Sometimes you don’t know what it feels like, to actually feel ‘good’ until you don’t feel bad anymore. The human body is an amazing thing. Constantly working hard to keep us moving, keep us upright, keep us in homeostasis, or in layman’s terms, balance.

As we go about our daily lives, working, running the household, looking after family, participating or sport or recreational activities, we don’t notice all the subtle changes in the body as it moves and adjusts and makes allowances for the different things we do.

The busier life gets for us, the more we focus on tasks and the less we focus on looking after ourselves, or ‘self-love’.

Why is self-love so important?

If we don’t take time out to feed our soul and just use our time to look after others and complete the various tasks we need to complete on a daily basis, we don’t notice the subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) changes in our bodies and our minds.

These changes compound over time, and physical, mental and emotional stress builds up in our muscles, causing an ongoing, underlying discomfort that we are not aware of. If left unchecked for too long, this discomfort will turn into pain, which we are then completely aware of.

So how can we practice self-love and is it selfish of us to do so?

There is nothing selfish about a little self-love.

To do for your self is to do for others, because if your cup is empty, you have nothing to draw from when the most important people in your life need you, or when someone in the workplace is relying on you.

You need to fill your physical, mental, and emotional cup on a regular basis. It doesn’t just fill itself. The hardest thing to do is to work out what fills your self-love cup.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Take care of your body – take a Pilates or yoga class, go for a run or a nice long walk on the beach, take a ride on your pushbike, take the dog for a walk, go to the gym, eat good fresh healthy food, and drink plenty of good, filtered water.

Take care of your mind – read a book, listen to a podcast, do a crossword or sudoku, learn a new skill, spend real ‘physical’ time socialising with family and friends, and perhaps take some time out in silence, with just yourself as company.

Take care of your soul – look after and nurture your spirit, however that manifests for you. Maybe you are a religious person – go to church, say a prayer, have a chat with your God. Maybe you are on a more spiritual path – meditate or connect with your soul in whatever way feels right for you, a walk in the forest, a group connection, some grounding or just connecting with spirit in your own unique way.

Be open to change – we cannot grow or move forward in a positive way without change Accept who you are – and most importantly who you are not. Do not try to be like others. Be yourself. You are unique. You are a one of a kind. There are no other versions of you, so accept that, love that about yourself and embrace it.

Discover who you are – sometimes we cannot truly accept ourselves because we don’t actually know who we are. Be honest with yourself. Be introspective. It can be scary to go through the process of self-discovery, but I assure you it is well worth the time, trouble, effort and sometimes pain that goes along with you on the journey. You will come out stronger, more confident, happier and with a strong sense of freedom and your place in this beautiful world.

Forgive yourself – we all hold on to things we should let go. This is not of any benefit to you. On your journey of introspection, find it in your heart to forgive yourself for past indiscretions, mistakes, things that happened that were out of your control. We are none of us perfect, yet we all expect perfection in ourselves. Let go of your guilt. Release any pain you have been harbouring. Move on.

Try not to compare – it is a pointless cause comparing yourself to others. We are all on a different journey through life and we have all had different experiences along that journey that have shaped us, moulded us, damaged us, held us back, propelled us forward and nurtured us.

Be silly – How old are you? 25, 35, 45? Maybe you are close to reaching the big 50-, 60-, 70- or 80- year-old milestones. Now, close your eyes and imagine you lived in a time where age was not measured in years. Where time was not a construct. Where there were no societal conventions dictating to you what was an appropriate action or past time or activity for someone in your age group.

Let go of your age for a moment and just think, or rather feel, what you want to do. Maybe you want to dance, play under the hose in summer, finger paint, sing loudly at the top of your lungs, spin in circles until you are dizzy, skip down the street, go to a playground and have a swing or slide down a slippery slide, put on bright colours, doc martens and a big hat, go to a festival, blow bubbles. Get a tattoo if that is what will make your heart sing.

Do what you want to do. Do not place limitations on yourself because of your age or what others say is appropriate. Live in the moment and enjoy it with the reckless abandonment of youth. Age is only in your head.

How many times have you thought to yourself that you would love to do something, but you are too old, and it would be silly? That is the point. Be silly.

Stress, pain, trauma, and physical activities are constantly bombarding the body, mind and soul and chipping away at that inner balance. Sometimes, even when we practice self-love and healthy lifestyle choices we still end up with an imbalance, pain, and tension. This is when a physical intervention such as Bowen Therapy can help you get back on track and live your life to the fullest.

Samantha Ashley

Samantha is a highly experienced Bowen Therapist, with a twenty year background in massage, naturopathy and nutrition. She is the creator of Green Valley Bowen Therapy on the Gold Coast.

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