Hannah Drake

Self Care Is

Self Care Is... Practising Worry Time

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

Last fall, I was having a really tough time with anxiety. I wasn’t taking care of myself mentally. I was indulging in my stressors (like reading the news). I was constantly worried about things that probably wouldn’t happen (like Luke being in an accident or dying at work) and things I couldn’t control (like American politics). Luke, being the supportive husband he is, did some research and got me into a programme for free CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I started in November and carried on through the new year. Accounting for the holidays and our travel, it was only five or six sessions, but none of them were as transformative as the first.

The therapist recommended that I start practising “Worry Time”. I don’t do it exactly how he explained, but I have continued with the practice for over nine months now. When I find myself worrying about something, I write down the worry and then I write down the “truth”. Maybe the truth is that something is worth worrying about, but it also gives me the space to step back and look at something objectively and think about it more logically and less emotionally.

For example, if my worry is that Luke will be injured at work (which I actually don’t “worry” about as much any more these days compared to the almost daily basis before), the truth is that Luke is highly trained in health and safety and the nature of his job requires him to be responsible for his own safety as well as the people working under him. Luke is responsible and cautious and it’s simply highly unlikely he would put himself in danger of being hurt or killed.

With other things that maybe are worth worrying about, like perhaps the 2018 mid-term elections, it’s more about putting it into perspective. I cannot control the outcome of the election. I can only do my part in voting or encouraging others to vote and helping to spread factual information before people go to the polls.

I have a reminder set on my phone every day to sit down and do worry time. This was part of the explanation given by the therapist, but it was more so that I would have a set amount of time to worry about the things I’m worried about. However, I’ve found that when it’s more like a task to do throughout the day, I don’t need to spend time worrying about something, I just need to present a logical argument against the worry. I’ve noticed a dramatic drop in the irrational things I worry about and the amount of time I spend swimming in my anxiety every day.

I’m not cured by any means. My anxiety has not gone away. But now I feel like I have a better handle on it. The last few months have actually been quite low in anxiety for me, but I’ve continued to practice worry time because it’s a habit I want to build into my life so that when shit hits the fan down the road and I’m more anxious overall, I already have some sort of guardrail built in to hopefully protect myself from falling into a darker place than I can control.

I also don’t do it every day. Some days it would just be too forced. But anywhere from two to four days a week, I do sit down and consider if something is weighing on me and what the truth of it is.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!

Self Care Is... Knowing Your Love Languages

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

A few months ago, my sister asked me “What’s your self care love language?” I told her that my love language is Words of Affirmation, but she explained that my self care love language might be different. Then she sent me this, from Blessing Manifesting:

After looking at the examples, I decided my self care love languages are Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts.

I feel that it’s important to understand both of your love languages: the love you want from others and the love you give yourself, especially if they’re different. But it’s also important to understand your partner’s love language if you’re in a relationship. We’re inclined to give love the way we want to receive it and their love language may be different from ours.

I also believe that throughout different phases of our lives, our love languages might shift. For instance, before I lived with Luke, Acts of Service was probably my fifth ranked love language, but now it’s probably my second. When Luke does things around the house, especially if they’re chores I’m typically responsible for, I definitely feel loved and cared for. I feel like we’re building a home together that we both value and I feel like my time is honoured in taking something off my to do list. I guess that’s just #adulting for ya, though.

You can take the love language quiz here.

If you’ve never considered your self care love language, I encourage you to take a moment to think about it. Are you a #treatyoself type or all about changing your inner dialogue with positive self-talk? Do you have a handful of solo hobbies or are you all about your therapy sessions? When I look at the diagram, I can definitely relate to something in every box. I love soft blankets and massages! I love scheduling/planning and I’m a big believer in therapy! I’m all about treating myself! I’m trying to meditate daily and I absolutely love going to the movies by myself! I’ve journaled for as long as I can remember! But I definitely relate to Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts the most.

Since discovering my self care love language, I’ve been able to better meet my own needs. I’ve been able to create time doing exactly what I know will leave me feeling refreshed and relaxed. It’s been a total game changer, just like discovering my relational love language was so many years ago.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!

Self Care Is... Owning Your Emotions

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

One of the most powerful self care tools I have in my arsenal is the idea of owning your emotions. It wasn’t taught to me in a self care context, but it has positively transformed my life from the jump. I learned about this idea at my church, first trying it at a weekend retreat here or there, then taking part in a weekly small group I was a member of, and eventually implementing it into my daily journaling routine.

The concept is quite simple. First you take a moment to explore what you’re feeling in your body. Are you feeling butterflies in your stomach or maybe tension in your shoulders? How are you carrying yourself today, even as you just sit with yourself, eyes closed? What follows is called a check in that you can do by yourself, with a partner, or with a group. You can check in with the following emotions: sadness, anger, fear, joy, excitement, tenderness, shame, peace, hope, gratitude. To check in, you say “I’m [Hannah] and I’m checking in X, Y, and Z.” Name every emotion you’re feeling and even name the reason, if you so choose. The only thing you can’t do is add a condition to it. You can’t say “I’m checking in a little angry today.” Instead, own your anger. Don’t minimise it by saying “I’m a little frustrated today.” Frustration falls under the category of anger. Own that. (By the way, I consider tenderness to be something like “my heart really goes out to this person/situation”. Like I’m tender to this person because they’re sick or I’m tender to these people because of this event.)

Learning it at church also included looking to the Bible for the times Jesus felt those emotions. And he did feel those core emotions, which means it’s okay for us to feel them too. All of those emotions are healthy and part of life and owning that you feel that way keeps them healthy. When you ignore your anger, you can lose control of it more easily. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball under water. You can’t control when it will pop out or what direction it will go. It’s an inevitability that it will come back up.

Owning my emotions has transformed so much in my life. Like I said, it became part of my daily journaling. I used to write out what I was feeling and why, but now I just track it on a colour-coded chart in my bullet journal. Luke and I would check in with each other over Skype and later over dinner when I moved, but that’s kind of fallen by the wayside. Still, I’m more careful with my words when I’m communicating my feelings to someone else, especially Luke. (I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I was.) I don’t have as much fear in telling Luke if I’m angry at him or about something. I don’t downplay it with a “little bit” or a “kind of” as much and I’m less likely to say “I’m irritated” or “I’m frustrated” because what’s irritation and frustration but a nicer way to say angry?

At the suggestion of my counselor earlier this year, I started tracking patterns in my check ins. I tally up how many times I month I felt each of the ten emotions and consider what was causing me to feel those things. I’ve noticed that I have one of two baselines: sadness or joy. On rather uneventful days especially, I usually check in one of the two. So I can note if I spent most of the last few weeks being sad or happy. (From November until about February it was more often sadness, but the last few months it’s been more often joy.) I also credit check ins to helping me discover more about my anxiety in the last year. I was able to pick up on a pattern of checking in scared and dive into what’s causing that and make moves to deal with it. Without a check in, it might have registered as a prolonged feeling of dread, but maybe nothing even notable enough to explore further.

It’s a powerful thing when you take ownership of your emotions. It teaches you a lot about yourself when you track the patterns of your emotions on a daily basis. It will bring things to the surface that you might not have known were there, but it might also empower you to make adjustments to be more in control of what you’re feeling as a baseline and how you’re reacting to the things around you.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!