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Empty Calorie Self-Care

Do you ever have one of “those” moments? You know, the moment Oprah refers to as “Ah-Ha”. A fleeting moment in your life when you feel you’ve just been shown the Holy Grail, where the effervescence of beaming light shines down from the heavens and nearly blinds you in your viewing? Yeah, one of those moments.

You get caught up in the shininess of it; your breath paused without conscious awareness; and all intellectual cylinders firing at once causing you to only utter, “Uhhhhh”. Yep, that’s the moment I’m talking about.

What do you do with those moments? Do you say, “Hmmmm, that’s interesting”? Do you get super excited and leap into action? Do you scramble for something to write with and write on to ensure you have the information? Do you do a variance of all three? Do you do nothing? Do you do all the above?

I suppose it depends on the “Ah-Ha-ness” of it all, right?

The other day I was having a conversation with some friends and we were discussing the topic of self-care, and one of my friends used the phrase, ‘Empty Calorie Self-Care”. This phrase seemed to pause us midstream in our conversation, resulting in each processing the phrase.

Since then, I have not been able to release that term from my thinking, so will attempt to do so through the writing of this article.

When we gaze upon the first part of the phrase, “Empty Calories” we may flash on foods that serve no nutritional value to our physical, mental and emotional bodies. Perusing through some article, I loved this attempt by Jenny Craig to soften the blow to the empty calorie foods we consume. It states, “Cakes, cookies, pastries, sodas, cheese, pizza, sports drinks, ice cream, hot dogs and bacon, all contain empty calories. Thankfully, some foods with an excess of solid fats or added sugars have lower-calorie options.” I must admit I chuckled a little over the last sentence, and specifically with the word ‘thankfully’, as if that alone tidies things up a bit. Sorry Jenny, empty calories are empty calories, and not necessarily something to be thankful for. Maybe be thankful because they taste ridiculously delicious but not for their emptiness.

I suppose ‘empty calories’ are not necessarily the latest buzzwords in the marketing field; but words like ‘zero calorie’, ‘no carb’, ‘fat-free’, ‘gluten free’, etc are for certain. Hell, I’ve even seen Diet Water marketed………..WHAT! WHAT?

OK, getting a little off topic, forgive me.

Now, let’s talk about the phrase “Self-Care” as it seems to be gaining speed in the Chicken Soup for the ‘Progressive” Soul pool of buzzwords. Self-care originally caught on as a medical concept. Doctors have long discussed it as a way for patients to treat themselves and exercise healthy habits, most often under the guidance of a health professional. Prior to the late 1960s and early 1970s, these patients were usually mentally ill and elderly people who required long-term care and otherwise had little autonomy. Later, academics began to look for ways for workers in more high-risk and emotionally daunting professions—trauma therapists, social workers, EMTs, and so on—to combat stress brought on by the job. The belief driving this work was that one cannot adequately take on the problems of others without taking care of oneself (by reading for pleasure or taking the occasional vacation, for instance)—a sentiment you still hear from activists today.

What are some other forms of “Self-Care” do you hear about or partake in?

According to an article I read on Psychology Today a list of self-care ideas where shared for dealing with stress, which I will in turn share here.

SENSORY When you feel stressed and need a calm mind, try focusing on the sensations around you—sights, smells, sounds, tastes, touch… This will help you focus on the present moment, giving you a break from your worries.

Breathe in fresh air. Snuggle under a cozy blanket. Listen to running water. Sit outdoors by a fire-pit, watching the flames and listening to the night sounds. Take a hot shower or a warm bath. Get a massage. Cuddle with a pet. Pay attention to your breathing. Burn a scented candle. Wiggle your bare feet in overgrown grass. Stare up at the sky. Lie down where the afternoon sun streams in a window. Listen to music.

PLEASURE A great way to take care of yourself when you’re coping with stress is to engage in a pleasurable activity. Try one of these ideas.

Take yourself out to eat. Be a tourist in your own city. Garden. Watch a movie. Make art. Do a craft project. Journal. Walk your dogs. Go for a photo walk. Mani/Pedi time.

MENTAL/MASTERY You can also give yourself a boost by doing a task that you’ve been avoiding or challenging your brain in a novel way.

Clean out a junk drawer or a closet. Take action (one small step) on something you’ve been avoiding. Try a new activity. Drive to a new place. Make a list. Immerse yourself in a crossword puzzle. Do a word search. Read something on a topic you wouldn’t normally.

SPIRITUAL Getting in touch with your values—what really matters—is a sure way to cope with stress and foster a calm mind. Activities that people define as spiritual are very personal. Here are a few ideas:

Attend church. Read poetry or inspiring quotes. Light a candle. Meditate. Write in a journal. Spend time in nature. Pray. List five things you’re grateful for.

PHYSICAL Coping with stress by engaging the body is great because you can bypass a lot of unhelpful mental chatter. It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re doing one of these self-care activities:

Try yoga. Go for a walk or a run. Dance. Stretch. Go for a bike ride. Don’t skip sleep to get things done. Take a nap.

SOCIAL Connecting with others is an important part of self-care. This can mean activities such as:

Coffee/Tea with a good friend. Calling a friend on the phone. Participating in a book club. Joining a support group.

And last, but certainly not least, EMOTIONAL. Interestingly enough it was the least detailed and helpful.

EMOTIONAL Dealing with our emotions can be challenging when we’re coping with stress. We tend to label emotions as “good” or “bad,” but this isn’t helpful. Instead:

Accept your feelings. They’re all OK. Really. Write your feelings down. Cry when you need to. Laugh when you can. (Try laughter yoga.) Practice self-compassion.

I would like to clarify that for the majority of what was written in that article I’m in full support of the modes of self-care, and yet the one that seems to be screaming the most in the Global Community is EMOTIONS.

Even from the latest natural disasters that have occurred here in the U.S. there’s still a sense of underlying disappointment and anger. Reasons for people to remain stuck in their unreleased feelings. Do not get me wrong, people are definitely releasing their feelings through verbal and physical outward actions; however, is there any genuine internal releasing happening?

I feel as a collective body of individuals we’ve done a great job at creating awareness and even putting into action Self-Care techniques and concepts. Now we must focus attention on learning how to release our emptied calorie (unhealthy) emotions in order to preserve ourselves and the world around us. Releasing the harmful, self-destructive, outward spewing charges behind the turbo-charged emotions we have adopted, cultivated, and reacted from for years.

Similar to any of the other self-care techniques or suggestions above, it requires a process to do these things if you’ve never done them before. It may even require the assistance of another to learn these techniques. Understand there’s no shame in investing in your wellness which includes your emotional wellness.

As a global community, there still seems to be so much guilt and/or shame around investing in one’s emotional wellness that we’ll go to great strides to invest in our mental and physical wellness and totally ignore our emotional wellness.

Like anything else in life, when an imbalance occurs it upsets the entire operation of the whole. Our whole as a human is Mind/Body/Emotion/Spirit, not Mind/Body/Spirit. The mind interprets the emotions and places a feeling on it based on our beliefs, but our mind is not the emotion; our mind is a processor.

Again, we’ve come a great distance in bringing awareness, insight, techniques, and suggestions for creating balance for our Mind/Body/Spirit, and now we must do the work around our emotions.

As a certified MER (Mental and Emotional Release) practitioner who applies this technique with clients, I have seen dramatic shifts in their overall wellness, which has resulted in a balance in their Mind/Body/Spirit/Emotion being.

Once they’ve been able to release the emotional charge behind the root emotion holding them back, disrupting their world, and wreaking havoc either subtly or radically, they are now able to operate through a clear-filtered screen as opposed to the distorted, emotionally charged, screen, resulting in satiated wellness.

Are you ready to feel completely full and satisfied in all areas of your life? If yes, let’s talk.

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