Whether or not you celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special–or with your friends and family–we often forget about the one who is nearest and dearest to us – our body. We work our poor bodies so hard. We often deprive them of quality food, adequate rest, sleep and exercise and refuse to listen to their needs. It’s only when we get ill or injured that we realize how much we take our body for granted. So this Valentine’s Day, take a moment and show a little loving care to that special one in your life:
1) Take big breaths regularly. Marc David author of “The Slow Down Diet” says we are often short of “Vitamin O” meaning oxygen which improves energy levels. What’s more, the more you relax the more calories you burn, and breathing is a great way to relax! David suggests taking regular “breath breaks” at work, and taking 10 deep breaths before tucking into a meal to improve your metabolism and digestion.
2) Slow down and tune in to your body. For a moment, notice what is going on inside you. Emotional tensions often show up as physical sensations in our chests, stomach or gut. So go inside, tune in, and notice them. Find the right words to describe the physical sensation, e.g. throbbing, leaden, and feel the release with the right words. This technique comes from a book called “Focusing” by Gendlin.
3) Talking, laughter and tears are important forms of emotional release. Find someone you trust, tell them what’s on your mind and don’t be afraid of your tears. They are a natural form of healing and you will feel better afterwards.
4) Think quality when you eat. When you eat fresh, organic food, and free range or humanely raised animals, you will be nourished by high quality energy and nutrient rich food Avoid mass produced, hormone laden, highly processed foods that lower rather than raise your energy.
5) Be “awake at the plate” and give your body the food it needs. “Eat when hungry” and “stop when satisfied” are two of Geneen Roth’s eating guidelines. It’s simple but not easy advice, because it requires paying attention to your body’s signals. Ironically the more awareness you bring to eating, the less you eat.
6) Enjoy being in your body. Enjoy the taste and smell of food and eat with gusto. Taking pleasure in your food will help you relax, digest and metabolise. When the stress response is activated, digestion shuts down.
7) If you have food cravings, check inside to see what’s going on emotionally. Often at the heart of a craving is a drive to shut down painful emotions. Gentle inquiry and allowing space for emotions to come into your awareness helps integrate them, and the compulsion will lose its pull.
8) Find an exercise you enjoy and do it regularly. Your body loves to move so let yourself enjoy some high sweat cardio, slow stretching and weight bearing activities. Even regular walks are good and get you out in the fresh air.
9) Take time to rest. Resting is not a waste of time. Athletes know it is bad for the body to train hard every day, so they build in rest days for their muscles to recuperate. The Jewish tradition of observing the Sabbath or Shabbat is a valuable reminder to create a day to recover and recuperate.
10) Be grateful and appreciative of your body without conditions. Switch off those critical tapes that play continually in your head. Take the time to celebrate today what a treasure and miracle your body actually is!