How are you doing? It’s been a huge couple of weeks in the news and I’ve been thinking of you all. Watching the crazytown of the Kavanaugh hearings as we relived a myriad of sexual traumas has been challenging, to say the least.
I want you to hear this. If you raged when you saw Kavanaugh being ushered onto the Supreme Court without any real accountability or felt grief over the incredible vulnerability of Dr. Ford’s story, you are not alone.
This week has been an immense loss for many of us. It’s brought all the difficult emotions - our rage, our grief and our powerlessness - right up to the surface. Once these emotions come up, it’s almost impossible to tamp them back down. Once we see something, we can’t unsee it. Shaken and exhausted, we must figure out how to move forward.
Accepting a new reality can feel totally disempowering - it certainly does for me in moments - but I also see that the finality of a decision can offer much-needed relief. We can finally take a pause from the onslaught of emotional disruption.
However, in order to make the most of the pauses that come after our setbacks, we need to practice a certain kind of self-care. Practicing intentional self-care after a setback will not only help you personally recover, but it will also help regenerate our collective energies. Regenerated and cared for, we can keep going in our journey to create a more fair and just society for all.
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of powerful female leaders on their self-care. I’ve seen these awesome women use intentional self-care to move through some seriously challenging setbacks into unprecedented thriving. This kind of self-care isn’t sexy, but it’s incredible effective. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Here are the tried-and-true self-care Jedi moves that will turn a setback into an opportunity for greatness:
1. Go easy. Recovering from a setback is not the moment to push yourself in your self-care. Boot camp classes, sugar detoxes and doing the Whole 30 can definitely be forms of self-care. However, these willpower-based initiatives take a lot of energy and momentum to execute successfully. When you are healing from a hard moment in life, it’s not the time to take on completely new way of eating or exercising. During these stressful times, choosing such strict forms of self-care can actually be a form of masochism, unconsciously done as a way to avoid the tender work of healing.
As you recover, choose self-care that feels immediately nourishing and easy to implement. This is the time for epsom salt baths, walks in nature, and watching funny movies. Once you are internally and externally restored, you can decide whether you need to practice a more extreme form of self-care.
2. Recommit to your routines. Emotionally intense experiences are disruptive. Perhaps you took time away from your normal gym routine to watch the hearings, or missed a few meals because you didn’t feel like eating after you heard about the final vote. All of this is valid. However, once the dust has settled, you have the choice to continue a haphazard way of going through your days or recommit to your self-care routines. In Ayurveda, the Vedic science of well-being, strong daily routines are not only essential for your physical well-being, they are also vital for your emotional balance. Anxiety and depression can be triggered when there is too much variability in our days. (Think of toddlers here. They emotionally freak out if they miss a meal or stay up too late. On some level us adults are the same.)
Start with a fairly consistent time to go to bed and wake up in the morning. Then add in three regular meal times. Give yourself bonus points if you can cook or one two of these meals everyday (yes, scrambled eggs count). Once these routines feel stable, create a small morning ritual for yourself. Taking three deep breaths upon waking can make a big difference in how you show up for the rest of your day.
3. Find your community. You are not suffering alone. No matter what you are feeling, others around you probably feel the same way. The more you can join with others who are hurting, the more you can use the power of empathy to regain your balance. Because we live in a society that often tells us to brush our emotions away, it can still be hard to speak openly about the places we are hurting, even when we know it’s good for us to talk about our traumas. For this reason, it can be extraordinarily healing - for ourselves as individuals and for us as a society - to engage in spaces where we can be supported in sharing our whole, messy truth.
When finding your community, it’s important to choose people who are at a similar level of emotional development. Not everyone is comfortable with vulnerability, and some people can unknowingly shame us for sharing what’s really happening inside. Choose to open up with people who are capable of speaking about the hard parts of their lives. When we engage in a mutual exchange of vulnerability, we gain a special kind of resilience and strength. We remember we’re not alone, and this mutuality helps us pick up the pieces and keep going.
4. Take leadership. Once you have regenerated your energy, committed to your daily routines and engaged with a supportive community, chances are that you now feel grounded enough to take on new tasks. With you full energy intact, take stock of where you can be most effective in making change.
Are you interested in supporting DC’s homeless population this Saturday? (Ok, shameless plug, but I’d love to see you at Thrive DC’s annual 5K this Saturday! I’ve volunteered with Thrive for over 9 years and serve on the board because I think they do amazing work caring for some of DC’s most vulnerable populations.)
Take it one action at a time. Ask your friends to join you. Share your thoughts on social media. You never know who you can influence. Celebrate your wins and grieve your losses. When feel overextended, come back to the basics of self-care. Mindfully caring for yourself is the necessary root work for growing strong, fruitful branches. This is why it’s essential to take advantage of the time after a big setback to increase your self-care. When you utilize this time to restore yourself, you can keep focused on your goals and continue showing up to create the world you wish to live in.
I’m curious! Which of these four steps feels most important for you right now? Do you need to go easy on yourself, reestablish your daily routines, find a support network or take leadership? Hit “reply” and let me know. I can’t wait to read your responses.