Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2018
Written by 

Walking down a different street

Optimal health is a balance. At the center is you: mind, body and spirit. Lifestyle factors such as nutrition, our relationship with food, joyful movement, sleep, relaxation, positive relationships, spirituality and stress management influence that balance. Having a clear vision of what “lights us up” heightens our health and well-being. By keeping that vision in our mind’s eye, it becomes our “North Star” for creating sustainable lifestyle changes.

In theory, that all sounds great! Yet, why is sustaining a consistent self-care practice elusive for so many? Often, we underestimate the impact of how we respond to stress, which includes external stressors as well as the internal stress we place on ourselves to perform in a certain way. Developing effective ways to manage stress, without turning to food, alcohol or other forms of self-destructive behaviors is essential to self-care.

One main stressor many of us face is the belief that there is never enough time. How often do we hear ourselves or our friends talk about being too busy? We almost wear “time-strapped” as a badge of honor rather than looking at how it is undermining our health. Here’s the ironic thing about that belief — it creates a stress response in the body, which in turn releases chemicals that make us feel rushed. Another major stressor undermining self-care is lack of confidence that we can change.

A way to tackle these stressors and others is to decide to slow down in the moment by connecting to our breath. We can do this anywhere, anytime. As the body relaxes, we start to notice that time feels a bit more spacious. We can see that thoughts and emotions are not constant, they are fleeting. In this state, we can consciously decide to make a different choice rather than habitually responding with patterns that don’t serve us.

It is also helpful to understand that the change process is not linear. Experience has taught many of us that it’s not easy to change eating habits, to develop a consistent exercise program, or to make time each day for relaxation. We often take one step forward and two steps back. Steps that move us in the direction we want to go are reinforcing. The more we do them, the more the neural pathways in the brain are rewired. Steps that take us away from what we want are teachers! Often, we don’t realize the gift of “failure” because our inner critic starts chattering loudly — shaming us once again for not being able to succeed with our self-care goals. We can learn to challenge that critic and embrace the lessons we are meant to learn so we don’t have to repeat them. The next time we face a challenging situation, we can pause, breathe and embrace the opportunity to make a different choice.

The following poem beautifully describes the change process.

Autobiography in Five Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost.

I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find my way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in; it’s a habit.

My eyes are open; I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

Think about your self-care journey. Which chapter best describes your story? What steps could you take to eventually walk down another street, toward your “North Star”?

Mary Radue

Mary Radue is a Mind Body Nutrition Coach and Co-owner of Sweet Willow Naturals, Green Bay. She is certified by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and the Coach’s Training Institute. Mary has maintained a 95-pound weight loss for over five years by letting go of the diet mentality crippling this country. She is passionate about helping others create a relaxed, inspired relationship with food and body. She can be reached at 920-530-1188 or [email protected]

Website: www.sweetwillownaturals.com
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