Monday, August 4, 2014

The Art of Extreme Self-care Chapter 8

Hello and welcome to The Art of Extreme Self-care postpartum style. For those of you who are new to my blog, last December I announced I would be doing a read-a-long of The Art of Extreme Self-care by Cheryl Richardson and sharing with you how I applied the principles of the book in a postpartum setting.  We will be focusing on one chapter a month and while I try to post the first Monday of the month, that doesn't always happen. Last chapter was about creating a soul-nurturing environment. Let's dive into chapter 8.

Chapter 8 overview: Protecting your sensitivity.

What I got out of the chapter: I've always been a sensitive person, but over the years I've grown pretty thick skin and then the Boo Creature arrived last year. Everything changed. One layer at a time her birth and the postpartum period stripped me of the defenses I had established through life circumstances. Never in my life did I feel more vulnerable than the first year of motherhood. And I was in a particularly fragile point in my life when I read this chapter.

Cheryl talks about how sensitivity isn't necessarily a bad thing and that we should embrace and protect it. As a mom, being sensitive allows me to anticipate the needs of my daughter and provide the necessary care she requires to grow. Cheryl gives 5 different ways to protect this gift.

1. Step into the Moment: Being present in the moment allows you the freedom to live. I tend to worry about the future or rehash the past, so being in the moment took lots of practice for me. Still does actually. Life is so much better and no matter how terrible the day goes, if I think in minutes rather than hours, I feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.

2. Turn Down the Noise: Sensitive people need quiet. I need quiet. I'm so much more productive at work in the morning before everyone arrives. When the house is quiet I feel regenerated and the creative juices start flowing. When I feel stressed and frustrated, I go up to the mountain and hike. The stillness of the woods calms my nerves. At the same time the roar of the ocean has the same tranquil affect on me too. I guess it's the electronic noise that gets me. One of the things I noticed is that if I wake up in the early morning and take 10 minutes for quiet meditation and yoga, I feel so much more grounded throughout the day because when challenges arise, I can always go back to the still place I established in the morning. At night I turn my cell phone ringer off and power down all the electronics (computer, TV, etc). This helps me slow down to prepare for sleep.

3. Stop the Violence: The older I get the less I enjoy violence on TV. I've never been able to handle violent news. A few years ago, I stopped watching the evening news, because I always went to bed depressed by all the terrible things happening in the world. People have asked me if not watching the news is like burying my head in the sand because we need to know what's happening in the world. If I need to know what's going on, I can look on the internet and read about it. The way news is presented through the media these days is so sensationalized to play with one's emotions. Even the weather is reported in such a dramatic fashion sometimes I stress out about the rain and I live in Portland where it rains. A lot. Now, I have a weather widget on my phone and computer desktop. For world news I'll listen to NPR or watch News Hour on PBS.

4. Limits on Toxic People: As a mom, my time is limited as is, so why would I want to spend the precious little free-time I have with people that bring me down or don't appreciate me as is? My circle of friends dwindled quite fast after baby arrived and surprisingly I was okay with that because I don't have time for drama. While I lost some friends, I gained new ones. Other moms came into my picture who have helped me so much on the road to recovery through postpartum depression. The people who understand what motherhood is like are those who have stayed close even though I don't get to see them as much as I would like. I'm extremely grateful for those friendships.

5. Managing Technology: Oh boy, the moment I went into the hospital to deliver my daughter, I turned my phone off and kept it off for several days. Those first few weeks, I rarely answered my phone or went online unless I needed to research something or order diapers. As my daughter has gotten older, I found myself on Facebook more often or checking my email frequently throughout the day--something I used to limit not long ago. Last month I realized I spent way too much time on the computer outside of the 40 hours a week for my day job (which most of those 40 is spent on a computer). When I reread this chapter, I knew I needed to change this unhealthy trend especially since my next book, Urban Goddess Mama-to-be, is only 1/2 written when the rough draft should have been finished by the end of July. That's when I made an announcement that I would be offline for a while so I could get my writing caught up. The last couple of weeks have been wonderful not having the pressure of social media demands. When I do finish the book and return online, I will put more effort into limiting my social media interaction.

So what about you? How do you protect your sensitivity?

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