Stop Sabotaging Your Self-Care

Week 3 - Intro

Congratulations, you have made it half-way through this course! Take a moment to be proud of yourself for this accomplishment.

For our Week 3 Inner Work, I am going to teach you a super-simple and effective tool that can really be a game-changer. The only catch is that you have to actually use it. ;) I learned this tool in a Brain Training course for HSPs, or Highly Sensitive People (more on this on the Resources page at the end of this course), but I know that it will be beneficial to everyone, whether you're an HSP or not.

Our Outer Work this week revolves around Sleep. I admit, I have not perfected this form of self-care yet, but I know with 100% certainty that when I am fierce about cutting out the sources of stress in my life, I sleep so much better. So I offer you some tips to try out below.

Finally, when you get to the Homework section, resist the urge to skip any of it. The repetitive nature of some of the homework is continually building new synapses in your brain, and really making these good self-care habits 'stick.' I hope you don't want to skip the homework anyway, because you realize how much better you feel when you do it!

Week 3 - Inner Work

feelings-wheel

Before going any further, I invite you to join me in this Body Scan Mindfulness Meditation video. This will help you to turn your focus inward and prepare you for your Inner Work.

 

Journal:

Continuing on, ask yourself the following 2 questions: “How do I feel right now? What do I need?” (Side note: These questions can be done in conjunction with last week's 'Who says so?' exercise, or separately on their own):

Examples:

*I’m feeling exhausted; I need to go to sleep.

*I’m feeling hungry; I need to eat.

*I'm feeling frustrated; I need to take a break.

*I’m feeling relaxed; I need to remember how awesome that Body Scan Mindfulness Meditation is. ;)

 

I've included a Feelings/Emotion Wheel at left, because sometimes you may need a little extra help getting in touch with how you feel.

And if you're a giver (for example, a parent, an educator, a healthcare provider, etc), or you were just trained by your family to take care of others' needs before your own, you may not have ever really taken the time to ask yourself what YOU need.

As I mentioned in the Intro video to this week, this exercise was a real eye-opener for me. When I kept asking myself throughout the day, "How do I feel?" I was surprised at how many times the answer was, "Stressed out." I realized that I rarely contemplated how I felt and what I needed; I just kept barreling through my never-ending to-do list...and continued feeling stressed out, which was having a negative impact on my health and relationships. I bet you can relate.

So that second question, "What do I need?" is essential. Don't make it a big, huge, "I need to examine my life choices" kind of answer. What we're looking for here is just a small, concrete step that will get you out of the situation you're in (if, in fact, it's not supporting your health and well-being). And then, of course, once you've asked yourself how you're feeling and what you need, you have to actually go do what you need -- without feeling guilty! (In case you're one of those people who is thinking, 'If I start doing whatever I want, that will make me the most selfish person on the planet,' I've got a question for you: WHO SAYS SO?) I acknowledge that this is not always easy. It will even sometimes ruffle other people's feathers. You may feel uncomfortable at first. But I promise if you do it you will feel SO MUCH BETTER. Try it! (Tips below in your Homework for the week.)

Week 3 - Outer Work

Sleep

How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Although we have probably all heard that 7-8 hours of sleep a night is ideal--in fact, it's now been shown that our brain regenerates at night, flushing out waste products so that we can be more productive during the day--many of us rarely get that much sleep. Why is that? I bet at least part of it comes back to those mindsets I mentioned before.

 

Journal: What are some mindsets (or some obstacles) that you have around sleep? Some examples:

*Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is lazy.

*It’s a badge of honor to complain about how little sleep I got last night.

*I should be able to get by fine on only a few hours of sleep. (BTW, only 1% of the population actually has the trait of short-sleeping, being able to survive fine on very little sleep.)

 

By now I hope you know what I'm going to say next:

WHO SAYS SO???

 

Here are some Practical Sleep Tips that you might want to try out:

*Take a hard look at what is causing stress in your life--and cut it out. Be fierce about it! Stress has a huge impact on our sleep.

*No technology in bedroom - phones (see below), iPads, TVs

*Drink water throughout the day - dehydration can cause poor sleep

*Give yourself an hour to start winding down before you go to bed

*No caffeine after 2pm

*Meditate, do calming breathing techniques (see below), use relaxing mantras, or think about what you're grateful for to calm your nervous system before bed or if you wake up and can't fall back to sleep

*Melatonin supplements and the herbs chamomile, valerian, passionflower and lavender can be helpful. Do your own research and check with your doctor first. 

 

Do you keep your phone on your nightstand every night so that you can check it first thing when you wake up? When you do that you’re starting your day focused on what other people expect from you (email, Slack, texts), what others prioritize in their lives (social media) and all the instability in the world (headlines) instead of focusing on what you want from your day. Instead of habitually grabbing your phone the moment you wake up, take a few minutes to just be quiet instead of instantly having an anxiety spike. Set an intention for how you would like your day to unfold. Think of something you're grateful for. Notice how much better that makes you feel.

 

Breathing Technique for Sleep: Left Nostril Moon Breath

Research has confirmed that breathing through our right nostril activates our sympathetic nervous system. It speeds up circulation; warms up our body; and increases cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate. Left nostril breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system. It helps us rest and relax, lowering our body temperature, blood pressure, and anxiety. Try Left Nostril Moon Breath the next time you're struggling to fall asleep: block your right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through your left. Then close the left nostril with your pointer finger and exhale through the right. Continue in this manner, inhale left, exhale right, for a few minutes.

woman sleep insomnia

Week 3 - Self-Care Homework

Inner Work Homework:

Make a few sticky notes to put around your house (bathroom mirrors are a good spot!) that say “How do I feel right now? What do I need?” Look at them throughout the day, and take the time to pause and reflect on those two questions. When you've answered them, go and do what you need, without apology or guilt! (Remember, you're not being selfish. When you take care of yourself, it makes everyone's lives better.)

You might like to read this blog post I wrote about making time for yoga and self-care for a little more inspiration. (Some of it may sound familiar!)

 

Outer Work Homework:

Select at least one of the Sleep tips from the list above to try out every day this week.

Also, try out this 1-hour Yin Yoga Sequence for Sleep at least once this week. It will hopefully help your mind 'digest' the events of your day and prepare your body for restful sleep. If there are poses you can't do, don't get discouraged; just find a different pose that feels better for your body. It's more important to just take time to breathe and relax than get your body into the shape of a specific pose. Once you've completed this practice, take a moment to journal about how you feel.

 

Every Day: Gratitude Practice

Continue your daily list of 3 things you're grateful for. Remember: don't rush to write them out and move on. Focus on them and really internalize them for a moment. This will continue to help you ‘fill up your tank.’

 

Every Day: Doing What You Love

Remember: When you start incorporating self-care ON A DAILY BASIS, it changes your mood and stress levels noticeably. Do some kind of self-care for yourself on a daily basis and you will lessen your chances of getting burned out and overwhelmed.

Go back to your list of things you love to do from Week 1. Choose one of the things and take the next 30 minutes to do it. Then, journal answers (if you’d like to be held accountable, email them to me) to these questions:

*What did you choose to do for your self-care this week?

*Share a few observations (positive or negative) you had during your self-care experience, including if you came up against any obstacles.

*How did you feel after?

 

Learn to value and love yourself through small acts of self-care EVERY DAY.

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