I love that there’s so much more awareness about mental health now than when I was younger. And that we understand so much more about how we can help ourselves.
I have a trauma history and was prescribed beta blockers for anxiety when I was 22.
But I didn’t realise until much later (having trained as a complementary therapist and coach in my late twenties then going onto train as a therapist, supervisor and in other therapies including yoga for trauma, anxiety and stress) that everything I’d been feeling for as long as I could remember – from chronic insomnia in primary school to ‘self-medicating’ (ie drinking too much) from my early teens until I had to give it up and face my feelings sober in my early twenties (the alcohol made the endometriosis physical pain worse) was, if not normal then certainly more understandable.
I started yoga as a way of easing the endometriosis pain and trained as a complementary therapist in an effort to help myself feel better. This led to my training as a coach and then, after a house fire, as a counsellor – by that stage, I understood that my sense of ‘brokenness’ was a result of trauma and that it could possibly be eased.
Even so, I remember being scared that the therapist I chose as my training therapist during my psychosynthesis training would find my story (the little I actually disclosed to her) ‘too much’ and reject me as too broken. I dedicated my book to anyone who’s ever felt broken beyond repair because none of us are.
Looking back, if I’d had the money and the internet had been invented earlier, I think I’d have found the prospect of online therapy much less anxiety inducing than going to a stranger’s home or office.
In my online therapy sessions, self-care coaching sessions and yoga classes, I’m especially keen to encourage people to share only what feels good for them to share. To trust themselves and their body’s wisdom. To reconnect with that inner knowing and power as well as vulnerability (in their own time).
My interest in self-care coaching for mind, body, heart and soul – helping others take better care of themselves by better understanding a little more around what was happening with their bodies and brains with stress, anxiety, trauma and sleep issues – is because I never wanted anything to be done ‘to’ me – I wanted to know how to help myself.
It’s why I love teaching people to use their body and breath to improve how they feel, working in a way and at a pace that’s right for each individual. Secure online video conferencing for online therapy platforms like Zoom mean I can potentially work with people wherever they’re based.
As a supervisor, my self-care focus supports my supervisees as they are better equipped to hold that essential space for their clients when they’re able to hold it for themselves, too.
Self-care sounds simple but life can easily get in the way. With my book, 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing (White Owl, 2017, £14.99) and my online video therapy, I’m keen to encourage people to become kinder to themselves, even around self-care. Just because we know what we ‘should’ do, whether that’s around asserting ourselves more, eating better, exercise, meditating or anything else, doesn’t mean we do it.
The last thing I want readers, clients, supervisees or students to do is to use self-care as yet another stick to bludgeon themselves with.
If you were to do a quick self-care audit now, and you were to think about your own mind, body, heart and soul, which is running the show?
Are you very much in your head or do you follow your heart? Do you tap into that soul part of yourself that can help you remember that you’re so much more than whatever you’ve survived or are struggling with? Do you neglect your body?
How might you do one tiny thing differently today to put yourself at least a little bit higher up on your agenda?
I’d love to hear how you’re getting on so feel free to tag me on twitter (@wellbeingeve) or Instagram (@evemenezescunningham) #selfcare
Eve Menezes Cunningham, Reg MBACP Accred., is a telephone and online supervisor, therapist and self-care coach (with psychosynthesis, yoga, NLP, EFT and crystals) for your mind, body, heart and soul. She is Chair of BACP Coaching and the author of 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing (White Owl, 2017, £14.99)