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Love Yourself: The Art of Practising Self-Care by Kendra


   “Self-care” has become a trending topic as of late, especially in how it relates to mental health. But do we really understand what self-care is, and what exactly does it look like?

   The term self-care describes actions one can take to achieve their ideal mental and physical health. Methods of self-care are as unique as the person who practices them. It could be a massage, a meal at a favourite restaurant, or a killer barre class (this is one of the ways I achieve my re-centering). But most importantly, practicing self-care essentially means being attuned to your inner needs, listening to them, and acting on them. Blocking out all of the world’s noise and listening to what your self has to say can be challenging—but the rewards are resplendent.

   Understanding the concept and importance of self-care has been a hard fought lesson for me. My role in my relationships is often to be the ‘listener’; I care very deeply about the people in my life, and want to be the best friend/sister/daughter/partner I can be for them. When we discuss the adventures that life has taken us on (for better or for worse), I listen intently and offer my thoughts on how best the other person could take care of their situation, and encourage them to be kind to themselves. However, it wasn’t until recently that I recognized I always forgot to turn my listening ear inwards. While always wanting to do the best I could for others, I consistently forgot the person I should always be the kindest to first: myself.

   Once I started listening to my inner voice, I realized she had a lot to say about guiding me towards a happier sense of self. I also learned that I was able to become a much more positive influence for others around me, because I had taken the time necessary to take care of myself. And this lesson alone clarifies that self-care is not selfish. Taking the steps necessary to center, listen, and be kind to yourself actually enables you to show up and be even more present for the people in your life, in a real and impactful way. Use the practice of self-care to create the space and time for you to become more generous and kind to yourself, and others.

   The practice of self-care will look and feel different for everyone. And it can be a big, or small action. For example, one of my favourite ‘small-ways’ to practice self-care is to accept a compliment I am happy to receive: instead of deflecting or brushing it off, choose instead to pause, absorb the words, feel them, and know your worth in that moment.

   And so, I hope this collection of thoughts has inspired you to want to learn/start/continue to practice the art of self-care. At the end of every barre class that I teach, I ask you to pause and thank yourself for your hard work and your sweat—for honouring your body and mind, for taking time for the important person that is you, because you are so deserving of it. I want for you to take on that same practice in your daily life: to pause, to listen, and to thank yourself for all that you do. Your voice is worth listening to: turn up the volume, and listen to what you have to say—you might be surprised by what you hear.

    I want you to start this practice by taking this moment to stop and give yourself a hug—mentally or physically. Give yourself a loving squeeze, because darling: you are so deserving of so much kindness, love, and magic. You are enough. Love your pals, and love yourself.






Bell Let's Talk Day: Emily's Story



It's Bell Let's Talk Day and today Emily, one of our lovely Barre Instructors, is bravely sharing her struggle with anxiety and depression to help end the stigma associated with mental illness. Read her inspiring story of how the BBS community helped her heal and how she copes day to day.

   “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

   This quote from "Alice in Wonderland" when Alice fell down the rabbit hole and couldn’t find her sense of self. I am Alice and the rabbit hole is my depression. Yet, instead of being in a fantasy world, I am a happy young woman who at one point could not recognize a single piece of me that I admire anymore.

   Early 2017 came at me like a brick falling from the sky. With no reasonable explanation my brain shut down. I felt empty and held in limbo because my brain was telling me that a place for me in this world is something that was not created. Come to think of it, I may have been the only one in my inner circle that didn’t see the approach of my ultimate mental demise, but we can get to that later.

   If you were to go through my history, you would see that mental illness isn’t a new concept in my life. Panic attacks and anxiety have been a forefront of my personality since middle school. Vivid memories of crying till my head hurt and patches of hair falling out from stress framed my high school experience. This was all because I “needed” to get straight A’s.

   I have used almost every coping mechanism you can think of, none of them healthy. I would purge my food, over exercise, drink and then drink some more. Oh and after my last drink I’d finish it off with a bottle of wine. Like many other 20 something year old women I would rid my thoughts from my body to forget how terrified they made me. As a future Registered Dietitian with no other passion than to promote health, I was the ultimate fraud. Who in the hell should ever listen to me?

   I didn’t take my first stab at reaching out for help until Fall of 2014 in my third year of University. I was so down that I realized if I have to live another 80+ years with the thoughts that I was having, that I’d rather not live at all. To save you from boredom let’s say that my journey to wellness has been a bit of a roller coaster. Not staying consistent with my medication, reaching high points and then chasing lows with a shot of tequila. Fast forward to 2017 I had finished University with distinction, had several great jobs and amazing friends. But my dark past left me feeling like the real life Jekyll and Hyde.

   It wasn’t until March of 2017 that I took a step forward and never looked back. I’m not going to tell you what to do because there’s professionals for that, but I will share with you some things that have helped me start to move forward.

   The first thing I realized is that I surround myself with a group of cheerleaders who know me better than I know myself. Many of these women with astounding character I have found through the Barrebody community. By being open about my struggles with depression a few close friends were there to support me and immediately recognized that I was not okay. Through seeking help this time I realized that I didn’t have to go through my struggles alone and used my community as support. I went back to therapy, became stable on my medication, ate healthy, exercised, drank my water, ate my veggies, played my favorite music, appreciated nature and counted my blessings. I always thought that because of my privilege, I wasn’t allowed to not be okay. But depression shows no bias in selection. Never apologize for what goes on in your brain. Even the scary thoughts make you great.

   I wrote the above words in the summer of 2017. I found revisiting these experiences difficult, likely due to the rawness of the emotions that I was writing and how they made me feel. Facing your feelings can be difficult. Facing your feelings can be heavy. Yet, one thing that is true is that you need to suffer in the darkness before light can shine through.

   As I was writing this post, the universe proved its nature of working in mysterious ways. I was driving home from work and listening to Chris Falconer’s podcast “Open up and Om”. While I was listening I got a reminder that I needed. He was interviewing YEG yoga teacher Amanda Bell-Tardif and she said something that stuck with me:

   "A lot of people don’t want to feel the movement of emotion… And I see so much beauty in the ability to feel pain and suffering. Suffering is essential because then you can start to feel the beauty… I was driving here and the wind was flowing through my car and I was playing my favorite music and those little simplicities. And you can’t appreciate that if you haven’t been taken away from being able to enjoy anything. There’s a numbness that starts to surface and when you start to chip away at that numbness then the intensity of the feeling starts to surface and it’s not pretty and it’s not fun. But then through the darkness you can come into the light. And the stars are only bright in the darkness. So your light shines through and that will always happen. If you put the work in, it will come."

   Because I’ve let myself work through my suffering and face my thoughts, my darkness has become my triumph. My bad days are now when I am able to learn the most about myself. I don’t self medicate anymore. I choose to experience my feelings. And through experiencing my feelings I grow. I used to always think that if I got over my depression, the final piece of my puzzle would be complete. I saw depression as something that I had to fix, because I felt so broken. But mental health is dynamic and my depression is chronic. My experience with depression relates to my ability to feel. My ability to feel is one of the greatest parts of me. I’ll never apologize for feeling too much.

   By letting my puzzle fall apart last year I was able to pick up only the pieces that I wanted to keep. I was also able to let the pieces fall away that did not serve me. Who I am, is no longer a puzzle. It's something that changes, grows and will likely never be complete. This is something I’m okay with because this is life, and now I am living.

   If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or are having suicidal thoughts please call the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line. To find out how you can help raise money for mental health initiatives on #BellLetsTalk Day click here.