Cultivating a sense of re-connection after a period of self-doubt or a health concern can feel like a challenge. The road ahead can look bumpy and a few setbacks are inevitable, but you’re not alone. So many of us have to find our way back to ourselves - or a new version of ourselves - after difficult times.
I find it helpful to not look too far ahead because staring up a mountain can feel overwhelming but if we focus simply on reaching one checkpoint after another - step by step - then it feels more manageable and keeps our motivation flowing. This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes...
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. - Lao Tzu
That first step can be as small as you need it to be; like a simple act of self-care that helps you to feel nourished and cared for. We can’t underestimate the strength that these small moments provide us with and how they help us to take the next step and then the next…
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few healing self-care practices that I use when I find myself on a challenging path.
I’ve always found it easier to express myself in written words and so writing down my thoughts and concerns on paper feels like therapy for me. It can feel like such a relief to take a step back from your worries and feel a new sense of perspective. It can also be helpful to charting your healing journey so that in the weeks and months ahead you can easily see how far you’ve come. You don’t have to commit to daily journaling unless you want to, and it doesn’t have to be written on anything special either - a scrap piece of paper works just as well as anything else. Have plenty on hand though because if you’re anything like me when the words start it’s hard to stop them! And, if you’d rather your words not be read by anyone else then feel free to destroy the paper once you’re done.
TAKE CARE WITH YOUR WORDS
There’s so much research to dive into when it comes to the power of positive thinking but instinctively I think most of us know that a positive mindset can make all the difference. It can be helpful to look out for any negative words and phrases that you direct at yourself during your day; maybe some of them are stuck on a loop. Take a moment and think about how loud they seem and then imagine that could turn the volume down on them...maybe a notch or two or perhaps all the way down to nothing. Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll be amazed at how many negative patterns you have whirling around your mind.
USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
Once you’ve taken care to remove some of those negative thought patterns you might want to replace them with something more positive. I like to use positive affirmations. Now, the science behind these is mixed but I’ve always found them useful - if they don’t feel good for you then skip them. Here are a few that I use...
- I am choosing to heal myself today
- I am happy and healthy
- I do not need to strive for perfection
Here are another 20 positive affirmations for you to try and take a read of this post to learn more about how to use affirmations to create positive thoughts.
MAKE A FEEL GOOD LIST
Keep a list of at least 5 things that make you feel amazing and aim to fit as many into your week as possible; this could be as simple as dancing around the house while you take a nostalgic trip through your playlists, taking a restorative yoga class, watching the sunrise or even watching some feel-good TV that makes you laugh - old episodes of Friends always work for me! Choose what works for you and be sure to keep it simple.
I know you hear this from me a LOT, and I understand that when you’re not feeling your best, finding time to feel gratitude can feel like the last thing you want to do. But, science has proved time and again just how good a gratitude mindset is for us...it has a way of helping us look up and see the light. Yes, some days, your gratitude list might be short and that’s okay - try for three things. They can be as simple as a sunny day, fresh water to drink and a warm bed to snuggle up in; things that we easily take for granted but that so many of the world’s population still don’t have.
If you want to make it a regular practice then keeping a gratitude journal is always helpful (any blank notebook works just fine) because it encourages you to write daily. I like to write out my list in the morning after I’ve meditated. Try experimenting and see what works for you. Here are a few tips on creating a daily gratitude practice.
I’m all for comfort on those days when life just doesn’t feel good, but I draw the line at unhealthy food because it’s a step backwards - even if it can feel good in the moment. Poor food choices can become a habit and take a while to change and so be gentle with yourself. Take as many small steps as you need; try replacing a few sugary snacks with fruit and exchange the caffeinated drinks for an extra glass of chilled water. Each simple choice will help you feel better and more in control of your healing.
Whatever your reason for creating more healing self-care practices in your day, remember that stepping into something new takes time and that’s okay. Take time to celebrate the mini-milestones and offer yourself all the kindness and encouragement that you would a friend. Remember to take things as slowly as you need, knowing that every step, no matter how small is enough.
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.