5 Ways To Practice Real Self-Care

February 14, 2020

The notion that massages and manis are self-care needs to go. Self-care is not what you do but how you do it. It’s how you live your life day to day, how you talk to yourself and how you view yourself in the world – especially when times are tough. Getting out for a girls night, scheduling a spa day or having perfectly manicured nails are totally fine! Even encouraged if you enjoy them, but this is a watered down version of self-care and it’s not the kind of deep self-care that will change your life.

What will change everything for you is tuning up how you speak to yourself, especially in a moment of stress, upset, failure or frustration, what you choose to give your time each day to and how much value you place on your happiness. In Hangry, my co-author and podcast co-host Sarah Fragoso, and created this five pillar system to hold you up in your life, when it’s hard and even when it’s amazing. They will guide you to your bigger, better life and more joyful, more full expression of the amazing you that you were meant to be and share with the world. We think this is vital for your health – and happiness!

Hangry teaches you these habits over the course of 5 weeks, but here is the big picture view of these key perspectives for living a happier life.

These tools are life changing but you won’t master them in a month or even a year. Print out this guide so you can continue to refer to the tools that will help you put them into place.

Download the The Five Pillars of Real Self-Care

Get this guide to the Five Pillar System from Hangry and learn the tools to have more health and happier hormones with less stress.

#1 Find and Commit To What Works For You

Finding what works for you and your hormones can be a bit tricky. We show you how in Hangry! Or of course you can apply to work with me one on one where we really can dig in. When you do find it though what’s often even trickier is actually committing to that. Doing what works for you even when you really want that food that wrecks you. With great power, great responsibility – when you know better, choose to do better. Of course you may not always get it right but keep committing to what works. Grace over guilt.

Here are some tools to do this better:

Think about how you feel after – is your future self gonna be miserable or regretful?

Ask yourself why you would eat something that doesn’t work: comfort, convenience, just cuz it’s there, fills some other need, etc. Answer that riddle and see if you’re solving a problem with a cookie that needs to be solved with a conversation for example.

Realize that avoiding food that doesn’t work for you is not about restriction or punishment. It is actually about nourishment, it is actually an act of self-love.

Step away from the idea that food is bad or good, on plan or off plan and simply use a non-emotional framework of: food that works (eat a lot of this!), food that doesn’t work well (not great but doesn’t totally wreck you, eat this on occasion) and food that doesn’t work at all (avoid this unless accidentally exposed).

If you’re really struggling to do what works for you, know that it’s often not so much about convenience, knowledge or even the food itself but instead about priorities, self-love, self-worth, not wanting to feel confined by a dietary parameter, etc. None of these will not be solved by another diet book but instead by a mindset shift.

There may be foods that don’t work for you, that may feel unfair but it’s the truth. It may be true that it’s restrictive or unfair or you wish it were different but it’s useless to stay focused on that because it changes nothing! It’s TBU (true but useless). And when we stay mired in the struggle about it we are choosing that – and we can just as easily choose not to!


#2 Opt Out of Overwhelm

Most women say the biggest challenge to taking care of themselves is overwhelm either due to not enough time or confusion about where to even start. Hangry will help you know where to start when it comes to your hormones or you can take my online quiz but as for not enough time here are the tools that will help:

Live in gratitude. Start with the gratitude list (five things you are grateful for daily) but the goal is to live there all the time – like be nearly moved to tears when you think about what you’re grateful for in your life. The goal is not getting what you want but wanting what you’ve got.

Learn to set your priorities. In fact I suggest no more than five daily, your Top 5. Do what matters most to you, no guilt about not doing more than your Top 5, anything else is bonus.

To accomplish this you need to do two things: practice saying no and let something go.

Saying no can feel like we’re asking you cut off your arm, but it gets easier. Be firm, but polite. Be honest without giving a million excuses for your no. Skip saying “sorry I can’t” but rather just “I can’t”. And practice saying no to things you don’t care about like no thanks I don’t want bread with my salad or no thanks I don’t want sparkling water or no I don’t want fries with that. Practice, feel in your power about your no. Trust it gets easier to protect your time and energy but you have to start!

You can’t simply add more things to your already full plate, as you add healthy habits or new hobbies you have to take something off. Delegate it, hire it, share it or just drop it. We know how hard that sounds! Use these questions to guide you and see why it feel so important to you to do each thing:

Are you really the best person for this job? Is your time better spent elsewhere?

Does the value I place on this thing belong to me (or was it passed down from mom, family, society, internal pressure, etc.) and if so, do I want to keep it?

How does this impact who I want to be in the world?

How does this impact my family or most important relationship?

How does this impact my life purpose? (This can be your work/job or some other purpose or “work” you feel is yours to fulfill.)

How does this impact my health?

What is something you FEEL is important but when you ask yourself WHY you do it you don’t have a great reason?


#3 Full Engagement Living

This pillar is all about distraction and discomfort. We want you to do less of the former and more of the latter. Here are the tools to pull that off:

Decrease Distraction. We are constantly distracted whether by our phones, social media or other technology sometimes because we get sucked in (it’s designed that way!) or other times because we are avoiding something we don’t want to feel or deal with.

When you need to be focused or more present with your family and friends or if you simply are one to be “on your phone” then put that baby out of reach. In a closet or a high shelf, not just in your purse or pocket. Keep social media apps in folder on your phone with a title that reminds you that you don’t want to get sucked into comparison or wasting time. For example, title that folder “love and sharing” or “what are you here to do?” to remind yourself you aren’t there to waste time or get emotional hits. Or consider a 15-30 minute daily limit on social media if it tends to really take you in.

When you speak to those you care about don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say but rather focus on really listening. Don’t be thinking of other things or what you’ll say next, rather intently listen. Look them right in the eye. Give them undivided attention.

Increase your comfort with discomfort. Often when we’re distracting with social media, TV, shopping, wine, gossiping, etc. we are avoiding something uncomfortable. When we squirm away from facing the discomfort it only creates more stress and anxiety. The best way to the other side is right straight through it. So start putting your toe, then your foot, then your whole self into the uncomfortable hot water. It’s OK to go slow but know that the sooner you jump in the sooner you’ll be through it – or at least know it didn’t actually kill you to face it and you can see the next steps.

Start by making a list of where you feel uncomfortable, ill at ease, agitated, annoyed, frustrated, disappointed in your life. Without placing blame (even if there is plenty to around) look at who you are being in the situation. Ouch right? But there is your power, in changing how you view and respond to things.

Finally, my favorite tool for being more present: do something each day that can’t be undone. Tasks like folding laundry, washing dishes, answering emails, creating a presentation, grocery shopping, etc. keep us thinking of completing it which is the future, not the present. What’s perhaps even worse and that most of these things are undone almost as soon as you finish it! Instead when we do things that can’t be undone we get the peace that comes with being fully immersed or engaged in something. So create, write, draw, paint, hug someone, make a memory with your kids or friends, have a meaningful conversation. Do something that can’t be undone.


#4 Be Your Best Friend

For so long we’ve been fighting ourselves and our hormones, to get back on your own side you have to get better at listening to the chatter in your mind, those tapes that have been on repeat for as long as you can remember. There are typically two voices that speak to you loudest: your best friend and your worst critic. We want you to acknowledge but quiet the critic and tune in to and cultivate the best friend voice, here’s how you know what’s what up there:

The worst critic is great at justifying, making a lot of excuses and feeling entitled. She can be whiny or snarky and will bring you a bottle of wine when you are trying to drink less because you “deserve it”. This voice will encourage another workout and another diet, pushing you into exhaustion and constantly remind you that your best is never good enough.

The best friend voice on the other hand is kind but not above telling you the truth if it’s helpful. She is practical, nurturing and a real cheerleader. She won’t bring you over wine if she knows you’re trying to cut back and she doesn’t make a lot of excuses because she knows you caring for yourself needs absolutely no justification. She will suggest a nap instead of a workout if you are sick or low on sleep. She will appreciate your hard work even when things don’t pan out. She’s encouraging but not pushy, she’s got your back.


#5 Be Who You Are

If you feel so disconnected from who you are outside of your roles of mother, teacher, daughter, wife, sister, friend, employee, boss, breadwinner, head of family, etc. start by writing a list of things you used to love doing but no longer feel you have time for or have been scared to do for one reason or another – or find something new to love! What we’re talking about here are things you will do simply because they bring you joy, fill you up and allow you to feel the peace that only being who you can give. No means to an end, no agenda, simply stuff that makes you happy.

When you know what you want to do or explore that baby better bubble up to the top of your Top 5 priority list! This how you live a more complete version of you, in full expression of who you so uniquely are. And what in the heck is more stressful than not being who you are?

This can be uncomfortable for you and those around you at first! Everyone is used to you as is, whether you’re miserable or not! As you start finding your voice and your authenticity again use these tools to guide you:

Be unapologetically who you are. Count how many times you say “sorry” in a day. I bet it nears the double digits for most of you. Save sorry for when it’s truly warranted, when you’ve done something you should not have. Not for saying “sorry” when you don’t want to eat something with gluten in it if it doesn’t work for you. Not sorry for guarding your time for yourself. Not sorry for expressing your truth. In fact, practice saying “pardon me” or “excuse me” instead of sorry when you bump into someone. It’s such a ubiquitous part of our vocab that many of us are a literally a walking apology.

Take a compliment. This comes on the heels of saying sorry less as so many times women get a compliment and we immediately make excuses for how we should’ve shown up even better. Consider this: someone tells a new mom three months postpartum how great she looks. She responds with, “Really? Oh gosh I had hoped to be back in my pre-baby jeans by now. I’m having such a hard time working out cuz I’m so tired and the baby is so fussy” and on and on she goes. When the right response is just “Thank you!” How you show up – especially when it comes to how your body looks – needs absolutely NO APOLOGY. Post baby or not but so often we receive a compliment and then just sorry all over it. Practice simply being gracious and save your sorry for when it’s really needed.

Loosen your attachment to what others think. We know, it’s ingrained in us to be aware at the least, paralyzed at the worst by what others think. This keeps us from doing exercises at the gym we may fumble with at first, cuz we’ll look silly. It keeps us from giving our opinion because, yikes what kind of women will they think I am if I say that? It keeps us in a million ways not living in full expression of who we are because we fear judgement, ridicule, pain, argument, upset or hurting someone’s feelings.

First, don’t be a jerk. I know you aren’t, but when we fear hurting someone’s feelings we can always rest assured that if our intentions were from a kind heart and respectfully being who we are we can opt not to feel guilty or try to manage someone’s responses to our truth. So be kind but be you. Second, while some people will give you their two cents about what you think or what you’re doing, most people are so worried about what you’re thinking about them they aren’t even noticing what you’re doing! Its human nature to care what others thinks, but when you wriggle away from it you’ll be so much more at peace with being who you are.

Again, be sure you download the guide so you have these tools at the ready as you start to implement this REAL self-care in your life. And if you don’t have a copy of Hangry yet, what are you waiting for? We teach this again over the course of 5 weeks all the while helping you determine what nutrition, lifestyle and exercise strategies will work best for your current hormone issues.

Download the The Five Pillars of Real Self-Care

Get this guide to the Five Pillar System from Hangry and learn the tools to have more health and happier hormones with less stress.

Dr Brooke Kalanick, ND, MS, LAc

Dr Brooke Kalanick is a naturopathic and functional medicine physician specializing in thyroid issues, autoimmunity, histamine intolerance, and women's hormone issues including PCOS, perimenopause, endometriosis and infertility. She is the best selling co-author of HANGRY: Balance Your Hormones & Restore Your Joy in 5 Simple Steps. She is also the co-host of the Sarah & Dr Brooke Show podcast. To learn more about Dr Brooke click here.

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