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Lifestyle website of Professional Model and Nutritionist, Brooke Slade. 

Self Care with Brooke

Self-care, to me, is the single most important practice in life. You have to show up for yourself, first, before you are able to show up for anything or anyone else. Here, I explore self-care methods, practices and share ways to incorporate more self-care to everyday life.

Personal Inventory: Consider Yourself, Check Your Standards

Brooke Slade

Photo by Larie Taylor

Photo by Larie Taylor

It’s the the beginning of the year and it seems that everyone is going hard at their 2019 goals, myself included. With all of the promises a new year brings, it’s hard not to want to work on everything, all of the time and work my absolute hardest. However, after “going hard” (day after day, for the first 10 days of the month), I found that although my productivity was off the charts, my ability to relax, let go of my internal to-do list and allow myself to unwind became difficult.

I found myself making checklists in my head during yoga classes, on my phone setting reminders during “Netflix & chill” time with my partner, falling asleep feeling like I’d forgotten something and waking up with my brain buzzing with tasks. I was happy that my to-do list was shrinking and I was making such good progress with my business BUT I felt overworked and anxious—something needed to change ASAP.

So, I took a moment to sit down and check-in with myself. I wrote down my feelings, as you know, I’m a big fan of “writing it out”. I revisited a self-care & work-life balance post of my own, in hopes to re-discover anything helpful that I may have forgotten along the way.

After some thinking, I felt that I could solve all of this by answering one question: How can I create and maintain my CALM while also keeping up with my own standards of productivity? The moment I asked myself this, I laughed, because the answer made itself clear within the question: MY OWN STANDARDS. The standards, goals, deadlines and “to-do” lists were all MINE. I was the author of this story, so, I had the power to change it.

I know I’m not alone here, how many times have you done this? You find yourself in a heaping pile of tasks and deadlines that must be done “a particular way” by a certain time…and it’s all because you created this standard of productivity for yourself. I’ll never forget, my partner once told me “You can’t produce at your highest level all of the time, because you create this expectation (of yourself). People will expect you to deliver your best work in a short amount of time, always, and that’s just not sustainable”. He was right. Working this way is NOT sustainable, whether you work at home, remotely or in-office; you’ve got to create some realistic boundaries and standards for your lifestyle, emotional wellness and health.

So, now, knowing that I was the author, how did I change my story?

  1. I checked my standards. I considered myself. I let go and chose to be kind to myself. Once I understood that I was the one putting the pressure on myself, I simply stopped. You’d be amazed at how different hard or complicated tasks can be when you choose to take the pressure off. Whether you yell at yourself (in your head) -OR- practice self-compassion and patience throughout the process— the project will still be completed (but you’ll feel a lot better if you choose the latter).

  2. I prioritized my self-care over everything else. Revisiting my post “Keeping Sane & Self-Cared-Up While Working” can show you how to make tiny choices throughout the work-day that can improve your well-being.

  3. I lessened my screen time. For me, if it’s there, I’m going to look at it. So, during “Netflix & Chill”, before bed and during down-time, I chose to put my phone in another room or some place less accessible. The emails and social media will be there, take the time you need.

Doing these 3 things, consistently has helped. I’ve noticed that I am still just as productive but my stress levels are lower. I don’t feel anxious about work and I’m okay with “missing out” on a few hours of social media and emails—my me time is absolutely worth more.

Have you been here before? How did you find your way back?

Self-Care Practices for Emotional Wellness

Brooke Slade

October is Emotional Wellness Month and, because of this, I thought it would be a great time to dive deeper into one of my favorite topics: self-care. Maintaining our emotional wellness is just as important as maintaining our physical wellness. Our emotions can affect how we navigate our days and, ultimately, how we live. Think about it, it’s no mistake that your work day may seem more difficult while experiencing an emotionally taxing event. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), how you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, your relationships, and your overall mental health.

Inspired by this month’s theme, I wanted to share a few self-care practices that focus specifically on supporting and improving emotional wellness. These practices are what I turn to when I am looking to work with and work through emotions.

Self-Care Practices for Emotional Wellness

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There are times when our thoughts are wrapped up in our emotions and they become so thick and cloudy that it may seem difficult to navigate or find the mental space to process. Times like this, I turn to writing. Writing gives your emotions a place to go, a place to land outside of your body. The process of purge-writing is simple: you are giving life to your emotions word by word and freeing your mind and body of their weight.

Purge Writing in Steps

  1. Find a place to put your words. This can be a journal, the notes app on your phone, or on a piece of scrap paper— anywhere is okay.

  2. Write whatever’s on your mind and do not censor yourself. Let it all out. Express yourself however you need to.

  3. Write as little or as much as you need to. There’s no set amount of pages or words—the goal is to release.

  4. Center yourself. After you’ve let it all out, find your center, your peace. You can do this by placing your hand on your heart and moving your attention to your heartbeat or the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

  5. Create closure. Now that your feelings are out—leave them where you put them. When journaling, I create closure by folding the pages in. When writing on a stray sheet of paper, I receive closure by shredding or crumbling the paper.

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Square Breathing

When emotions are high (or low), breathing exercises are always a good idea. Medical research suggests that regular deep-breathing exercises can reduce anxiety & depression, encourage muscle relaxation, stabilize blood pressure and decrease stress. Currently, my go-to breathing exercise is square breathing. It helps me to be mindful, still and centered while replenishing my body.

Square Breathing in Steps

  1. Find a comfortable position, either seated or lying on your back.

  2. Inhale while counting 1…2…3…4

  3. Hold your breath & count 1…2…3…4

  4. Exhale while counting 1…2…3…4

  5. Hold your breath & count 1…2…3…4

  6. Repeat

Need more guidance? Here’s a tutorial.

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Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

My emotions always feel off when I haven’t had enough sleep. If I haven’t had at least 7 hours the night before, my day (and emotions) feel all over the place. “Studies have shown that even partial sleep deprivation has a significant effect on mood. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that subjects who were limited to only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for one week reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. When the subjects resumed normal sleep, they reported a dramatic improvement in mood.” (Sleep and Mood, Harvard Health). While it can be hard to get “normal sleep”, especially if you are prone to sleeplessness or insomnia, you can improve your sleep by amping up your sleep hygiene.

Tips for Better Rest

  1. Set your bedtime. Setting a bedtime (and sticking to it) will help your body form the habit of seeking rest at a specific time.

  2. Brain dump. Thoughts and emotions can keep us up at night. Practice a little purge writing before bed so that you can rest with a clear mind.

  3. Create a bedtime ritual. Getting yourself ready for bed helps your body slowly relax. My bedtime ritual? A warm shower or bath followed by a cup of hot tea.