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Breathe Through Your Nose (all the time!) (DW#677)

The first rule of optimal breathing is to breathe through your nose. All the time. Yes, even when working out and sleeping!

Here’s why:

1) Our nose filters, humidifies and conditions the air we breathe in ways that our mouth simply is not designed to do.

2) Our ancestors did not breathe through their mouth except when they were in danger or under the most extreme instances of physical exertion. For example, when they were being chased by tigers or being hunted for food!

3) We tend to "overbreathe" when we breathe through our mouth. That is, we take fast, short and shallow breaths. This rhythm disrupts the oxygen to carbon dioxide ratios in our body. Surprisingly, it is carbon dioxide that actually gets the oxygen out of our red blood cells and into our tissues and organs. When we breathe through our nose, we balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide ratios in our body, and the oxygen can get to where it is needed.

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The first golden rule of self-care (DW#674)

One of the most important things to know about self-care is that it is individual. Your needs and my needs are different. What works for me may not work for you.

However, while there is no "one-size-fits-all" self-care plan that you can simply download and adopt, it is a good idea to attend to wellness in all the various domains of our lives.

Here are the various domains that need our attention:

Physical
Mental and intellectual
Emotional
Social
Vocational
Spiritual

So, let’s do a quick check in: how are you doing in these domains of your life? Chances are that you will be better at taking care of yourself in one area than others. Some of us are great at exercising but have a challenge with connecting to others. Others may be great at keeping their relationships strong but struggle to eat well or sleep properly.

If we can attend to the hitherto neglected areas of our lives and take baby steps in this area, we will see a big impact in our wellbeing.

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Self-care is not selfish (DW#669)

Another myth about self-care is that it is selfish.

They do both contain the word self. But the similarity ends there.

Let’s try and understand the difference.

Selfishness is defined as lacking consideration for others or being concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

Self-care on the other hand, is about making sure that we are well and healthy so that we are more available to help others. If you cannot take care of yourself, you are no good to anyone else. This is especially important if you are in a caring role for other people.

Self-care, then, involves consideration for others and how we show up for them.

It is far from selfish.

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What self-care is not (DW#668)

#Self-care is trending right now. At least the hashtag #selfcare on social media is.

There are countless memes, quotes and Instagram posts shared daily with people in bathtubs and on massage tables, sipping a drink in luxurious surroundings.

With such pictures thrown daily into our consciousness, it is easy to mistake self-care for self-indulgence. And to think that it means we need to indulge in exotic experiences and go on expensive getaways. And while a lot of us would love to treat ourselves in this way, let’s be realistic: few of us have the time or the budget to do so. It is simply not sustainable to take care of ourselves in this way.

And so we tell ourselves that it cannot be done. And so we ignore the sometimes hard and usually not glamorous work of actual self-care. Of doing the simple and mundane things that will fuel us.

Despite what our Facebook or Instagram feed tells us, can we please start thinking of self-care as an ongoing, daily practice rather than an...

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Defining selfcare (DW#667)

We have been talking about self-care for the last few days so let us make sure we know what we are talking about.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Taking care of ourselves is vital if we want to remain healthy, vibrant and able to serve.

Effective self-care is a bit cyclical in that in order to take care of ourselves, we need to be in touch with our inner state and know what we need at the time. And the more you are in touch with yourself, the easier it becomes to know what you need and to care for yourself.

The opposite is also true, of course. When we have not spent time listening to ourselves for a long time, it can be very challenging to know what we need in order to function effectively and thrive in life. And the less we sense these, the less likely it becomes that we will do what needs to be done.

So, if you have not paid attention to yourself for a long time, please do not let...

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Incorporating gratitude into your selfcare routine (DW#666)

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! May your Turkey be moist, the potatoes perfectly done and the company delightful :)

Thanksgiving being a day dedicated to gratitude, let’s talk about how we can incorporate a practice of gratitude within our selfcare practice.

Once you have done something for self, such as a walk or a workout, take a moment and allow yourself to feel grateful for the strength of your body and the grit of your mind to push past the tough moments and complete the session.

Just FYI, these quick moments of gratitude might help you do this walk or workout more often, thereby improving your selfcare. Studies have found that those who practice gratitude exercise for an average of 1.5 more hours per week than those who focused on daily hassles and stresses.

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The cost of neglect (DW#665)

Here’s the thing: life rarely gets simpler or less stressful. While we may not always be able to control our circumstances and situation in life, there are steps that we can take to build our resilience so that we can cope better with whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Failure to care for and nurture ourselves can result in burnout if we keep going without stopping to "fill our tanks" so to speak.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when we feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet the constant demands (or perceived demands) placed on us. In other words, we feel that we do not have the personal resources to face the challenges in front of us.

Burnout reduces productivity, saps our energy and can leave us feeling helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. We may feel like we have nothing more to give – that we are running on empty, depleted.

The...

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The truth about self-care (DW#664)

Eating right, moving, resting, sleeping. No one else - not the most well-meaning spouse, parent, friend or co-worker can take this off our plate.

While we can hire others to do many tasks for us and delegate some of our to-do lists, self care is something we cannot delegate. Either we do it for ourselves or it does not get done.

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Sharpen your saw (DW#663)

A woodcutter was exhausted as he labored and strained to saw down a tree. A young man who was watching asked "What are you doing?"

"Are you blind?" the woodcutter replied irritably. "I’m cutting down this tree."

"Sir, you look exhausted!"

"I am exhausted and frustrated! I have been at this for hours already and not making much progress."

"Why don’t you take a break and sharpen your saw?"

"Because then I would have to stop sawing and I don’t have time to stop right now".

"Well", said the young man. "Consider this: If you sharpen the saw, you would cut down the tree much faster. . ."

Steven Covey uses this story in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People to present the case for self care and self renewal. While it seems obvious to us when we see others labouring on without sharpening their saws, it is much more challenging to notice and attend to the blunt saws in our own lives!

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Self-Care is not a reward (DW#662)

For those of us who are achievement junkies (or workaholics), it may help to remind ourselves that caring for ourselves cannot be a reward for finishing our to-do list.

Firstly, we know that task lists and to do lists are never ending. Our inboxes never remain empty. And if we wait until we have accomplished everything to take care of ourselves, we will be waiting forever . . .

Secondly, it is actually counterproductive to keep pushing ourselves to do more before we take a break. Just like a weight lifter needs rest before doing a second round of repetitions at the gym, we work much more efficiently if we intersperse moments of rest and self care during our work day. Working without a break is counterproductive. Our abilities become worn. Our skills aren’t as sharp. We lose focus.

According to experts, the ideal amount of time before we need a short break is about 90 minutes. If we pause after 90 minutes, the second 90-minute block of work will be a lot more...

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