Self Care

Take Care of Yourself | Take Care of Each Other

Protecting Yourself Protects Others

Just as we can pick up other people's stress, they can pick up ours. When we talk about taking care of ourselves and putting measures in place to protect ourselves from stress, it’s not just for our benefit. It’s for ourselves and for everyone else around us. 

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3 Easy Strategies You Can Use to Protect Yourself From Secondhand Stress

Just like how you protect your immune system from secondhand smoke by hanging out in non-smoking areas, you also need to find strategies to protect your emotional immune system. Here are three simple strategies you can use to stop yourself from falling victim to secondhand stress!

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What Is Secondary Stress?

The thing is, as human beings, we can quite literally pick up on and absorb one another’s emotions, just like we can take in secondhand smoke.

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Are You At Risk For Secondary Stress?

Caretakers, mental health professionals, health care workers, social workers, officers and teachers among others all belong to at-risk groups.

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Why You Should Practice Mindfulness

To be mindful means to be fully aware of the present moment without judgement of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Mindfulness is linked to reducing feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression while improving rest, focus, and prosocial behavior. Learn more about the importance of mindfulness here.

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Your Brain on Mindfulness

Neuroplasticity highlights the idea that our brains are constantly being reshaped throughout our lives through our experiences and our thoughts. This means by cultivating a self care and stress management practice, we can actually train our brains to be more calm, focused, and relaxed. Learn more about your brain and mindfulness here.

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Stress & The Stress Response

Learn about stress, the stress response, and why we need to manage it.

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Journal Prompts for Watching Your Thoughts

Sometimes we tell ourselves (in our minds) about how good or bad we are, about what we can or can’t do, or about other people. When we notice these stories, we can step back from them and decide if we want to believe them or not. If we are aware of them, the stories no longer have so much power over our actions. Noticing our thoughts gives us the power to change them if we want. You can notice your stories or thought patterns by watching your thoughts come and go. 

Watching your thoughts is different from “thinking.” When you watch your thoughts, you try not to get carried away by any one thought or fear or fantasy. 


JOURNAL PROMPTS:

  • Can you think of any beliefs you had about yourself in the past? Do you think these beliefs were helpful or harmful to you?

 

  • Write about some of the things you think you should do. Then, write about some of the things you think you shouldn’t do. Why do you think you feel pressure to do or not do these things? What do you think is stopping you from starting or stopping these habits? 

 

  • What strengths and what weaknesses do you think you have? Why do you consider certain traits strengths, and why do you see other traits as weaknesses? Can you try writing about the things you consider weaknesses as additional strengths instead?

Journal Prompts for Focusing Inward vs. Focusing Outward

You always have the ability to focus outward or focus inward. Focusing outward means paying attention to what’s happening around you. Focusing inward means paying attention to what’s happening inside you: your breath, your feelings, and your thoughts. Most people are good at focusing their attention outward – on their friends, on their phone, or on what people around them are doing. Focusing outward can keep us safe and help us read social cues.

It is equally important to be able to focus inward. If you don’t, you might not notice your thoughts or feelings until they get really strong and start to affect your behavior.

Another thing, we tend to hold onto negative comments from others much more strongly than positive ones. If we’re not careful, negative comments can affect us for weeks, months, or even years!


JOURNAL PROMPTS:

  • Do you spend more time focusing outward on what’s going on around you, or focused inward on yourself?

 

  • Write about some of the people in your life. Think of the people you spend the most time with and reflect on how they impact your life. How do you feel about yourself after spending time with them? In what ways do they affect your thoughts and behaviors?

 

  • While trying to ignore outward definitions, what do the words success, happiness, love, courage, and harmony mean to you?

ABC’s of Stress

Unrealistically distorting your experiences produces these thoughts which then lead to your negative emotions. If you want to change your emotion, you will need to change your beliefs. To change your beliefs you need to examine them.

 

 

EXAMPLE: (A) Friend turns you down for dinner + (B) no one likes you = (C) sad/feel rejected

Remember, if you want to change your emotion, you will need to change your beliefs. To change your beliefs you need to examine them.

Consider: In this example, no one likes you. Examine the evidence – Why do you think no one likes you? Does one person turning you down actually mean that no one likes you? Does this one event mean that no one will ever like you? Does this mean that everyone must like you?

By challenging your thoughts and beliefs about yourself, you can change your emotional reactions. Once you can start picking apart the illogical basis for your emotions, you can free yourself from being dominated by emotions like rage, jealousy, and rejection and instead boost your emotions like happiness, contentment, and joy.

SADNESS = the belief that you’ve lost or will lose something important to you

ANGER = the belief that someone has taken something away from you

ANXIETY = the belief that something bad will happen to you

Equal Breathing Exercise

 

You can also complete this exercise without the graphic. Just use counting to measure your breath. 

Practice:

  1. Lengthen the spine, relax the shoulders, bring the eyes to a close or low gaze, and exhale completely through your mouth.
  2. Allow the lips to gently touch as you inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of 4.
  3. Exhale slowly through the nose for a count of 4.
  4. Repeat the cycle, until you feel relaxed.

(Feel free to make the count higher to lengthen your breathing. Just make sure that the inhales and exhales are an even count.) 

Belly Breathing

Belly Breathing

The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle that sits at the base of the lungs. It is the most efficient muscle for breathing. Belly breathing helps you to strengthen the muscles in your diaphragm, which ultimately helps you breathe more efficiently because you have the power to empty your lungs. 

Pro Tip: If you do lay down, try supporting the head and knees with pillows. (Placing pillows underneath the knees) 

Practice

1. Bring the eyes to a close or low gaze, and exhale completely through your mouth.

2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage, allowing space for your diaphragm to move as you breathe. Keep the hand on your chest as still as possible.

3. Allow your stomach muscles to fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

4. Continue for 5-10 minutes.

4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

4-7-8 Breathing (Great for Anxiety & Falling Asleep) 

When you’re stressed, your breathing can become very shallow which is breeding grounds for an excess of carbon dioxide in your tissues, which can ultimately lead to disease. 

Breathing in for 4 allows you to consciously take in more oxygen. Holding for 7 allows that oxygen to saturate into your bloodstream, which begins to cleanse and energize your cells, tissues, and organs. Exhaling for 8 allows you to release as much carbon dioxide from your lungs as possible. 

For this exercise, you always inhale quietly & exhale audibly through the mouth. Be sure that your exhales are twice as long as your inhales.  The time spent is not important, but the ratio is. If you are having trouble holding your breath this long, that’s okay! Just keep the ratio of 4:7:8 for the duration of your practice.

Practice

1. Sitting upright, relax the shoulders, bring the eyes to a close or low gaze & exhale completely through your mouth.

2. Close the mouth as you inhale quietly through your nose for a mental count of 4.

3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.

4. Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 8.

5. Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of 4 rounds.

 

My #1 Fan

I always heard people say the entrepreneurial journey was a lonely one and I kind of rolled my eyes like “yeah, okay.. Why are people so sensitive”.. Then I hopped on board for my own journey and I was like.. OOOHHHH!!!! Oh okay, yeah I got it.. This is kind of lonely.

But it doesn’t have to be…

When I started this journey, all of a sudden, I was the weirdo who didn’t care about a promotion, salary, or a title. I cared about freedom and flexibility (no pun intended… #yogijokes) I got tired of sitting behind a desk doing the SAME thing everyday. I got tired of complaining and listening to complaints about nagging coworkers and bosses who side eyed the clock when you walked in late. But most of all, I was tired of knowing my potential without maximizing it.

Even though I still worked full time, I had something outside of work that was fueling me and I no longer cared about the pettyness of my 9-5 – I started focusing on 5 -2am. I was working on things that energized and inspired me. I couldn’t shut up about it and I couldn’t put it down.. And it’s still that way. I wanted to talk about goals and figure out LLC’s, marketing strategy, and scalability. I was reading more interesting books and wanted to dissect them and get my 10,000 hours & master my craft. The conversations and influence I was yearning to have were shifting but my environment wasn’t and I believe that is what was making entrepreneurship feel so lonely.

So, I decided to change my environment. I had a couple friends that were entrepreneurs and I started spending more time with them. Especially, if they were more experienced than me. The conversations were uplifting and we were constantly bouncing ideas off of each other and focused on greatness. On the tough days, we help get each other out of them. I no longer was allowed to say “I’m trying” and all my conversations were kept in the affirmative. I was building my tribe.

About a year into my journey I started working out of The HUB Space. The HUB Space is not only a coworking space but literally a business incubator. I’ve learned so much working up there with progressive peers who not only looked like me but could relate to my struggles and help me find solutions. There hasn’t been a question that I’ve had that couldn’t be answered from someone in that space or that could point me in the direction of someone who would know the answer.

I started to find community along my journey. I was finding people who “get it” and who were doing it. That made all the difference. I always say that you make up the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most and I’ve watched my business and the woman I am blossom and shift because of the amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with and the expectation that’s been placed on me to stay in that space. Me and my friends celebrate our wins and our “losses”  (because it’s an opportunity to learn). We are the optimists you hate, but it is exactly what I need to stay motivated and encouraged.

I also had to learn to be this level of support for myself. I’m just over 2 years into this entrepreneurship thing and I’ve finally accepted the fact that I need to be my own biggest cheerleader. I need to celebrate my own accomplishments and clap for myself. Noone knows my vision like I do, so noone is going to understand what the manifestation of my vision means to me.

There was a time when I would find myself getting upset because someone I didn’t know would show up to support me before someone I did know would. But I found peace and gratitude in the spaces they did show up for. They might not have showed up for class but they were emotionally supportive when I needed them for other life things. Or they maybe made me laugh not knowing that was a day where noone showed up to class and I was down in the dumps. It’s all in your perspective.

As much as I would like for everyone to be obsessed with mindfulness and stress-management, they’re not. I had to learn to be okay with that. We’re human, and unfortunately, a lot of times, it can be hard for others to celebrate you, especially if they’re not happy in the space where they are. Don’t take this personally and don’t let it discourage you. Your parents and your peers are not responsible for your joy, you are. Someone out there needs the work that you do and you just need to stay focused and allow yourself to be a vessel for delivery of that product or service.

Be your own #1 fan. Be crazy about you and the work that you’re doing and the spaces you’re in. According to Earl Nightengale, the only people who are successful are those who are progressively realizing a worthy idea. That means if you are doing something you want to do, you are successful. Stop waiting for validation from the 95% of people who believe that they don’t have control over their life and happiness and start surrounding yourself with the 5% of those that are excited about life and going for it.

#MindfulMoment

Write down 3 reasons you’re proud of yourself

Reach out to someone who has supported you on your journey and let them know how much you appreciate it.