Self-Care Strategies

Take a moment to ask yourself, how do you connect with your center, The inner place that enables you to practice self-care and make the most insightful, life-affirming choices in this hyperkinetic, stressful world that we live in today?

No doubt, self care has become somewhat "buzzy" in the media as of late. But being fiercely awake and mindful has never been more necessary for our transformation to sustainable, enduring, higher vibrational levels of life balance and well-being. Exquisite health and awakening are really one and the same. And to achieve this, we need to take good care of ourselves.

Practically Speaking

Undeniably, there is no shortage of stress management and wellness solutions today. Everywhere we turn we're bombarded by messages, headlines, videos, books, classes, etc., promising us easy ways to manage stress and get healthy. Yet the daunting statistics show that the world's population is facing more health challenges than ever before. Uncontrolled stress is at the root of chronic disease and is a killer.

The majority of doctor’s visits--75-90 percent--are attributable to physical, mental, emotional and environmental stress. Chronic diseases are the number one cause of death and disability in the United States, responsible for seven out of 10 deaths. Eighty percent of the over 2 trillion health dollars spent every year go to treating chronic illness, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and obesity, among others--with many in large part preventable by modifying the risk factors (i.e., changing our lifestyle!)

So why are so many plagued by chronic disease in America? What prevents us from instituting health-optimizing changes into our lives that prevent or modify disease processes, and bolster a joyful, fulfilling, sustainable quality of life? I'll postulate that it's our lack of consciousness to these matters. We're not awake, aware, present to how our lifestyle choices plant the seeds of illness.

For self care to have value, consciousness becomes paramount. A consciousness-based system of healing will effectively close any gaps that exist in mindfully making the most life-affirming choices that will create optimal health and wellbeing for ourselves. In other words, this is about taking personal responsibility for our well-being and preventive health care.

The consciousness-based, mind-body, wellness approach to healing that is now thankfully beginning to take hold in the medical sector is the paradigm shift that our healthcare system needs.

Achieving Optimal Well-Being

Self care is the ultimate healing mechanism for wholeness in mind, body and soul. True health and well-being is much more than simply the absence of disease, injury or infirmity, but rather a state of wholeness between mind, body, spirit and environment (our extended body) —where the layers of our being are intertwined and in-harmony with each other instead of at a stand-off.

This is "good medicine" and the best health insurance possible—to tap into our own incredible and innate healing capacity. Self care sets an inner tone in our hearts, the seat of our soul with every choice we make. This is where mindfulness becomes paramount. Will we screw up and backslide? Of course we will! We're human after all. Send yourself lovingkindness, compassion and forgiveness then continue on.

But as we become more mindful in each moment of our lives and train the mind to serve the heart, an energetic shift takes place. And we may then indeed have the power within us to short-circuit any number of missteps, including disease processes. This is now scientifically proven in medicine. Every choice we make can be (good) medicine or poison. Mindfulness helps you discern and feel the difference between the two, tap into your own innate healing capacity and become an intuitive healer—of self.

The Spa Ethos in Self Care

The spa ethos is a very important part of this paradigm. It is pure devotion to well-being. It is a gentle, nonclinical approach to heart-centered healing. It is soulful, non-judgmental, compassionate care of self. Many of us have discovered how to bring this ethos into our everyday lives--the intimacy, sensuality, heightened consciousness (mindfulness), and peace of mind that is nurtured in an atmosphere imbued with reverential care and calm. We can choose to create and retreat to this sacred sanctuary both in our outer and our inner lives.

Self Care Healing Therapies

Many of self care's most potent healing therapies come from the wisdom traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda (sister sciences) and have been around for thousands of years. Yet these traditions and their mindbody approaches to managing stress and creating balance have now been definitively proven through science and continual research studies to exert powerful healing results across a broad spectrum of health concerns.

These natural systems of healing draw on elements of meditation (a primary preventative health remedy in Ayurveda and yoga), yoga asanas (postures), pranayama (healing breathwork), energy work, nutritional wisdom, healing water and sauna therapies, along with sensory modulation techniques, including massage, aroma, color, and sound/music therapies. Foundational in the spa world, these wellness systems have emerged in an ever-growing number of hospitals, clinics, wellness centers, academic centers, yoga studios and even oncology wards (I personally teach these mindbody health approaches in a number of these settings). Their ability to gently, holistically heal and transform the mind-body physiology make them the remedies of choice for true wellness seekers.

The bottom line is to start with you. Understand the incredible healing capacity you have within. And being able to embrace your ability to radiate serenity, feel energized, grow emotionally, choose powerfully, and connect authentically and passionately with the world starts with a willingness to know, love and care for yourself, devotedly, intimately, unconditionally.

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Mary Beth Janssen

Mary Beth Janssen

Author, Mind-Body Health Educator at Chopra Center for Wellbeing
Mary Beth Janssen is a certified health educator for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing and author of seven books, including the latest, The Book Of Self Care: Remedies For Healing Mind, Body, And Soul. Send questions to
Mary Beth Janssen

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