Vol. 21: Self-Care + the Ripple Effects

Vol. 21: Self-Care + the Ripple Effects

In the last Feel Good Project Vol. 20, Jen Birenbaum said something extremely powerful when she spoke about self care. She explained that she believes self-care has become such a focus because it's the evolution that we need now. She went on to explain that cultivating reverence and respect and care for our own needs allows us to expand our capacity to cultivate care for others. These sentiments resonate deeply with me.

As I've written about in the past, I experienced an extremely difficult time with my mental and emotional health in 2020 that caused me to deeply explore my convictions in life and in my work. This period of time brought me to my knees and left me with little choice but to ask myself: What do I need right now? The answers to this question at that time included medication, therapy and re-learning how to be friends with my nervous system.

All of this brought me to the fierce belief that we need to and deserve to feel good first, so that we can approach our lives with clarity and calm. And while this belief started with myself, it began to ripple out into my community, with the goal that my people will leave their time with me feeling better than when they arrived. When we can cultivate care and regulation for ourselves, we can co-regulate with the people that we spend time with. Today I'm sharing three of the of the practices that have helped me to learn to calm my nervous system, and have helped me to help others.

Box breathing: Box breathing is a technique originally introduced to me by my therapist and it was something I was taught to teach in my yoga teacher training. In this technique we breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for a count of four and hold for a count of four. I usually do this practice for three to five minutes. I find that the pattern of the breath requires focus, which takes us away from rumination and into the present moment. The rhythmic effect feels grounding and can can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Try a few rounds of this and see for yourself and if you're someone who wears a tracker, you'll likely see a difference in your heart rate from the time you start to the time you finish. 

Yoga: When I originally fell in love with yoga it was a fitness interest of mine, but as we deepen into a practice we can start to feel that it's actually a tool that we can use to calm our nervous system. The act of connecting movement to the breath is another way to take our minds away from the chaos of the day and bring us into the present moment. When we slow the breath, we take ourselves away from a focus on the sympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that allows us to get things done, and towards parasympathetic activation that allows us to rest and digest and recover. 

Looking inwards: The two tools I've shared above are what actually led me to looking inwards. This may sound like fluff, but if you're someone that's constantly turning to others for advice and opinions on every aspect of your life, this is for you. Practicing calming your nervous system creates space and quiet to help us tune into the answers we often seek from outside sources. Once you find some practices for calm that work for you, you might start to notice a tug - that is an inner knowing or a self-trust. You'll begin to be able ask yourself a question, make space, answer it without always needing confirmation from outside sources. This brings a form of calm, confidence that I haven't previously known in my life.

You can read about some of the other practices I use to regulate my nervous system in Feel Good Project Vol. 15. from October, 2023. Whenever life feels challenging we have an opportunity to consciously create and attitude of care for ourselves and for others. I hope you'll add some of these tools to your toolbox and let me know what resonates for you. 


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