Lots of people talk these days about self-care and self-love as necessary tools to maintain our well-being. But what is self-care and self-love, anyway? The answers vary for each of us. However, the truths we can always return to are sensation and feeling.
The body is the ultimate truth-teller. And the body is very honest with its feelings. Foremost it loves the feeling of being loved, whether by way of giving love or receiving love.
We don't have to depend on anyone else to give us that feeling. We can give it to ourselves anytime we want, thanks to the body's four favorite love potions: endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine.
Each time that you do anything that you love, you're mixing yourself a cocktail of these feel-good natural chemicals. Nia classes grant us the ultimate mix of the four. Guess what? Sciences backs us on this.
Oxytocin is produced when we bond with loved ones. But it's also produced when we sense trust and belonging. Part of the reason participating in a Nia class feels different than doing it in your living room -- which is great, by the way! -- is the Joy of community.
Nia is intentionally non-competitive and supportive for this reason. When we're dancing with others, we exchange energy, giving joy and receiving it.
You can also boost your oxytocin right now: Grab some of your favorite moisturizer, and focus on touch as you massage it into your hands. Notice how that soothing sensation manifests in your whole body, even if only for a moment. That's self-care!
Endorphins are the body's natural pain reliever. But they're also amplified by laughter, crying and yes, dancing -- all of which we do! Need a hit right now? Give yourself a dance break. And this is key, according to the British magazine Psychologies:
"Feeling uncoordinated is the point – ‘new’ movement is how you get the endorphin rush. Make it fun, so that you laugh at the same time."
Dopamine is the reward chemical, that uplift you get when you feel a sense of victory. When your Nia teacher invites you to say "Yes!" it's really an invitation to access that burst of natural reward.
What about right now: Make a list of tasks and, as you complete each task, cross it off. If the act of crossing something off that list feels good, that's a tiny dopamine Valentine hitting your body's inbox.
Serotonin is what's behind feelings of safety and respect, and it can be triggered by exercise and positive thoughts. It's also one of the reasons that a daily gratitude practice is one of the most effective tools a person can have in their wellness toolbox.
Take time today to full embrace a moment in your life.
And remember, in the words of Leslie Knope...
"You are the most beautiful, glowing, sun-goddess [or god] ever."