Soul Food for the Spirit
Lesson 13 Chapter 5
'To live happily is an inward power of the soul.’ - Marcus Aurelius
In the last lesson, we looked at how managing stress is really important for a healthy mind(set). In this next part, we will look at how learning to love (and receive love), and taking better care of our selves rejuvenates the spark of life and boosts mental vitality.
Ready, steady, let's go…
Self Care – Care for your self
‘To find yourself, think for yourself’ - Socrates
It makes total sense, but if you don’t look after your inner needs properly, not only will you feel bad and ‘out of sorts’, but will also mentally feel down in the dumps. Right?
So what things can you do immediately to take better care of your inner self and help nurture your ‘soul’ or ‘spiritual’ side?
Top 10 Signs That You Are Neglecting Yourself
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
Anxiety, tension or worry
Neglecting family and friends
Constant illnesses (e.g. colds and upset stomachs)
Lack of time to do the things that make you happy
A feeling of emptiness and being disconnected from your body
What You Can Do To Turn Things Around
As we have already established, once you start exercising, eating better and sleeping better you will begin to feel better and become more positive. But you still need to look after yourself in many other different ways to make sure you are taking care of all parts of your self.
‘Energy goes where attention flows’ - James Redfield
Action beats perfection
Here are some simple, easy ideas for you to consider doing to kick-start your new ‘inner self-care’ regime.
1. Go for a walk in nature. Feel relaxed by the beautiful scenery, the fresh air, and the sound of birds singing.
2. Have a soothing bath. Put in some essential oils to really unwind and let go.
3. Indulge yourself in a trip to a decent spa for the day.
4. Book a relaxing massage, LaStone Therapy or reflexology session.
5. Listen to your favourite song. Sing along with it, have a good dance, let yourself go.
6. Take a walk out in the sunshine. Get some vitamin D on your skin. Take off your sunglasses, let your eyes get used to it and enjoy all the health benefits of the sun.
7. Go somewhere beautiful and watch the sunset.
8. Expand your mind by learning something new. Open up your mind to different perspectives.
9. Spend an evening watching comedy and enjoy a good laugh.
10. Watch something sad and have a good cry (I call it ‘Gumping’ after Forest Gump – which always makes my wife cry).
11. Light a scented candle and watch the flickering of the light against the wall and try and connect with your inner self.
12. Go for a relaxing bike ride in the countryside on a nice day. Maybe stop and have lunch at a pub. Bring a good book, or people watch.
13. Take yourself out for a date. Buy yourself some flowers. Go somewhere you love and spend a few hours in your own company.
14. Push yourself and do something outside of your comfort zone. Maybe take a new route to work, buy lunch somewhere different, wear something bolder than usual! Notice the sense of self-confidence and empowerment you feel when you push yourself to do something new and challenging.
15. Try to cloud meditate. Just find a quiet place, take a few breaths and relax, then look at the sky, choose a cloud and follow it as it drifts across the sky. Take notice of how it changes but don’t over analyse anything. Every time your mind wonders just bring it back to the cloud.
16. Sign up for a class or course you always wanted to do. You could even do it from home like you can with this course?
17. Do something creative to express yourself. It can be anything you like such as writing a gratitude diary, poetry, drawing, painting, flower arranging, cooking. Just do whatever feels right and appeals most to you. Self-expression is a powerful thing to do for the soul.
18. Switch the smartphone off for a bit and give yourself a break from the digital distractions, social media and all the comparisons, ego and drama that comes with them.
19. Ditch the TV for the night and sit outside instead and watch the stars. See if you can spot a shooting star or recognise some constellations.
20. Do something altruistic. Think of a random act of kindness and do it - and try not to get caught!
As well as considering some of the above ‘inner self-care acts. There is one other thing you should think about finding time for...
The Secret Power of Silence
‘Silence is a true friend who never betrays.’- Confucius
These days, with our hectic lives, permanent background noise and frequently buzzing and bleeping smart devices, finding moments of true silence is sadly becoming a rare thing. Which is a real shame as believe it or not silence has some fantastic health and mental well-being benefits.
i. Silence relaxes, recharges and refreshes us – Having noise around us all the time is not a natural state for humans. So by finding some nice quiet time alone without our smartphones or the TV on allows us to really switch off, re-boot and digitally de-stress.
ii. Silence gives us better mental clarity - We are hard-wired to react and respond to all the sounds around us, even if we have learnt to semi-switch off this innate ability just to cope. But when there is proper peace and tranquillity around us, then we are no longer distracted so can start to focus 100% on whatever it is we are thinking about or trying to achieve.
iii. It allows us to discover ourselves – When there is no background noise, music or chatter then we can properly start to slow our minds down, listen to our inner voice, reflect on what it is saying and begin to practice the important but neglected art of self-awareness. Or as Euripides better put it ‘Silence is true wisdom's best reply’.
iv. A little bit of silence everyday can actually increase our lifespan! This, and the other health benefits of silence, should come as no surprise really when you consider that the actual word ‘noise’ is said to come from the Latin 'noxia' that translates as sickness, damage and injury. It's also where we get the word 'nausea'!
All powerful stuff, right? Free too, and all it takes is just 20 to 30 mins a day.
My last word on silence can best be summed up by this quote:
'One of the best pleasures in life...is to read a book in total silence.' - Anon
The next chapter is the last one and is where we will be putting it all together along with some simple exercises to help you focus on achieving your goal of a positive mindset.