The Secret to Successful Self-Care

THE SECRET TO SUCCESSFULSELF CARE BLOG CRYSTAL MCLAIN CREATIVE

In today’s blog I’m sharing the secret to successful self-care practices. I'm giving you the key that will unlock all the magic. That’s right. You'll be on your way to becoming a magical, majestical self-care BEAST after reading this.

Move over, unicorns…

But first, let’s remember a few things from last week’s blog…

#1: EMPOWERMENT

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The word empower means to give or delegate power or authority to; authorize to give ability to. 

And since the goal is to gain power, authority, and abilities to adapt to change and take charge of our self-care, empowerment is gold.

#2. NEUROPLASTICITY

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Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning, experience, or following injury. The brain is able to literally transform its anatomy to accommodate an ever-changing body, which is almost as cool a gecko growing back its tail.

The brain is INCREDIBLE. 

  • There are people who’ve had spinal injuries who have re-learned how to walk.
  • There are people who were gripped by addiction, but are in recovery.
  • There are people who’ve lost their vision, but were able to adapt to life using their other senses.
  • And we’ve successfully transformed from new born babies into functioning adults. 

Thanks, neuroplasticity.

#3. SUBCONSCIOUS RESISTANCE

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Despite our ability to adapt, adjust, and grow, the subconscious brain usually puts up a fuss. The subconscious brain likes predictability, routine, and comfort. It doesn’t want to change. In fact, its typical reaction to change is to resist it, especially if the change is sudden, unwanted, or hard. 

So, how do we overcome a resistant brain?
How do we utilize the brain’s plasticity?
How do we build empowerment?

We start by learning a little science!

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Personally, learning HOW the brain operates the physical, emotional, and behavioral self, has been a TOTAL game changer for me. Witnessing personal transformation by flexing some gray matter muscles is empowering.

Whenever I have a challenge in my life, I keep my brain’s abilities in mind - pun intended, 

Now, consciousness isn’t just a buzzword for those new-age yogi folks. It actually refers to the levels of awareness within the brain. We could dissect consciousness into as many as 12 layers, but for simplicity sake, we’re gonna chop it into three digestible bites; The unconscious, subconscious, and conscious. 

The Unconscious Mind

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Ever since the day you were spat into this world, you’ve been collecting information through your sensory organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin and gut).  And your brain has been sorting this information in accordance to importance, effectiveness, effort, and so on.

All of this information is stored in a warehouse we’ll call the UNCONSCIOUS mind.

The Subconscious Mind 

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If the unconscious mind is the warehouse, the subconscious mind is the department of operations.

The subconscious mind is one busy mother, quietly keeping tabs on the environment around you, as well as your internal environment. It’s managing your emotions while you experience life. It’s sifting through the unconscious, looking for consistencies from your past in relation to your present moment, and building behaviors based on the data. 

But hold on to your hat. There’s more…

The subconscious bit of the brain is also in charge of something called homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of relative stability that the body is always trying to maintain. 

Too hot? The autonomic nervous system (part of the subconscious brain) sends out signals to get your sweat on. Too cold? Bring on the shivers. Cut your finger? Your brain tells the body that it needs to produce new cells. Let the healing begin! 

Now, here’s a REALLY important side note. 

The autonomic nervous system is also in charge of two responses: The sympathetic response and the parasympathetic response. You might lovingly know them as the fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest responses. 

The sympathetic response (fight or flight) fires up when we perceive danger, and ignites all the fun bodily functions that come with fear, stress, anxiety, and anger. You know what I’m talking about; quickened heart rate, clenched gut, dilated pupils, etc. Your body is preparing to fight with or flee from the perceived danger. 

Living in the COVID Carnival, our sympathetic response is being activated way too often, and it’s not very healthy. Besides being a total drag, consistent or chronic stress is harmful to the brain and body. It causes disease and distress, which is EXACTLY why I’m writing this blog.

Times are stressful, consistent stress is harmful, but you have the power to reverse some of the damage being done. 

Understanding these concepts will help with all of the self-care hacks I’ll be sharing in the future. 

Okay. Let’s keep reading…

The parasympathetic response, rest and digest, is the shit. This is where the healing happens. Being able to activate this bad boy will allow your body to literally repair, reverse, and stabilize some of the mess the sympathetic response makes. Activating the parasympathetic response will assist your body in achieving homeostasis. 

The Conscious Mind

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The unconscious is the warehouse.
The subconscious is the department of operations.
And the conscious mind is the data analysis department and management center.

The conscious mind doesn’t have very many tricks, but the tricks it does have are mighty powerful. 

The first trick is to focus. 

Right now, as you read this blog, your CONSCIOUS brain is focusing on each word.

Let’s play a game. 

I’m going to write a word, and I want you to conjure an image of that word. 

Ready?

Circle.

Most likely you saw, indeed, a circle. Not a literal circle, but one that popped up in your mind’s eye. You focused your consciousness on the word and imagined a circle. …which is the second trick of the conscious mind.

Imagining, analyzing, comparing; these are also tricks of the conscious brain. 

You focused on the word circle, then you imagined one. You knew what a circle was because you’ve experienced circles before (they’re stored in the warehouse). 

Now, chances are, you don’t have an opinion about circles. Circles are just circles. It’s a shape and nothing else. I'm almost certain you don't have any visceral reactions or emotions attached to the word circle

But what if the word was money?

You can visualize an image of money, but now there might be emotions attached to it. Maybe you love money, maybe it stresses you out, you might even hate it. That’s your subconscious getting busy throwing emotions at your consciousness. That is your ego.

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Now, ego isn’t a bad thing. It’s the part of the brain that’s responsible for testing and sensing your personal identity. 

Ego is just the PERCEPTION of self based on one’s experiences.

As we evolve through life, we collect experiences. We associate emotions with those experiences. We form behaviors based on our emotions and experiences, then we take all of this information and build a character we call self. This filter of self is how we perceive the world and all the things and people within it, including ourselves. 

At the end of the day, money is money, much like a circle is a circle. The difference is that we’ve attached ego to one and not the other. My perception of money, food, happiness, and everything else in the world  will be different than your perception because my life experiences are different than yours.

But here’s the cool thing; we can change our perception of anything

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If old thoughts, feelings, and behaviors aren’t working for you anymore, you can change them by using the power of consciousness.

And consciousness is the secret to successful self-care practices.

The conscious mind is a creative, curious, and critically thinking powerhouse. And because of its ability to focus, imagine, rationalize, and analyze, we can CHOOSE how we see the world. We can choose how we see ourselves. 

We have the power to choose our thoughts and behaviors, which means we can choose how we respond to stress. And THAT means we can help our bodies achieve homeostasis more easily.

So, how do we overcome a resistant brain?
We practice using our consciousness. 

How do we utilize the brain’s plasticity?
We practicing using our consciousness. 

How do we build empowerment?
Yup. We practice using our consciousness. 

And all the ways to practice consciousness will be discussed in the upcoming blogs!

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 Crystal McLain is not a mental health professional, please read her disclaimers

 



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