“If some of us treated others as we treat ourselves, we would be jailed.”
― Richard Paul Evans
The Autoimmune Protocol is essentially a template for self care.
Think about it for a moment. It’s predicated on the need to put yourself first, and make diet and lifestyle choices that serve you.
So far, too easy.
There are some aspects of the protocol that we can tick off more easily than others. For many of us, the elimination diet is one; and it tends to be where we start. There is a clear set of rules to follow and, while it certainly takes some effort – especially in the early stages – it is achievable.
But, for many of us, some of the lifestyle aspects can be very challenging. Especially for women.
In most traditional families, much of the care-giving is expected to be the woman’s responsibility. As girls, from a young age we are socialised to look after others.
And, while care-giving can definitely enrich you, it can also deplete you if you don’t have enough support, or if you fail to set boundaries and make time for self care. This seems to be especially true within the autoimmune community.
The term “self-care” means just what it says: looking after yourself and treating yourself as person who deserves care.
This translates to treating yourself just as you would somebody you love. And, this can be a big paradigm shift for some.
Exercising the self-care muscle is just like any new exercise regime – it involves starting slow by consciously implementing simple, day-to-day acts.
Want a realistic goal for starting a conscious self care practice? – schedule one or two caring things for yourself. Every day.
You are so worth it!
Here’s a good reason to start implementing your self care strategy: Acts of self-care are particularly effective at short-circuiting feelings of anxiety, anger or shame and managing negative self talk. If you feel yourself moving into an overwhelming emotional state or you’ve caught yourself with some critical inner dialogue, undertaking a self-care strategy can help to ground you, and help you regain control over difficult or unhelpful emotions.
Finding ways to care for yourself can help you to live in the present; which promotes emotional and psychological health. Great for stress management, too!
Here are a few suggestions for you if you need some inspiration for your personal self-care strategy:
- Engage with your world: Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps it’s eating mindfully, or a drive you make regularly. Notice with all of your senses.
- Schedule a daily meditation: I’m fond of legs up the wall while I do this.
- Practice being selfish: Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
- Completely unplug for an hour: Switch everything to silent and/or airplane mode and free yourself from the constant social media alerts and email.
- Edit your social media feeds: Remove negative people. (You don’t have to ‘unfriend’ them; You can just “mute” them.
- Implement a daily breathing exercise: The 4-7-8 breath or crocodile breathing are two easy techniques to start with.
- Change the paradigm: Rather than focusing on all the foods you need to remove on the elimination diet, consider ways to add more nutrients. Set a goal to add a new and previously untried vegetable every week or sign up to Stephanie’s Healing Green Broth challenge.
- Get outdoors and just be still: Find an outdoor spot that resonates for you; somewhere green or by the water, and be quiet for a few minutes. Bonus points if you’re in the sunshine while you do this.
- Check in with your emotions: Sit quietly and just name what you’re feeling, without judgment.
- Write down your thoughts: Set a timer and just write for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then burn or bin the paper and let it go.
- Be selective about who you spend your time with: Make a choice to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. Get a positive support team in place.We all know ‘energy suckers’ – they’re not helping!
- Cuddle an animal: If you don’t have one of your own, go to the local dog park and find oneand ask their owner if you can have a little love.
- Seek positive feedback: Ask three of your nearest and dearest to tell you what they love about you. You may be pleasantly surprised.
- Have a date with yourself: This is a technique Julia Cameron recommends in her wonderful book, The Artist’s Way. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you. It could be a hobby you love, visiting a gallery or museum, or just reading in the middle of the day.
- Read and commit to the Four Agreements: A slim little volume with just four commitments you make to yourself, The Four Agreements is a great introduction to true self-care.
Of course, this list is just a primer. There are many ways you can practice self care.
Steps you can take to identify self-care techniques that work for you:
Think about the things that you really enjoy:
- Consider what activities ground you in your body and help to connect you to the present moment?
- Give yourself permission to take part in activities that have no function other than to give you joy.
- Move. Do something physical or acquire a new physical skill.
- Learn to meditate. Take a ‘mindfulness’ meditation program that teaches you to live in the present.
If you’re following AIP and feel you need a little help with this self-care thing, why not come and join the crew in AIP Mentorship – your inclusive, informative and encouraging corner of the world where you can be you!