A Year of Self Care
My goal for writing this blog was to come up with 52 weeks of self care ideas.
I’ll admit, at first I wondered if I was going to be able to come up with that many ways but I’ve come to learn that by applying a little research, creativity and thought, the list is endless. Some of the topics I have written about are traditional, others less conventional. That’s because approaches to self care are highly subjective and based upon individual interests.
As I reflect back over those entries, I can’t help but be reminded that self care is a discipline that we need to make time for – not just now and then – but regularly.
When practised consistently, it isn’t just ourselves who benefit but our friends and loved ones as well.
If you are new to the blog, I invite you to peruse the archives for a plethora of self care strategies that involve the body, the mind and the spirit.
Hoping you are on your own road to resilience
and wishing you all the best in 2018!
As we draw close to the end of 52 weeks of self care, I am happy to be able to write about one of my top ten favourites – Myofascial Release (MFR). Not only does this approach address the body, but the mind and spirit as well.
What is it?
Myofascial Release is a hands on technique used by qualified practioners (usually a specially trained Physiotherapist or Massage Therapist) to treat the fascial system/ connective tissue of the body. The fascia or connective tissue is a densely woven structure that wraps around the body from head to toe, uninterrupted. Its appearance is similar to a spider’s web. Any kind of trauma or inflammation can cause a binding effect, which produces pressure on muscles and nerves, blood vessels and bones as well as organs. This pressure can result in pain, restrictions in movement as well as headaches. Since standard diagnostic tests like Xrays and CAT scans aren’t able to detect fascial restrictions, it often goes undiagnosed.
Fascia loses its flexibility when we experience trauma or inflammation. It becomes tight and can result in tension elsewhere in the body. The goal of Myofascial Release is to restore flexibility, and reduce pain. And yet the outcome of MFR can produce even more beneficial results.
Trained therapists apply gentle, sustained pressure to the fascial system. It feels very similar to a good stretch. As pressure on the surrounding body parts ease, pain is lessened and an increased range of motion is experienced. Founder John F. Barnes, Physiotherapist, claims this release also stimulates the flow of the body’s bioenergy, which in turn affects the mind/body complex, allowing for the release of holding patterns so that healing can occur.
Myofascial Release can help create a whole-body awareness that in turn will facilitate healing from not only physical injuries, but emotional as well. The treatments are relaxing but can stir up feelings or belief systems that need to be looked at in order to move forward to health and well being.
If you haven’t bought yourself a Christmas gift yet, I would highly recommend a few MFR treatments!
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
The act of being ‘mindful’ has garnered a lot of attention in the last several years. To practice mindfulness means setting your intentions and focus on the present moment. It involves paying close attention to both internal and external events. In other words, it is about being aware of all sensory input as well as your own thoughts and feelings in any given moment.
Most of us spend a good deal of our lives in ‘auto-pilot’. Our thoughts are often on past experiences or in planning or worrying about the future. The chaos of life fills our minds and distractions pull our attention away from the present moment. This has a negative effect on experiencing life to its fullest.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn that aims at teaching people how to focus on the present moment. Purposefully paying attention to all that you are experiencing in any given moment, can facilitate a wide array of positive outcomes. Feeling calmer, less stressed and more open to experience joy, are among a few of the benefits. Studies have shown that MBSR has numerous physiological benefits such as improved blood sugars and blood pressure. The more aware we become, the more apt we are to experience life more vividly, make shifts in attitudes and behaviours that no longer serve us and help us feel more connected to others.
MBSR is an 8 week course, plus one full day. Daily home practice assignments reinforce information imparted during the classes. It is intended for anyone who wants to learn to handle stress more effectively. Courses are offered all over North America, and a quick search on Google will help you to locate a course being offered close to you.
Taking Care of Business
There’s nothing quite like a good dose of debt to raise stress levels and diminish joy. And since this is the time of year that consumers are out there buying, it might be the perfect time to look at how much you are spending, as well as ways to keep the cost of Christmas down. You’ll be doing yourself a great favour by being on top of it all.
It’s always wise to set a budget during the holidays. Factor in as many variables as possible such as how much you plan to spend on each person on your list. Include entertaining expenses, groceries, beverages and the cost of a new outfit, if needed. The key is to pay off your Christmas bills before Spring has sprung!
Remember that the holidays should be about spending time with loved ones and creating memories to last a lifetime. Societal expectations for bigger and better gifts have most of us shaking our heads at how ‘out of hand’ Christmas has become. Maybe it’s time to rethink gift giving.
Instead of buying a gift for each member of the family, suggest picking a name out of a hat, and buying only for that person. Or maybe suggesting each person bring a gift, then play any one of the gift giving games that usually end up in lots of laughs. (for gift giving game ideas go to www.funattic.com) Repurposing or Re-Gifting themes can also be a lot of fun and cost very little.
Making gifts is another good way to keep costs down and yet still give meaningful presents. One of my favourite Christmas gifts ever, is a wooden reindeer my son carved for me. Homemade gifts can be truly special.
Hopefully this season will find you with a plan and a budget, both of which you stick to!