Ep. 156 Q&A: Emotional Inflammation & Trusting Your Body - theuncensoredempath.com

Ep. 156 Q&A: Emotional Inflammation & Trusting Your Body

Listen Here:

In this episode, I discuss:

  • Learn about emotional inflammation and how it impacts your body
  • How to identify what creates a sense of safety in your body
  • The power of trusting the resiliency of your body in pregnancy
  • Advice for establishing balance and boundaries when working remotely

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BOOK: 21 Days of Healing

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Uncensored Empath, a place for us to discuss highly sensitive energy, illness, healing, and transformation. My name is Sarah Small, and I’m a life and success coach for empaths who want to create a thriving body, business, and life. Think of this podcast as your no-BS guide to navigating life, health, and entrepreneurship. You’ll get straight to the point, totally holistic tips from me in real-time as I navigate this healing and growth journey right beside you. This is a Soul Fire production.

Welcome to another episode. You guys have been loving these Q&As, and it’s so fun to be able to tag those of you who have asked questions and say, “Hey, your question is answered in this episode.” So thank you for continuing to submit your questions, and we’ll go through a few more today. Just wanted to pause before we jump into the questions and also just give a little bit of an update. It is almost one year, one whole year since the official publication date of 21 Days of Healing. It kind of snuck up on me. All of a sudden, looked to the calendar. And actually, this episode is going to be released on that day on November 16th, 2020, and 21 Days of Healing, my workbook, was published on November 16th, 2019. So I’m just celebrating that this week. And I also have some fun things coming for you guys. If you’re not already following on social media, make sure you are over at The Uncensored Empath.

I’m also excited to announce that I am moving into my second trimester of pregnancy and starting to finally feel like a human again. And boy, does it feel good. So you’ll start to see more of me over on social media. And again, I have some fun things planned for this week around the anniversary of 21 Days of Healing. We’ll also link to Amazon in the show notes in case you don’t already have a copy. I would love for you to purchase a copy and also to leave a review on Amazon after you go through your 21 Days of Healing. All right, so back on track. Let’s start diving into these questions.

Advice for establishing balance and boundaries when working remotely

The first is from Chelsea. She writes, “I’d like to hear more about emotional inflammation. I struggle with inflammation, and I’ve been working hard to learn my emotions as well as understand where they’re coming from.”

I love this. And it’s one of the questions I get asked most frequently because not many people talk about emotional inflammation. When I started using this term, probably three years ago, and it was before actually, I saw it anywhere else. So I don’t think I created it but it’s certainly a term I use pretty frequently. And oftentimes people haven’t heard of that term before and so they often like to hear it broke down, like what does this mean? So I want to break it down for you and so the whole listening audience can understand better what emotional inflammation is, and again, how that may be affecting you on a physical level. This is very timely because we just wrapped up module seven inside of my coach training program, Eliminated, which is the emotional roots of illness. So here’s how we can start this journey, this story of the emotion within your human body.

Emotions are energy. And there’s actually not a consensus on a formal, singular definition of what an emotion is. It’s something that we can look at where they’re stored in the brain, we can look at how they present themselves, but not only are there a range of emotions, and each motion carries a different frequency, but at the core, they’re energy. And so I’m going to be speaking about emotions in terms of energy today. But again, each emotion has a different frequency. More positive or traditionally thought of positive emotions are higher frequency and one of the lowest frequency emotions is shame. So these emotions that are energy live in our body, and oftentimes they’re expressed on a physical level. Think about that for a moment. How do you express your emotions, if you do express your emotions, on a physical level? Maybe tears, maybe laughter, maybe more anxiety or anxious symptoms like clenching of the fist or jittering or fidgeting with your hands. Maybe you have a rapid heartbeat, increased heart rate when you get nervous or excited. And as these emotions express themselves on the physical level, that energy is then processed, it moves through you, it has more of an outlet. That’s why it feels really good after a good, long cry. But if for whatever reason, we’ve been taught that it’s not okay to express these emotions, to hold back your tears, to not laugh so loud, to hide your anxiety in order to not make other people feel uncomfortable, then that expression is now repressed. And unexpressed emotions or repressed emotions begin to accumulate energetically within our body and that leads to this emotional inflammation.

So you can think about it very similar to the way that sugar creates inflammation in our body. You eat sugar for breakfast, and lunch and dinner, especially highly processed high levels of sugar, that’s also going to lead to inflammation. Just like an emotion, let’s say you’re angry in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and you don’t express it or you don’t have a healthy way to express it, or you’ve been told that it’s not okay to express it, maybe the love you receive from people will be threatened or at risk if you express that anger, so you repress, you repress, you repress, and again, it builds up throughout the day. Most likely, this is built up over many, many years, if not decades in people’s bodies. So we begin to repress, and again, this is often taught in society, in our family structure, our family system, or in school, even just that “hush, hush, shhh, be quiet.” And so if as a child, we were told to shush very often, we may not feel like it’s safe to even express verbally how we’re feeling, or that what we feel doesn’t truly matter, so keep it to ourselves. So we repress, repress, repress, the inflammation builds and builds and builds.

And this becomes a habit for us in our body, where if we don’t have an outlet to express, if we don’t feel safe expressing our emotions, then it’s going to eventually lead to burnout, or to an inflammation that then manifests more into a physical form, like an illness, like a disease. Maybe you’ve noticed that after a hard time in your life, an extended period of stress, a time of crisis, a breakup, a big move, after these moments, you may have noticed in your life how you tend to get sick after these big stressful events. And that’s because the mind and the body are connected. So naturally, if the emotions that you’re feeling at the core are not expressed, that’s going to send a different signal to your physical body, to all the cells in your body, then if you do express your emotions. And if you want to understand some of the science behind this even deeper, I highly recommend Dr. Candace Pert, and her discovery of neuropeptides and the way that these neuropeptides bind to the receptors of cells in our body based on the different emotions that we’re feeling.

And so when we zoom back out and we talk about emotional inflammation, it’s not so unlike a physical inflammation that if you eat a high inflammatory diet over time, over time, over time, you’re going to start to feel the effects of it. It’s the same with emotional inflammation. If over time, you repress, repress, repress, that’s eventually going to build and you’re going to feel it on a physical level over time. And we can see this in terms of addiction, anxiety, sadness, depression, of feeling just stuck, stuck and stagnant in life. And so it’s so important to be able to have the emotional intelligence and the toolbox to be able to process integrate, digest, release emotions as they come into our life, versus allowing them to be these ticking time bombs that are eventually going to explode.

Some of the sweetest kindest people I’ve ever met in my life are also the most explosive. I’m not saying every sweet or kind person you meet is bound to explode, but is this sweetness and kindness authentic, or is it at a sacrifice of repressing, repressing, repressing how they actually feel? And that ticking time bomb may not go off in front of you, it may actually go off in private. But we all have negative emotions, even those sweet, sweet, sweet, kind people you know in your life. They have negative emotions, whether they express it or show it to you or not. And the last thing I want to add here is just that, if you’ve had a very unstable childhood or trauma in your life, then sometimes our body gets stuck in fight-flight-freeze, in survival mode. And when we’re in survival mode, we are operating on the most basic needs level. So processing emotions does not feel like a high priority when we’re in survival. Instead, the priority is “Get my basic needs met, stay safe, stay safe, stay safe, protect yourself, put up your defense.” And so what I’ve found is that there’s a history of trauma or again, just unstable childhood that has led to this chronic state of stress in the body, then it becomes even more challenging to have the tools, to have the space, to have it’d be a priority to process emotions in life.

And so if you’re somebody listening, going “Oh, this is so me. It’s so hard for me to express myself”, I don’t want you to blame yourself. I don’t want you to get down on yourself. I want you to ask yourself questions about where did you learn that it wasn’t safe to express or what things have happened in your life that has caused emotions not to be a priority and for your body to be more in a survival state on a consistent basis. And to come to a deeper understanding of the “why” behind emotional inflammation. And then the first step is not to get angry. It could be helpful but typically, when I work with clients in a group setting or one on one, we focus on those people who are in survival mode, first, on starting to downregulate the nervous system and feel safe again, then we get all sorts of expressive. But first, we create a safe, supportive environment where it feels like they can actually entertain the idea of being angry without major consequences, without major threat, without triggering their nervous system even into a deeper state of survival. So just wanted to add that point as well, in case this is something that’s resonating with you. And if you do have a history of trauma or unstable childhood or stuck in a survival mode, you may just want to start with down-regulating the nervous system, and starting to build more systems of safety, and then start to dip your toes into expressing the emotions. And that’s the really great news here is it’s never too late. It’s never too late to release some of these suppressed emotions that are now creating this inflammation.

For me, the inflammation often presents itself as physical pain, chronic pain, even as Fibromyalgia in my back especially. And I want the whole world to be able to release and reduce this emotional inflammation. And so if this is the first time you’re learning about this, and this mind-body connection, I encourage you to start by building systems of safety in your life. And then let’s start to talk more about expressing your emotions and becoming more aware of even just being able to identify this emotion from that emotion because again, they all have different frequencies. And the more emotionally intelligent and in tune you become, the more you can identify the difference between embarrassment and shame from happiness and joy that might feel very similar, but you notice these subtle differences in your body when you really begin to tune in to the emotions versus repress the emotions.

How to identify what creates a sense of safety in your body

So I want to move on to the next question from Nancy. And it’s actually a perfect follow up because it’s about safety. So Nancy writes, “Hi Sarah, I’m wondering about feeling safe in your body when there are unsafe things going on around us. Breathing and meditation help me feel centered and less activated. However, I seem to always have an undercurrent of anxiety. It makes sense to me, given the current global situation; your take would be great.”

Okay, so I want to approach this from many different angles, partially because what it means to feel safe is actually different for each of us. So some of us feel really, really safe when we are being comforted by another human being, when we are fulfilled in this sense of belonging, of connectedness to others. Others of us feel really safe when we have a home that quite literally feels safe, like there are no physical threats going on around us in the home. And so this is something for each of you to reflect on of what actually makes you feel safe, creates a sense of safety in your body. Because, again, what I really need most to feel safe may be different than what you really, really need most to feel safe. And even depending on the situation or environment, that can shift a bit as well.

What I find to be really, really helpful in identifying what are the things that make you feel most safe, is going back to your childhood and asking your inner child what did she need in order to feel safe that she may not have received at that time. And you can pick any age, trust your intuition if there’s a certain age that pops into your mind, and go back and imagine looking at, standing in front of, and talking with this little girl that was once you, that still is you, and ask her what did she need to feel safe. What, if anything, still hasn’t been fulfilled in order to feel safe now? And you can get so many clues and gather so much information from this younger version of you.

So for example, if you were raised in a household that was not very communicative, people didn’t talk about, well, let’s say anything in your household. And so there wasn’t a place for you to talk about what was going on, how you were feeling, what you were worried about, what was going on in school, and you never had a place to express yourself, then you may have learned that it’s not okay, it’s not safe to have really open conversations where we’re just really putting it out there and saying how we’re feeling. And now at this age, that fear has carried with you. “It’s not safe to express myself. We don’t talk about things like that in this household. We don’t talk about things in general in this household. It’s safer to be quiet.” And so the perception now may be it’s safer to stay quiet but you’re noticing that your nervous system does not in fact feel safe, even though that’s the thought that goes along with safety. And so we can go back to the inner child and go, “What did you really need? I know what was happening, I know what you were thinking, I know what you were told, but what did you really need to feel safe at that time?”

And I don’t know, you have to ask yourself, but maybe that little girl really just needed someone to talk to where she wasn’t going to feel judged. And that is a huge clue now to today, and what this adult version of you at this age today may need to feel safe. She may need someone to be able to express herself with and to, to confide in, to just be able to talk openly to. Each of these situations is going to be potentially drastically different for each person but I wanted to provide an example in case that did resonate with you, and to also show you what that process may look like if you were to go back and to speak to that inner child, that younger version of you and ask some of these questions to gather some of these clues and information to help you define what safety really means to you now at this moment in your life.

I also want to look at this question, and Nancy brought up the current global situation. And while I’m not going to dive into that in major detail, I do want to speak to that in regards to the empath community, the highly sensitive community, the intuitive community that may be picking up, sponging, and absorbing so much from our external world right now. And when we are sponges, sponges, sponges, you guys have heard me talk about this before, but if we continue to sponge, sponge, sponge, that’s not only going to – going back to our last question – create emotional inflammation, but when we are so almost disoriented and ungrounded by all these external assaults and factors of energy, then that triggers a survival mode, a stress state as well. And we don’t feel safe when we’re in a stressful state. So my question would be, are you protecting your energy? Are you closing yourself off when you need to, from some of the more assaultive energy of the world right now? And if not, are there some practices that you can begin to implement into your day to day life, especially given the current climate of the world, to be able to protect your energy? This is something I teach in Intuitive Soul School and other courses. I’m sure you can also find other resources online but sometimes it’s the visualizations, sometimes it’s a guided meditation, sometimes it’s literally zipping up your energy or creating a bubble or a shield depending on the situation, and protecting your energy from the world.

There are also tangible things that you can do like not watching the news or just taking a break or not watching it for as many hours or resisting the urge to scroll on social media because that can all protect your energy as well. Simply removing yourself from the vast amount of energy that exists can minimize how much you’re even able to sponge as a byproduct of not being around as much energy. So that’s very important for empaths during this time.

Nancy had two great suggestions that I want to reiterate, which is breathwork and meditation. And she said that those help her feel centered and less activated. So breathwork and meditation are great ways to downregulate your nervous system. An upregulated nervous system equals a stress state. It equals a sympathetic nervous system. Down regulating is a more relaxed, peaceful state and that’s your parasympathetic nervous system. What’s really fascinating, and I teach inside of Illuminated, is that when we take a deep breath, and that means you’re breathing, not just into the top of your lungs, that would be a shallow breath, but a deep breath all the way into the base of your lungs, and you’re filling all the way up, even more full than you ever thought you could. What that does is activates these receptors of your parasympathetic nervous system – again, that’s the relaxed state – because we have parasympathetic receptors in the bottom part of our lungs. So it is an instantaneous signaling or messenger to your nervous system to calm down when you take a deep breath all the way into the base of your lungs.

Now there are many styles of breathwork I teach one called conscious connected breath, and I train my Illuminated students in it. Super, super powerful. It’s great for subconscious reprogramming but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s as simple as taking a deep, deep breath and signaling to your nervous system that it’s okay to relax and it’s okay to calm down. And when we do that, that’s the opposite of feeling, threatened. It’s the opposite of feeling unsafe in your body. So you can tell your body through breath that it is safe.

Meditation is not so dissimilar. When we start to close our eyes, and there’s a million different types and styles of meditation, but what is generally consistent amongst all those styles of meditation is that we close our eyes and we tune into ourselves. Maybe there’s some breath, maybe there’s a mantra, maybe there’s a guided visualization. There could be other parts to this meditation but the consistency is that you’re tuning in. It’s not silent. That’s a misconception of meditation. It’s not silent, meaning there’s an absence of all thought. Instead, you are aware and attuned to what’s happening in your body. And maybe it kind of comes in and flows out like a wave. Some days are harder than others. Regardless when you tune into your body and you begin to notice, that is also a very empowering way to, through the noticing, through the awareness, be able to address what might be happening, what you’re feeling, what physical sensations are coming up. Were you holding on to tension or pain? Where are your thoughts wanting to wander off to? All of these clues to what’s just happening in your body that you may have been avoiding, adding more stress, more stress, more survival, more feeling unsafe. And instead, when you tune in, it gives us a really clear path out of that constriction, out of the sympathetic nervous system.

It’s also very important for empaths, especially to have consistent outlets for release. So yeah, one deep breath is awesome but if you’re not going to continue to do that, that one deep breath didn’t do too much. So every day, take a deep breath, multiple times a day, take a deep breath. Or let’s say you do a visualization of a protective bubble. Well, if you do it one day, awesome, but if it’s consistent, then it’s going to work better. It’s going to allow you to be continuously tapping into the intention of energetic protection, versus one and done or even something more physical and tangible like a salt bath. Salt bath, I think of as, not only does it have physical detox support, but it also helps you energetically think of the salt pulling out any toxins or energetic inflammation from your body. And so if you take one salt bath, you might feel freakin’ amazing afterward but if you don’t take another one for a year, then that’s not going to be super supportive for your nervous system and feeling safe. So consistent outlets for protection, for release, for tuning into your body. The more habitual we can make these practices, the better it’s going to work for you.

And then two other things I would add are just simply getting your basic needs met. So this goes back to safety being a different need for each person. Sometimes our basic needs just need to be met I notice my nervous system gets pretty upregulated when I haven’t slept enough or I haven’t eaten enough. So sleep in order to digest energy is super helpful. Water to help cleanse energy, food to nourish yourself. Literally, a shelter, a place to stay that feels safe for you. Love, Love is a basic need. Inviting more love into your life that can take on many different forms. So getting those basic needs, some of which I just used as an example, getting those met is going to help, on a basic operating level, your body feel safer.

Sleep is a huge trigger for me personally. If I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like my wires get crossed and just nothing works. So we’ll see how having a baby and being a mother goes for me but I know that about myself. I know that when I don’t get enough sleep, I feel very frazzled. So that’s going to be something I need to prioritize in whatever form I can get that sleep when baby does come.

And then the last thing I want to add is just that the more aware you can become of when– Like, what are your triggers? When do you get upregulated? When do you not feel safe? Going back to Nancy’s question, I wonder about feeling safe in your body, right? The undercurrent that’s constantly there. Well, are there moments when you do feel it peak or spike? Do you notice when you turn on the news it spikes? Do you notice when you don’t get enough sleep it spikes? Do you notice when you haven’t stepped outside or gone for a walk that morning it spikes? Do you notice when it’s around certain topics of conversation or the political climate that it spikes? Is it about COVID when it spikes? And really tuning into when do you upregulate? When does it feel like you start to hit your edges and max out on like, “Okay, this is too much.” And when you start to take inventory, then you can know what those kind of hotspots, those triggers are for you. You can either avoid them, sometimes they’re not completely avoidable so you maybe create more boundaries around them or minimize them to some extent. It just depends on what it is. The more inventory you can take on “What is it that’s making me not feel safe?”, more tangibly in this moment of your life, may be mixed in with what didn’t feel safe for you as a little girl. That’s going to paint a pretty holistic picture of what your body really needs right now.

I have recently been using Blissoma skincare products and there’s a super fun and quiz when you go to their website and you can discover which plant is your perfect match because all these plants have personalities and energies as well. I took the quiz, I got Marshmallow, which I think is so funny. And it’s a perennial herb with a strong root system, flower stocks that extend four feet tall and it’s all about being the ultimate caretaker. And I find that I definitely apply that to my skin routine as well. So Blissoma blends whole herbs with radical compassion to create, profoundly balancing skincare, which is especially important for people like myself who tend to be on the extra sensitive side with their skin. The product I’m loving right now is the Omega Miracle Facial Oil, and it has over 10 oils, cold-pressed and unrefined from these very rare seeds that are the perfect weight on your skin, and what I’ve found are just super, super healing. And it is as it sounds, it’s pretty much good over everything. It’s the miracle oil that’s going to be used as a final layer on top of your moisturizer in order to help renew and replenish your skin. I’m super excited because I’ve been loving these products and I paired up with Blissoma to offer you 20% off all oils and serums with the code “empath”. Simply go to blissoma.com. Definitely take the quiz, let me know what you get, and then also use that code “empath” for 20% off your order.

The power of trusting the resiliency of your body in pregnancy

Let’s move on to the next question. So this question comes from Allison. And she writes, “Hi, Sarah, my question is around how to ‘trust your body’ and have less fear and control around when timing is right to have a baby. My husband and I were planning to try for our first baby soon. However, the past six months or so I’ve been experiencing many undiagnosed symptoms. And I’ve been going for my evaluations to figure out what is going on health-wise before trying for a baby. I realized I was triggered when one of my doctors asked me if I am scared to have a baby. I felt a pit in my stomach and my throat that I am, but I think most of the root stems from trusting my body will be safe for myself and a baby. Ironically, right before I started experiencing these symptoms, I was the most in my body and safe I had ever felt. Thank you so much.”

So I think my answer is actually going to be pretty short here, and it’s coming from based on what I’ve experienced this year. The more information you have, the better. Allison listed off a few of her symptoms that I didn’t read out loud, but one of them was a tooth infection. So if you know and you have the information that you have a tooth infection, that’s something that could potentially be cleared up pretty quickly, and could reduce some of the toxic load in your body. And this is going to be such a personal decision, but I chose to do some lab work before we started trying to get pregnant to go,” Okay, what’s the low hanging fruit here? And what can I potentially do like a one to three-month detox on or get–” I also had a tooth infection, I guess it’s probably been two years now, but I had a tooth removed and just completely taken out because of what it was doing to my body and again, the toxic load. So having information, I find always to be helpful. It helps to inform your decisions. And there are probably some action steps that you can choose to take and again, that’s going to be such a personal choice. And I was thinking about this. So all of last year, this was my journey trying to get my body “ready” for pregnancy. And eventually, it got to a point where we wanted to have a family and my body was never going to be “perfect”.

I still had a little bit of bacterial overgrowth when we first tried getting pregnant. And I realized that even after three rounds of H. pylori treatment, I still had some low levels of H. pylori. We decided to go for it and do it anyways. And after losing our first baby, which had nothing to do with the H. pylori or the bacterial overgrowth in my gut, by the way, because I do not want to induce more fear, I of course had the feeling of like, “Oh my gosh, well, what if this happens again? How the hell am I supposed to trust my body now? How am I supposed to feel like this is safe?” And as I’ve talked about before, I went into a three-month detox because I had to go on chemotherapy because it was a tubal pregnancy. And we were only two months into detox, because I’m trying to do the responsible thing, get rid of all the toxins in my body before we try again, and we just accidentally got pregnant about two months into the detox, versus the full three months that it was supposed to extend to.

So there was thoughts like, “Oh my gosh, is my body going to be safe for me and for a baby?” And what I’ve found is that pregnancy, and I’m sure all the mothers listening already know this and have known this for quite some time, but pregnancy is the ultimate surrender, the ultimate surrender. You just have to trust. And if we want to get more spiritual here, you have to trust that that baby is choosing to come down now for some reason, even if that pregnancy, like the one I had earlier this year, doesn’t pan out. That soul still wanted to enter into my womb. I talked about this in a previous episode on miscarriage and pregnancy loss. And I talked about my beliefs that when a baby comes down into your womb, even if it knows before it arrives, that it’s either not going to be viable, or even that you’re going to terminate that pregnancy, that it may just want to spend time with you, and that souls can come back around and can come back into our life and back into our womb. And it may not be the last time we ever feel that baby’s energy, that soul, that spirit.

So there’s never a perfect time. Again, we were only two months into the detox. I’m about 13 and a half weeks pregnant on the day I’m recording this, and everything looks amazing so far. It was so hard the first time because I thought, “What did I do wrong? What I do wrong? What did I do wrong?” I didn’t do anything wrong. That pregnancy just didn’t pan out. It got stuck in my fallopian tube. This pregnancy looks freaking amazing so far. I don’t feel amazing, but our little baby is looking freaking amazing on the ultrasound. So there’s not a perfect time. And don’t feel, Allison, like you have to have this whole trust, releasing fear, releasing control thing figured out before you get pregnant. Again, the more information you have, the better. And if there are things you want to be able to address and take care of and patch up before you start trying actively to have a baby, then go for it. But there’s not a perfect time. And for me, I’m still on the journey of releasing fear and releasing control. Every ultrasound, that morning I am filled with anxiety. It is not a peaceful morning for me. I have a little mini freak out like, “Oh fuck, is everything going to be okay when we see the baby today?” I’m sorry to say but that hasn’t gone away. And this pregnancy, everything we’ve seen has been amazing and I leave going, “Why did I create so much anxiety for myself? Why did I do that this morning?” But we’re ever-learning, we’re ever-growing and there’s not a perfect time.

So trust your intuition. Trust that your body is capable. That in itself, those thoughts that mindset, the embodiment of that as your truth is going to have a powerful effect on your body as this vessel for carrying a baby. So believe it’s possible for you. Believe, believe, believe. And again, if you have information on what some of these symptoms, the root of some of these symptoms are, and you want to take some time to resolve them, then go for it. But no one can make this decision for you. You have to decide when you’re ready and when it’s your time. And trust again, that the soul that you’re meant to mother is going to enter into your womb. Your body is so, so, so fucking resilient, so resilient. It is so resilient. And even you asking these questions shows that you are tuned in and aware of what’s going on in your body and that’s already going to be much farther ahead than others on their path of self-awareness. So just remember how resilient you are.

Advice for establishing balance and boundaries when working remotely

All right. The last question for today comes from Sadie. She writes, “Any advice on how to escape work for those working remotely? I find it challenging to mentally shut off for the day.”

So I’ve actually been working remotely from home as a business owner, but also prior to that, as an employee for a nonprofit organization for I think a total about eight years now. So while COVID has created a lot more work from home situations for people across the world, this is actually something that I’ve been playing with in my own life and routine for about eight years. So I can certainly speak to how to mentally shut off and also just to have some boundaries around work because what my experience has been is that when your work is literally right– It’s right in front of me right now. The same computer that I use to order groceries, I actually see the guy outside right now delivering my Whole Foods groceries, I use the same computer to order those this morning. And I use the same computer to start Christmas shopping for my family. And it’s all right here. And I get the notifications for when I have new emails coming in or one of you comments on a Facebook post. So how do you have boundaries when it’s so accessible right there on your computer?

And also, the space inside of your home is probably used in multiple ways. And so while many of you may be used to going somewhere else, a different environment, different location for work, now it’s all in your home. So here are just a few suggestions that have really helped me especially with the empath energy that may influence this as well, because we’re really energetically sensitive beings.

So the first thing is having a dedicated workspace. Full disclosure, that doesn’t mean every single moment that I’m doing something for work that I’m in that workspace, but having the dedicated workspace that is just for work has been immensely, immensely helpful. This was not always possible. When I worked for that nonprofit in the very beginning, the first year I worked for them so about eight years ago, I lived in a studio apartment in Chicago on the 26th floor. So it was a small space with a great view but it was tight. And so I had to find even just a corner in that studio apartment that was dedicated to my work. There wasn’t even room for a desk in that studio apartment. So I had a specific chair, at the kitchen counter – it was like a bar top – that I would do work. I would not, even though my bed was 10 feet away, I would not work from my bed. I would get up, and I would put on clothes that were not my pajamas, I’d wash my face and brush my teeth and get some breakfast and go sit in that chair at that part of the counter and I would work from there.

Now, we have a home, and I am fortunate that I have an entire room that is my office space. But I wanted to share that first example because that may not be the case for everyone listening, and you may have very tight quarters like a studio apartment in Chicago, and you may need to figure out even just a nook of that space that is going to be your workspace. Why does that matter? Well, the energy that you put into your work is different than the energy you may want to be bringing into other areas of your life. And we are beings of habit and think of energy if we were to take a snapshot of it or a blueprint and the muscle memory that we have too. So it’s like my body knew when I sat in that chair and I opened up my computer that it was work mode. If I brought it over to my bed, I could still get some work done, but the energetic blueprint of my bed, the energy my bed carries is “Go to sleep. Shut your eyes.” So having these different dedicated spaces to everything in your space or in your household is super helpful because of the energetic blueprints or frequencies that are held and imprinted in these different areas.

And you can change that. You can change it so “Okay, that used to be the space where I did this and now, I’m changing it to the space where I do that.” Okay, so have a dedicated workspace even if you do break the rules sometimes because the last three months, I’ve broken the rules a lot, and I’ve worked on the couch with my lap desk, and I’ve still gotten work done. Like right now I’m recording a podcast, I’m not going to record a podcast on my couch. It just doesn’t work for me. So I come up here and I get into my CEO brain and I get shit done and I record podcasts.

I also find that, again, this really relates to being an empath, but having this energetic switch up– So if we carry the same energy with us and we walk from our bed over to let’s say, you do have a home office and you get out of bed and you’re still in your PJs, and you walk over to your computer in the other room and you sit down, it’s like you’re carrying the same energy from room to room to room to task to task to task to space to space to space in your household. And what I’ve found, what works better, especially to mentally shut off for the day is to have these energetic shakeups, let’s call them that, energetic shakeups. And that can be as simple as changing your clothes, changing your clothes before work. I change my clothes after work a lot, too. I’m like, “All right, getting out of these clothes. Time to change the energy, shake it up.” Sometimes that means going outside and creating this buffer period of time in between. “Okay, I just finished work. When I re-enter my house, when I get back from my walk outside, I’m putting on a different hat, I’m playing a different role, I’m re-entering with a different energy.” That could also be taking a shower after work or doing a dance party after work in order to shake up the energy. It’s like this symbolic task or action or intention that you set, or you take, or you do in between the transition from work to I’m done for the day. It could be some sort of other movement like yoga or just stretching. You can literally just shake your body and tell your nervous system, “Okay, CEO hat off” or “Work mode done” and then transition into the other space.

Sometimes we also need very tangible barriers, especially if you also live in a studio apartment, this probably will really resonate with you. But it’s kind of hard, I found, to not walk back over to the desk, or, well, it was just my kitchen counter, but to not walk back over to the kitchen counter. Even if I did take a shower, it’s like, “Oh, maybe I got another email, maybe I should just go check really quick and then then I’ll turn on the TV, or then I’ll go for the walk.” And so sometimes we need hard barriers and that might be literally shutting your computer down, shut down, shut it down. Don’t turn it back on for the rest of the night, or turning off notifications on your phone, or turning off your phone or putting your phone on the other side of the room. Whatever space or more tangible barriers you may need to create to be able to mentally shut off because if it’s there, and if it’s in your face– Like I was saying in the beginning, I just ordered some groceries from Whole Foods and I’m starting to do some Christmas shopping. And I use my computer for other purposes occasionally, even though it’s mostly work. And so the use of it can be blurry sometimes. So if at the end of the day, I need to mentally shut off and shut down, I just turned my whole computer off. I don’t do those extra tasks that day. Those probably didn’t need to be done that day.

So to recap, have a dedicated workspace, even if it’s a nook, one part of a table that you can energetically imprint into work mode, and then be able to have the rest of your house be not work mode. Maybe you need to create some more tangible barriers or boundaries. Like sometimes I shut the door to my office like, “Don’t go back in there, Sarah.” And then you can play with some energetic shakeups like the shower, like the walk, like the dance, like the stretch, like changing your clothes. And this becomes a habit, a new habit. If your current routine right now is to– Maybe you do turn your computer off, but then you just scroll your phone, scroll your phone, scroll your phone, and so you can’t shut off for the day. It’s hard to really separate. Even if you’re separating from work, now you’re just going into social media, scrolling, mindless scroll, then that’s the current habit. We have to break it. We have to break the pattern somehow. We have to put a new program into the mind, the brain in order to be able to not do that tomorrow.

So we got to start somewhere. We got to start somewhere. So it can also be helpful to ask yourself, why do I want to change this? What drives me to take the first step, take that first action so that I can mentally shut off for the day, and I can separate work from home life, even though they very much for a lot of the population right now coexist? I’m sure there are other factors that may play into each of your lives on a personal level that maybe I didn’t address today, but I hope that at least the energetic part of it, you may be able to take some pieces from what I’ve offered up and apply it to your workday. Again, I’ve been doing this for eight years, so now it feels really natural, but it took some time to build the habits in order to feel like I did have a separation.

Okay, friends, thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of The Uncensored Empath podcast. I love all your support, I love your reshares, I love when you reach out to me and DM me about what you learned or loved most about any given episode. So please feel free to tag me, share, reach out @theuncensoredempath. And as a reminder, today is officially the one year anniversary of my book 21 Days of Healing. The link is in the show notes if you haven’t already checked it out. I’ve got some other things coming that are in store for you. And you can also just go over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and search “21 Days of Healing” and you can start to manually, pull it up, find it, buy it for a friend for Christmas, buy it for yourself if you don’t have it, and enjoy.

 

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December 1, 2020

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