August 4, 2020

‘Cape-Up’ to ‘Keep-Up’!

I’m not talking about dressing up as superheroes!  However, we could all do with a ‘cape’ to see us through challenging times.  What if we can have a ‘cape’, even if it is invisible?  And, what if we get to keep that cape?  What superpowers would we want emitting from it when we ‘showup’ ready to engage as the best version of ourselves?  What if we could be a hero to ourselves?  In turn, this would enable us to ‘power-up’ and be a hero for others.  As we are adapting, and transitioning through unchartered, changing times, we can ‘cape-up’ to ‘keep-up’ if we start taking the act of ‘self-care’ seriously.  Your professional relationship engagement skills, demeanour and composure, productivity output effectiveness, stress management, and overall neuro wellness functionality (developing and growing internal programming skills) and vitality are at stake.

Differentiate Between Intentional Self-Care and Illusional Self-Care

I would like to dispel all myths, that self-care is associated with being selfish or self-centred. It is quite the opposite!  Perhaps you think that it is just something associated with women……aargh! For any male readers, please feel free to call it ‘man-care’‘cop-on care’‘self-management’, or ‘wellness-care’.  I do not mind what you call it, just once you are actively taking care of yourself is all that counts.  Reflectively, let us take a ‘deep dive’ to establish what self-care is, and isn’t.  To do that, let us differentiate between what I refer to as ‘intentional’ self-care versus ‘illusional’ self-care.  Self-care is the intentional care of one’s mental, physical, and emotional health, achieved through every day practises and activities.  It is the conscious, deliberate work we do on ourselves with an ‘inside-out’ approach. This supports our ‘system management’ functionality (our biological resources) and ‘sustainability’ in terms of our overall wellness and health care success. Self-care enables us to ‘prime’ our system management wellness internally to optimally integrate with our outside external challenges and the world we live in.  This in turn supports activating and boosting healthy performance levels.  Lack of self-care can potentially feel like you are spinning one too many plates and struggling to keep them all rotating and balanced.

Self-care is about doing many things we often don’t feel like doing.  The ‘ugly’ stuff that is acting in our best interests!  Be it going for a morning run in the freezing cold, or fighting with ourselves, not to overindulge on junk food or treats.  It is not just about lifestyle choices to keep ourselves physically fit; we have our emotional and mental health to take care of.  Let us park that for a moment, and take a look at ‘illusional’ self-care.  

Illusional self-care is the delusion that you are practising self-care; however, it is more focused from an external perspective.  Here are some examples of what that might look like. Taking time out to ‘treat’ yourself to shopping.  Having a bath surrounded with candles.  Power dressing to paper over the cracks.  Grooming within an inch of your life while still feeling like crap on the inside.  Taking time out from the world because you are so exhausted from working crazy hours.  Having a device detox day.  None of this constitutes the act of self-care.  It is just occasionally ‘being kind’ to yourself (which trust me, I’m not knocking), or a temporary ‘rescue’ quick fix, that is merely sticking a band-aid on your wellness and giving you some temporary feel-good factor. It is not consistent, and it is not enabling your daily wellness.  Illusional self-care can be seen as stop, start attempts, doing a little bit here and there, but nothing that is consistent or sticking.  Perhaps, all your eggs and effort are going in one basket, looking after the physical side of things, and emotional and mental factors are neglected!  While there are fantastic psychological and emotional benefits to be gained from physical exercise, which I advocate, on its own, it often is not enough.  Many people, when dealing with daily stressors, high stake situations, and challenges don’t know how to manage stress ‘in the moment’ when it occurs.

Self-care is about creating a life you truly and actively want to ‘live in’ daily. Not a life you are trying to escape from, or take breaks from.  It is not about creating distractions to run from your problems or challenges. It is not about ignoring the difficult things you need to do, like tax returns or putting off medical appointments, or having uncomfortable conversations that will potentially mend gaps or fix situations.  It is not about surviving on autopilot, binge-watching Netflix to drown out emotional upset, or boredom, or laziness to bail out on your house chores, or reaching for booze as a coping mechanism to switch off after a stressful day.  

Insights into Protecting your Emotional and Mental Wellness Supporting Healthy Relationship Engagement

Self-care is about enabling alignment and balance in your life through daily self-care rituals and routines.  The word discipline seems to scare some people somewhat.   So, apply what ‘word’ works best for you.  Part of self-care is about getting good at saying ‘no’ to people,  situations, experiences, behaviour and actions (in yourself and others) that are not acting in your best interests! It is about saying ‘no’ to overextending yourself.  Self-care is about building healthy boundaries in terms of your relationships with others.  Being select on what you do, and don’t allow in from others to protect your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. It is about saying ‘no’ to friends, family members and colleagues that suck your energy or don’t treat you like you deserve.  It is about understanding behaviours and triggers in ‘you’ that you don’t like, which results in you acting out of character.  Equally, the same applies in your interactions with others. Self-care is about dropping tolerations.  The more things you are tolerating that you are not happy about, the more energy drain you are going to experience.  If it is something you feel you currently can’t change, perhaps you are unhappy in your job, accept it for the benefits it brings you, and put healthy boundaries in place to protect your mental and emotional wellness. 

If in the instance there is something you no longer wish to put up with, perhaps someone is in the habit of being unfair, dismissive, unkind, micromanaging you, for example, you can make an informed decision to put a healthy boundary in place to protect yourself – you may wish to inform someone in a non-offensive manner that their behaviour of a certain nature is not or no longer acceptable.   You may wish to soften that down in your tonality while remaining assertive, but you get the gist (yes, that is a big one to do that, but can come at a high cost to you if you don’t). If we don’t address behaviours in others that are making us unhappy, we are giving them permission to treat us that way, and that just simply is not right.  The more tolerations you lose, the more time and energy you free up for beneficial, and priority value-driven aspects you care about and that are important to you.  It is about saying ‘yes’ to all this good stuff!  Be kind to yourself in the process of building and developing healthy boundaries.  You can expect to experience resistance in yourself and from others as you start to apply and integrate them into your life.  I encourage you to stick with it, keep practising the process of applying them and reap the benefits of nurturing your own levels of self-regard, confidence, assertiveness and independence.  All of which are key emotional intelligence skills to develop.

Get Ahead of Making Excuses and Broken Promises To Yourself – Boost Your Mindset Skills

If at some point in your life you got great results from doing something because you felt like doing it, it may perhaps have led you into a false lull, that you need to ‘feel’ like doing something in order to do it.  Then that is a load of codswallop, unfortunately.  I do empathise, as I do get it.  Perhaps view it this way, our ‘thoughts’ and ‘feelings’ are like very close neighbours, often having heated controversial debates with each other.  Your lack of ‘feeling the love’ with doing something usually shouts the loudest!  This is the emotional part of your brain trying to veer you off track!  Such cheek!  To override that, and veer your thinking into the logical prefrontal cortex part of your mind you need fast-acting thinking skills to intercept the entourage of ‘excuses’ and ‘buts’, that all too commonly love to make a self-sabotaging appearance.  I get my daily dose of ‘excuses’ and ‘buts’ the same as everyone else.

My trick to ward them off, is asking myself ‘what are the benefits attached to doing this?’  I will list the top benefits that crop up.  Sometimes, that just does it for me.   If I’m having a very persistent stubborn moment with myself, I will persist, and say ‘ok, what else, what other benefits?’  At least now I’m in the logical part of my brain having positive solution-orientated chats with myself.  If I am having an all-out bad day ‘just not feeling it’, thankfully I have a persistent skill set for asking questions.  What is it costing me if I don’t go for my run today?  One I love to use is ‘What is acting in my best interests?’  This one is always hard to argue with. Having a few ‘empowering enabling questions’ to the ‘ready’ is a great way to ‘shift’ your mindset, and reframe your thinking to get you moving.  I strongly encourage you to explore with it and come up with your own empowering enabling questions that resonate with you.  

Raising Awareness – Checking-in on Yourself

When it comes to self-care, please realise you cannot run effectively on ‘empty’ or stop/start attempts!  Be it self-care or self-management, it comes before people care and people management.  The act of self-care involves the self-mastery of learning how to embody ‘slowing things’ down.  If your ‘mind is full’ and frazzled, think of it as bringing your headspace into a ‘mindful’ space. At least long enough to check-in on yourself and ‘listen’ to what your needs are at intervals throughout the day: Am I hunger?  How am I feeling?  What do I need?  Am I tired?  Am I irritable? What energy feed am I bringing into my workspace?  Have conscious awareness that the energy signals you transmit in the ‘open-loop system’, that exist between human to human are highly contagious energy field frequencies which provide us with lots of valuable data on the vibes and signals we pick up from each other.  These show up in your mere presence though your state of being.  Be it negative, positive, tired, stressed signals emitting from you, these will be detected automatically, and experienced from others in your company, through your body language alone.  Neuroscience tells us that our body language counts towards 55% of how we communicate.  This includes our online communication and presence.  How you show up is having a biochemical reaction on how others will experience you.  Within 0.7 seconds, this will be a good or bad experience for others and how they resonate with you.  That is how fast we are impacting people when we show up in front of them. 

Benefits and Tips Attached to Self-Care and Neuro Wellness

  • Better Productivity:  When you learn how to say ‘no’ to things that over-extend you and start making time for things that matter more, you learn to focus on priority tasks.  Define what is necessary, and say no to the rest! 
  • Combat Stress:  Taking time to listen to our signals and slow down {reduces the stress neurotransmitter, cortisol flooding your biological resources and neural network platforms in your nervous system and brain}.  Typically, we can be so caught up in the ‘busyness’ in our daily lives, we unintentionally forget to look after ourselves.  We need a way to remind ourselves to check in on our basic needs that fuel our wellness, so as not to neglect them.  Setting reminder ‘self-care alarms’ on your phone is a simple and effective way to ensure you monitor what your needs are as your day progresses.  Your energy levels are in a state of flux throughout the day and peaking up and down at various levels.  We all have times in the day when we are at our state of peak performance in terms of concentration and focus.  Identify where in the day this is applicable for you, and use this as your time for priority tasks where possible.
  • Prevents Exhaustion/Potential Burnout:  Skipping meals or forgetting to stay hydrated quickly leads to your energy resources being depleted.  Before you know it, you are feeling moody or off-form without even realising why, until the penny drops of course.  Getting a decent sleep is paramount.  The brain needs enough time to recover and restore its functionality processes overnight.
  • Improved Resistance to Disease:  Stress is the number one killer and plays havoc with your immune system.  Neuro wellness (developing and growing internal programming wellness skills) significantly supports operating from a state of peak performance.  I provide neuro wellness coaching and one-to-one and group masterclasses teaching and training people how to apply neuro wellness into their daily lives to reduce stress and boost wellness.  To discover more, you can click on the following link:  Neuro Wellness Coaching and Masterclasses
  • Better Physical Health:  Chemical balance is a must.  It releases those ‘feel good’ happy endorphins which support mental and emotional health and wellbeing.  If there are any excuses getting in the way of part-taking regularly in physical exercise, then continue to remind yourself of the benefits to enable a consistent healthy mindset and attitude.
  • Enhanced Emotional Wellness:  Self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regard, and assertiveness plays a part in releasing serotonin neurotransmitters (feel-good mood hormones), another aspect to consider in terms of your chemical balance.  Learning to say ‘no’ to what is negatively impacting you emotionally and mentally is crucial.  Build healthy boundaries and drop tolerations, as mentioned above, to help with that.
  • Cognitive Functioning:  Increased focus, attention, memory functioning, self-awareness and performance output, are further benefits to be gained from daily self-care and neuro wellness.  These support better-coping skills, decision making, problem-solving, and stress management skills.  All key areas that can be developed through Emotional Intelligence building to accelerate these skills – My range of Emotional Intelligence services I offer can be discovered by clicking on the following link:  Emotional Intelligence Coaching and Masterclasses
  • You Time:  Taking ‘you time’ out is crucial to relax, unwind, recharge your batteries and recover from daily demands and pressures – it will show up differently for everyone on what you love and enjoy to do in your downtime. It is important to build it into your day, to know that you have this time to yourself regardless of what else is going on. This supports your relationship engagements co-actively and co-creatively when you show up rested, and calm if it is something you start to regularly prioritise for yourself.
  • Self-care Supports Social Connectedness: When you take time out to look after yourself first, it allows you to be more present in your engagements with others in a meaningful and purposeful way where you can add real value.
  • Spiritual Being: Getting in touch with ourselves; yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, journaling, music, practising gratitude, or time in nature are some examples.  Whatever it is that enables you to nurture feeling grounded and safe, then I strongly advocate taking time to do this as much as where possible to support your wellbeing.  What gives you a sense of headspace and timeout from distractions and busyness?  What can you say ‘no’ to, in order to say ‘yes’ to creating more self-nurturing experiences?

Self-care, wellness and health management should be your top core priority goal.  Not just from a professional perspective supporting your performance output, and facing daily challenges and stressors, however, from an adaption and sustainability perspective for longevity and life extension.  That is a reason if ever there is one!  Sticking around in healthy condition, to continue to share your life’s journey with those that already consider you their superhero! 

If you wish to ‘cape-up’, I highly recommend giving serious consideration to what areas you are neglecting (we don't do this intentionally) in terms of your wellness and different aspects of your life.  When one area of our life is experiencing difficulties or neglected, it seeps into other areas of our lives, escalating feelings of unhappiness and discontent, which leads to underlying struggles.  What gaps do you consider you need to bridge to support you ‘keeping-up’, in a healthy and fit condition, evolving in unprecedented times of global change?  Perhaps, on reading this, it might encourage you to put a self-care action plan in place to bridge to your career and life success with sustainability, a positive mindset and courage in mind.

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