Self care refers to activities undertaken with the intention of enhancing energy, restoring health and reducing stress. It’s not always bubble baths and pedicures. It can also be about processing emotional reactions to our life and doing things that we might find difficult, like setting boundaries and saying NO.
Paying attention to what is happening to your body, both physically and emotionally, helps you to identify when something is affecting you. It is important to take time out when you need it to reduce feelings of stress and protect your mental health.
I always talk to my clients about feelings and stress. If we’re not talking about feelings and stress, then we’re not talking about the full human experience. It’s not always just about food. It’s also about your why!
Why is self care important?
When we’re stressed, self care should be the first thing we go to. Why?
We go into the sympathetic nervous system dominance of fight-or-flight mode and our perspective narrows. We don’t see we have options – options for coping with stress and making ourselves feel better.
We may not have a “go to” list of self-care activities. When we’re dealing with stress, we remember that, “I need to take care of myself in this situation.” And, you need a variety of activities to try, if one doesn’t work, you can switch to the other.
Fortunately, there are several pathways to self-care, and none of them need be difficult, take a lot of planning or be expensive. Here’s a list of ideas:
Snuggle under a cozy blanket Cuddle with a pet Stare up at the sky Listen to music
Be a tourist in your own city Make art Journal Go for a photo walk
Take action (one small step) on something you’ve been avoiding Read something on a topic you wouldn’t normally Try a new activity Drive to a new place
Read inspiring quotes Meditate Spend time in nature Journal what you’re grateful for
Write your feelings down Laugh and cry Talk to someone about your feelings Practice self-compassion
Go for a gentle walk Dance Stretch Take a nap
Speak to a friend on the phone Catch up with family or friends Join a Meetup group Join a book club
These can all lead to a calm mind and that’s the best self care strategy I know.
NOTE: The activities and suggestions above are a guide only and it is important to choose activities that are meaningful to yourself and your own goals.
Create your own self care plan
For each category above, select at least one activity that you can undertake. You might notice areas of overlap between these categories. It is important to develop a self-care plan that is holistic and individual to you.
Self care isn’t designed to be an emergency stress relief plan. It is something that can be incorporated into everyday activities to maintain a positive wellbeing.
Feeling guilty for emotional eating? Please stop. Even though principle seven of intuitive eating is cope with your emotions without using food, it’s still okay to emotionally eat occasionally. Learn why emotional eating isn’t the worst thing you can do and how self-care for emotional eating, not more self-control with food, can help you to decrease the frequency and intensity of your emotional eating.
Self-care for emotional eating
Emotional eating at the end of the day is a coping mechanism. We have trained our brains that when we have a stressful day, we turn to food. It’s become our easy, quick, affordable, go-to. A habit.
And it works, albeit short-term.
But we wouldn’t keep doing it if it didn’t soothe us in the moment.
Emotional eating gets a bad rap, but consider the alternatives. You’re not drinking a bottle of vodka a night and you’re not shooting up heroin. It’s just food.
I see a lot of women who neglect their needs and end up feeling depleted, low on energy, exhausted and tired.
Consequently, they often turn to food to cope and take care of themselves. They stuff down their emotions with food. Particularly in the evening.
But it’s not about the food (unless you’re restricting, but that’s another story for another day). Our eating issues are also often a symptom of something deeper going on.
It’s often a lack of emotional self-care. Saying yes, when you mean no (boundaries). Not expressing how you feel. Not saying what you want.
This is suppressing self-care.
Lack of emotional self-care creates emotional overload, which creates emotional eating.
So, what’s the solution?
Practice new coping mechanisms, without the unrealistic expectation of “not eating” right away.
When you learn to diversify your coping mechanisms and increase your self-care skills, food naturally becomes less and less of a “go-to” over time.
Next time you’re feeling a certain emotion I invite you to step into that emotion and express how you feel and take care of yourself emotionally.
Beating yourself up for eating over feelings often sends people into a diet/restrict mindset, which often leads to binge-eating in the long run. So if you do turn to food to cope ~ eat mindfully, savour each bite, move on and don’t feel guilty about it.
Your body is trying to tell you something. Learn from the experience and grow.
This takes practice, but it’s amazing how our challenges with food start to slip away when we become comfortable at being uncomfortable and looking after ourselves.
You can do the following exercise now, or the next time you’re feeling an intense emotion. I invite you to pause and ask yourself – What am I feeling right now? (Use the Emotional Word Wheel below for clarity).
Reflect on your favourite ways to self-nurture. Perhaps it’s asking for a hug, playing with pets, meditating, reading, or taking a walk in nature? How often do you allow time for these activities?
Self-care, not self-control to help reduce emotional eating. Remember: We all eat for comfort from time-to-time. That does not make you a failure, it’s a normal part of eating.
Did you know? A Finnish study has revealed that women who are fed up with their jobs may be more likely to turn to food for comfort in times of stress. Read on while I discuss how you can lower your stress and stop stress eating.
The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that those who reported work burnout were more likely to have a habit of “emotional eating”, or eating when stressed, anxious or down, rather than physically hungry.
What’s more, they were more prone to “uncontrolled eating” – the feeling that you’re always hungry or can’t stop eating until all the food’s gone. Additionally, they have a hindered ability to make changes in their eating behaviour.
Emotional overeating almost always ends with bloating, guilt, regret and potential weight gain. All of which are potentially more negatively impacting than the food itself.
You can’t live like that forever. It’s just not sustainable.
We know that workers who take regular breaks are more productive and enjoy their work more.
How to stop stress eating
So what can we do as women to prevent or stop stress eating and emotional eating? (besides quit your job…unless you really want/need to)
We prioritise Self-Care.
The term self-care describes the actions that an individual might take in order to reach optimal physical, emotional and mental health.
What has self-care got to do with this?
Self-Care means – LESS stress and MORE resilience! and ultimately a happier and healthier relationship with food and body.
How do we prioritise self-care?
Put it on your calendar and/or in your diary. Like you would any other appointment.
If you are struggling to find time to prioritise self-care, this may be a difficult step for you, but by all means don’t skip it. You are a smart woman, you know for something to happen there has to be time and space for it to occur.
You must leverage the same skills and talents you use in your job and every other part of your life to make self-care a priority. Make space in your life for your own health and wellbeing. You deserve it too and you’ll be no good to anyone a run down mess.
We don’t have to choose one or the other; family or work or ourselves. We can have them all side-by-side. So, please drop the guilt. You will be a better mother, partner, employee, entrepreneur and person for it.
Schedule your “me-time” and honour that appointment the way you would if it was with anybody else. When you value yourself and your time (instead of trying to wedge yourself in to an empty space that never occurs) it can create an important mind shift. Others (namely your boss or even your children) pick up on the value you place on yourself. As you show more respect for your time and energy, you may find that they do too.
Of course addressing all sources of stress in general is important.
Big stress triggers in life such as work (where we spend on average 40 hours a week. 60+ if you’re an entrepreneur), may make it difficult to stop stress eating, lose weight and keep it off.
We cannot add, gain or become more when our time, mind and energy is full and cluttered.
Do you struggle with how you feel about your body come summer time? Does it stop you from putting on a bathing suit and getting in the water and making memories with your friends and family? Read on as I discuss four ways you can feel confident in swimwear this summer!
How to feel confident in swimwear this summer?
It’s insanely hot all around Australia at the moment and swim season is in full swing!
This means showing more skin and wearing your swimwear, togs, bathers, bikini, boardies – what ever you like to call them…
I know donning one of those can be a vulnerable experience for many women – especially when you don’t fit into society’s narrow idea of “thin ideal”.
Most of us understand that beauty comes from within, but that doesn’t make it any easier to throw on a swimsuit and go out in public, and enjoy ourselves without giving it a second thought.
If you’re feeling insecure about wearing a swimsuit this summer, you’re definitely not alone (trust me—I’ve been there too).
However, these days, I refuse to let those fears stop me from getting my body in the ocean or the pool, and neither should you. Curvy by Capriosca Swimwear, Beme and Swimsuits For All have an array of gorgeous high waisted bikinis that look amazing on women with curves.
I’ve done a lot of inner work to be 99% accepting and confident in my body. I still have my “MEH” days where I don’t feel so positive and eager to run out onto the beach, but that’s NORMAL. Even the queens of body positivity have their insecure days and times that they may feel triggered by our cultures unrealistic thin expectations.
My 4 biggest tips for feeling confident in swimwear this summer:
1. Practice…self-confidence is like a muscle. The more times you let yourself be seen in your swimsuit, the easier and more comfortable it gets.
2. Do NOT compare yourself to others…(probably the hardest to master). Comparing yourself to others outsides (their body), is a sure fire recipe to mess with your head and ruin the experience for you (and everyone around you). The people that love you, love you for who you are. Inside and out (my partner’s wise words to me many times!).
3. Understand that nobody really gives a shit about your body and your bikini. Everyone else is so wrapped up in themselves and how they look to care about you.True.
4. Take a look around…the beach and pool are full with ALL kinds of bodies. You belong just as much as everyone else.
Take a few deep breaths and remember how good you will feel physically, mentally and emotionally after a swim on a hot day.
Go out and enjoy yourself, you deserve to have a fun filled summer no matter what size you are!
When we struggle with food, weight and body image issues we spend a lot of time rumentaing in our heads. Often what we tell ourselves is negative and self-destructive and sends us into a downward spiral. Try these body image healing journaling prompts to get out of your head and back into your body for more self-love and spiraling up.
Journaling is an effective tool I ask my clients to use and I provide them with the appropriate questions or prompts to open up their curiosity about their struggles. Why and when are certain behaviours and thoughts happening?
How does this then impact your eating, moving your body and your life in general?
In an effort to change your mindset and habits with food and your body, I’ll let you in on a well-kept secret: A pen and piece of paper can serve as a powerful life tool.
If you’re not a journaler, it’s time to try something different.
What’s so good about journaling?
The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create and feel.
In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.
It happens because you allow your subconscious to surface and help you to heal what needs to be healed.
When you put pen to paper, you begin to unravel and open doors that remained closed for years, potentially decades. You begin to hear yourself, feel yourself and trust yourself more and more.
I particularly love it as it’s hard evidence of where you started and where you are now. You can see the journey and your progress in front of your eyes. Particularly important for all those perfectionists out there, that fail to notice their progress.
How it helps?
Through writing, I slowly accepted my body’s natural shape. Step by step, I began to be fascinated by what my body could do, and how it truly looked without my distorted view of it.
Writing often helped me to express what I hadn’t yet been able to say.
Your journaling will be most effective if you do it daily. Five minutes is all it takes.
You will find that like anything new, it may take a liitle time to get into it. But it’s like a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Moreover, my clients love doing it. Once they get into it if they’re new to it, they can see the value in it.
OK, so you’ve heard about natures original “super-foods” – green veggies. And you want to start eating more greens and reap the benefits. Maybe you want to get in on the green smoothie bandwagon? Read on and I’ll show you some simple ways you can eat more greens.
How to sneak more greens into your diet
So, when I say greens, I mean green veggies (particularly leafy greens). They are some of the healthiest foodsyou can eat.
Furthermore, they are jam packed full of minerals such as folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They also contain vitamins A, C and K and are a great source of beneficial fiber.
And, leafy greens contain chlorophyll, which may help support natural detoxification in your body. At the same time, they are very low in fat and sugar.
They really are the wholefood “super-foods” of the vegetable world!
How can I eat more greens?
Greens add flavour to soups and salads, give crunch to a sandwich and add a depth of colour to your plate. We also eat with our eyes, so making your meals visually appealing (without needing to be a Master Chef) if important too.
There is a wonderful array of different greens around the world, and each country seems to have its own favourites. They include standard salad staples like baby spinach, rocket and lettuce. But also others like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and of course the recently popular, kale.
Additionally, you then have your less familiar leafy greens like beetroot and turnip leaves. Some leafy greens are mild and sweet tasting (like lettuce and cabbage), some have a slightly bitter taste (like spinach and silver beet), and others have a peppery taste (like rocket).
And don’t forget herbs! They are highly nutritious and are fantastic for adding plenty of flavour to almost any dish. I personally love to experiment with fresh herbs.
Some types of greens:
Lettuce (cos, butter lettuce, red leaf, green leaf, iceberg
And so much more!
Are greens good for me?
Greens are the perfect food to bulk up and flavour your meals with, making them nature’s perfect weight-management food, without needing to diet or restrict. Even better, including plenty of them in your diet has also been shown to help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even certain cancers!
How much should I eat?
For optimal health we should all be aiming to eat 5-6+ serves of veggies every day. Getting this many serves in a day can be quite hard for a lot of people. Myself included.
I recommend eating a variety of different greens (along with other veg) to make sure you get all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals you need, to help prevent vitamin or mineral deficiencies, chronic disease and for good mental health.
For example, a serve of leafy greens is 75g, or about 1 cup of raw greens (like chopped lettuce, kale or rocket) or ½ cup of cooked greens (like broccoli, cabbage or spinach).
Browse this list of easy ways to eat more greens everyday:
Green smoothie –Green smoothies don’t have to taste like pond water or leave you starving an hour later. Make them a complete meal with lots of green veg, healthy fats, protein, fruit and a liquid base, and you are good to-go until lunch time.
Eggs with Spinach- Add spinach or kale (and other veg) to an egg scramble, omelette, or frittata. This is a great way to incorporate veggies at breakfast (or at any meal in fact. ).
Sautéed kale with garlic and mushrooms – I love this as a side with slow cooked lamb. It’s quick, easy and tastes divine.
Barbecued asparagus wrapped with prosciutto – Asparagus and prosciutto are a match made in heaven. Need I say more…
Kale chips –Tear kale into small pieces, removing stalk. Place kale in bowl with olive oil, sprinkle nutritional yeast over kale for a cheesy flavour and toss to lightly coat kale. Arrange on baking tray one layer deep and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Eat em up, yum!
Throw spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage etc into soups – Add the leafy greens towards the end of the cooking time, so the greens won’t taste bitter, but will still absorb the other flavours of the soup.
Homemade cabbage slaw –Use green and red cabbage, carrots, broccoli stems, beetroot and onions and dress with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing. Great as a side with chicken or seafood.
Grilled Salmon with Bok Choy and Snow Peas –A simple meal of grilled Salmon, with steamed greens tossed with a little knob of butter melted through. Add some potato mash and you have a gorgeous healthy meal that anyone will eat.
Easy green salad- Combine watercress, spinach, feta cheese, fresh beetroot and raw walnuts into a bowl. Dress with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing, and serve with any type of protein. One of my favs!
Broccolini and Kale Quinoa Bowl- When you don’t know what to make for dinner, what do you usually end up making? My go-to is a quinoa bowl. For this bowl, I lightly blanched some broccolini and toss my cooked quinoa with kale, fresh mint, chickpeas, avocado, and my favourite part – slices of watermelon radish.
Mix it up and get creative. You don’t have to live off green leaves like a rabbit all day!
In fact, you shouldn’t. This is not about dieting and restriction.
Make greens the focus of the dish and fill your plate or smoothie up with other essentials like complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats.
It will then leave you feeling satisfied and energised until your next meal.
What are your favourite greens?
If you need support with your diet, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here>>