with taunts and hurtful words.

However, it’s only some time back that I realized that this is how I was made. My metabolic rate differed from others and that’s why others put on weight with the help of some diet, while I didn’t.

So, the factors that influence lower body weight or excess body weight decide whether a particular diet will help a person, or not. A diet that may help one person to lose/gain weight, might not necessarily help another person, however much they tried.

DO DIETS REALLY HELP?

Just following a fad diet to lose/gain weight doesn’t help. One needs to follow the correct exercise regimen, and also look after their mental and emotional health to achieve any success–is what I believe.

As I said, each of us is built in a certain way. Our genetic makeup, physical activity, lifestyle, eating habits, stress levels, all decide if a diet will indeed help us in any way, or will be money down the drain. Seriously, following a diet is often a costly affair!

Following the diet chart is also mentally and emotionally draining.

For example, if you have been advised to eat one biscuit with tea in the mornings, will it appeal to you? Of course, I wouldn’t advise you to eat half a packet of biscuits because you haven’t eaten anything all night, but just imagining one biscuit in the plate is sure to bring down your morale first thing in the morning, isn’t it?

I believe that if a diet is not tailor made for YOU, it is bound to leave you frustrated because you won’t find any change in yourself, however long you follow the given instructions.

The dietician has to take into consideration everything about you, your life, the issues you might be facing if there has to be any change in your weight.

Mental and emotional stress also has a huge effect on our physical health. So, you might be following the diet chart to the T, but from within you could be feeling frustrated, desperate, and agonized. Do you think your diet will work then?

IF NOT A DIET, THEN WHAT?

I believe in maintaining a healthy diet. If you do suffer from any lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension or any illnesses, you do need to take special care of what you eat. Then, it becomes paramount that you follow your dietician’s advice, but only after sharing with him/her everything that affects your life–good or bad.

Read Health Matters

If you do not suffer from any lifestyle diseases, then you need to take your lifestyle into consideration. Do you have a sedentary lifestyle or an active one? Your diet will then need to be worked around that…by you!

Eating (within limits) every 3 hours, eating homemade, proper intake of water, healthy food, exercising regularly according to your capability or daily schedule and not going overboard with either the food or the workout will ensure a healthy you.

Read Follow a fitness routine

Body size is something created by the media. Celebs with a slim, curvy figure may not necessarily be healthy and happy from within. But, because they belong to the glamour industry, they are in the spotlight and followed blindly.

So, you may be an “overweight” or “underweight” adult, but if your health checks show normal results and if you suffer from no health issues at all, if you take care of what you eat, how much you workout and how good you feel from within, consider yourself blessed.

Body size? Just give a damn about it and live your life, happy and content.

Points to remember:

NEVER take your health for granted.

Aim at being HEALTHY and not just slim. This way, your weight issues will get solved.

NEVER compare yourself with others, especially where body size is concerned.

LOVE YOURSELF just the way you are.

 

ARE FAD DIETS REALLY WORTH IT?

6 self-care ways for your emotional health.

Self-care has become the buzzword for 2019, isn’t it? It seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue; one hears it in almost every conversation people have about the art of living. Heck, I myself did a series on self-care for my A to Z Blogging Challenge this April!

Read this The A to Z Of Self-Care

But, what exactly is self-care all about? And, do we need to give it that much importance?

Is it just about sipping wine on a weekend, or having that bar of chocolate without any guilt? Is it about visiting a salon to help rejuvenate your exhausted nerves, or going for the monthly retail therapy?

Self-care means a whole lot more than just that, you know?

*It’s about showering the “self” with respect and love, the kind it deserves, the kind it has been denied all these years.

*It’s about developing the ‘self’, nurturing it, helping it blossom the way it ought to.

*And, it’s about discovering how to stay emotionally healthy.

How to stay emotionally healthy

 

Today, I wish to share with you simple ways on how to stay emotionally healthy and ensure that your emotional health gets the utmost attention and love. For, being emotionally healthy helps us stay strong in the face of difficult times and lonely moments.

We do learn to move on, but at times, our soul and our mind hold within them the wounds and the scars of some of our bitter experiences which affects our peace and happiness. Looking after them, helping them heal is our duty towards them, and the following six ways is how I look after my two companions!

6 WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR EMOTIONAL HEALTH:

BEFRIEND YOURSELF: However many friends you may have, the one who remains closest to you all your life is YOU. Make time for yourself, make efforts to understand yourself and, most importantly, do all you can to accept yourself the way you are–flaws and all.

Talk to yourself whenever you can. When things go wrong, when you are hurt by someone’s behavior, when life seems tough, talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend.

Have a heart to heart talk with yourself when you wish you had someone by your side to do so. It makes a world of difference to your emotions. Which brings us to the next point…

USE POSITIVE SELF-TALK: The kind of talk you would give your lonely, sad and depressed friend, the kind of motivating talk you would give someone in need of some cheering up, is the kind of talk you give yourself when feeling low, sad, lonely or depressed.

You might not always have someone by your side to do that! Be kind, loving and gentle, inspiring, motivating and full of hope when you give yourself the pep talk.

The kind of words we use for ourselves makes a lot of difference to our mindset, our emotions.“You good-for-nothing girl/guy, you are pathetic…how couldn’t you manage such a simple thing?” That’s how we reprimand ourselves when things go wrong.

Why not replace those harsh words with some gentle ones? Like, “it’s okay, sweetie! Things do go wrong–that’s life, to err is human! But, you can always try again. I am sure you will definitely succeed the next time. Just don’t give up on yourself!”

Say it to yourself and see the difference it makes to your confidence.

BE COMPASSIONATE WITH YOURSELF: I am reading a book gifted by a dear friend which is all about embracing yourself the way you are.

Written by Brene Brown, it’s quite what I needed. I came across this quote on self-compassion where the author quotes Christopher K. Germer…

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.

Being compassionate means showing sympathy and concern for others. Being compassionate towards others is our duty. But, being compassionate towards ourselves is our responsibility to ourselves. It’s one of the most important ways of how to stay emotionally healthy.

Aren’t we, too, going through a storm, and taking all the shit that life throws at us? So, don’t we too need some compassion from ourselves? It’s we who know what we go through, right?

LIVE IN THE MOMENT: Each time you find yourself stressing over stuff that may have happened in the past, or worrying about what might happen in the future, bring your attention to the present, the moment you live in, for that moment is LIFE.

I learned it the hard way, and I am grateful for it. It was during some really tough times I experienced in the recent past that I learned the importance of living in the moment. It gives that much respite to the soul and the mind from moments of despair and agony.

Our mind is the strongest part of our body. But, there’s only that much it can take. Why subject it to unbearable torture by thinking on and on about instances that trouble us?

Also, we know not what the future holds for us, so why worry about it? Life is uncertain, the future is uncertain, but what’s certain is that come what may, we can, and will, face it all!

During moments of intense stress, calm your mind and bring it into the present. See for yourself how light it feels ‘up there’, where the mind resides.

BE CAREFUL WHOM YOU TRUST: We never know what goes on inside a person’s mind, do we? For all the trust we may have in some of them, they might not even be aware of what the word means!

Make sure your innermost circle consists of just a chosen 2 or 3 people. Make those people your support system whom you have known as the back of your palm for years together.

However, it helps to be your own biggest support system. The reason is simple: you know yourself better than you know others, or better than others know you! Moreover, you can never betray your own trust, can you?

BE YOUR OWN STRONGEST SUPPORTER: You might have the best team of cheerleaders rooting for you, but you will be your cheerleader all your life. So, doesn’t it make sense strengthening this particular cheerleader?

Learn to depend more on yourself than on others. Make yourself emotionally stronger so that you can face the emotional traumas life might bring your way.

Your people might cheer you on from the sidelines, but up there on the stage, it’s just you managing the whole show, right?

It helps having a sturdy mind and a sturdier soul by your side. Work towards building your confidence, patience and strength from today. You never know what life might serve you next!

Read this Be your own support system

These are just some of my tried and tested self-care techniques that I have been implementing since some time now. And, it feels good when I see the difference these make to my state of mind.

It’s really an everyday process you need to work on. But you will be doing yourself a whole lot of good, you know?

Do try out these techniques…I hope these help you, too.

Take care,

Love,

SHILPA…

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HOW TO STAY EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY

 

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