Self-Care Houston, Episode 15: Micki Fine joins Jennifer in a conversation about the importance of developing mindful daily living: “Waking up to life and what it means to be fully human.” Micki is the founder and director of Mindful Living and pioneer of mindfulness in Houston, Texas. She is the author of, “The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills for Gaining Freedom from Chronic People Pleasing and Approval Seeking.” She is also in the process of publishing a children’s book about Loving Kindness. You can find Micki and her mindfulness workshops at Living Mindfully. Subscribe in iTunes.
- The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills for Gaining Freedom from Chronic People Pleasing and Approval Seeking, by Micki Fine
- @Kids Loving Kindness Facebook Page
- Mindful Living Workshops
Self-Care Houston, Episode 14: In this solo podcast, Jennifer Christian shares micro self-care practices for therapists and other healing professions (physicians, spiritual leaders, etc). Jennifer introduces tiny little practices to sprinkle throughout the day that reduce the possibility of burnout and build resilience during times of crisis. Subscribe in iTunes.
A Day Sprinkled with Micro Self-Care
(Grounding, Energizing, and Relaxing Practices, Ashley Davis Bush)
- Wake up – All You Need is Love (Grounding, Web of Interconnectedness) – Grounding
- Drive to Work – Dashboard Breathing (Gratitude, Breath Work) – Grounding, Relaxing
- Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile. Dwelling in this present moment, this moment is full of wonder. (Thich Nhat Hahn)
- Before you begin your day: Rock of Connectedness – Grounding
- Before each session: Door Knob of Meaning – Grounding
- Mid-day break: Holding Pose (with breathing) – Relaxing
- Nap (Actually macro care… but, I am one of those people that do better with one J)
- Qi Gong (7 minutes of magic) – Energizing
- At end of workday: Punch Out Positive (H.E.A.L.) – Think of 3 things you did well and hold the good for 20 seconds for each one (Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson): Energizing
- Driving home: Grove of Trees – Grounding
- Highs and Lows with family members or a good friend – Grounding, Connecting
- Hip flexor stretches – Relaxing, Letting go (Yoga Journal)
- Go to Sleep – Gratitude breath prayer or breathing practice (Relaxing, Grounding)
- (Bush, Ashley Davis (2015). “Simple Self-Care for Therapists: Restorative Practices to Weave Through Your Work Day.”)
- Bush, Ashley Davis (2015). “Simple Self-Care for Therapists: Restorative Practices to Weave Through Your Work Day.”
- Muller, Wayne (1999). “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives.”
- Williams, Mark and Penman, Danny (2011). “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.”
- Daniel Goleman’s TED talk, “Why Aren’t We More Compassionate?”
Self-Care Houston, Episode 12: Dr. Jeff Christian joins Jennifer in a conversation about how to build communities of trust within a larger culture that cultivates distrust. How can we build resilient practices into our marriages, families, and local communities that will help us address challenges in healthier ways? Jeff is the preaching minister at the Bering Drive Church of Christ in the Galleria area of Houston. Subscribe in iTunes.
Brené Brown’s talk, “The Anatomy of Trust“
David Steindl-Rast’s TED talk, “Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful“
Self-Care Houston, Episode 11: In this solo podcast, Jennifer Christian continues her discussion about anxiety from Episode 10, Anxiety Cycle. Jennifer discusses how building emotional regulation muscles and practicing shame resilience add to the self-care toolbox. Subscribe in iTunes.
Resources from this Episode:
- Kim Fredrickson, “Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend“
- Wonder Woman Learns Health Boundaries
- Writing Your Own Self-Care List
Brené Brown, “The Anatomy of Trust“
- Brené Brown interview with Oprah, “Shame Resilience“
- Kelly McGonigal’s TED talk: “Make Stress Your Friend“
- Breathing and Meditation App, Calm.com
- Emotional Freedom Tapping
- Savor Gratitude Blog
Self-Care Houston, Episode 3: Kim Fredrickson joins Jennifer in a conversation about being a compassionate friend to yourself when you go through difficult times. Kim is a retired marriage and family therapist and the author of “Give Yourself A Break: Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Compassionate Friend.” Subscribe in iTunes.
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- Kim Fredrickson’s Website
- Facebook Group: The Self-Compassion Club
- Kim Fredrickson’s Youtube Channel
- 2 Self-Compassion Recordings: Compassionate Self-Statements and Self-Soothing Exercises and
Kind Words to Soothe Your Soul
- Article in the Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Newsletter: The Day I Found Out I Needed Supplemental Oxygen
- Public Kindness Facebook Community: A Word Imagined
Self-Care Houston, Episode 1: Shannon McLain joins Jennifer in a conversation about the practice of Self-Compassion. Shannon is a mind-body medicine practitioner and certified health and wellness coach at The Center for Intentional Healing.
Subscribe in iTunes.
Loving Kindness Meditation with Shannon McLain
Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend, by Kim Fredrickson
As a part of the celebration, Shannon McClain and I are teaching our workshop on Self-Compassion at the Healing Space. We would love for you to join us. Be sure to RSVP. Space is limited. (713) 520-6800, email@example.com.
- Date: May 11
- Time: 6:30-8:00
I am excited to do something a little different this week. Kim Fredrickson, counselor and author of the book, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend, graciously contributed a guest post as part of the conversation going on in the Kindness Community, A Word Imagined. Her message is both inspirational and healing for me personally and to many throughout the world. Thank you, Kim, for blessing us with your generous contribution:
Healing Power of Kindness
I’m so blessed to offer words of compassion and kindness today. Our world desperately needs the healing power of kindness. We need kindness when we are hurt, and we need kindness when we are the ones doing the hurting.
But how do we muster kindness for others from within? How do we speak words of compassion to others when our own inner critic speaks so loudly about our own mistakes and faults? That is the question…
The well of kindness we want to give others starts with a more compassionate relationship with ourselves.
A Compassionate Friend
Being a compassionate friend to ourselves helps us become better friends, spouses, parents, bosses and co-workers. We have more love and energy to give others when we are in a more settled place inside and aren’t wasting time and energy fighting with our inner critic.
But wait! Isn’t this just being selfish and self-centered? The answer is a resounding “No.” Jesus knew we’d have trouble figuring this out, so He explained it here:
Mark 12:28–31 says: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest and He gave them two commandments encompassed by one principle: Love.
Love God with everything in you. Love your neighbor, and use your model for loving them as the way you love yourself.
Wait! What? Our model for loving others is how we love ourselves? Uh oh! Wait…I’m judgmental toward myself for lots of things! Exactly.
Wanting to be kind toward others is good, very good. We can even sustain this effort for a while if we try really hard.
A Changed Heart
We need God’s love to permeate our heart, mind and soul. We need His love and kindness to fill us in order to share with others. But, His love for us alone isn’t enough. That is what He’s talking about in Mark 12 – Love is a three-part deal…love God, love yourself and love others. Unless we also learn to love ourselves and be compassionate with ourselves, our inner critic will sabotage our heartfelt efforts to be kind to others. The ways we are critical of ourselves will spill onto others. Without meaning to, we will judge others harshly for the things we’ve never forgiven ourselves for.
We cannot live a life of kindness, if we do not have kindness and compassion for ourselves. Until we face our own brokenness with compassion and forgiveness, we cannot truly love others in the ways we want for the long haul.
We want to be changed people, instruments of healing and love to this very broken world. We want to do this as a lifestyle, and pass it on to our children, friends, family and community for generations to come.
To live a life of kindness requires a changed heart.
Practicing self-compassion changes our heart. As I treat myself with the care and compassion I would give a good friend who is struggling, I have more love to give others.
Improve Well-being and Relationships
Many studies link the practice of self-compassion to an increase in emotional resiliency, self-worth and contentment; reduced stress and healthier relationships. We become better friends, spouses, parents, bosses, co-workers, etc. We handle disappointments more smoothly and understand our own humanness, which helps us handle the humanness of those around us.
Just as I am an imperfect person, with great worth and value, so are those around me. The internal transformation of accepting God’s love for us and then extending it to ourselves, sets the stage for the sharing of that love and kindness with others.
Don’t worry if you haven’t got a clue how to turn your inner critic into a compassionate friend. You can learn, and your heart, family, community and world will never be the same.
We can all share great ideas on how to build more positivity into our society. Join the conversation on our public Facebook group, A Word Imagined, to share ideas.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought it would be a nice time to focus on the healing benefits of a gratitude practice. I experienced an impact when my husband and I decided to start an active gratitude practice about five years ago. Over time we noticed subtle changes in our home, stress levels, and marriage. Recently, I spoke to a group about the benefits of gratitude in a marriage relationship. My teenage son happened to be in attendance. During the comments time he told the group about the positive difference he noticed in our family. He said he could tell a difference in the way my husband and I related to one another. It was incredible to hear our son share his own experience of our decision to practice gratitude as a couple.
Gratitude Nourishes the Brain
An active gratitude practice has the power to change the way we think and feel. According to neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson, where we choose to place our focus has the power to shape our brains.
“If you rest your mind on self-criticism, worries, grumbling about others, hurts, and stress, then your brain will be shaped into greater reactivity, vulnerability to anxiety and depressed mood, a narrow focus on threats and losses, and inclinations toward anger, sadness and guilt. On the other hand, if you rest your mind on good events and conditions (someone was nice to you, or there’s a roof over your head), pleasant feelings, the things you do get done, physical pleasures, and your good intentions and qualities, then over time your brain will take on a different shape, one with strength and resilience hardwired into it, as well as a realistically optimistic outlook, a positive mood, and a sense of worth.” (Hanson, 2013)
Gratitude Builds Resilience to Stress
Over the past few months I paired my gratitude practice with an app called the Heartmath Inner Balance Trainer. The Inner Balance Trainer has a heart rate monitor that works with a smart phone or tablet to guides your breath while it monitors your heart rate. As you breathe, you bring to mind gratitude and thoughts of compassion. The science of Heartmath has shown a powerful correlation to our heart rhythm pattern and our emotions:
“When we experience uplifting emotions such as gratitude, joy, compassion, and love; our heart rhythm pattern becomes highly ordered, looking like a smooth, harmonious wave. It’s no wonder that positive emotions feel so good – they actually help our body’s systems synchronize and work better.
During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. The heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes – actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress.” (www.heartmath.com/innerbalance/)
Gratitude Over the Holidays
The holidays add stress to our normal daily routines. In my last blog post, I discussed how “turning down the thermometer” on stress can create balance, especially since practicing gratitude has proven to reduce stress. The article “Seven Powerful Ways Gratitude Can Change Your Life” shows multiple ways this practice can enhance your health and your relationships.
I wish you and your families a grateful Thanksgiving. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support of Jennifer Christian Counseling. I am deeply thankful.
Hanson, Rick, Ph.D. (2013). Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.
I hear more and more people talking about stress. Increased feelings of stress. I hear it on Facebook, emails from friends and family, even in everyday conversations. I spoke recently on the topic of self-compassion and stress-management at a major corporation in Houston. After I finished, I was amazed at the number of women that came to talk with me about their own struggle with stress and anxiety. The number of personal stories validated the stress in our society and the feeling of being overwhelmed as we attempt to manage too many expectations.
Most people experience an abundance of stress. The election and approaching holidays add an extra layer of stress and worry. The stressors are not going away, but we can use helpful tools to take extra care of our relationships and ourselves.
3 Types of Stress
Before we talk about balancing stress, it is helpful to understand how stress functions in our daily life. In simple terms, we face three types of stress: balanced, acute, and chronic. Whenever I talk about types of stress, I like to use the example of a zebra.
- Balanced Stress: When a zebra is lion-free, he is in a balanced state. A balanced state is the ability to relax and also be ready for threat when stress is present. The zebra can relax, eat juicy nutrient grass, enjoy his zebra companions, and play with his zebra kids and wife. Balanced stress is like getting the temperature just right on a thermostat.
- Acute Stress: When a zebra senses a nearby lion, everything centers on the threat of the lion. Stress chemicals and hormones release to focus all energy toward reacting to the lion. All internal systems shut down to focus energy on escape. The zebra will not sleep, digest, enjoy intimacy, or relax until the threat has been averted. When the lion leaves, the zebra’s body readjusts to a normal, balanced state. Eating, intimacy, relaxation, and play resume.
- Chronic Stress: In the zebra world, chronic stress does not exist. Chronic stress would be similar to the experience of a lion stalking the zebra 24-7. This chronic stress negatively impacts the zebra’s digestive system, sleep, intimacy, and leads to chronic fatigue. Imagine driving a car continuously even when the temperature gauge shows the car overheating. Keep driving, and the car will break down.
What does a zebra have to do with me?
The human body’s threat system is much like a zebra’s threat system, except for some important factors that maintain chronic stress and make it difficult to rebalance:
- The stressors at work, home, and in our society do not go away.
- We have the ability to replay past mistakes or rehearse worry about future threats.
- We can be harsh with ourselves in our own minds. Some of us talk to ourselves in a way that we would never talk to a loved one. Negative self-talk is like having a lion in our heads 24-7.
How does chronic stress impact our bodies?
When we are in a state of constant stress, our bodies continually stay in threat mode. Like the zebra, all of our internal systems are diverted to face the threat. We keep driving our bodies even though the temperature gauge is redlining. Unaddressed chronic stress impacts our digestive system, our ability to sleep, intimacy, our ability to think clearly, as well as our joy in daily life.
Adjust the thermostat
The first step in compassionate stress management is to take a moment to notice. Where is my internal temperature gauge right now?
- Issues with digestion
- Relationship difficulties
- Sleep difficulties
We can feel so rushed that we may not notice what is happening in our own bodies. Can we give ourselves permission to pause at least a couple of times during the day and check in? Allowing ourselves to notice may be challenging. The stressors can seem too big. For instance, what if I feel torn between my work and my responsibilities at home? What if my marriage is struggling? These issues take time to explore. Reaching out to a counselor can offer much needed support to take a close look at some tough areas. The counseling process organically creates options for moving forward and reducing stress.
The second step is to respond with care. What do I need? Explore different tools and see what brings some needed stress relief.
Resources for Stress Relief:
- 4-7-8 breathing – calms the nervous system and improved breathing
- Emotional Freedom Tapping – clears emotional blocks and calms the nervous system
- Compassionate Self-Talk – compassionately addresses the habit of negative self-criticism
- Compassion and Anger – Calm the threat system physio-biologically with compassion toward self
- The Benefits of Cultivating Gratitude for Stress Relief