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Episode 7 - Baseline Self Care






Sometimes all the coaching in the world isn't going to cut it. And that's because you're just too tired. When I was first married, I loved staying up late... but my marriage was paying the price. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that the zombie my husband was married to wasn't the one he signed up for!

In this episode, I'll walk you through my system called "baseline self care" that will allow you to identify what keeps you up and running. This isn't the deep meaningful spiritual retreat or even wine and bubble baths. This is just about having clarity about what's on your list that needs to be done, at a minimum. I'll also teach you my ten second check-in and help you identify when it's time for self-coaching and when it's time for self care.


Please keep sending in your feedback, questions, and stories--I love to hear from you! 

00:00 Episode seven, Baseline Self Care.

00:15 Welcome to the first year married podcast, where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach, Kayla Levin, and I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecurity to confident and connected through practical tips, real life inspiration, and more than a little self-awareness along the way.

00:39 Hey everyone? Welcome back. I'm really excited to talk to you about this one today. I've been hearing from a lot of you newly weds out there, so I know a big part of the people who listen are people who either have been married for longer than one year or people who are still dating or not even dating right now. Also, I have to say as much as I'm loving hearing from how this material is impacting people in all different ages and stages, I've got a soft spot for my newlyweds. So, this is one that I really wish someone had sat me down and told me when I was first married. So, this is definitely useful for anyone at any stage, I guess this is just ... that's the phase where I needed it the most, and that's the phase where I learned the hard way.

01:26 So, we're talking today about baseline self care. So, again, I really wish I'd known this one earlier. It probably took me a few years of marriage to figure this out, and I'm sure there are people out there who are more, I guess sort of type A organized, structured. I love to be spontaneous. I love staying up late. I just think there's like almost nothing as much fun as staying up later than you're supposed to. I'm basically still a kid. I like being active and doing things and all that. And the truth is that my marriage was really paying the price for it at the beginning, but it was such a simple fix because the problem was I needed more sleep.

02:09 Different people react differently when they don't get enough sleep, but for me it came across as again, like I keep saying, what's holding you back from showing up as your best self in your marriage? Well, not getting enough sleep will definitely top that list. In fact, I actually say to people, “I want you to know that you have my permission to go to bed angry.” Anyone who grew up with that thought that like it's really romantic and sweet to commit to your partner that you'll never go to bed angry, no, sorry, disagree, one hundred percent. Go to bed with some statement of hope for resolution. Go to bed with a promise of dealing with it in the morning. But if you are angry and tired, you are not about to find a solution to your problem, you're just about to make it worse, and you're probably going to end up saying something that you're going to regret.

03:01 So, if you are exhausted and you're fighting with your spouse, my suggestion is you look them right in the eye and you say, “Sweetie, I love you. I don't think that my brain can handle this conversation right now because I'm so tired. I want to do my very best to resolve this problem and I can't do it right now. So, I want to go to sleep and in the morning we're going to discuss it and I'm going to have so many more ideas and so much more creativity to fix this problem.” I'm telling you, it's not something that people are like, your spouse is going to be thrilled, but really will see the wisdom in and it will make your life a million times easier.

03:37 So, again, everyone reacts differently when they don't get enough sleep. For me, it would be my patience is out the window, my creativity is out the window. I don't come up with new ideas. I don't have a sense of humor really. I'm really a troll when I don't get enough sleep. I'm just no fun to be around. And what I've started to realize, I am not having fun. So, that's actually what gets me to bed as somebody who loves staying up late is just realizing that the whole next day I'm not going to be having any fun if I don't get enough sleep.

04:09 Now, there are those unicorns out there who manage their lives on five or six hours of sleep, or four or five hours of sleep and they seem to be fine, and there's phases where you're just not going to get enough. But prioritizing this in my mind is really important, and again, it could just be that I'm one of the people that really suffers when they don't get enough. But I do see that most people when they're getting enough sleep and whatever enough is for you in your stage at that point at which you feel like yourself again. But when you're really running on empty, and you're running on caffeine, and you're running on sugar and whatever it takes to keep you going because you're not taking care of yourself physically, that is not you. That is like zombie you, and zombie you, is not the person your spouse married, so it's not very nice to show up that way.

04:58 I really love doing that higher level thought work, but it's also really important to pay attention to this baseline level of self care because it's really hard to do the thought work. You can do thought work about being tired and I think it's really important to know that you can experience life tired and cranky, and what does that look like and not to fight that, but just to really experience it and be open to what that looks like and feels like, but sometimes it's just more efficient to go take a nap and fix the problem. What I teach my clients is the idea of the 10 second check in. Because sometimes it's not sleep. Sometimes you're just spinning and you don't know what it is.

05:42 The first thing to do when you feel like you're in crisis mode is to grab yourself 10 seconds, and this could literally be in the middle of a conversation and someone's talking to you. I don't care if, you need this, you take it. You just close your eyes or you look down at the floor, whatever you need to do. You are not looking at a phone, you were not looking at a screen. If you're at work and you can't get up, just look at your keyboard, but don't be looking at a screen. And you start at the top of your head and you literally scan through your body. Give yourself 10 seconds. When you get to your mouth, you think, “Am I thirsty?” When you get to your head ... I'm going backwards sorry. You think, “Do I have a headache?” Well, just check in what is going on with my head right now. Physically, am I thirsty? Am I hungry? When's the last time I ate? Do I need to go to the bathroom?

06:26 By the way, it could be that some of the guys have less of a problem with this. If you have learned anything from Alison Armstrong, she talks extensively about how women tend to be much less in touch with their physical bodies and their physical needs than men are. We tend to just keep having urgent tasks come up and we push everything off. I'll eat later, I'll go to the bathroom later, I'll take a nap later. Where sometimes men can just be much more sort of self sufficient and taking care of their physical needs. I actually see that that contrast comes up very interestingly with newlyweds because a woman will be struggling with something and she's putting off all her needs, and then her husband will just drop everything and go to the fridge and open it and get something to eat and she's like, “Why aren't you suffering like me?”

07:10 It just doesn't make any sense. But understanding that that's just a difference in the way the two genders can function. And again, everyone's on a spectrum and I might not be exactly true for your couple, but you'll see in our cases is definitely the case that we fit this particular male, female dynamic. But anyway, so getting back to it. So, if it could be that this is something that's that more women are going to relate to than the men, but it's worthwhile for everybody. If you're feeling like you're in crisis mode, you just close your eyes, where you look down and you literally scan from the top to the bottom of your body and just check in what physically needs to be taken care of right now. And you might find that you were totally exhausted, you might find that you're thirsty.

07:49 My mother shared with me, and I really wish that if anybody here has seen this, if it's a quote, I don't know, she said she saw it on like a post on social media and I thought it was so amazing. So, my guess is it's probably a quote. It said something along the lines of, “Sometimes I think that I need to turn my entire life upside down, but all I really need is a glass of water.” So, sometimes I totally relate to this. Like if my house is going crazy and it's bonkers and it's what we call the Levin family circus. Everyone's screaming, and there's laundry all over the floor, and there's dirty dishes stacked up, I'm like, “Ooh, if only we had a dog.” Like, really? I'm like, “how can I change my ... maybe we should move to California.” Like whatever it is, I'm not even willing to deal with what's in front of me, so I'm like, “Let's just change everything.”

08:37 And so it's fine when it's in that crazy fantasy level, but when it gets dangerous is when there is overwhelm or there's physical struggle because of exhaustion or because you're starving. And then something little goes on with your spouse and you're like, “Oh my gosh, I don't think this relationship works.” That now you're dealing in a totally different level. And if what you actually need is a nap, you don't need to be dealing with the thought right now about whether your relationship is working or not. This is not a thought issue. This is a physical issue. Go take a nap. I hope I'm explaining this all clearly.

09:12 So, that's how you do the 10 second check in. And so what's going to happen for you is you're going to start to notice the difference between when your needs are self care needs and I mean physical self care. We talk in my course a lot more about self care in a higher level, but I'm just talking about baseline self care. That's your physical body's needs at the moment. So, you're going to start to be able to tell the difference between your baseline self care needs and your thought work needs. Meaning, you'll be in a situation and you'll be experiencing negative emotion, frustration, resentment, anger, whatever, or you're just not getting whatever result in your life that you're looking for.

09:54 And you're going to start to notice, is this happening because I need to do my thought work, I need to do myself coaching? And if you haven't heard those podcasts, go back a little bit to earlier podcasts and you'll be able to get a little bit more of what that self coaching looks like. I talk about it quite a bit in the Mother-in-law episode or when what you really need is the self care need. You're going to be able to sort of identify that really quickly and the 10 second check in, we'll help you with that. Because if you do the 10 second check in and you're fine, or you identify a need and you take care of it, and now you're fine, and you're still struggling with the situation, now it's a good time to move on to your thought work.

10:29 So, let me just give you an example of what that looks like for me. So, self care needs, what that looks like for me. What I notice is a racing feeling, thoughts flying through my head. I don't really know where they're coming from. A lot of, “I can't do this. It's too much. I'm overwhelmed.” Like a lot of overwhelm, confusion, like I don't know what to do next. I don't really know what I'm even doing right now. Complete lack of focus. Now could those things be feelings that are created by a certain thought? Yes, but when I identify them, that tends to be the cause of not enough sleep or not enough food. And so my body is keeping me from being able to engage in anything because it's not properly fueled. So, that's why I end up with kind of this blur. Like my day goes by in a blur.

11:16 So, that would be my situation where I'm going to look and see what can I do to take care of my physical needs at the moment. Now, thought work needs really have a different flavor to them for me. And again, they're going to be different for you, but the more that you start to do that 10 second check ins, you can start to categorize, you're really going to start to see the difference. So you're going to know where to jump to.

11:38 Here's some things I do and I know these are red flags for me, that it's time to run a model. Really you can run a model anytime you want and the more models you run, the better you'll get at with this work. But I know it's time to run a model when I'm trying to convince myself of something. I'm trying to convince myself that that person was wrong or that my situation is bad or that this person has done something to me or if I'm trying to sort of like ... I'm rehashing the thought over and over, and I'm adding drama and adjectives to the whole situation. I'm reprocessing and I'm just sort of ... It's almost like I'm digging myself into the feeling, I'm digging myself into my righteous indignation.

12:23 That is a red flag for thought work, that's usually not needing a nap. That's usually stopping and saying, “Whoa, whatever thought I'm getting really excited about here. Doesn't matter if it's true or if it's false. Is it helpful?" I could spend a lot of time being frustrated over injustice in the government is that helpful to me? It doesn't mean that I don't ever do anything about it, and if that's something that spurs me into positive action and I'm happy with that, great, but if I'm not planning on doing anything about it, how much time do I want to spend there?

13:04 It could even be things that feel really righteous to feel worried about. If I'm agonizing over one of my friends and her situation in life, and how terrible it is now, I don't think she's going to be okay, and maybe they're going to get divorced or maybe their kid's not going to be all right, if this spurs me into positive action, this is a great place to spend my time. If this is just completely blocking me from living my life, it doesn't matter if the situation is true or not. It doesn't matter if the thought is true or not. It's not helpful and I need to find a different one.

13:34 And then the last one is at the same ... Sometimes it's not like an extended time with one thought or one feeling, sometimes it's the same issue coming up repeatedly. Now, the issue will often look like another person. Whenever this person comes in the room, I'm upset. So, it starts to feel like this person is my problem. Let me avoid this person or let me change this person. And unfortunately, for those of you who have lived in the world of reality for any period of time, you have already found out the bad news; you can't change other people. Even though this problem keeps coming up when the person enters the room, that's just because you have a thought about that person. It's not about that person at all.

14:17 And again, you've definitely experienced this at some point in your life where you end up here, had totally different feelings about somebody. Could be they walked in the room and they got all charged and upset and you just didn't care or vice versa. When you see the same issue keeps coming up or maybe it's an issue of like you're always late for work, and then you totally anxious and overwhelmed, or maybe it's an issue of every time you try to budget, you just can't get yourself to look at your bank account. Whatever the thing is, if it's coming up repeatedly, that's a thought work issue.

14:48 I had a really funny, like very run of the mill thought work problem, so I'll just share that with you as an ending to just kind of give you an idea of how this all works out. So, I realized that I had a thought that adult laundry is a lot harder than child laundry. We have four kids but they're all small. And so my thought was that kid clothes are cute and you feel very maternal when you're taking care of their clothes and you're folding them and you're ... It's a nice process and I have really pretty little bins for all my kids, and they're all color coded. I don't love doing laundry, but I feel like there's some kind of benefit when I'm doing the kids' laundry. But adult laundry, forget it. There's so much of it. It's complicated to put away, it has to be sorted out more than the kid stuff. You can't just throw it in, it's just a lot more work. It's so much harder.

15:42 And then I realized, wait, that's actually not objectively true. I could probably find someone who thinks the opposite. And by the way, I found out later, my husband literally thinks the opposite. He thinks kid clothes are completely overwhelming. There are so small, it takes forever to fold them and he never knows what goes where. And he's like, "Adult clothes, you just take a shirt and like half the loads done because our shirts are so big." So, I could have just asked him, but instead I did that work. So, I wanted to find out what my result was and I was shocked by how much I had proved myself correct. What had I done? So, I had a thought that adult laundry is a lot harder than kid laundry. That made me feel like very ... whatever the opposite of motivated, I guess, unmotivated. Extremely unmotivated, de-energized, overwhelmed, not exactly resentful, but just kind of like cranky about the whole thing about having to do it.

16:37 And so what actions did I take? Now, this is amazing. My kids got like really cute color coated baskets from Target that I love. They're matching each other with each other on color and it's really sweet and I can line them up. What did I do for us? I went on Amazon and I just ordered the first thing that I found. It's way too big. It doesn't match our room. We have this ugly hamper in our room. And because it's so enormous, and because I have this thought that adult laundry is really hard, I always procrastinate our laundry. I'll always do the kids' laundry first, which means that on busy weeks I ended up with two loads of laundry for us because on a busy week I'll miss our laundry because I did all their laundry first.

17:16 So, this was really interesting because I actually made our laundry a lot harder. I bought a huge hamper that doesn't really get noticed until it's full, which is already like five times more full than their hampers. It's not cute or enjoyable. I didn't buy something that I liked or that it brought me any kind of like visual enjoyment while I'm taking care of it. I'm always doing theirs first, which means that there's just smaller amounts I have that satisfaction of finishing the job with the kids that I never get with ours. So, that's just an example of how when we have that thought. And then as soon as I can switch that thought, so our laundry is easy to put away, I even put the towels with ours sometimes, so like it's very fast to fold and then you could just check, check, get it done, and you get a completely different response.

17:57 So again, this is just an example for me. I know a lot of you don't have four kids or more and I know a lot of you, it could be the husband or you share the laundry duty. In our house that's how we divided things. That's fine with me, but I did want to just share that example as a way of looking at how sometimes that thought work need can really make your life easier. This wasn't a dramatic, horrible thing going wrong in my life, it was just an annoyance in my life, but looking into the thought work, I haven't yet done my new model of where, how I want to feel about the laundry, but really just noticing that so much had happened because I just had been really invested in this thought that adult laundry is objectively so much harder, when really that was just my interpretation.

18:41 It's amazing to see how much evidence your brain can get for it and how you actually start to take action about it being hard. My coach says that money is fun and easy. I know a lot of people who don't feel that money is fun and easy, but I love thinking about what that does for her. How does she show up differently in the world because she thinks money is fun and easy? How does she manage her budgeting? How does she manage her purchases? It's a totally different situation.

19:10 So, quick recap for today. You always get homework. Here's your homework, so I want you to try this 10 second, check in. Next time that you're feeling a lot of negative emotion or overwhelmed or just lack of focus, stop and do a 10 second check in. It could be that you're already deep into social media or like zoning out on your computer when you noticed this, that's a good indication that maybe you're not feeling 100%. So, just close your computer, put away your phone, whatever you need to do, close your eyes and do that physical scan to see how you're physically feeling.

19:39 Remember that sometimes you can do a ... there's just a quick fix. There's a physical fix to the problem and it's great to get that in first, because then you're just showing up a lot better. It's a lot easier to find solutions. It's a lot easier to be creative when you're well rested, or you're fed, whatever you need. And then when that 10 second check in doesn't bring up anything for you or it brings up something that you can quickly fix and then you still don't feel good, now it's time to figure out what you were thinking that's causing the problem. What's the thought that you're having? And if you can't think of the thoughts, start by articulating you're feeling.

20:16 Right now I'm feeling really overwhelmed and anxious. Okay, wait, so why would I be feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Then you go backwards. Again, I talk about this a lot in the Mother-in-law episodes. If you want to go back to that one, I think it's episode three. And then you can also reach out to me if you want on Instagram at First Year Married. If you want to share some of your models with me and let me in on your process, I'd love to hear from you. All right, so thank you so much for tuning in this week. I hope you have a wonderful week and I'll speak to you again very soon. Bye bye.

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