Even though we hurt beyond comprehension, nurturing ourselves as survivors is a critical first step toward building inner safety.
We must take care of ourselves especially when we don’t feel like it. This is nearly a non- negotiable, but highly sustainable investment in our recovery.
When we nurture our mind-body connection with self-care activities, we lay the foundation for an inner sense of safety. Knowing our bodies assists us with feeling safe.
Self-care puts you in control of your body, your thoughts, and lends to building self-trust. Trusting ourselves means we understand and acknowledge the signals or cues our body sends us in the form of pain, aches, tension or the intuitive and pleasant feelings of attraction.
As we regain a sense of trust and control over our bodies and minds, learning to relax, and how to read oursevles, we can understand our emotions, where they are coming from and determine whether it’s something we need to pay attention to in the moment or if we can delay it until we have time to process.
Once we have become accustomed to this form of reading our bodies, we can turn our focus to the journey inward toward releasing our core wound(s).
Coming up are a few proven methods for learning how to become attuned to and in control of our bodies, all of which I use regularly. These methods are beneficial to long-term sustainability of our overall emotional and physical well-being.
• Pay attention to energy management. This means doing only what you can do in the present moment. It’s not racing to the next function or saying yes to every invitation given you. It’s about setting and maintaining boundaries for your needs.
• Try to be aware of the negative self-talk that is easy to slip into. Negativity bias is always at the ready to challenge our wants. Journaling your thoughts as they come is a gentle way to lean in toward creating a love language for yourself.
• Take slow deep breaths throughout the day every day. At least once a day, practice a breathwork routine that is most comfortable to you. My personal favorite is Box Breathing (many videos online about this method). Breathwork helps reduce anxiety and assists with body healing.
• Morning and evening guided meditations are powerful for calming the mind and relaxing the body allowing you to drift to sleep naturally. Meditations are also essential at helping you to see clearly what no longer serves you while providing a clear view to that which does.
• Stretching. This doesn’t need to be a formal method. Remember to include your fingers and toes, your neck, and your shoulders when you’re stretching. I find a light body scan during my stretching helps me to discover where I am carrying tension and can turn my attention to what messages it’s sending me. Am I tense in my shoulders or back? Then I ask myself what am I feeling emotionally.
• Ground daily and as needed. If you use objects to ground with, try to focus on the properties of the object chosen and the environment you are in at the moment. Keep the breath slow and deep as you process the trigger.
• Care for your senses and moods with essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, orange, and ylang-ylang. Warm rice bags with a drop of any of these essential oils or others are luxuriously soothing, as well as a dab on the wrist or places around your sacred space help to maintain a state of calm.
• Walking. Depending on your level of comfort or recovery, you may want to ask a friend or someone you trust to take a walk with you. If you are practicing social distancing, video calls while walking are helpful in reducing the anxiety of walking outside alone. Raise your awareness of all the things that you feel, see, smell, and hear while outside. Where in your body are you feeling any sensations? Journal any thoughts that come up.
• When you’re ready, practice telling yourself in a mirror that you are safe, you are loved, and you matter. It’ll take a few times, and you may even cry; those tears are necessary. Mirror work is difficult, especially for a survivor or sexual violence. Many of us cringe at seeing our bodies, so give yourself plenty of time and grace with this.
• Allow yourself to cry as much as you need to. The tears are cleansing and are a way to release the emotions that we do not want to keep in our bodies.
Learn to give yourself what you sought from others for so long — safety and time. Nourish your body with self-care and love. This is YOUR time to create a safe space through the mind-body connection.
Journal Prompt: When do you feel most safe internally and externally? What other self-care practices can you try to help develop your internal safety?
Grow with Love.