Welcome to episode 447 of The Whole View! This week, Stacy and Dr. Sarah dive into caring for yourself, with a focus on how meeting basic needs and personal hygiene don’t count as self-care. Stacy breaks down the different types of self-care and Dr. Sarah looks into the science of how self-care works.
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The Whole View, Episode 447: Basic Needs Don’t Count as Self-Care
Welcome back to episode 447! (0:28) Stacy kicks off this show by speaking about this article about women’s tendencies (especially moms) to put others’ needs above their own. This often takes the form of attributing “self-care” status to activities that fill a bare-minimum, basic need. Taking a hot shower or going on a quiet trip to the store without the kids isn’t going to fill your cup and allow you to pour more into others. Sarah laughs that a part of her wants to clap her hands over her ears and not listen. If any listeners feel similar ways, like if you don’t call the bare minimum stuff self-care, then can’t call anything you do self-care, Sarah wants you to know you are not alone. Stacy adds that in Sarah’s defense, there is a lot of things that she does she might not realize count as self-care. For example, Sarah spends a lot of time with her dog, going for walks and training, That’s something Sarah does out of pure enjoyment that recharges her. Stacy explains that what self-care looks like is different for all of us. It’s not just facials and massages. It’s what makes you feel full and refreshed.
If you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love somebody else? -Ru Paul
If you don’t take time to fill your cup up and love yourself, how can you love and take care of someone else? Stacy knows she’s am a better mother, wife, and friend to other people when she’s taken care of herself and not at the precipice of losing her patience. Doing something that’s not draining is different than doing something restorative.
Types of Self-Care
Stacy breaks down self-care into four different types, and that they don’t have to be the cliché versions to count as self-care. (12:01) Stacy challenges listeners to really think about what outcome has them feeling lighter and better? It might not necessarily feel like something that’s self-care upfront. Maybe it makes you feel a little uncomfortable at the moment. But it also might be something fully restorative to you.
Mind: Emotional Self-Care
Stress is incredibly inflammatory and can negatively impact your health if you’re not effectively managing it. (20:13) Mental health is so important. It’s often one of the most overlooked ways of giving yourself love because of the stigmas attached to them. Stacy asks the audience to remember that even the healthiest of minds need a break and help. If you’re a frequent listener, you probably know how much Stacy struggles with the idea of meditation. However, science shows meditation can rewire the connectivity between different brain areas, limit the overactive flight-or-fight response, and help regulate our hormones. If guided mediation just isn’t your thing, there are alternatives you can try. Sarah shares that she’s much more comfortable with breathing exercises than she is with gratitude meditation. It’s not one size fits all, and there are many different shades and colors of it! In Episode 432: Giving Thanks, Stacy and Sarah dig deeper into meditation’s science and practice. It can seem a little ridiculous, but it really is a great way to reflect on mindset while focusing on wellness! If you haven’t already, you should check out Stacy’s favorite show, Episode 421: Body Image. Stacy’s said it before, and she repeats it now: there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Talk therapy is a great way to decompress the everyday stresses of life. It allows us to target and work on any toxic traits we’re harboring that can sabotage our self-care efforts. If you’re unsure where to start, Stacy explains one avenue is to get a referral from your primary care physician. There are also many online counselors and apps specifically designed to help! Self-acceptance is vital to good self-care. Stacy shares how difficult it can be to accept your body when you feel like it’s failing you due to autoimmune issues. But beating yourself up about things you can’t control won’t help you feel any better.
Body: Loving Your Physical Self
Move your body! Health is so much more than BMI or the number on the scale. (36:15) Science has shown that BMI is actually more inaccurate than it is correct. Many thin people have health issues, and many overweight people do not! Moving your body is an act of self-love because it’s good for you – but also because it makes you feel good. Stacy reminds listeners that what we put inside our bodies is just as important as what we put on the outside. Sarah advises listeners to do it because they like it and they like doing it. There are foods that nourish our bodies, and there are foods that nourish our souls. Respecting yourself enough to prioritize both is self-care. A great place to start is gut-healing with a broad range of macronutrients from a nutrivore approach! Getting enough sleep is crucial to taking care of yourself. Do what you need to fully relax your mind and enjoy deep restorative sleep. It is when your cells replenish themselves. Those with poor sleep patterns are at high risk for a myriad of health conditions – so, taking a nap and going to be early is the ultimate act of self-love!
Interpersonal: Your Relationship with Other
This is the one both Stacy and Sarah struggle with the m0st, which is your connection with others. (43:01) Stacy shares her personal experiences with Zoom fatigue and trying to turn off her phone to disconnect. Working on interpersonal health means occasionally unplugging from a screen whenever you can, but not unplugging from people. Voxer or Marco Polo are free apps where you can leave short or long voice and video messages for an individual or a group. It’s the perfect way to let out a vent of frustration or a primal scream to a trusted friend. You aren’t uninterrupted, and the friend gets to listen when it is convenient for them. Stacy uses it for both personal and work purposes. Take intentional screen breaks. Playing games, baking, watering the plants, and working on re-arranging the house are ways to disconnect online and connect with people in our lives. Sarah also unplugs from 8am-8pm, so she has 12 hours of uninterrupted time. She doesn’t use her phone on her morning hikes and uses that as a time to unplug. Also, it’s important to take time this week to schedule your annual appointments. It’s so easy for those in a primary caregiver role to put their own wellness aside, but so important to keep upon. Setting boundaries is critical to self-care. No one can read your mind. If you aren’t telling people what you need, you can’t expect them to give it to you. Sarah adds that it is often even helpful for the other people in our lives when we make boundaries. When you set that expectation, they don’t need to worry about how to act.
Personal: The Things That Bring Joy
If you’re an extrovert, this part could have been hit hard by quarantine if your hobbies involved going out in public and doing things. (58:01) But there are small ways that you can bring that deeper connection to your soul through intentional practices! Personal self-care means doing things that you enjoy just because they bring you joy. Plus, hobbies are great ways to cope with stress and trauma in life. Stacy shares She also decided to get back into houseplants during the quarantine. It’s one way she can intentionally focus positive energy on something. It gives her an avenue when she needs a pick-me-up. Stacy and Sarah both love playing with their pets and have talked at length in the past about how great pets can be for mental health.
Self-care is something that’s been really hard for scientists to define. (1:03:14) Science defines it most in terms of the stress response and how that response impacts our overall health. In its essence, self-care is reversing that stress response to reign it in and turn it off. Having a regulated stress response positively impacts the body in terms of hormones, gut health, tension, and more! Self-care allows us to regain mental space for the important things in life. Stacy reminds listeners that self-care is suggestive, and a restorative activity for one person might not be restorative for you. Be sure to pop over to Patreon for some bonus content about this episode! And to hear how Sarah really feels about all this.