Find your RHYTHM and replenish your energy

Reading Time: 6 minutes

(This is the third in a series of 8 posts that I am publishing every week on the topics of self worth and self compassion)

If you have read my earlier post you would know why it is important to protect our most precious and valuable resource- TIME.

(You can read the earlier post HERE)

In this post, I am focusing on yet another important resource that we often take for granted - ENERGY. We often feel that we have an infinite amount of energy that we possess as we push through life ignoring our natural cycles and rhythms even though our body's internal clock has evolved over millions of years to be in sync with nature. But because of our fast paced lives, we are often living a life which is completely out of sync with that of nature. Today, many of us are paying the price for this in terms of feeling overwhelmed, tired, exhausted and drained of energy. 

When we live under chronic stress, live sedentary lives and eat a bizarre combination of processed foods that are alien to our bodies, we are completely removed from what evolution has prepared our bodies and our minds to deal with over millions of years. In our chaotic lives, we eat at all hours of the day and night, barely get enough sleep and are constantly distracted by our devices and media.

Is it any wonder then that so many of us struggle to lose weight, feel vibrant and healthy and live to the fullest?

Do you....

Wake up in the morning and not feel refreshed?

Need coffee, tea or sugary beverages to keep you going through the day?

Lack the motivation to accomplish even the smallest tasks?

Struggle to lose weight in spite of a healthy diet and regular exercise?

Feel your mind racing even though you are physically tired?

In my coaching practice, we address these issues by finding out the root cause and then making lifestyle and dietary changes to support it. My clients are taught to understand that our bodies have an innate biochemical and genetic rhythm which has evolved to rest when it becomes dark and to wake up when the sun rises. In other words, each and every cell in our body has an internal clock. This is because every function in our body has a specific time as it cannot do everything at once. Scientists have also learned that while our circadian rhythm is influenced by light, the timing they follow is controlled internally by our genes.

Each of us must find our rhythm, it allows us to thrive. Finding it is often difficult in today's noisy world but it is important if we want to feel centred and balanced. Living in sync with the seasons of nature helps us find a wavelike rhythm and routine. This gentle repetition allows us our minds and our bodies to replenish and rejuvenate on a regular basis thus ensuring our wellbeing at a spiritual, emotional, physical level.

(You can read about the power of a morning routine in my earlier post HERE)

Finding a routine which helps you to work with your body's natural rhythm and not against becomes important. It helps add stability to our lives and makes us feel more balanced and secure. It is equally important to understand the remarkable resiliency our bodies posses and that when given the right ingredients, it can quickly bounce back as it has a tremendous capacity to adapt and evolve.

"I feel safe in the rhythm and flow of ever-changing life"

- Louis Hay

Incorporating rhythm in your life can be done in many simple ways some of which are given below-

going to bed and waking up at the same time every day

exercising regularly at the same time 

regular meditation

having meals at regular times

playing and also indulging in hobbies on a regular basis

spending time with friends and family

getting exposure to natural sunlight 

On the flip side, some people fall into a rhythm and a set of patterns that is self destructive. These people end up coasting through life without being able to fulfil any of their needs in a positive manner. Their lifestyle ends up working against them and holding them back.

This can also happen to the best of us at some point in our lives but most of usually find our way by making small but positive changes in the right direction. We learn from our mistakes and move towards what we desire and then moving towards it, one step at a time.

It all starts with where you are. Taking rest if you need to. Listening to your body. And getting back on the bandwagon if you do fall off. And knowing that the results are worth the trouble that you are taking right now- at a physical, spiritual and emotional level.

As you treat yourself with compassion, you start to notice that you are beginning to heal in many different ways. You will find that as you find your rhythm, your energy levels start improving over time.

You can then add a few more additional layers to your routine to give yourself a bigger boost.

You can...

hydrate yourself well every day starting with a glass of water when you wake up in the morning

get your body to move- dance, yoga, pilates or any other restorative exercise

go regularly for a walk in nature

start journaling (a stress journal works really well for some people)

ask for help for something you are struggling with (I have written an entire post on this- read it here)

focus on your "WHY" - why you get up in the morning and what you are planning to accomplish? (you can read my post on this topic here)

focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot

By living a life that is in rhythm with the natural order of things, you will also start to notice that you get a natural high on most days instead of having to resort to artificial means of boosting your energy levels. At the same time, having a well thought out routine at home and at work will provide you with the freedom to focus your energy on your goals and things that are important to you. This can help to restore balance in your life and create a sense of order.

Ask yourself this,

"What is the ONE routine that I can incorporate in my life today that would help me the most at this point in time?"

Once this routine has been in place for at least a month, you can ask yourself the following questions to determine the progress that has been made so far.

In what ways...

do I feel less overwhelmed?

more balanced?

more productive?

more at peace with myself?

has my clarity and/or my ability to concentrate improved?

(whichever is applicable)

Finding our rhythm lays the foundation to help us achieve our dreams and lead a life that is fulfilling at the same time. It allows us to live a life filled with joy, happiness, peace and to be fully alive to love and be loved.

The Byrds had captured this really well in their song "Turn turn turn"

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up
A time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rain, a time of sow
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace
I swear it's not too late

Why sometimes you need to say “no” to others (in order to say YES to yourself)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

(This post is the second one in a series of posts that I will be publishing over the next 8 weeks on the twin topics of self worth and self compassion. In the first post I had broached the subject of the perils of "doing it all" and the high price associated with it. You can read it HERE.)

We have all been taught to be there for others and take care of those who love and need our help and support. We also know that we need to take care and support each other in order to grow and thrive as a part of a family, community or country. As social animals, we have been hardwired over time during the course of our evolution to get along with each other since our very survival depended on it. Hence, it is very natural that we just the thought of saying no brings us physical discomfort and do not like to hurt or disappoint others. As a result, we often end up saying yes to avoid feeling guilty, uncomfortable and even to avoid the physical discomfort of saying no.

How many times have you said YES lately where you immediately regretted your decision?

(I have written about the positive aspects of being a part of a community in my earlier post, you can read it HERE)

What usually ends up happening in our busy, modern world as a result of this is that we are often overcommitted and overscheduled. Our instinct of saying yes when we really wanted to say no to a request or a task can often leave us resentful, frustrated and burnt out in the long run. If we are honest enough, being asked to help and do things for others also makes us feel good in many ways. However, these emotions can often interfere with our clarity.

As a result, we can end up regretting our acquiescense for days, months and years which can ultimately prevent us from achieving what had we set out to do in terms of our own goals. And it certainly takes a toll on our health if this becomes a way of life. But we need to keep in mind that for each of us not our energy, but rather the TIME that we have in this world is actually the most non renewable resource that we have in our lives.

Our time on this earth is the most valuable and non renewable resource that we have in our lives.

And once a second, minute or an hour is gone, it is lost forever never to come back. Our energy and other resources can be renewed with enough rest and planning but not our time. This means that in order to live a life where we feel that we are able to contribute, achieve our goals and at the same time enjoy our time with our friends and families, we need to be clear about setting limits and putting boundaries in place.

Healthy boundaries give us the freedom to be involved in activities and causes that are aligned with our purpose and give meaning to our lives. It helps us avoid burnout, frustration and stress to a large extent by avoiding overscheduling and overcommitment. It frees up our time to spend time with those who really matter to us and to pursue hobbies and interests that we are passionate about.

"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others"

-Brene Brown

However, for any sensitive and caring individual, it takes courage to stand up and say no to others. Women are usually much more concerned about what others think of them and even have what is called the "good girl" (and even "good boy") syndrome and have a hard time saying "no". I have realised much later that I have been dealing with this ever since I was a child. And it has only been in the past few years that I have had to learn to say "no" at times as a part of my self-care so that I could do what was needed to be done for my family without feeling burnt out, frustrated or resentful.

Those of you who have read my earlier posts on self care or have been through my self care challenge that I did recently for my Facebook Group, know that I strongly believe that as primary caregivers of most families, a woman's primary responsibility is towards her own health and wellbeing.

Only when a woman takes care of herself lovingly and willingly can she do the same for others without feeling deprived, resentful or ultimately sacrificing her own health. I also believe that those of us who have daughters have an added responsibility and need to teach our daughters by setting an example of this by practising this ourselves and ending this legacy of deprivation and burnout.

How many times have you agreed to....

do something even though there was a distinct tension in what you felt was right and what someone was pressurising you to do?

be a part of something that you really didn't have time for but you felt that would make those people like you?

a request from a family member, coworker or a friend simply because you did not want to disappoint or anger them?

Every single day people make all kinds of decisions based on what others want even as they know that on some level they may be also committing an act of self betrayal. That they are forever playing the role of a "good girl" (or even "good boy") which is hard to let go of. But at what cost?

What would happen if you did start saying YES to yourself? 

There would most likely be some kind of fall out at the beginning, especially if you have been used to overgiving without setting healthy boundaries.  This would likely have trained people around you to expect you to be there for them whenever they may need you. It takes courage to be honest and open with yourself and to stand up for yourself.  Indeed, this is a critical component of self care. And while you may feel guilty and selfish for a while and face social awkwardness, boundaries are essential for your own mental and emotional well being as well as for the health of your relationships.

There are different ways of saying "no" gracefully and it starts with separating the person from the relationship that we have with them. In other words, when we say no to a request from a person, it does not mean that we are saying no to that person. Once we are clear on this, it becomes much easier to remain strong and at the same time communicate with others in a graceful manner. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when you say "no"-

Focus on what you are getting in return and remind yourself that setting certain boundaries are essential in self care

There are a variety of ways of saying no without using the word, For e.g. "I don't have the bandwidth right now", "I would like to, but I am overcommitted right now"

Give alternative suggestions and buy some time to respond to the request when possible

Check in with yourself and ask yourself  "On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do I really want to do this?" or "If I knew this person would not be angry or upset, would I still say no?"

Think about how this request would make YOU feel- would it bring joy, pleasure or satisfaction? Or is it only about fulfilling obligations and responsibilities?

Being first honest with yourself and then with the people in our lives in a compassionate and authentic manner prevents a sense of betrayal and guilt towards ourselves as well as others.  At the same time, being open in a warm and caring manner strengthens our relationships with others and makes them respect us in the long run. In any case, you simply cannot control how others will react if you disappoint them (which happens inevitably at times) while setting your boundaries. However, you can certainly control how you feel and how you choose to communicate.

At the end of the day, our boundaries reflect our sense of self worth. We practice both self care and self respect when we set healthy boundaries.

We are all unique individuals and healthy boundaries help us to maintain our uniqueness and protect our identities. Many women, in particular, find that somewhere along the way while taking care of their families and bringing up their children lose their sense of who they used to be and their voice. I see this in my Health Coaching practice. Most women who have various chronic health issues are a result of years and even decades of neglecting their own needs and wants.

We are rarely taught why we need to set healthy boundaries in all aspects of our lives. As a result, our sense of self worth gets eroded slowly over the years until we reach a stage where we can no longer tune in to what our body needs from us. At times, we need to do less and take proper rest but we can no longer heed the messages our bodies are constantly sending us. We simply choose to ignore the occasional headache, digestive troubles, constipation, tiredness which are merely symptoms of underlying imbalances. Until we can no longer ignore them.

In Functional Medicine we often say "a headache is a blessing" and it is true!

So the next time you are about to say "yes" to a request, check in with yourself. Remind yourself that you are much more than simply a mother, wife, daughter or employee. See how you feel about it and take your time in responding with grace and compassion in a clear and honest manner.

As Anne Taylor said so well

"Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won't accept."

Are you “doing it all” in order to “have it all” (there is a hidden price that you pay)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

(This is the second in a series of 8 posts that I am writing on the intertwined topics of self worth and self compassion. If you have not read the first post, you can read it HERE. And once again as you go through this series, you can use journaling as a tool to get to reap the full benefit)

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
―Maya Angelou, author, speaker, poet

Many of us have an aversion towards asking for help. Usually, we end up doing this only we when are in desperate need for it. For most men and women, this is usually when we have reached the end of our rope, feeling burned out and overwhelmed. How much less painful it would be if we had started paying attention to our needs before we reached this stage? Also, in many ways, women are worse off in this respect than men.

In fact, according to a recent UN report, modern women carry out at least two and a half times unpaid and household and care work than men. However, this is rarely recognised as "work". Things have definitely changed with well-intentioned men taking on more work at home, but it is clearly not enough. And this is not just because of sexism on the part of men, it also due to conditioning of both men and women while growing up. Inevitably, for most women, an impeccable home and well groomed children often become linked to their sense of self-worth. 

I confess that I am struggling with this at this very moment as I am trying to set up my coaching practice. I see myself struggling to reach my goals at work and at the same time manage the homefront according to the standards that I have set for myself a long time ago. However, whenever my well-intentioned husband tries to do his fair share of work or help me out, my ingrained conditioning gets in the way. My idea of getting things done properly is and always will be very different from his and this makes things really frustrating for both of us. Simply accepting our differences with regards to our approach towards housework has been really hard for me. I have chosen to work on this not just because of my own sanity but also because I want my children (a daughter and a son) to have a different kind of conditioning towards this type of "invisible" work irrespective of gender.

In most urban family settings across the world, women are the primary caregivers in their families as they take care of their children, family members and home. This is on top of the work that they may also be doing outside the house as a bread earner. This kind of pressure leaves little time for most women to tend to their own needs and practice self care. Thus today, even though many more women enjoy financial freedom, they often grapple with a feeling of frustration, a sense of hopelessness and end up living in chronic survival mode.

However, the focus of this post is not on the economic price that the society at large pays for this kind of hidden inequality but rather the price that most women end up paying in terms of their health and peace of mind. Since most of my coaching clients are women, I see this playing out all the time with them and this is true even for my friends and family members who are women. Many women are perpetually overwhelmed, with a sense of a never ending to-do list of responsibilities of things to do both at work and at home.

We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same

-Trent Shelton

Women are often under the impression that they need to "do it all" in order to "have it all". There are many ways that modern society has benefited women, however, it masks a dirty secret. As mentioned earlier, while a division of labour did take place in the workplace as many more women have joined the workforce, housework, cooking and/or planning meals and looking after children are still very much under a woman's purview. And in today's world, this is in addition to the workload that women have simply by being a part of the workforce.

This poses an enormous amount of pressure in terms of the expectations that many women inadvertently have of themselves in terms of how childcare and housecare should look like at all times. Can you relate in some way to this kind of thinking? 

Do you find yourself measuring your self worth in terms of

how your house should look at all times?

what your idea is of a "perfect" YOU and a "perfect" family?

how your child behaves or looks like especially in public?

what kind of nutritious foods you are able to whip up (or have your cook make for you) in your kitchen?

There are countless other such examples!

I am guilty of having very high expectations of myself when it comes to the last one. While healthy and nourishing foods have been a part of our meals for a number of years now, I was driving myself and my family crazy by trying to ensure that each and every meal in our house meets my high "nutrition" standards. I realised that I was doing more disservice than helping by forcing my younger son to have each and every meal that met my standards in terms of both variety and quality. It ended up making our meal times very stressful for all of us and became self-defeating in nature. Instead, I have taken a slightly different approach of involving him in respecting the food that is served in a more healthy manner and at the same time teaching him to understand how food affects his body. But, I digress...

Take a moment to reflect on the ways that you may be similarly linking your own identity and indeed your own worth at times to very high standards that you may be intentionally or unintentionally setting for yourself. Be gentle with yourself as you do this as you may have grown up believing that this is the only way.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself (and preferably write down in a journal) to help bring some clarity.

What kind of price (in terms of your health) are you paying for not reaching out for timely support from your partner/spouse or others?

What measure of "success" is worth your health? In other words, are you setting up your life to support the "success" that you want with intention so that it does not cost you in terms of your health in the long run?

Are you clear about what you really want in terms of your life - personal freedom, happiness, more personal time to pursue creative work/hobbies, emotional and physical health to name a few?

Are you willing to give yourself permission let go of your need to link your sense of worth to your house/family's health/children's achievements etc?

While it would certainly help to have our partners/spouses take more responsibility and initiative in terms of helping us, we need to start reaching out to them and find other forms of support in a constructive manner. There is certainly no one right way of doing this that will work for all women and their families.

Given below are some of the things that you can keep in mind while you do this-

 

Reach out when you feel the need to without guilt or shame- either to your spouse or a family member or a friend

Let go of any shame or guilt and the flawed notion that you need to "keep it together" at ALL times

Tend and befriend- connect with a friend or do something social as a part of a community

Give yourself permission to pause and practice "self care" in whichever way you deem fit

Learn the art of saying "no" and be comfortable in disappointing others as you learn to choose yourself over others when required

(I have written a few posts earlier on the topic of self care you can read them here and here.)

Infact, this last point is the topic for my next post but you will have to wait for it till next week!

I leave you with this beautiful poem on self worth by the young poet Erin Hanson

 "NOT"

You are not your age, nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight, or the colour of your hair

You are not your name, or the dimples in your cheeks.

You are all the books you read, and all the words you speak.

You are your croaky morning voice, and the smiles you try to hide.

You are the sweetness in your laughter, and every tear you've cried

You are the songs you sing so loudly when you know you are all alone.

You are the places that you've been to, and the one you call home.

You are the things that you believe in, and the people whom you love.

You are the photos in your bedroom, and the future you dream of.

You are made of so much beauty, but it seems that you forgot.

When you decided that you were defined by all the things you're not. 

 

Self care series (wrapping up)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

As we reach the end of the series of 6 posts on self care, I hope you have enjoyed reading the posts over the past several weeks and have been able to benefit from them in some way. If you have not read them, you can read them HERE.

My next series of posts that I will be sharing with you over the next 8 weeks will deal with the issue of low self worth that many of us are dealing with which usually shows up in different patterns of self neglect. It is also one of the primary reasons that we do not make our health a priority and take the steps that are required to move towards our health and wellness goals. This feeling of low self worth is also often accompanied by a lack of self compassion both of which I will be addressing in the next series. The posts will cover topics like understanding our needs, overgiving and deprivation, the power of a NO, celebrating your unique self and others. 

"Self care means giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you"

-Ratie Reed

However, before I go any further, I would like to share something with you first. 

Several years ago, our daughter was seriously unwell and hospitalised with a life threatening infection when she was just 7 years old. We are extremely fortunate that she survived the ordeal but it took her a long time to recover completely. Mostly, it was a struggle to find a way to manage the severe chronic condition that she had which had put her in the hospital in the first place. Four long years after her hospitalisation she went on to go off all her medications and today her condition has healed with the help of Functional Medicine- but that's a story for another day. 

The reason I mention all this is that as her mother and primary caregiver, this situation forced me to understand that if I wanted to take care of her effectively over a period of time, I needed to take care of myself FIRST. As is the case for most women, as primary caregivers of our families, we simply do not have the time to take care of ourselves. However, without an active self care practice, it is easy to get angry, frustrated and resentful in a difficult situation with ourselves and those around us. We need to learn to take care of ourselves deeply and intentionally so that we can take care of our loved ones without feeling guilty and obligated and getting burned out.  

In my Health Coaching practice, I see this happening all the time with the majority of my clients most of whom are women (this would likely be true for men as well).

We may not realise this, but true self care need not be an expensive or time-consuming affair, we can take care of ourselves in the smallest of ways, especially when it is the last thing on our mind. 

What about you? Does this sound familiar to you? Is there any way that you can relate to what I have written here?

If you are ready to explore different ways that you can choose to take care of yourself, you can read my earlier post on this topic Selfcare- you cannot drink from an empty cup (Take back the power to heal yourself)”.

You can also choose to join the 7 day online self care challenge for women "LOVE YOURSELF FIRST"

(details are given below)

 "LOVE YOURSELF FIRST

I would like to share at this point that I am hosting a free 7 day online challenge for women which has started TODAY. You can still enrol for the same using the link below. 

STARTS ON 30th of September 2019 (Monday) 
ENDS ON 6th of October 2019 (Sunday)

 

This challenge is for women who feel overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted and/or frazzled and are running on empty with little to give to themselves or others

This challenge is ALSO for you if you are ready to

accept yourself completely

refuse to feel guilty for taking out time for yourself

feel more energetic savour time with yourself as well as take care of your family

WRAPPING UP 

As we wrap up this series, I would like to highlight the key points from each of the six posts.

Do you know your ‘WHY” ? (And why you should)

So let us dream and let us take out the time to reflect on what is truly important for each of us. Let us find the courage to face up to reality and make the changes necessary to live in our TRUTH. To look at ourselves in the mirror every single day and be proud of who we are. At the same time be able to view life compassionately as we deal with our own pain and suffering and that of others.

Let us live our life knowing that we did our best to become the "best version of ourselves".

Read the full article HERE

Rocks, pebbles and sand…the key to knowing what is important in your life

The problem is that we fail to realise that many activities which are actually "important" to us gets overlooked and even ignored in this process. As we move from one "crisis" to another, we get so caught up in the "doing" that we never stop to reflect whether it really needs to be done in the first place.

Read the full article HERE

5 simple morning habits for a calmer, brighter day

At each moment we have a choice. You chose to read this article today. You choose the clothes you wear, the foods you eat, the activities that you indulge in. You choose to be angry or to forgive people. You choose to be happy or to remain sad. You choose to be grateful for what you have or to focus on the things you lack in your life. You choose all these things and much more. BUT what you need to keep in mind is that this power to choose resides only in this present moment. In time, it is what we do every single day that matters much more than the profound decisions that we may make once in a while.

Read the full article HERE

Unplug and reconnect (change your relationship with technology)

Each of us has a relationship with our phone which in most of the cases is not in our favour and infact puts us at a major disadvantage. Unfortunately, this relationship often takes precedence over our real life relationships. It is time that we paused to think about what kind of relationship we really want with our phones. 

Read the full article HERE

What are you doing for others? (community and our health)

Being a part of a community is a powerful tool that we need to use to combat the illnesses that threaten our modern societies. Of course, wellness and good health starts with each of us taking personal responsibility for the choices that we make daily. We need to nourish our bodies with the right foods, take adequate rest, move our bodies and take care of our spiritual needs. However, it certainly does not end there.

Read the full article HERE

As I have already mentioned earlier in this post, the next series of posts that I will be sharing with you over the next 8 weeks will be covering the twin topics of SELF WORTH AND SELF COMPASSION. The posts will cover topics like understanding our needs, overgiving and deprivation, the power of a NO, celebrating your unique self and others. This will be followed by a Challenge on Self Compassion. 

As Eleanor Roosevelt said so beautifully "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"

See you next week in the next series of articles!

What are you doing for others? (community and our health)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

(In past 4 weeks I have been writing a series of posts on self care covering related topics like finding your purpose, knowing what is important and what matters, creating a morning routine and why we need to unplug regularly from technology to reconnect with ourselves and others. You can read these posts here).

In the first four posts, I had focussed mostly on the relationship that we have with ourselves. In the second last post in this series, I am focussing on our outer worlds, namely, the relationships that we have with others. In other words, our social connections.

"Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much"

-Helen Keller

However, before we go any further, I would like to mention here that I have started taking baby steps to start a community (closed Facebook group) for like minded women with similar values and goals. Keeping that in mind, I am hosting a free online challenge for women whose details are given at the end of this post.

7 day online "LOVE YOURSELF FIRST" challenge for women

STARTS ON 30th of September 2019 (Monday) 
ENDS ON 6th of October 2019 (Sunday)

As social animals, we have evolved over millions of years to cooperate with others to hunt, to gather food and to survive. Like most primates, if we were ever to have become separated from our tribe, we would have not survived in isolation. Hence each of us has a very primitive need to be connected with others. The accompanying feeling of anxiety that often accompanies our feeling of loneliness serves a very real and useful purpose of making us feel insecure and pushes us to reconnect with others. Infact, our disconnection with other people is one of the most critical aspects leading to the surge in loneliness, anxiety and depression that is so pervasive in our world today. Having meaningful social relationships then is the antidote to the feeling of disconnection and in turn loneliness.

In our busy, hectic modern lives what often gets short changed are the meaningful relationships that we form and maintain right from childhood to adulthood. A lack of such relationships usually leads to loneliness and isolation. There are numerous studies which have been done in this space by scientists studying loneliness and its effects on our health. Numerous studies show that for all the progress our modern society has made in the fields of medicine, science and technology, we are struggling with high rates of mental health issues like depression, suicide, poor health, loneliness and anxiety. One of the research also shows that being isolated is as stressful as experiencing a physical attack from a stranger.

What I really find shocking, however, is a meta-analysis of studies on loneliness which reveal the following-

Living with air pollution increases our odds of dying early by 5%

Living with obesity, 20%

Excessive drinking, 30%

Loneliness increases the risk of dying early by 45%

Every status update is just a variation of a single request "Would someone please acknowledge me?” 

-Marc Maron

Our dependence (and a form of addiction) on social media usage can then be explained in terms of our need to really connect with each other. As social animals, we need to interact face to face, see, feel, hear and smell each other in a non threatening and caring manner. Simply put, social media and phones our simply does not and cannot replace our social lives. The time has come for all of us to become aware of what this kind of disconnection is costing us in terms of our health, happiness, life goals, achievements and preventing us from living a life that is full of joy and passion.

(I have written more on this topic in my earlier post)

The power of community in safeguarding our health

Being a part of a community is a powerful tool that we need to use to combat the illnesses that threaten our modern societies. Of course, wellness and good health starts with each of us taking personal responsibility for the choices that we make daily. We need to nourish our bodies with the right foods, take adequate rest, move our bodies and take care of our spiritual needs. However, it certainly does not end there.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, our lives are inextricably intertwined with all of nature and certainly with that of all other human beings. Being well and keeping well is then a community affair. This includes our families, our schools and colleges and finally our workplaces and society at large.

However, even while being a part of any community, we all need to be heard and feel recognised, understood and accepted as we are by our families, friends, our colleagues and our peers. This becomes even more relevant in the modern social context as traditional social community ties are changing and dissolving. We need to find ways to form social groups and work even harder to make and maintain close relationships.

(I have shared book recommendations and articles below f you would like the explore these topics in details)

Community IS Medicine

It must have become clear by now how our emotional and physical well being is tied up with our sense of belonging and being a part of a tribe. Here, I would like you to pause for a moment and reflect on the following questions

Do I have rich, satisfying relationships with others? 

What is my most valuable relationship?

What are some of the ways that I am nurturing and taking care of my need to belong? (eg. being a part of a book club, religious community, gym, women's groups, FB groups)

What does being a part of that group make me feel? ( eg. feel accepted, heard, safe)

What are some of the ways that I can join or even form social groups which inspire and challenge me to grow and thrive?

In terms of reaching our health and wellness goals,  being a part of a community can support us in the following ways by providing

  • accountability
  • new ideas and fresh perspective
  • inspiration and keeping you motivated
  • you with a collective wisdom

 

As you ponder over these questions, you may want to go through some of the ways that you can choose to enhance your relationships and be a part of a community that fulfils your need to belong in a healthy manner

You can choose to.... 

connect a bit more by listening, communicating, and allowing your heart to remain open

be truly present in a face to face conversation by noticing the posture and body language and making eye contact

show up as yourself and create a space where others feel safe enough to do the same

make your relationships your top priority in life and consciously make time and space for it 

As  the author, Mathew Kelly said so beautifully,

"Learn to waste time with the people you love"

"LOVE YOURSELF FIRST"

A 7 DAY FREE ONLINE CHALLENGE for women

"Love yourself first, because that’s who you’ll be spending the rest of your life with"
Author unknown

 

STARTS ON 30th of September 2019 (Monday)

ENDS ON 6th of October 2019 (Sunday)  

This challenge is for women who feel overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted and/or frazzled and are running on empty with little to give to themselves or others

This challenge is ALSO for you if you are ready to

accept yourself completely

refuse to feel guilty for taking out time for yourself

feel more energetic savour time with yourself as well as take care of your family