Wanna create a successful self-care plan in 2014?
As the ‘Be it. Do it. Have it all” generation of women we are more independent, empowered, educated and ambitious than ever before and we want it all. An adoring partner, a fulfilling career; an amazing family; money in the bank; work/life balance, oh and fabulous shoes on our feet! Yet at the same time we face unrelenting (and sometimes unbearable) pressures in our lives as we do our best to juggle challenging jobs, kids and social lives with mortgage payments, cancer treatments, bikini waxes and low-fat diets.
We know we’re running on empty and setting ourselves up for a fall, but does that stop us? Holy, heck no! Yet the searing truth is if we’re not careful we can all too easily find ourselves hurtling at warp speed towards burn-out and overwhelm instead of being on the fast track to success.
Dr Frank Lipman, author of Revive! End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again and a specialist in integrative medicine, has dubbed us the “spent generation”. “Exhaustion has approached epidemic levels”, he says. “When you get up, you should feel refreshed, not knackered. A typical victim is ageing fast and constantly tired, yet her mind never stops racing. Everything feels like a chore, and she’s constantly distracted. It’s a problem that has been getting worse during the past decade.” Sound familiar?
The Xanax generation
According to The Center for Disease Control and The Institute of Medicine, 80% of visits we now take to the doctor are the result of STRESS. It’s one of the biggest killers in our society today. The global economic downturn of the past five years has only increased the sense of fear, overwhelm and anxiety we’re feeling, with millions of women concerned about the welfare of their family, their job and particularly the state of their finances. The effects of this on the nation’s health are borne out by the latest statistics which show that in the last two decades alone the rate of anti-depressant use has increased by an astounding 400 per cent, with one in four women now taking some form of anti-depressant drug such as Zoloft, Xanax or Prozac.
Become the CEO of your health!
But here’s the thing. Most doctors aren’t taught how to help YOU deal with your stress. Instead they’ll give you a pill to pop. They’ll medicate, even operate on you so that you can you go back to the status quo of your already stressful life. Sound familiar?
Beautiful ones – it’s time to STOP the craziness and wave good-bye to the merry-go-round. Imagine instead what it would FEEL and BE like to address the issues that are predisposing you to exhaustion, depression or anxiety in the first place or exacerbating your illness. How about taking charge to become your own inner physician and CEO of your Health? Sound good? Excellent.
What is stress?
As the first step in becoming your own inner MD it’s helpful to truly understand what stress is, what the main causes are and how if effects your body. Take a moment to look at the list below then go grab a pen and write down the TOP 3 factors that resonate most with you:
- Stress is toxic relationships
- Stress is money worries
- Stress is repeated fearful, anxious, worried thoughts
- Stress is selling your soul for a paycheck
- Stress is a pessimistic, ‘glass half empty’ worldview
- Stress is social isolation and loneliness
- Stress is knowing you having huge potential but choosing to stay small
- Stress is feeling out of touch with your life’s purpose
- Stress is any negative belief about your health
- Stress is overwhelm
- Stress is feeling like nobody gets the real you
- Stress is putting on ‘masks’ and pretending to be something you’re not
- Stress is feeling disconnected from Source
Understanding how stress effects your body
In our culture today, we have this concept that stress is somehow like a badge of honor. “I’m crazy busy and super stressed-out therefore I’m important and worthy”. But to the body, stress is very different. Stress is essentially anything that triggers the amygdala in your brain to turn on the stress response – also known as the ‘fight or flight’ response.
When stress strikes, it fills your body and nervous system with cortisol, epinephrine and other toxic stress hormones. Together the cortisol and epinephrine raise your blood pressure and circulating blood sugar level and the cortisol lowers the effectiveness of your immune system.
Now that’s cool if you’re in a jungle being chased by a lion or about to be in a car accident because it helps protect your life. But what you might find INCREDIBLE is that your amygdala doesn’t know the difference between getting chased by a lion and the negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings that originate in your mind that switch on those stress responses. In other words, if you consistently have negative thoughts and feelings of anxiety you will repeatedly flood your body with damaging hormones which in the long run will harm your health. Wanna know why? Your body’s natural repair mechanisms – or in fancy medical speak your para-sympathetic nervous system – become DEACTIVATED and disabled every time your body is in stress. Holy smoke!
It’s time to create a self-care plan!
Ladies – I hope by now you’re feeling SUPER-CHARGED to take control of your health and create, even ‘Makeover’ your “Self-Care Plan”. [P.S. – this is not selfish. It’s loving, compassionate and spiritual]. Making time each day to carve out sacred, non-negotiable self-care time is essential to YOUR well-being
It’s time to be a kind friend to yourself To go beyond “skin deep” and practice exquisite self-care in all areas of your life – physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and financial. To find whatever works for you, is simple (and joyful) and to stick with it. To really listen to your needs, tune in to your body, feed your soul, nourish and nurture yourself, create clear boundaries that stop you depleting your energy and do something everyday that soothes, relaxes and lights you up!.
Your personal action plan
Take the TOP 3 that most resonate with you from the list of “Stress Factors” for example working in a soul-sucking job, feeling out of touch with your life’s purpose or money worries.
Next, identify THE single most pressing factor from the list that’s causing you to feel fried, anxious or depressed. Got it? Great.
NOW I want you to go and get your 2014 Diary Planner and for the next MONTH create a do-able Self-Care Plan that focuses solely on addressing and helping fix this issue. In other words make a DAILY PLAN that you can stick to, that is realistic and helps set you up for success! If you don’t have a planner or a journal, go get some nice colored pens or pictures you like and design a gorgeous “Self-Care Planner” using some plain sheets of paper. Draw in columns for each day of the week at the top i,e Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc through to Sunday and times of the day down the left-hand column i.e. Morning, afternoon and evening.
Your assignment is to do a minimum of ONE THING EACH DAY that will help make you feel stronger, more grounded, relaxed and blissful AND resolve the problem that’s causing the stress in the first place! It can be absolutely anything from breathing mindfully every day for 10 minutes, getting out into nature, cuddling an animal, cleaning out your closet, meeting a financial planner to start making your money work smarter, training for a career you’re truly passionate about, inviting close girlfriends over for a potluck dinner, eating more greens, taking a stretch class, learning how to meditate.
The main thing is to do something. Anything that gets you into the HABIT of setting aside some precious TLC TIME every day and achieving your goal of fixing your TOP 3 items . Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. To know what’s causing most stress in your life right now. Tell me your great Self-Care Tips so I can share them with other amazing women. And please help spread the love by passing this post on to your girlfriends!
Belinda Furneaux-Harris is a writer, motivational speaker, a former corporate executive and award-winning international Marketing VP. Her blog The Bliss Bible helps connect, teach and inspire women around the world to wake-up to their gorgeousness, ignite their spark and build their self-esteem. Her debut book – ‘The Bliss Bible: A Beautifully Practical Guide to Transforming Your Life from The Inside Out’ will be published in Spring 2015.