So many of us struggle with trying to keep stress, anxiety, pain, and insomnia “under control” by using whatever means available trying to avoid the stress, suppress the anxiety, kill the pain, or fight the insomnia. While these methods may provide quick “results”, they are not sustainable for the long-term and many “solutions” become a law of diminishing returns. It is impossible to avoid all things that create stress.
Anxiety returns (perhaps even stronger) when you let go of the suppression or it loses its efficacy. The pain will still be there when the receptors regain their feeling. Sleep and fighting don’t seem able to coexist.
Sure, I’m mighty glad we have these tricks in our magic box. It’s impressive how well they fool our body when it is necessary. But the real magic comes from truly caring for ourselves in a holistic manner at the same time that we employ our needed shortcuts so that when the curtain comes up, everything functions with nothing extra required.
This is not medical advice and should not be used for diagnosing disease. Never stop taking prescription medications without the guidance of the prescriber.
Holistic Self Care in Times of Stress
When you are stressed, it can be hard to get your self care needs met, but if you are not getting your self care needs met, you will likely feel more stressed. What are you to do when you are caught up in this cycle?
Step Out of the Hamster Wheel
Luckily, getting your self-care needs met is actually not as difficult as it may be made to seem. Look beyond what the media is telling you and you may recognize the world is constantly trying to sell you on the idea that if you just do the super things and extra special touches, everything will be perfect. Of course, this is so tempting to believe-especially when we are feeling stressed. We wonder how some people seem to “do it all” when we can’t even get the basics together. Maybe it’s because we are focusing on the extras.
Get Back To Basics
What if you came to an understanding with your body that what you actually need is very basic and that your role is to provide enough of the basics, and then allow the body to take care of the rest?
I find that when there is “disorder” the most useful first step is to nudge the body towards “order.” At first, “order” will usually look like this:
- 3-4 ample meals a day with enough time in between them to “rest & digest” and about 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. We avoid restrictive diets as much as possible as it is difficult to get all of your nutritional needs met while restricting specific food groups or macronutrients.
- Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep daily
- Regular Brain Breaks including time in nature, meditation and/or breathwork breaks
- Enough, but not excessive, movement including strength building, full-body range of motion, and lung-strengthening.
- Emotional Housekeeping: stop believing that there is a single, simple answer for long term relief of anything! Recognize your role and take responsibility for actively protecting your brain from the onslaught of stress aggressors that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
Once you have found order in the basics, then and only then is it appropriate to explore your own “wiggle room.” Trying to hack your body before it is even functioning well is usually an utter failure–at best it doesn’t work and leaves you feeling more dejected and at worst it sends your further into disorder and leaves you depleted.
Of course, without knowing who you are, we cannot give you exacts on what your individual needs are and what you specifically can do for yourself, but there are amazing resources out there. Look to qualified professionals before bloggers and if it sounds too wacky, run it past your grandmother before trying it.
Holistic Self Care in Times of Anxiety
Perhaps the best thing about our paradigm is that it is not an either/or but an and/in-addition-to paradigm. The hard part of our paradigm is that it requires more work and responsibility on the part of the whole person – Body, Mind and Spirit.
Feed the Body
Sometimes we feel the way that we do because our cells are not nourished enough to function well. Focus on giving the body what it needs to complete the dance between the nervous system(s), the endocrine system, and the immune system. In general, Brooklyn Herborium focuses on diverse meals with plenty of properly cooked veggies as well as starches for energy and to feed the microbiome.
Retrain the Brain
There are many ways to teach the brain to favor peaceful pathways. Two complementary practices that benefit the brain are contemplation and meditation. Contemplation is an excellent way to help the brain differentiate what is real from what it “feels like” is real. You can do this through journaling, working with a coach, or Emotional Housekeeping (a method that we teach at our workshops).
Connect to Spirit
Find ways to connect to spirit–whatever that means to you–often.
Holistic Self Care in Times of Pain
Experiencing physical pain is a natural part of having a human body. Fortunately, there are incredible modern methods of relieving pain when it is too great for us to handle. Unfortunately for us, we seem to believe that removing the pain solves the problem. We have a hard time remembering that simply relieving the pain is nothing but relieving the pain.
Coming out on top after times of pain requires knowing where the pain is coming from. We are going to take a quick look at self-care in regards to supporting the body when it is experiencing structural pain as well as inflammatory pain (there are more types beyond the scope of this article).
Retrain the Body to Support the Structure
In the case of structural physical problems, it is ideal that you work with a practitioner who is trained in rehabilitating the entire body as well as the muscles and bones around the painful area who will help you recover stronger.
Holistic Methods Don’t Need to Fight Inflammation
When it comes to inflammation and the uncomfortable feelings associated with it, anti-inflammatories aren’t the only story. We recommend a multi-directional approach that involves (once again) getting the basic needs met and enhancing the dance between the nervous system(s), the endocrine system, and the immune system while supporting the body’s pathways of elimination (urine, bowels, breath, and skin).
Holistic Self-Care in Times of Insomnia
Finding your personal life rhythm helps to put an semblance of “order” to your day that can help many disorders to simply fall away into alignment.
Remove the Obstacles
Eat your energy foods in the morning and mid-afternoon. Many New York/Brooklyn women tend to find themselves on a “Metabolic Rollercoaster” where early in the day they eat low calorie meals (a calorie is just a unit of measure for the amount of energy in a food. Therefore, low calorie = low energy) and by mid afternoon they feel so exhausted that they crave caffeine (which upsets the sleep patterns), as well as sugar and other high energy foods (including high-calorie alcohol) into the evening. This Metabolic Rollercoaster ride wreaks havoc on the entire body system and perpetuates itself.
Put Your Nature Calendars in Order
Taking supplements to help you sleep better can only go so far. Sleep hygiene and creating authentic rituals for sleep can replace the need for a sleep aid or, at the very least, reduce reliance on them. These ideas are known to help people overcome insomnia: Complete darkness for sleep. No blue lights after a certain hour. Having a calming cup of tea before bed. Do what works for you.
Tying It All Together
The holistic self care methods are not an alternative to medicine, but are a necessary component to living well in a human body. In many instances, it is beneficial to start with basic holistic self-care before even going to the more controlling methods. In other cases, building up with self-care is essential before working with a qualified practitioner to wean off of controlling methods.