Strengthening Your Self-care Muscle | TMOHP 009

When’s the last time you felt really, truly nourished - like your tank was full, and your spirit had been fed? If your goal today was to take care of yourself in that way, would you know how to do it?

You’re not alone if your self-care abilities feel weak, or underutilized, or if you’re not even sure where to find them.

You’re also not alone if food has taken the place of the things that really fuel you.

This episode of the podcast is not a list of things like bubble baths and long walks. Instead, I’m covering the process of creating new ways of thinking and approaching self-care - so you can rewire your mindset to make it more a part of your life.

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What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • How to start strengthening your self-care muscle
  • Why this matters
  • What to do if you’re not even sure where to start taking better care of yourself

Listen to the full episode:

Featured on the show:

Full episode transcript:

Today I’m talking about self-care - and how to start doing more of it if this is a muscle you don’t use very often.

Before we dive in, I want you to take your pulse. What do you think and feel when I start using words like self-care? Do you have an involuntary eye roll response? Do you want to tune out? Do you start hearing a litany of thoughts about why it’s not possible for you to fit more of this into your busy life?

Or does self-care feel self-indulgent, or “extra” or like something you shouldn’t need?

And what comes to mind when you think of self-care? Is it bubble baths and manicures? Or do you think of eating more vegetables or forcing yourself to do things that sound hard or unpleasant?

Or does self-care sound like some kind of luxurious, aspirational goal that obviously didn’t get the memo about your busy life?

Here’s the deal. Self-care, the self-care I’m talking about today, is the way you respond to yourself. Quality self-care is meeting your needs. Responding to yourself. Providing care and comfort and compassion.

Self-care is nourishment. Soothing. Fuel. For all of you. Self-care is the real deal. It’s not a poor, slapped on substitute. Self-care is not a band-aid. We all have times when we have to survive in the moment. But the self-care I’m talking about is the tuned-in self-care that leaves you better off. It’s not substituting doom scrolling or online shopping or brownie eating for when what you really need is a nap. It’s not numbing with food or wine or social media to avoid feelings or situations or stress. It’s not something that gives you a buzz in the short term but feels bad an hour later or keeps you up with acid reflux in the night.

Which is not to shame anyone who does these things. We are all human beings and sometimes we are just coping. But coping and numbing and covering over what we really need is not self-care.

If you routinely aren’t getting what you really need, and if it feels like food and eating have become substitutes for this, or if the balance feels off, it’s worth spending some time strengthening your self-care muscles.

If you have a Hidden Hunger for self-care and me-time it puts you at risk for overeating for comfort, snacking to reward yourself, or as "relief" during a busy day. A common trigger to look out for is feeling too busy.

When you’re busy and time is at a premium, it’s easy to talk yourself into not giving yourself the time and the attention that you actually need to function at your best. When this happens, food and overeating can become an easy-to-grab way to quickly “take care of” yourself, reward yourself, or feel better.

But it’s so key to remember that when we use food as a band-aid, our real need or feeling isn’t being addressed. Nothing really gets taken care of.

Taking time for you and making deliberate space to focus on your own needs and priorities (and fun) is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to making Peace with Food. Finding ways to put yourself on your priority list (without feeling guilty) can go a long way toward breaking vicious cycles with overeating, emotional eating, and weight.

The love and compassion and care we give ourselves is deeply related to our relationship with food. We can’t have peace with food if we aren’t nourishing ourselves and giving ourselves the care that we need. If we don’t feed our spirit or respectfully care for our feelings and needs, we’re much more likely to get into habits of responding to them or numbing them with food.

If you haven’t been great at self-care, it can be difficult to even know how to start doing something that’s more than a superficial quick fix. As always, the best way to tune in to what will work for you is through curiosity and beginning to ask yourself questions. Not all at once of course, but over time. Questions like - “What do I know about what I need or want?”
Journaling is a great place to play with new ideas and to be curious with new questions.
Ask yourself what you would like more of in your life (and what’s a small step you can take today, in this direction)?

How’s your energy level and what’s one step you can take to better care or nurture your energy?

Consider whether you’re taking time, on a regular basis, to ask yourself what you’re needing or feeling – or do you routinely gloss over these things?

If you want to start transforming your approach to self-care, ask yourself how you will reward yourself or celebrate when you don’t want to use food to do this?

Be curious about what’s stressing you out that needs to change and about what’s the first, or next step to take.

Where and how you can start asking for more help or support is something you absolutely want to consider when you’re waking up your self-care muscle.

What are you tolerating that you deserve a better solution or answer for?

What will you include in your day to make you smile or laugh?

Are you getting enough sleep or restful or relaxing time?

Remember - curiosity is valuable because of the answers you come up with, and it’s also valuable for helping you develop new ways of thinking, and new patterns in your brain - instead of defaulting to the old responses that haven’t worked for you. Sometimes - a lot of the time - the first step in nurturing a better approach to self-care is asking questions that you don’t know the answers to - yet.

And of course, this an issue - and a mindset challenge that we work on steadily in Your Missing Peace - so if you want coaching, specific training, and group support on your journey, come check out the program.

Remember, if you want to train for a marathon, you don’t go out on day one and run 26.2 miles. You might just run or walk around the block. Waking up your self-care muscle happens in small steps too.

What’s your next step?


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