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As 2020 starts to gain momentum, we might find ourselves considering various plans for travel, healthful living and more. So, to help with these decisions I’d love to share a habit that, once mastered, has made a significant impact on the clients I support in my Nutritional Therapy clinic.

Mastering the power of your “no”.

In this busy, fast paced society it can be incredibly challenging to say “no” to something or someone. In the context of diet, I hear clients express concern as to how they will be perceived. They don’t wish to be labelled “the fussy one” or have to explain “yet another diet”. It’s a similar issue with exercise or accessing restorative work such as yoga or meditation, and self-care habits such as massage or time out with friends can be viewed as an extravagance, all the time putting our needs at the bottom of the pile.

It’s a worthwhile exercise to really tune into where we gift our “yes” and, importantly, how that makes us feel. Next time you’re offering a “yes”, consider:

  • Is this a “yes” of necessity or obligation or because I really want to do this?

  • When I think about this event/activity/habit how does it make me feel?

  • Am I making assumptions about how others will feel and letting this drive my decisions?

  • If I say “yes” to this, will I need to say “no” to something else and how will that make me feel?

If the answers leave you feeling negative, feeling under pressure or anxious, then a reconsideration might be in order?

The reality is that our self-care is often the first to be shoved over to the “no” list, so whether that’s a walk with a friend or breaking the positive momentum of dietary change, the result is often less time spent caring for ourselves. Self-care is not an optional add-on or selfish in any way, it is central in ensuring good gut health, optimum sleep, balanced blood sugars and steady hormones – and there is a body of research to support this.

I like the analogy of an in-flight oxygen mask – in order to care for those dependant on us, to optimise our productivity, to live vibrantly – we need to put our own mask on first and it’s in our interests to master the art of a thoughtfully considered “no”. Indeed, if people only ever hear our “yes” it becomes a less valuable commodity, instead of a precious gift. As a parent I often argue that valuing how we spend our time is one of the greatest ways to model self-care, self-discipline and grow self-worth. So, you see, we’re not just doing it for ourselves after all?!

As seen in County Lifestyle and Leisure Magazine.

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