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Get rid of the guilt

Nurturing

LET GO Self-care means daily setting aside the time to let go of feelings of stress, shame and inadequacy.

Health

Colleen Kneafsey

What could be more important than putting yourself first? If you don’t feel good, you can’t enjoy life, and if you are not enjoying life, then what’s the point? Still, for many people, putting themselves first does not come naturally.
A lot of my clients struggle with it on a daily basis. For example, some feel guilty about taking an hour for themselves to come to class or to head out for a walk to connect with nature. Clients also come to me with so much regret and shame for being unhealthy, unhappy, stuck and so on. When I hear this I have so much compassion for them, but the truth of the matter is that their guilty feelings are the what is holding them back from exercise in the first place.
Why do we feel guilty for doing something that is both mentally and cardiovascular beneficial for our bodies?
We are often taught that if you want something you have to work for it. Although there is some level of truth in that, most of the work comes from our attitude and mindset. It’s is finding the balance between mental and physical exercises. We are repeatedly told that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world today. And we know what to do in order to decrease the risk to our physical health: Eat well, get exercising, go for regular check ups, get blood tests and so on. We do all this without thinking about it, and without shame.
But what about our efforts to keep our mental health in check? Are we vocal about those, and if not why not?
Stress and feelings of inadequacy are experienced by every human being on the planet at some stage of their lives. It is normal. I am one of those humans who experiences stress quite regularly, but when it occurs, I am vocal about it and I share my feelings with people I trust and connect with. I don’t cover it up and try to be a martyr. I embrace it and put a strategy in place to reduce it and step out of the stress box. The less vocal we are about our mental health the more power we give that negative voice in our minds.
 
Daily inventory
Every day, I do a mind and body ‘inventory check’ as part of my daily routine. I find it invaluable, and so I advise my clients to do the same. I tell them that every day, they should give themselves just five to ten minutes in the morning to tap into and become aware of their thoughts. Whether it is before they get out of bed, in the car after they drop the kids to school or before they start work.
The idea is to stop everything, and use this time to do a quick body and mind inventory. I encourage people to ask themselves the following questions: How am I feeling today? What has caused that feeling? Is it negative or positive? How important is it to carry it with me for the day? Can it be resolved, fixed today? If not, I hand it over to another day and let it go.
Then get back to moving forward. The key is to accept and honour where we are now, focus on where we want to be and commit and dedicate ourselves to self-care first. The rest will follow.
You know the saying: The best time to start was ten years ago; the second-best time is now.

Colleen Kneafsey is a director, co-founder and coach at Republic of Fitness in Westport (www.republicoffitness.ie) and a qualified nurse. She can be contacted at rofstudio@gmail.com.