Simple Self Care By Alice Backlog
The roles in my life bring me the greatest joy but also the greatest challenge. We can easily get stuck in this duality; having to juggle too many balls, people, other people’s lives and we find it hard to give ourselves any time, space to recharge and ultimately stay in tune with our own rhythms. This constant juggle is overwhelming and it leads us to stress, suffer with anxiety, depression, lethargy, physical and emotional pain all which result in illness.
Sometimes it takes for us to hit rock bottom, before we see the true reflection of who we are; I know this very well. Having suffered with post natal depression and anxiety with both my children. These periods/cycles came about at very different stages in my post natal journey. The first was instant, the second was when I went back to work. At this point I just couldn’t cope any longer, 4 days a week in london two children under 3. Something had to change. I started to think about what I could do to support myself in this turbulent time. I needed to seek balance, but ultimately to seek forgiveness and allow myself time, a space to heal and to rest.
GUILT. Yes my old friend.. The hardest thing for me was to battle with my guilt, the overwhelming sense of being a terrible mum, the self victimisation of poor me. Guilt took up many masks with in my life and found a way to present itself at any given point in time, where I would allow it to claim space. For me this was the first hurdle. A seed of knowledge that was given to me by wonderful health visitor at the time, was if mum is happy so is baby It took a long time for this to soak in; but she was right.
On a spiritual level I now know this. For us to seek a greater understanding of what it is to be truly happy we must experience this within ourselves first. It starts here in our hearts. And in order for this level of self- love, balance and harmony to flow we must experience it before we can share.
So, how do we do this.. How do we fill up? Moving from half empty to half full.
In the beginning for me it was small steps. I started to create a weekly ritual, just for me and it always started with a long bath, with candles, music, bubbles & oils. My weekly bath that without fail I would have every sunday evening. It would be indulgent and it would last as long as it felt good. I started to research oils and salts that would enrich my mind & body, scents that uplifted my spirit and that could soothe my tired soul.
My second step was finding an exercise class that would build me up, find my inner strength and for me it was Yoga. I had practised yoga on and off since my 20’s but after having children my whole body had changed, I was very much at the beginning again. I attended a regular class at The Tree of Life studio in Tunbridge Wells. This helped me to create the space that I so craved for, an hour and half every week which was for me to explore me again, to learn to love me again, to create that balance and build my strength and on those days to simply rest. It didn’t take long, this journey eventually showed me my new path, to train as a yoga teacher and to be able to share my journey with others.
My third step was to make plans for the family, create more time together as a whole. Spending time in nature has always given me so much pleasure, freedom and a sense of belonging. Our senses are stimulated, we start to breathe deeper and experience pure freedom, to laugh, to play to connect in with our inner child and by doing this we connect with our children. Suddenly life was about living not surviving. We were actually having fun…
As my confidence grew, I started to to create zones of rest throughout my week. Periods of time where I would perhaps sit or more commonly lay down and just breathe. One simple and effective practise was to lay near my children (in the early days), place both of my hands on my belly, and count the breath in and the breath out. Breathing in for 4 seconds and breathing out for 6 seconds. This internal count helped me to focus my mind and through this we create space in our thoughts and slow our busy mind, the act of laying allowed me to physically gain rest and the breath nourished my entire body. My children are now older but I still do my breath practise on a daily basis, at all times during the day, even when I’m driving! (Breathing that is!) I know how much my stress levels have decreased, it also helps me to react less, focus more and be more happy.
Setting up a simple self-care strategy saved me, that sounds dramatic but when faced with a choice to survive or live, I choose Life. I am grateful for the network of support that I had, too many to mention, but there were times where I wasn’t sure if I would be in this place I am now. Starting to slow down, create simple changes in your life, allow yourself to have time however small, to claim yourself back.
A few simple self-care ideas are
- Allow yourself to do this/Give yourself permission
- Make a weekly self-care ritual
- Spend time with nature
- Spend time with the family for the family
- Be aware of your breath
- Be playful, laugh and have some fun.
This guest blog was kindly written by Alice Backlog Co-Creator of Kingdom Yoga and Creator of WomanKind: Yoga the Natural Way