It can be a challenge to be kind to ourselves everyday. Our thoughts and actions don’t always reflect how we wish to interact with ourselves. We face daily pressures that take our precious energy and leave us running on fumes. It’s more important than ever to be gentle and compassionate towards ourselves, and yet many of us don’t know how to be.
I think back to the time in my life when I became ill and the behaviors leading up to my diagnosis. I grew up believing busy was an ideal state and had no concept of rest. I was involved in every extracurricular activity at school, excelled academically, maintained a busy social life and managed to get very little sleep. I was not always kind to myself. I allowed myself to stay in toxic relationships and hurt my body through excessive exercising and disordered eating. The busier I kept myself, the more overwhelmed and less myself I became. I was heading toward the edge of a cliff I didn’t know existed.
The body has this beautiful way of slowing you down when you’ve spun yourself too fast- it makes you sick. I don’t regret for a minute developing my illness, it taught me to slow down and be gentle with myself. At this time I chose to learn the language of slow. I began to walk slower, eat slower, breathe deeper, sleep longer. I spent days resting instead of crowding them with activities, and trained my brain to be okay with a state of rest. It took years to master and I’m still refining certain areas of this lifestyle but my body responded to my efforts immediately.
There are many activities that help to slow the mind and body, and certain ones will speak to some more than others. For me, I’ve always enjoyed how singing and music help me to relax and the way dancing and yoga move me into a meditative state. Going for long walks outside and laughing loudly are my greatest stress relievers. Going slow does not mean I never experience strong emotions, but it does allow me more time to process and express them. On these days I choose to journal or create. Journaling thoughts, feelings and frustrations can help unravel tightly wound emotions that feel stuck. Painting, drawing, poetry or songwriting when I’m in an emotional state can also relieve my body of excess emotion.
If you’re at a point in your life where you feel like you’re running on empty, I hope that you consider replacing your frustration with a gentle kindness and understanding of all that you’ve been through and are going through. I hope that you search for an activity that brings you joy and relaxation, even if it’s just getting outside for a quiet stroll in nature.
Amanda Proznik, Doctor of Natural Medicine