Self Care Is Not Selfish

Young brunette female stretching neck while practicing yoga during workout

As a mental health therapist, it has been part of my education, training, and work, to encourage self-care. Taking care of oneself can be such an abstract idea and isn’t as black and white as other things. What defines self-care?

I believe that varies individual to individual. If I could define self-care, it would be anything that fills you, gives you perspective to see things more clearly, and gives you the space to re-engage in your every-day responsibilities.

When I meet with clients, by in large, the most important thing I encourage them to do is find a self-care routine or practice. We all are doing the best we can; going to school, keeping jobs, paying bills, in relationships with others around us, raising children, supporting our elderly parents, discovering what we want in life. Whatever phase of life you’re in — you are likely being pulled in a hundred different directions — feeling the need to keep all the balls in the air. Let’s be honest for one second — life can be hard. Life can be difficult, painful, excruciating, messy, beautiful, and everything wrapped up in one. But how do we stay focused on what we want, care for ourselves, and be intentional? I believe the answer is self-care.

How To Practice What I Preach

Last night, during the final 10 minutes or so of my session with a client, I began to feel nauseous and had a horrible headache. I rarely get migraines, but when I do, it isn’t pretty. I immediately recognized the need to cancel my two remaining sessions and go home. On my drive home, I thought about how busy life had been for me over the past three months. With the holidays, hosting family, meeting with additional clients in need of support over the holidays, and the overall busyness of life hit me. It is common to have physical symptoms be the first sign that we are stretched too thin or are anxious or depressed. It became clear to me; I needed to carve out some time the next morning to rest and do some self-care. I canceled plans with dear friends who were, of course, understanding and supportive.

Re-Evaluating Priorities

Spring represents so much — new life, rebirth, renewal, the awakening of beauty around us, and a fresh start. As I head into this spring season, I am going to invite all of us to renew, refresh, and refocus on what is important. I often tell my clients to evaluate their top two or three priorities? Many say family, faith, friendships, work, active lifestyle, wellness, health, the list goes on. I would encourage you to identify and consider what your top priorities are and use those as your framework to how you live your life. What does that mean? I believe those priorities become the lens you view your life through and guide where and how you spend your time.

Consider this with me; time is truly our most precious resource. None of us is guaranteed we will live past today, tomorrow, or even through the next hour. Once we realize that, we view things differently. The commitments we have made may need to be re-evaluated; we may need to learn to say no to things that take us away from our priorities. We need to find a balance. Life should not be a list where we check off each of our commitments. Instead of dreading life and all we need and want to accomplish, we should be intentional and present with the time we have.

So how do we do that? How do we learn to find balance, intention, and joy in all that we do? I would strongly suggest that we achieve those things by recognizing our need for self-care and making ourselves a priority. Self-care has a positive ripple effect on all those we come in contact with. The opposite is also true if we are not taking care of ourselves; we can have a negative impact on those around us.

What are some practical ways to practice self-care? First: recognize your need for self-care. How do you feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally? Your awareness is going to be the most critical aspect of self-care. If you don’t recognize your need for it, it will not become a priority. Second: think about the things that fill you emotionally and spiritually. What brings you joy, creativity, and helps you feel balanced? I encourage all of us to embrace all that spring represents and find balance and renewal in our lives. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for professional support.

What Does Self-Care Look Like?

Getting outside to enjoy some fresh air
Go for a walk
Journal
Find an artistic outlet (painting, drawing, etc.)
Read a book
Turn off your cell phone
Plan an activity with friends
Learn to say no to commitments or things that take you away from your priorities
Spend time with people you love
Try a new hobby
Bake
Take a nap
Take a bubble bath
Listen to calming music
Spend some time with yourself
Exercise
Meditate
Meet with a professional

learn more information at CCPC Counseling Center  |  970-217-1273  |  ccofpc.org

Hypnotherapy is the application of the relaxed, yet highly focused state known as hypnosis for the purpose of achieving goals and creating lifelong transformation. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind with numerous beneficial characteristics.

In this natural state, our subconscious mind is open and receptive to powerful, positive healing ideas and imagery. In this state, we can learn to manage chronic pain, reduce stress, and change unwanted behaviors. But how and why does our subconscious work? Why can’t we just use our willpower to relax or reduce pain, eat healthier, or stop smoking? To answer these questions and more, consider the story of Chicken Little!

Chicken Little And The Flight Or Fight State

One fine morning, Chicken Little can be seen happily eating tasty corn in the barnyard, when an acorn suddenly falls on her head. Believing the sky is falling, she starts frantically running around, shouting, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” Chicken Little’s belief that the sky was falling was so strong that she convinced her emotions, which affected her behaviors and even her physiology. Her little chicken heart started to beat rapidly, her blood pressure went up, her cortisol levels increased, her immune system responses became suppressed, and her perception of pain increased. Chicken Little effectively, “stressed herself out.” What this story demonstrates is that our perceptions influence our autonomic nervous system. In the stress state, also known as the fight or flight state, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. Higher cognitive thinking decreases, and rational thought ceases. Our stress response is natural and designed to protect us from acute threats, but it becomes harmful when we live in that state 24/7. Sadly, many people are living today as if the sky is continuously falling. They are in a state of chronic, underlying stress, which puts them at increased risk of anxiety, depression, weight gain, sleep problems, and more.1

The Subconscious Mind Is Literal, So It Can’t Tell The Difference Between Fact And Fiction.

Living in a constant state of stress, predicting doom and gloom at every turn, means we are effectively saturating our subconscious mind with negative limiting beliefs or false truths. As Chicken Little shows us, this false truth can become our reality. Unlike our conscious mind, which is logical and analytical, the subconscious mind thinks in pictures and is literal. It can’t discern between fact and fiction and so believes what we tell and show it. This is especially true when experiencing a heightened state of emotion, such as fear. The subconscious mind is also the storehouse for all of our memories and beliefs, whether positive or negative. Although we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who make logical decisions, that’s not usually the case. It is our beliefs behind our emotions that drive our behaviors. That is why our conscious mind or willpower never wins over the subconscious.

Hypnotherapy Helps To Clear False Truths And Negative Imagery So You Can Achieve Your Goals.

Hypnotherapy is so effective for people because it works at the subconscious level. During a hypnotherapy session, we quiet the conscious mind so that we can speak directly to the subconscious mind. In the relaxed, yet highly focused state of hypnosis, we can effectively clear false truths and saturate the subconscious mind with healing imagery and positive healing ideas, also known as affirmations or suggestions. Hypnosis is a powerful state. On a physiological level during hypnosis, we shift from the fight or flight state (the sympathetic nervous system) to the resting or safe state, where the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, the perception of pain decreases (that’s how people learn to control and potentially even eliminate pain naturally). The immune and digestive systems get a boost, and higher mind problem-solving functions are supported.

What False Truths Have Resulted From Past Emotional And Physical Trauma?

People learn to rewire the brain to support their goals and to achieve transformation. Until we clear the negative beliefs and imagery that frequently result from past emotional and physical traumas, problems can remain or take a very long time to resolve. Pain worsens, self-worth suffers, unhealthy habits continue, and so on. Integral hypnotherapy does not involve reliving or talking through the details of past emotional or physical trauma. Integral hypnotherapists only need to understand what false truths resulted from a past trauma that may block a person’s ability to achieve their goals. They then work with the individual, using evidence-based protocols to reverse those limiting beliefs and saturate their subconscious mind with positive healing ideas and imagery that support their desired transformation.

You May Not Know It, But You Are Already Experienced At Self-Hypnosis!

Many people wonder if hypnotherapy will work for them or if they can be hypnotized. Although hypnotherapy is not appropriate for everyone, the vast majority of the population can learn to use their mind to achieve a state of hypnosis. Most people are surprised to learn that hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all experience twice daily, upon waking and just before falling asleep. During these times, your brainwaves are predominantly in the alpha state – actually in the lower end of alpha and the top of theta. Experiencing the therapeutic benefits of self-hypnosis is grounded in science and human physiology, not magical or wishful thinking. To get the most benefit from a hypnotherapy session, you must be highly motivated to achieve your goals, have an open and receptive mind, and be willing to do the self-care work between sessions. A good imagination helps, too, as visualization techniques are heavily used.

All Hypnosis Is Self-Hypnosis.

No one can control your mind during hypnosis or make you do silly things or act in ways that are against your moral code. That’s a Hollywood myth that makes for a scary movie or entertaining stage act, but it is patently untrue. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. You are responsible for your own mind and how you use it. People can learn to control their pain in hypnosis. That’s more control, not less. Learning self-hypnosis is a re-education process and a skill. A good hypnotherapist teaches you to fish; they don’t just give you the fish. In only a few sessions, people can learn the lifelong skills they need to achieve their goals. Changing the beliefs that are behind the emotions and behaviors is the key to creating lasting transformation!

Is Hypnotherapy Right For Me?

For help with pain and other ailments, your medical provider’s or mental health provider’s approval is required to add hypnotherapy to your treatment plan. While hypnotherapy may have many beneficial effects, it is not a substitute for medical treatment or psychotherapy.

Audrey Holocher is a Certified Medical Support Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in evidence-based protocols for natural, safe pain control, stress reduction, and behavioral change. she has an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, a B.S. degree in Food Science and Technology, and is a Certified Narrative Consultant and Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). more information at wasatchhypnotherapy.com.