Loving the self is more than a mindset
Did you know that busses really do come in threes? Based on the science that the first bus picks up all the passengers and the other two catch up, they say you should get on the second bus. The first takes longer because of the unloading, the third is more likely to bypass your stop or terminate early. I am yet to work out why the problems described in my therapy room also come along in threes.
It would not be unconceivable to think that external factors generate the same effect in many people but when it is something as common as nail biting, it is a little more unusual. Very often I complete the circle, you see I too this week have focused on caring for my nails after biting them down last week. Not something I do as a habit but a cycle I find myself in every now and then.
I use transpersonal psychology techniques in my work, transpersonal psychologists view therapy as a two-way process, the therapist grows and develops alongside the client. So, I often wonder whether the universe brings me clients that I can genuinely work with in this way.
With nail biting the theme of the week I would like to speak about physical self-care. My focus on self-care is more often based on what you can bring into your life to enhance your mental wellness. It is important to remember that there are times when physical self-care generates care for the self and reduces physical self-harm.
The love and care when you spend fifteen minutes each morning tenderly moisturising your hands - including a hand massage - filing your nails so they are smooth and carrying nail clippers on your keys to carefully remove any flaky bits is a direct contrast to the destructive nature of nail biting. When you show yourself that attention through hand and nail care it is paradoxical to follow it with harm.
You can apply the same theory to your whole self. Yoga and touch are shown to benefit mental health. Massaging the parts of your own body you can easily reach comforts and loves. Yoga provides you will time to physically realign and ground yourself. If possible, have some sessions with a body work therapist to nurture your body, the more you love it the less you will harm it.
Diet, sleep, and exercise are also important aspects of physical self-care. Good sleep is nourishing for mental wellbeing. By ensuring you regularly provide your body with the opportunity to sleep for long enough to feel revitalised there is less need to fight for mental wellness. Sleep is difficult with a mind that wanders from the past to the future. The best place to remain is in the moment. Mindfulness practises will train your mind to stay in the current moment.
When you want to sleep visualise yourself at the top of a staircase with 10 steps. Imagine yourself walking down the stairs counting down from ten to one as you do so. Every time you notice that your thoughts have drifted off bring your mind back to the top step and begin the process again. I recently suggested this to a client who reported back after two weeks to tell me that it was working brilliantly but she still had not reached the bottom step.
You must view this as mind training, when you work out in the gym you do not stop when you reach your target because if you do you will revert to the same place that you started. You continue to train your body, but it becomes easier and more natural.
Exercise need not be an exercise in endurance, find something you enjoy, whether that is standing still lifting weights, sprinting up hills, gently walking through the forest with friends or the love many feel in a yoga class. When you combine this with nutrition focused eating you will not need to think about weight loss, the purpose of exercise is to nurture your soul, bring the rush of feel-good hormones and elevate your mental wellbeing.
So, alongside all the different things you do to feel happy, remember to take care and nurture your physical self too. After all, loving yourself is more than a mindset.