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Deliberate Self-Care - Finding Your Go-To Cures

Becca Clegg

Something I have noticed in coaching and counseling people over the past decade is that everyone has something that “cures what ails them.”  The thing is, what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for the next guy.  Finding our own personal “cure,” and by cure I simply mean a way to release and realign with our center, is part of the journey of loving yourself.

What do I mean? 

Well, what do you do when you know you need to release stress?  How do you relax?  What are the things you can rely on to help you find your center and put you back in alignment with your higher self?                                                       

I heard a quote once that resonated so deeply with me that I haven’t forgotten it since.

"The cure for everything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea" ~Isak Dinesen

While the quote might be over simplified, it really does speak to three of my favorite “go-to” ways of releasing emotion and stress.  In a nutshell, this quote states my top three “cures,” and I want to share them with you as a way to encourage you to identify your own.

1. Working Out

There is nothing like a good workout to really shift your mood.  I love working out and getting really sweaty.  (Nice visual, I know!)  It is an amazing release and a dependable mood improver.  It’s like the sweat (aka saltwater) is a release of negativity & toxicity that my body and soul just don’t need.

And for those of you who are furrowing your brow and thinking, “Really…you LOVE working out???” I have news for you. 

I didn’t always feel this way. 

Working out was once a way to eradicate calories and force my body into a shape I thought it needed to find.  When I approached working out that way, it was a chore.  I didn’t love it. I tolerated it. It was a “should,” and it felt like a “should” – full of resistance, difficulty, and full of inner-conflict.

Once I started to think about working out as a way to feel good, internally and externally, it started to shift.  I started to look at it as nature’s Prozac – a gift I give to my mind, my mood and my spirit.  I began to think about my muscles getting stronger and how my body will thank me as I age.  I shifted from thinking about weight, and more about strength, health, and wellness. 

That mindset shift made all the difference.

2. Letting it all go – Nothing Like A Good Cry.

While less easy to implement on the spot – a good cry when you feel the need to do so – the kind where you make noise and let yourself really let it all out – has been known to do wonders. It’s amazing how different you feel when you give yourself the gift of this emotional release.  It is like you have emptied the body of a literal weight, and the spirit feels the release.

This topic can be a loaded one for many.  Many people are socialized to feel like crying is a sign of weakness.  Crying has become something to be ashamed of, and hidden.  Many people have been so indoctrinated with this nonsense that they literally do not cry. 

The funny thing is, I have never known a baby who didn’t cry.  It seems to me that we were born with the ability we needed to release and express our feelings.  When a child is pre-verbal, crying is one of the only ways it knows to express how he or she feels.  It is part of the perfect design of the human.  

Now, I know that we develop higher order thinking, and that we adapt in such a way that we develop other ways to express ourselves, which is great.  Just dandy.  But why does that then mean that we must abandon crying?  When did we decide that it must be only for children, and that for an adult to cry it must be only as a result of a catastrophic loss, or else it is weak?

In her book (which I loved), Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert stated,

“Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.”

This human loves a good cry when I need to let something go.  I see it as a sign of strength and self-care.  It takes strength to be honest with your emotions in a culture that would have you otherwise wear a mask. 

3. The Sea

And then there is the Sea.  Oh, the sea. 

Recently, I went to the beach for a much needed vacation.  I was blessed enough to be staying right on the water so that each morning I woke up, got my coffee, and headed out to the sand right off my back deck. 

I have a hard time using words to describe how healing being in the presence of the ocean is for me.  I know this hardly makes me unique.  It seems that this is a very common experience for humans, and while I have no evidence or proof of this, it leads me to believe that the sea does indeed have healing properties.

Either way, I know how it makes me feel, and as such, it is imperative I get my butt there as often as possible. 

Now, I live in Atlanta, which is pretty land locked and about 5 hours to the closest salt-water beach.  So what is a girl to do?

Well, I do try to get to the ocean as often as I can.  I look at it the way someone tries to make a trip home once a year to visit family.  It is simply a priority. 

But when I find myself not able to literally be at the ocean, I bring the ocean to me in any way I can. 

Anyone who has been to my office might notice that the entire color scheme is meant to reflect the ocean and the beach.  I try to meditate and do self-hypnosis regularly, and when I do, I use the image of the ocean to center myself, and often incorporate the sound of ocean waves to enrich the visual. 

The point is, I do what I can to honor what I know centers me and brings me peace.  It’s really that simple.

So… for me, there is something about saltwater.  It is maybe an odd way of looking at it, but hey, if it works, it works.

What about you?

How do you heal?  What centers you and makes you feel inner peace? 

Sometimes when you ask these questions, it seems that you don’t know.  It might feel as though the answer is far away, and that to discover the truth would take a lot of work.  If this is you, I encourage you to breathe, and relax into this process.

This process is simply discovering the core of who you are.  What heals you – the cures in your life – are just a part of the amazing and multifaceted person that you are.  So don’t panic, don’t rush.  Just ask the questions and begin trying new things. 

The search for the things that bring you peace will bring you back to yourself. 

Enjoy the ride.