Self Care Is Community Care
As we look to darker days ahead (don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend!), I can feel my body slowing down. If colder, darker weather is challenging for you, know that you are not alone. Be gentle with yourself. Now is the time to rest and go inward. In light of darker days ahead, I thought I would share some self-soothing techniques that I use with my yoga students, and in my personal practice. Take what works for you, leave the rest.
Sit up tall. Seal your lips. Relax your jaw. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold the breath for 7, slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat for 2-3 minutes. This is a simple and short breathing exercise you can try anytime you feel your mind start to race.
Inhale through your nose for 4, hold for 2, and exhale through your nose for 7. This is like 4-7-8 breathing, but you can do it anywhere, anytime, without people noticing. I sometimes secretly practice this breathing technique when I feel myself get triggered by a conversation; something I read in the news; an awkward encounter at the grocery store; etc.
Inhale and Exhale through the nose for a count of 4. Work your way up to a 6 count if it feels good. Even breathing helps lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), is a bit like performing acupuncture on yourself. You tap out energy centers in your body while repeating a comforting statement. Some people say it is pseudo-science, others swear by it. I tell my students that if it works for you, don’t worry so much about why that is, just enjoy. Click here for a short tutorial on tapping.
Havening is a relatively new therapeutic technique that helps calm the central nervous system. Use your own hands to stroke your face and arms gently and lovingly. Click here for a demo. Fun fact: Hugs release serotonin. The body does not know the difference between you hugging yourself, and someone else hugging you. I love this technique for when I want to be alone but also need a hug.
As a reminder, self-soothing techniques and self-care are not substitutes for medical treatment or structural change. Take care of yourself, so that you can continue to show up for your community. I firmly believe that self care is community care. Now, more than ever, we need people who care for themselves and by extension the world at large.
Questions to ponder:
- How does your body feel in different seasons?
- How will you take care of yourself this autumn and winter?
- What do you need from your church community and God this season?
In peace and community and care,