Who is Hurting Who?

Being in the World can be harsh and challenging, we have all been hurt by someone yet we behave and react like we have been hurt by everyone.

What do I mean by that? Growing up we experience moments and situations in life that are unpleasant and as we are naturally sensitive beings designed to live in harmony with one another this hurts us. It could be that Mom looked at you in a way that wasn’t full of love and adoration, your sibling bullied you, a friend lied or let you down and so forth and hence we get hurt. So to avoid being hurt again we put up defences, guards and walls to keep people at bay or project aggression, being hard and tough so it looks like we will attack first so don’t you dare go there. We must protect ourselves from hurt at any cost. But instead of being this way with the people who we perceived hurt us we are protective and guarded with everybody – just incase.

But what if this protection we think we have is an illusion and that by being anything other than trusting, loving and open we are the ones already hurting ourselves as we are going against our Divine inner nature. What if being hardened and aggressive is a self-perpetuating hurt that we are living in almost every moment of everyday. . .Ouch!

This for me is a very poignant point and a great reminder when I realise I am steeling myself for a meeting, phone call or just going out into the world that the greatest protection I have is to be all of the love that I am. To remind myself I can’t hold the whole world and all of humanity to ransom for a handful of people in my life that hurt me because I needed them to be a certain way, to love me when they couldn’t and to give me what I wasn’t giving myself which was permission to be loving, delicate, tender and understanding.


“The moment you harden to protect yourself from being hurt, your next move is in disregard … you are then hurting yourself.”

~ Esoteric Teachings & Revelations – by Serge Benhayon
Pg. 469

So at the end of the day who really is hurting who?

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What Did We Really Learn at Uni?

When I graduated dental school, I should have been fresh faced, bright eyed, and full of enthusiasm and optimism about my future, instead I was jaded, exhausted, turned off from learning and in debt up to my eyeballs. Despite the fact that I needed to be earning some cash I decided to take a couple of months break before looking for work as I was so worn out after the pressures of over 5 years of intense study that is required getting a dental degree.

Its sad to look back and see myself so flat when this should have been a pinnacle of achievement, after all I had wanted to be a dentist since I was 13 years old and here I was fulfilling my dream, yet I could only feel relieved that I had made it through and that Uni was now behind me.

When I started my degree I was just 18, healthy, fit, and full of life. I would describe myself as happy-go-lucky and fairly at ease with life, I didn’t smoke, would have the occasional drink, ate well and didn’t really like coffee and generally took good care of myself. By the end of my first term at dental school, however, I was already struggling to cope with the volume of learning, the constant exams, the competitive nature of my fellow students and living away from home fending for myself while trying to manage a meagre budget. My health was starting to suffer, I was tired and stressed, eating on the run and drinking way too much coffee and alcohol, my body was breaking out in boils and I seemed to have a constant cold.

The pressure was relentless, exams every 6 weeks that you had to pass or you were gone. More learning than there seemed hours in the day and then from second year patients to see and treat which brought a whole new level of responsibility to deal with. Add to that only 6 weeks holiday a year (no luxury of long University breaks for us medical and dental students) and the never-ending battle to complete the required number of procedures before the end of 5th year so that you would be allowed to go on to take your final exams and you had a recipe for disaster.

The only way I could cope was to push myself beyond my limits, drinking excessive coffee during the day and alcohol at night to “manage” my stress levels and unwind after a tough day. Tired, I would find myself eating doughnuts at my breaks (the ladies at the dental school coffee bar would even put my doughnut supply to one side so as not run out when I came for a coffee – that’s how bad it had gotten!) and a family pack of biscuits after dinner while I did a few hours study before going the pub and drinking myself to oblivion so I could get some sleep and do it all again the next day.

If you complained about the intensity, you were told to suck it up, as if you couldn’t cope here you would never make it in the real world. And so was the attitude of the teaching staff, not really supportive or offering a way in which to better deal with the requirements of the course or come to think of it life beyond it.

It comes then as no surprise then that upon graduation many dentists and doctors continue on in the same vein, pushing themselves hard to complete their workload of patients and administrative tasks, competing with their colleagues instead of reaching out for support, advice and guidance, coping with stress and exhaustion with caffeine and alcohol and neglecting themselves and their own health. And sadly we are somehow expected to be super-human and be able to deal with all this as we have the cursory title Doctor before our names.

But what gets forgotten and overlooked is that first and foremost we are people, many of us very sensitive and deeply caring individuals, who also need support and nurturing and to be shown how we can not only deliver what we need for our patients but most crucially also for ourselves. For if we don’t truly know how to care for ourselves and maintain that happy-go-lucky fresh faced enthusiasm and love of what we do and the people we are supposedly caring for then what quality of service are we truly offering? What type of role model do we become when our words are empty, tainted by the do as I say not as I do energy that comes from delivering words that are not lived and shown by example, after-all who is going to take advice from an overweight worn out doctor, that would be like getting financial advice from a bankrupt.

Sure, there are many Universities and continuing education courses on offer now that provide teachings in self care, espousing the importance of looking after our wellbeing and whilst this is a welcome step in the right direction I can but only wonder if it goes far enough – are we simply putting a Band-Aid over a wound rather than preventing the wound from developing in the first place.

The fault here lies not in the Universities, the course curriculums, or even, that as doctors people don’t always see us as people, but that life and our education system do not equip us to know how to genuinely care for ourselves on a deeper level. A level that supports us to connect to ourselves and know who we are, to be able to value and care for ourselves naturally and lovingly so and thus live in a way that provides a quality of vitality and energy that supports us to be less affected by life.

Dentistry IS Stressful

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It is true – being a dentist is stressful. Most patients dislike coming and are themselves stressed or anxious and this often comes across as rudeness, aggression and irrational behaviour. Everyone has high and often unrealistic expectations of what you can do with their teeth and hence the results you can achieve. No one seems to appreciate or understand how hard it is to fix a tooth when you are leaning over craning your neck, ruining your posture and straining your eyes just to be able to see it. Add to that battling a sea of saliva and tongues and lips that seem to develop superhuman strength as soon as you come anywhere near them and the process becomes near on impossible.

Many patients do not want to take your advice and simply think they know best despite the level of knowledge, experience and expertise you have. Many complain about the bill, are constant worriers and blow things out of proportion, ask the same question over and over even though you spent forever explaining it and even drew them a picture. The challenging patients all seem to be booked in on the busiest and most demanding of days when you are already overwhelmed, pushed for time and frazzled by the constant bickering and the inability of your team to think or organise anything for themselves. Add to that you are running late, the tax is due and the bookkeeper needs to ask you a million questions, stock needs ordering and the most vital piece of equipment you need to run your business has just blown up and yes…. you’d be stressed too.

So how do dental school and university prepare the fresh-faced young and eager dentist to be able to cope with the pressures they will face once graduated and working in dental practice? In a nutshell it doesn’t, what it does do is put you under enormous amounts of pressure to learn, to achieve, and to come up to standard, pass exams every six weeks and see patients on clinic at the same time. And what happens if you complain? You are told, “if you can’t handle it here you’ll never cope in the real world.” Not entirely helpful or supportive. What it fosters is the suck it up and get on with it mentality, you dare not show you are fragile and not handling the work load as that simply doesn’t cut it. There is a massive culture of consuming caffeine, pastries, and sugary snacks and even taking speed to cope with how tired you are from the demands of studying day and night and using alcohol to unwind and party and let off steam.

So no wonder once we do graduate that we then rely on the same coping mechanisms to get by and handle the demands of daily practice, demands that we vent at our staff, patients, families and friends and use to beat ourselves up with. Eventually we get sick, develop musculoskeletal problems, anxiety and depression, become de-motivated, resent our job, our staff and our patients and suffer from professional burnout and a higher than average rate of divorce, drug and alcohol addiction and suicide.

The statistics speak for themselves; in a study from the British Dental Journal July 2004, 90% of dentists said they drank alcohol regularly (with 1 in 7 dentists having an alcohol problem), 10% smoked and 35% were overweight. 62% suffered from heartburn, wind or indigestion, 60% reported being nervy, tense or depressed, 58% reported headache, 48% reported difficulty in sleeping and 48% reported feeling tired for no apparent reason.

Results also indicated that levels of minor psychiatric symptoms were high at 32%, similar to doctors at 27% and higher than the general population, which has been reported at 18%.

It is obvious from the studies that dentists do encounter numerous sources of professional stress which can impact negatively on their personal and professional lives, a process that begins in dental school. Because of this dentists are prone to professional burnout, anxiety disorders and clinical depression and must be made aware of the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health to enjoy satisfying professional and personal lives.

Anecdotally, health professionals do not seek help for their own stress and personal frailty readily and instead are likely to put on a brave face and pretend they have the situation under control. Many often refuse to seek help for fear they will be stigmatised or lose their job whilst many others remain in denial.

Would it not then be sensible and beneficial to teach dental students, dentists and other health care professionals a different way of managing stress and caring for themselves so they would be better equipped to deal with life once they graduated? Would it not be healthier to find ways so as not feel so stressed in the first place and make that a part of their training? What if we could show them and dentists already in practice how to live in a way that supports them to deal with their issues and stresses and thus be able maintain their own health and remain fit and healthy both physically and mentally?

The philosophies and modalities of Esoteric Healing as taught by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine present a way of living that can provide this level of self-care and support. They are not airy-fairy mumbo jumbo nor are they difficult to apply. What Serge Benhayon presents in reality is a simple common sense approach to health and vitality that encourages you to care for and respect your body, an approach that is being supported by science and research studies.

Some of these philosophies and approaches to self-care include:

Eat to Support the Body

By assessing how the body reacts to foods (and situations) we can see what is beneficial and what to avoid such as gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol as these can cause harm to the body or may make you feel unwell. It is also a well-known fact that what we eat can affect our mood and wellbeing.

Sleep Quality

Go to bed early after unwinding from your day to support you to get plenty of good quality sleep. Wake when your body feels to, not when the clock or society says you should, which may be earlier than you are used to. Once you establish a healthy sleep pattern you awake less exhausted and full of energy.

Be in Control of Your Choices

Every choice we make affects and contributes to what happens in our life. These choices can either be caring and nurturing of self or not. The body constantly communicates with us about how those choices impact on it. If we override or ignore those messages instead of addressing them (e.g. every time I get frustrated I get a headache) then eventually the body will suffer aches and pains, digestive problems, emotional fluctuations, stress, tension etc and illness can result.

Gentle Exercise

Exercise gently to keep the body fit, strong and supple. This assists us to be physically healthy without over-stressing the body, causing muscle tears or injury and producing excess lactic acid build up which can cause pain and stiffness.

Focusing the Mind

The constant chatter of our mind and thinking about other things and situations instead of the task at hand is draining and stressful. It is like a computer trying to run several programs at once, it uses up a lot of energy and drains the batteries. By remaining more present and focusing the mind to what is occurring in each moment we save energy and reduce stress levels. By switching off the incessant brain chatter it is easier to connect to the body and how we feel and thus remain calm.

Meditation, Breath and Body Awareness

The Gentle Breath Meditation can help to calm and de-stress the body and provide a moment to stop and reflect on how we are. Being aware of our breath allows us to feel when we are stressed or holding tension. By breathing gently we can slow the heart rate, reduce our blood pressure and let go of tension in our body. By tuning in with our body we can feel where we are tight and holding tension; e.g. if our jaw is clenched, shoulders are up around our ears, our breath is laboured or whether our movements are rigid, tense and rushed or not; and then choose to let that tension go and allow the body to relax.

If the body is sore, stiff or painful then choose an appropriate modality or practitioner of body-work to assist with the release of tension and address musculoskeletal imbalances.

Seek Support

Sometimes our issues and the pressures that we face are too much for us to handle alone. It is important that we realise that everyone at some point in their life finds it hard to cope and that it is perfectly acceptable to seek support and ask for help.

By developing self-honesty and bringing awareness to the body we can be more connected to ourselves and listen to the feedback the body is sending us. We then have the choice to modify our posture, level of tension, breath, eating habits, thought patterns and emotions all of which can impact positively or negatively on our stress levels. We can then deal with our stress from moment to moment rather than waiting for it to build and build until we get sick, before we listen and make adjustments to the way that we live.

In this way we are able to foster the ability to look after ourselves from moment to moment during the day and employ real self-care and thus it becomes easier to reduce stress rather than simply having to manage it. Having less stress in our lives certainly must be a better approach to our health and our daily way of living.

I know personally from my years within dentistry that my coping mechanisms in the past were to turn to alcohol, heavy exercise, food and caffeine and that my moods, sleep patterns and levels of tiredness and exhaustion fluctuated wildly making me short-tempered, prone to outbursts of rage, with difficulty concentrating and a total disconnection to the people I was working with. I was in constant pain with neck, back and muscular issues but never sought help until it affected my ability to work. And then most of what I tried only offered short-term relief without actually addressing the underlying issues.

It was only after attending a workshop with Serge Benhayon in 2004 that my situation and health really began to change. Since then I have employed the methods of self-care as presented by Universal Medicine and found them to be more beneficial than other avenues that I had pursued. I am now a better, healthier and happier dentist able to share what I live with my patients and staff so as to foster an environment of true care within my dental practice in which not only do I feel calm and at ease but so also do my patients and staff.

Self-care is an integral and essential part of having a long and healthy dental career and should be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum and be offered as part of our continuing professional development education. By equipping people with the tools of self-care that they can carry throughout their career, ill health and the need to use sugar, caffeine and alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms could be reduced and avoided. In this way our health care providers would be a living example to those that they are caring for, treating and educating on wellbeing.

Resources

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v197/n2/full/4811476a.html dentistry is stressful

http://ada.org.au/App_CmsLib/Media/Lib/0610/M29041_v1_632973937559660000.pdf  dentists and alcohol

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1268417/Stress-driving-doctors-dentists-drink-addiction.html

http://www.dentistry.co.uk/news/4834-Stress-in-dentistry-qhyphen-a-study

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v200/n8/abs/4813463a.html stress in dental practice

http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/17449973 general health of dentists

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8325.1993.tb00524.x/abstract stress and mental health dentists

http://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/4/275.full job stressors of dentists and coping mechanisms

http://jada.info/content/135/6/788.short stress burnout and anxiety dentists

http://www.jdentaled.org/content/74/2/95.full stress in dental students

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1034/j.1600-0579.2002.060105.x/abstract dental students mental stress

http://www.jdentaled.org/content/71/2/197.full emotional intelligence and stress dental students

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/9/61/ EI and stress healthcare students

Thank God for Serge Benhayon

 

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I was pondering lately what my life would be like now if it hadn’t been for a seemly random chain of events that brought me to Australia, then on to Brisbane and by some quirk of fate sitting wondering what the heck I was doing at a workshop held by a man named Serge Benhayon.

Up until this point in my life I was an outright cynic of anything remotely religious, New Age, non-scientific or totally mainstream, even a trip to a chiropractor or a massage therapist was way out there for me. So imagine my surprise when I started to be all consumed with finding my purpose and needing to find myself so to speak.

So there I was sitting in this hall on a hill perched over Byron Bay feeling terrified, panicked and sick to my stomach, questioning my sanity and wondering how on Earth I had got here. But contrary to what I was expecting, as I thought the workshop was going to be a lot of Oming, tree hugging and possibly yoghurt weaving, this ended up being a pivotal moment in my life that I consider to be a true turning point. This man in a few words and some gentle breaths opened up my eyes to everything I had been searching for in my life and more. What he presented and what I felt in the very core of my heart could irrefutably not be denied even though my mind was screaming, desperately trying to hold on to its configured way of being that it had been setting in place for the 34 years to have dominion of me and my body.

Since then even though my life has had its challenges and issues to face I have never really looked back as my physical and emotional wellbeing and the quality of my life has gone from good to great, to pinch me now it is so incredible I can’t believe its true status.

Now I must give myself some credit here and make something very clear. Serge Benhayon did not come and save me, give me enlightenment or a magic pill to swallow that suddenly blissed me out and made everything better. No, what he did was make me realise that I had made and could make choices, that I needed to be responsible for my thoughts and actions, that I had a body that needed to be treated gently and taken care of. That I had issues and unresolved hurts that I had not dealt with which were shaping everything in my life from my behaviours, perceptions, and relationships to in fact every interaction in my life.

So with that understanding I decided to heal my past, to move forward in a way that is more loving and open, and not be afraid to allow myself to feel, to be sensitive and aware of everything around me even the subtlest of energy. I took responsibility for how I was and what I had become but I never lost sight of the fact that I had been able to connect to in my heart, the fact that I come from God and am therefore divine, filled with love and an intelligence that goes far beyond our human realm.

So I can’t help wonder where I’d be now without the stars aligning the way they did … burnt out, given up, depressed, shut down, withdrawn, angry at the world, probably ill with thyroid issues or diabetes (most likely both), arthritic knees from pushing my body too hard and constant back and neck pain or even cancer. You may think I’m being melodramatic but I think not, as when I first met Serge I had all the warning signs of what was ahead of me if I didn’t change my lifestyle and deal with my stuff instead of finger-pointing, blaming and being a victim of circumstances that I thought were out of my control.

So I say thank God for Serge Benhayon and thank God to me, for despite all my misgivings, having said yes to being in the right place at the right time.

You Time

Over the holiday season make sure that you set aside some ‘You’ time to do the following…

  1. Reflect on 2013 and take note of a) what did you accomplish, b) what did you learn, c) what can you be grateful for?
  2. Review your VALUES – what matters most to you. Sometimes this can be what you would regret most if you lost it…
  3. Set goals for 2014 based on fulfilling your ‘values’ – write them down and refer to them through the year.
  4. Take some time to nurture relationships, yourself, your body and your soul.

 

Self-Love The Greatest Love of All

Self-love appears to be tainted with negative connotations. The idea of loving yourself is loaded with preconceptions that you think you are better than another, that you are selfish, self centred and have an inflated ego. Is that really true or do we only feel that way because we lack self-love in our lives and when we see another being loving it reminds us that we are not?

How often do you hear people say: “You need to love yourself.” “If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t have let that happen.” “You can’t love another until you love yourself .” “The key to happiness and success starts with loving yourself.” Etc….? A million times I bet. You only have to watch an episode of Oprah and you will notice this theme come up over and over again.

But what is loving yourself? Is it really a selfish act, one where you think you’re better than another or is it something that is normal, caring and beneficial to who you are, your health and your state of being? Is it something that can be of benefit to you and to others?

I looked up the definition of self- love and this is what I found:
self-love
noun
1. the instinct by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being, regard for love or love of one’s self, especially an excessive regard for one’s own advantage.
2. conceit; vanity, excessive pride
3. narcissism

Synonyms
bighead, complacency, conceit, conceitedness, ego, egotism, pomposity, pompousness, pride, pridefulness, self-admiration, self-assumption, self-conceit, self-congratulation, self-esteem, self-glory, self-importance, self-opinion, self-satisfaction, smugness, swelled head, swellheadedness, vaingloriousness, vainglory, vainness, vanity

Antonyms
humbleness, humility, modesty

Wow! Ouch! That doesn’t seem like a positive thing at all – no wonder we have an issue with loving ourselves if thats what we have been taught to think!

The other thing I noticed is that people think self-love and self-esteem are the same thing and are interchangeable. But I beg to differ. Someone can think a lot of themselves and have high self esteem but still be very self abusive and uncaring of their body. Which certainly isn’t self-loving. Just look at people like celebrities, the very wealthy/successful for example who think they are it yet treat themselves very poorly.

Self-love is now a very popular term that gets tossed around in day to day conversation, thanks to TV shows like Oprah, yet the idea of someone saying they love themselves carries a lot of stigma. I feel we need to break down the negativity associated with being self-loving and get real with what self- love truly is.

Self-love is important to living well and being well. It influences who you choose as friends, for a partner, how you are at work, how you cope with the problems in your life, what you eat and drink and how you care for yourself and what you will or will not allow in your life.

What is self-love, then? Is it something you can buy like new clothes? Can you get it by reading a self help book or something inspirational? Or, does it come from a new relationship, new job, moving house, a new hobby? The answer to all of these questions is No! These things may make you feel good and are certainly satisfying but you can’t get self-love through others or outside things. Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good it is an action. It is the little things that you do to care for yourself on a daily basis.

Self-love actually begins with saying NO. No to the things, actions and behaviours that do not truly support you or your body. It begins with saying no to things that are not loving, gentle or caring for your body. It starts with saying no to pushing yourself too hard, taking on too much and putting everyone else’s needs before your own.

Self-love is about choosing things that work for you and your body physically, mentally and emotionally. Self-love is about making choices that allow you to develop a deeper level of self appreciation so that you can give your body the care and attention that it deserves.

By committing to being gentle with yourself, you develop a consistency in how your are from your actions, self-talk, relationships, diet and exercise that come together to form a way that you live that helps to foster your self-love. Self-love is about committing to yourself and not compromising who you are, treating yourself with respect and expecting nothing less in return.

As you become more self-loving, the easier it is as the love and care you have in and for your body starts to grow. Living self-lovingly means you naturally become more accepting and appreciative, compassionate and understanding of self and others.

Over the last decade I would freely say that I have become a more self-loving person. This means that yes I do put my self first but it does NOT mean I think I am better than you or anyone else for that matter. It simply means that I care for myself, that I care for myself deeply.

I have seen some wonderful changes in my health and wellbeing, relationships and work since introducing self-love into my life. And would say that these changes have made me more loving and caring of others.

Loving yourself is a win-win for all. It provides you with a state of wellbeing and inner contentment, a confidence and peace of mind that is not easily swayed by outside events and opinions. It enables you to make healthier choices and the best decisions in all areas of your life from your diet and exercise to intimate relationships to your finances. It allows you to be more genuinely loving towards others and to be of greater service to the world at large. Ultimately, the more you love yourself, the more everything and everyone you encounter benefits.

Simply put self-love is a prerequisite to loving others. Your relationships are only as strong as the foundation of your self-love. Let go any belief you may hold that loving yourself is selfish or egotistical and replace it with the truth that your very essence is love, that unconditional self-love is your natural way of living . You cannot experience true love without first loving yourself. And when you can say that you know this for a fact you will have discovered the truth that self-love truly is the greatest love of all.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

The Most Important Person in the World

Consider this for a moment: Who is the most important person in your life?

Hmmm. Often when asked this, we say the people we love – our children, partner, friends or parents. I wonder how many of you said “I am”.

You are your world. And if this is so then it makes sense that you must be the most important person in your life.
However, we are not raised to put ourself first, to really love ourselves, to know we are special and worth caring for.

If you make yourself the most important person in YOUR life, then loving and truly caring for yourself becomes a high priority. Loving and appreciating yourself comes naturally. You become your number ONE and from there you are able to make the people you love the most important people in your life. Only when you truly love yourself can you love another.

For there to be more love, connection and care in our lives, we need to place our focus on developing a consistent practice of self-love and self-care.

If you don’t know where to start then here are some simple, practical tips you can use in your daily life.

1. Appreciate and Adore Yourself.

A great way to start practicing self-love and care is through appreciating who you are, what you do and your own unique qualities. Instead of criticising yourself focus on the things you like about yourself and constantly remind your self how special you are. Focus on the things that make you feel good or bring a smile to your face when you think about yourself.
Be gentle with yourself, practice kind thoughts and don’t be so hard on yourself.
Practice looking into your own eyes in the mirror and adoring who you are as if you were looking at a baby or a sleeping child.
Remember you are perfect just the way you are, you are beautiful inside and out, you are worthy of of love and that you love yourself.

2. Nourish your body, not just your taste buds

Instead of eating food that just tastes good, try finding the right foods that make your body feel exceptional. A great way to do this is to check in with yourself during and after you eat, see how what you are eating is making you feel. Is your energy high or low? Is your stomach feeling good or a bit off? Has your mood changed? Do you feel revved up or sluggish?

A great place to start is to cut down on your sugar, wheat, or dairy intake. These things tend to do more for our taste buds and less for our body and over all wellbeing. They also tend to alter how we feel, our moods and energy levels.

3. Exercise your body in ways that feel good

Find a form of exercise or movement that actually makes you feel good both during and after and you have fun doing. Often times we think of exercise as a chore or something we don’t enjoy but we do it because it benefits our health. We perceive exercise as flogging ourselves at the gym or pounding the pavement until we are totally out of breath and exhausted. But it doesn’t have to be that way – gently exercising and moving the body is all that is required. Try walking, swimming and light weight training.

A big part of self-love and self- care is looking after the physical body. Exercise gently and when your body says it has had enough, listen, honour and respect it – don’t push on stop your workout knowing you have done enough. Your body will thank you for it and love you back in return.

4. Pamper and nurture yourself

A true sign of self-love is treating yourself as if you would treat a loved one in your life. We often put ourselves out for others and forget about our own needs and desires. Give yourself time to pamper and provide ultimate self-care for yourself.
You don’t need to get a massage or spend the day at the spa. You can nurture yourself with a hot bath or long shower, by applying moisturiser or giving yourself a foot rub or self massage.
By all means go for a massage or a facial. But don’t forget to pamper yourself everyday.
Develop a consistent practice of giving yourself what you require to make you feel you are worth caring for.

5. Go on a date with yourself

Yes I know it seems odd, what do you mean go on a date with myself? This may seem uncomfortable because we’re not used to spending quality time with ourselves nearly as much as we are with others. Find something that you really want to do but have been putting off because you haven’t found someone to join you. Go out to a nice restaurant, watch your favourite movie, go to the theatre, go dancing, or get out into nature, have a walk along the beach. Make yourself breakfast in bed. Get creative, the options are endless.

6. Hug

Hug yourself. Try giving yourself a hug by wrapping your arms around yourself. Hold yourself gently, be delicate and tender with yourself.
Or just simply place two hands on your heart and take gentle breaths in and out through your nose. This helps you connect to who you are and lets the love start to flow again.
If you need a hug don’t be shy to ask for one.

7. Write yourself a love letter

Close your eyes and picture yourself as a child. What would you say to that innocent, beautiful girl or boy. What would you tell them about how great they are, how beautiful they are, how much potential and love they have inside. How they can do and be anything they want. You are that child.
From here, write yourself a letter expressing how much you love ALL aspects of yourself, how amazing you are. Let yourself go deeper and grander with every sentence that you write. Don’t hold back for you are incredible.

8. Stop beating yourself up

We cannot begin to truly love ourselves until we release any grudges or burdens we are holding onto. In order to be kinder to ourselves we need to release and dissolve the habit of being hard on ourselves. Be aware of when you do this, what negative self talk you have and reframe your thoughts. The more you practice this the more you will begin to feel at ease with who you are. We are not perfect, we make mistakes but don’t bash yourself for them as after all we are here to learn.

Practice being self-caring and self-loving everyday in all that you do. Soon it becomes more natural and consistent and the more you love yourself the more space there is for love!

Love is boundless and infinite, don’t be afraid of love because love can only ever love you back.