Why we love it:
We are no strangers to self care at BeYou HQ. We believe self care is even more important during your period. In this episode of The Flow Down, Jess & Steff talk about about the best ways to look after yourself during your period. They talk about the benefits of self care for your body during your period as well as how things like stress can affect your hormones.
We're sure you'll love this episode just as much as we do so make sure to give it a lesson below and subscribe to The Flow Down on your favourite podcast app.
Listen & Learn:
Welcome to The Flow Down podcast. I'm Stefanie Kleinburd, a women's health coach.
And I'm Jessica Weiss, a journalist, and on today's show, taking care of ourselves.
This is episode six. Wow, Jess.
Wow is right, Stef.
Unbelievable. I can't believe The Flow Down is over a month old.
It's been incredible putting these episodes out into the world, hasn't it?
So incredible. Working together, sharing our message, hearing feedback from listeners. It's really all been a gift.
Absolutely. Thanks to everyone who's been there supporting us, and not going to lie, it's also been kind of an adjustment, right? We've been figuring out how to balance this new project on top of other work, and the midterms, and travels, and now the holiday season, and everything that comes along with that.
Yeah. There have been some late nights for us which, as a health coach, is kind of hard to stomach. Do you remember that night we met at 2:00 AM in our PJs and were whispering back and forth to one another in the dark.
I literally will never forget that. I don't think we got more than an hour of sleep the night before our launch.
Yeah, there are few things in the world I'd want to get an hour of sleep over. Fortunately this is definitely one of them.
Agree. And Stef, we were reflecting and talking recently about feeling a little stretched thin after all these crazy weeks, and we realised that a lot of people out there are probably feeling the same way, especially now given the holidays. It's really hard sometimes to find the time, or to feel like there is time, so that's why we thought it would be a perfect moment to do an episode all about self-care.
Yes. I am really excited for this.
Me too. So before we really dig in, Stef, self-care is such a buzzword these days and it seems like people have different ways to think about the concept. I personally love and am inspired by your way. So can you briefly tell us what it means to you to take care of yourself, Stef?
For me, at a bare minimum, self-care is getting enough rest, feeding myself well, and moving my body a bit each day. But ideally it's more than that. It's also choosing to do things that I find relaxing, or things that make me feel happy, or things that feel pleasurable or indulgent. So I'm really chasing those feelings rather than necessarily holding myself to this list of activities that somewhere have been deemed self-care, right.
And to that point, what I consider self-care even changes. For example, throughout the cycle, what feels indulgent during my period is usually putting on my cosy slippers, making a cup of tea and reading, and what feels indulgent midway through my cycle, when I'm ovulating, is usually more going out with friends. So ideally we have this list of things that feel like self-care to us, and then we can pick and choose depending on what feels right in the moment.
I love that and I think it's so important to remember that we're all so different and that what counts as self-care for us might be something completely different for another person.
So some people might like mowing their lawn as self-care. Others might like changing their hair or getting a haircut, making a recipe. So I think it's really great to remember that this is something individual, this is something personal.
Definitely it's such an important point to make. There's no right or wrong way to do self-care. It's about what feels right to you. And you know what? To me sometimes even just organising my pantry feels like self-care.
And for the most part, these can be things that don't require a lot of time or money. I think that's another common misconception. As much as weekend getaways and trips to the spa are wonderful, I'm getting this vision, Jess, of the weekend away that we spent together this summer, regular doses of self-care are important and it's just easier to be consistent when it doesn't require a ton of resources.
I love that you mentioned that, Stef, especially this time of year when so many people are feeling squeezed when it comes to resources. It's so refreshing to know that we can really pamper ourselves without having to spend all this money and dig deep in our pockets.
For sure. And thank you, Jess. As you're asking me about my own self-care practice, it's helping me realise how far I've come. There was definitely a time in my life when I just refused to make time for taking care of myself in this way. I didn't love myself enough, didn't feel like I deserved it, and I didn't see the value in slowing down, doing things that are relaxing. I thought I was wasting my time.
Yeah. Can you relate? Do you know what I mean?
I can. I can totally relate, Stef. I think for me, the notion of caring for myself really set in when I was 21 and finishing college back in 2004. That's when I started going to therapy and that was out of a need. It was a really hard time in my life. But I remember feeling like it was almost a revolutionary act to take that time for myself. Taking time just to talk about my thoughts. Wow. And that kind of opened me to this whole new world of intentionally acting on my behalf, for my wellbeing.
And I saw how it could make everything better. And I do have to admit, I sometimes get annoyed these days with the whole self-care craze only because I feel like it's been a bit co-opted as a status symbol in our culture. But I do have to say that overall I really appreciate that, as a culture, we're being more and more encouraged to just care for ourselves, and it's more normal now to take that time for ourselves.
Yeah. I'm really happy to be seeing that. And it's definitely a process to move ourselves up in the ranks and learn how to love and take care of ourselves. And even once we've learned, it still takes effort and awareness, and there are ebbs and flows, right?
Absolutely. Especially when things get stressful, it's really useful to me to have constant reminders of the importance of simply caring for myself and support from other people. I tend to find it really easy still, after all these years and after even knowing how important it is, I find it really easy to just kind of disregard it. Stef, you're such a good friend, in addition to being a health coach, and you are so good at reminding me of this, and of what's actually happening in my body when I'm not caring for myself. So can you share with our listeners a little bit about the value in our physical body of self-care?
I'd love to and I find it really helpful when we are clear about what the opposite of that looks like. So I want to ask something back to you, Jess.
What does it feel like when you're not taking care of yourself?
Usually, it feels like a creeping sensation of anxiety, or high stress, or kind of the sense of just being mindlessly busy with tasks. That's usually a good sign that I need to pause and check-in. And then I guess often that comes with tiredness too, fatigue.
Thank you, yeah. Yeah, so not taking care of ourselves can look a lot of different ways. It can be having all of the time in the world but sitting on a couch 24/7, but what you just shared, busy, stressed, anxious, feeling sort of out of control, this is the scenario which most of us can probably relate to. So looking at it from this angle, if we're feeling run down, and stressed, and overwhelmed, self-care is a much-needed break from that self-care gives your body a chance to recuperate, Jess.
And so to explain that a little bit more, when you're relaxed, when you're happy when you're enjoying yourself, which is what we're aiming for with self-care, your body's natural self repair mechanisms get turned on. On the other hand, when your body is under stress when you're running around on four hours of sleep, those same self repair mechanisms are turned off. So self-care then is a chance to let our brilliant bodies do incredible things like restore hormonal balance, repair wounds, prevent infections. Those mechanisms even affect how our genes express themselves.
So incredible. You have such a great way of reminding us that the body is amazing and that it wants to heal and recalibrate.
Yes, these bodies of ours truly are amazing, and we really want to strive to give them regular doses or as many chances as we can to rest and restore. And sometimes we won't be able to go as far as doing something that really gets us in that zone that makes us feel relaxed, like taking a long walk. And so it's important to mention too that there's also value in little feel-good choices, like smiling at someone as you're rushing to the train, stepping outside for a minute and taking a deep breath. They might not fully get us out of that stress mode when our repair mechanisms are turned off, but they help bring down those stress hormones, the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which our body is making during those times.
That's so cool. Yeah, I love how you often suggest just stepping outside and just taking a little bit of sun, even if it's just 10 seconds. It's so cool that the little things can really count.
Yeah, they do. And all of this is so relevant in the context of our cycles and of fertility. Over time chronically high stress hormones are linked to cycle disorders or irregularities, fertility challenges, low sex drive, feeling tired, not being able to sleep. And one way I feel a lot of us can make that link is by watching how we feel in the week or two before our periods. Jess, do you find your PMS changes depending on how well you were able to take care of yourself that month?
It so does. I mean just going back to launching the podcast, we were working super late nights there for a few weeks, not taking too many breaks, and a little off balance and out of whack, I'd say. My last period was intense, Stef. My cycle was shorter than normal, and my symptoms were a little stronger, and I was just definitely feeling more exhausted.
Yeah, it's not uncommon to see that happen. So that's really the beauty of self-care. Not only does it feel good, but it's also doing good for your body.
So just for a little recap, it's normal that we're going to feel stress in our lives, and at some times we're going to feel more stressed than other times. For some of us, the holidays are actually a really stressful time of year, but these sort of self-care practices, what they can help us do is balance us out so that our cycles don't suffer. Does that sound about right, Stef?
Perfectly said, Jess. But again, there's a fundamental piece that we all have to consider if we really want to commit to taking care of ourselves, and that's do you think you're worthy of being treated in this way? I love digging into that, but it's a much more personal conversation.
Yeah. We have to know that we're worth it. We really, really have to believe that, I think, in order to make this all happen.
Yeah, we want our decisions about self-care to be coming from a place of I'm important, I'm worthy, self-care is my right. And you are, it is, without a doubt.
This is amazing. So let's take a quick break, Stef, and then I am super excited because when we get back you've generously agreed to help me get back on track in the self-care department.
I can't wait and I hope everyone comes away with a few new ideas on how to take care of themselves right now. Be right back.
So Jess, can you tell us more about what's going on in your life, how you've been feeling lately? And thank you in advance for being willing to go there with us.
Sure. So we've got this new project, The Flow Down, that we are super excited about. And on top of that, I'm working as a freelance journalist, and so between all these different projects and obligations I've kind of just been feeling lately like I'm always connected, I'm always online, and just kind of hustling about from one thing to the other. And I've been struggling honestly with shutting down, with taking breaks. I feel sometimes isolated at home, because I've been working from, and sometimes being connected all day has been turning into being connected into the night, and on my phone or on my computer screen. So that's kind of where I'm at these days and yeah.
Yeah, I hear you. It really must be difficult to feel like you've always got to be in the know and available to respond. I do, though, hear you really clear right now that you want to do things differently, and this is a powerful place to be. I also think I hear a part of you though, Jess, and correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe beating yourself up.
Oh definitely. I do get really annoyed at myself for being connected for so many hours, or whenever I find myself just kind of mindlessly scrolling on my phone I just get so annoyed. So yeah, I definitely make it worse by beating myself up about it.
Yeah, it's very natural to go there, and I have to take a second to say from the outside looking in, Jess, you're doing great.
You've been doing so much, even just for The Flow Down itself, you produce all of our episodes, which takes an enormous amount of time and attention, and truthfully you are great at it. Yeah, I want you also to acknowledge how much you are doing.
And what we've just uncovered is this chance to infuse some self-care into your day, being kind to yourself, being forgiving, cutting yourself some slack, celebrating your wins, encouraging yourself to do better next time. It's not always the easiest, but it's one of the cheapest, quickest forms of self-care and gosh, does it feel good.
So let's just take a moment to get comfortable with this type of positive self talk. Can you find some recent self-care wins to share with us?
Oh yeah. Let's see. One thing that's feeling really good is that we got a standing desk, and I'm working from that as much as possible.
Been trying to get out from my walks, and go to my community garden and water my plants, even just stocking up on good food and buying some good dark chocolate is really a big win.
I agree. Yeah. You also sent me this beautiful selfie of yourself doing yoga outside before your evening editor shift. So I see you. While there's room for change, I also want you to know in this moment you're doing great.
So this is something we can all think about. How can we focus more on the decisions that we're making that feel good, and how can we be forgiving and kind to ourselves when we fall short, and encourage ourselves to try again next time? When we're kind and supportive of ourselves, we eliminate that added layer of pressure and stress.
So now Jess, let's go back to those moments where you find yourself scrolling longer than you had wanted and getting down on yourself, and apply this. Instead of going to that place of self-blame, can you find some kind encouraging words to say to yourself? For example, "Okay, I just spent a lot of time scrolling on social media and that did not feel good. I think what I was wanting in that moment was a sense of connection. Maybe next time I could call a friend."
Totally. Yeah, I really like that. So that did not feel good, but it's okay. I think what I'm looking for in this moment is to connect, and I can find that in another way, in another way that feels better.
Yes. Can you feel the difference?
Definitely, it feels so much more forgiving.
Yeah. And then from there we can put a plan in place so that you can have less and less of those moments. And it sounds like we're aiming for some breaks throughout the day, and then shutting down earlier at night.
Does that sound right?
So tell us more about your day and what would be realistic? Is it taking a five minute break every hour, or is it taking an hour long lunch?
Yeah, I think the little breaks throughout the day feel more realistic. I guess sometimes I get caught up thinking that there's kind of no point in them because they're just short, and it's not worthwhile unless it's a big chunk. But you're helping me see that that's totally not true. I guess maybe sometimes I also don't know what to do in such a short time.
Yeah, that's great. So I have a client who swears by her Pomodoro app. She's a solopreneur, she's on the computer a lot, she's in digital strategy. I'm not sure if you're familiar, but it's basically an app that will alert you every X amount of time, depending on when you want to take your breaks, and really holds you accountable to getting up, if it's every hour or what would be the timing for you?
Yeah, I think once an hour would it be great.
And how would you want to fill that time? So if you have a five-minute break, let me ask you, what are the feelings that you are craving right now? So I had mentioned earlier that what I am craving right now is feeling relaxed, and feeling happy, and feeling indulged. That feels like self-care to me.
What do you want to feel in those moments?
Oh, what you described sounds really good. I would love to feel relaxed, like I'm sort of rejuvenating and resting, and also just kind of whole and fulfilled, and yeah, joyful.
Can you think of things that make you feel that way?
Definitely. Just going out into the back of my apartment and feeling the sun, taking a few deep breaths, just stretching my body, thinking of a friend, or connecting quickly with a friend. I guess I could even send a friend a voice message in five minutes. Yeah, but just taking a few deep breaths, like a five minute meditation or something.
I absolutely love those. And just to add to that, in case it'd be helpful for you or our listeners, my simple faves are making a tea in a beautiful mug, spraying some rosewater toner on my face, putting on a song and dancing or singing, closing my eyes and thinking about or writing down something that I'm grateful for.
Oh, I love these, Stef. These all feel really inspiring.
I'm glad. So what we just did was get clear about when you could create some short pockets of time during your day, and how you want to feel and what you want to do during those moments. Now let's talk about how we can create some boundaries around your work and your downtime during the evenings, and how you can make the most out of that time.
What time realistically can you shut down at night?
Oh, Stef. I have been pushing it lately. There has been some midnight shutdown nights there, so I think anything after 10, at that point I am done for, I really don't need to be online anymore.
Okay, great. I love that. You don't need to be. That's also an interesting point to make, right. I think a lot of times we feel like oh, I've got to be connected, I've got to be connected, and most of the times we really, really need to be connected, but then there are some times where we might be telling ourselves that we need to be connected, but we don't really.
So yeah, I love that. 10 o'clock. So what's it going to take for you to shut down at 10 o'clock? Can you set an alarm? Will you stick to it? If you do, will your husband be onboard?
Yeah, I do like the idea of setting an alarm. I could probably set a repeating alarm for every night the way that I set an alarm in the morning, but just sort of find maybe a nice alarm sound to lure me into shutting down around 10 every night. And then I would love to have a chat with my husband just to let him know that that's my intention, and even if he's not going to necessarily shut down every night at that same time, just that he's aware and supportive of me.
And then to physically actually close my laptop, clean up my workspace.
Leave everything ready, and then just kind of retreat to a different space away from the desk.
I love that. You're queuing your body. The work day is done. And what would you do then? Because now we have the potential to kind of fill that time with a little bit of a longer dose of self-care, wind down, right. Get your body into that relaxation mode. What would feel good to you at that point?
This is where sometimes I need those reminders, or even where a list or something could serve me because sometimes I feel myself floundering that I don't know what to do, so I have a book, but then if I don't feel like reading my book or something, what else do I do? So I could probably, I don't know, write in my journal even, or put on a face mask, or use some lotion on my feet or my hands.
Yeah. What about listening to a podcast? Would that feel too connected?
Oh gosh. Yeah, definitely. Like a calming podcast, like a Tara Brach, or an On Being, or some sort of a podcast that feels relaxing. Definitely.
I don't know. I guess I could even also put on some nice chill music at night too.
Yeah. I personally find music really helpful in setting the tone. Those are great ideas. Again, just to throw out some other things, I also like to dim the lights. I'll put on some essential oil. Maybe I'll massage my feet or do a few restorative yoga poses. Sometimes I'll take a bath, and I love to listen to Danielle LaPorte meditations.
It might sound silly, but sometimes even what I wear to bed. Some nights an old tattered T-shirt works fine, but other nights is kind of nice to treat myself and sleep in a really cosy, comfy tank top or something like that.
Oh yeah. I'm big into PJs, and you know my robe. So we just shared some ideas for short, simple self-care throughout the day, and then some practical ideas for relaxing during the evening. We also talked about a few ways, like using an app or using a timer to help hold you accountable. Jess, how is all of this feeling for you?
It feels so good. Honestly, I already feel like I have more tools at my disposal.
Great. I'm so happy. We definitely want this to feel doable and energising, and we don't want it to feel stressful or overwhelming. That's a good check for all of us to keep in mind. So then the last step would be to get clear about what you want to commit to and how you're going to make it happen. So let's start with what you'd like to commit to.
Okay. So first, just being a little kinder to myself when I do find myself getting caught up and over-connected, and not beating myself up further. Next is taking more regular breaks throughout the day. And lastly, shutting down earlier at night and finding a few ways to care for myself before bed.
Yeah. So how are we going to make those happen? Let's put a plan in place so that you're really clear on what needs to happen in order for you to follow through.
Okay. So the being kind to myself, I think it would be useful to, yeah, maybe write out a phrase or two with that kindness and just a little sticky ... What do you call those?
Oh yeah, on a little Post-it, and just attach that to my monitor, my computer screen. Just have that there so that when I do, or if I do get off track, I can have the words to call on.
As for taking more breaks, I would love to look into this Pomodoro app, or any other technology that might help me just with a little soft reminder every hour that I could take a break.
And then for the nighttime, I can definitely set a nightly alarm at 10 o'clock, and I think would be really, really helpful for me to take a few minutes to write out a list of the sort of nighttime self-care practices that I could call upon so that I don't feel that sense of what should I do so that I have things available and can just sort of choose what feels good that night.
All right, well you know I'm going to be holding you accountable.
I know you will. Thank you.
Now it's your turn. What sort of self-care are you craving? Write down a list of things that would feel good for you now, maybe some inspired by today's episode, and commit to making one happen today.
And we'd love to see your self-care wins and be inspired by them, so feel free to take a picture and post yours on Instagram, and tag us at flowdownpod. And by the way, little plug for Stef, she does work one-on-one with clients, and as you can tell, she's amazing. You can learn more at stefaniekleinburd.com and we'll put the link to her website in our show notes at flowdownpod.com.
Thank you, Jess.
Thank you, Stef. And thank you, everyone, for tuning in to episode six of The Flow Down podcast. Do you enjoy and get value from our podcast? If so, we would be incredibly appreciative if you would leave us a five star rating and a brief review on iTunes. It's really, really easy to do. So if you're on an iPhone, just head to the library tab under shows, click on The Flow Down subscription, and scroll down to ratings and reviews. If you're on iTunes on a computer, head to our show page, and then click the ratings and reviews tab. We love to hear from you.
Our theme song is Crimson Wave performed by Tacocat, courtesy of Hardly Art Records. Lastly, stay tuned, we have an incredible guest coming up on our next episode.
We'll see you then.
We admit we’ve been feeling a wee bit stretched thin lately. That’s why we’re recommitting to self-care. We explore how simple acts of R&R can aid in our menstrual cycles and overall well-being. And we give you plenty of ideas and inspiration to up your self-care game now — just in time for the holidays. Plus, we invite you to join us. Tag us in your self-care posts on Instagram @flowdownpod.
Resources + Links
Focus Time Pomodoro App for breaks throughout the day
Rose water from Found Herbal
On Being Podcast
Meditations by Danielle Laporte
This 45-minute restorative movement class with Carolyn Banner
Learn more about working with Stefanie one-on-one