The one thing we need (but often don’t value)

I just returned from delivering keynote addresses at several women’s leadership events. My topic, Finding Balance in a 24/7 World: The Art & Science of Self-Renewal, was well received and the audiences loved practicing my four strategies for building resiliency and reducing stress in daily life.  When I coached them on managing their energy, I asked everyone to turn to a neighbor and share one thing in their life that was draining them (and then, later, fueling them).  This is when their body language came alive, their hearts and minds seemed to sync and their faces lit up. Whether it was my trial lawyers, entrepreneurs or financial consultants, what they loved most about my presentation, was the chance to connect with one another around a meaningful conversation.

emotional self-care

I’ve been teaching the art/science of self-care for 20 years. While most people think they “get” self-care (read more), they usually miss that key to enhancing our overall well-being is making time for our emotional self-care as well as physical (ex: heart-felt communication with friends and mentors who let us show up “warts and all,” asking for support from a therapist or coach when needed, being discerning about who we let into our inner circles and taking time to feel to heal).

The care and feeding of our hearts is not superfluous or something we schedule like a dentist’s appointment–it’s essential to feeling whole and alive. But, more and more it seems we forget this.

One very real way we can enhance emotional connection is to examine how we’re communicating. Friends that used to regularly call me around the dinner hour to visit about our day, now only text. My son says he won’t pick up the phone to call his friends to plan an outing because, “They just don’t do that, Mom.” Our college communications interns are typically uncomfortable at the thought of returning phone calls to our customers or team members; they much prefer emailing. When we rely so heavily on electronic communication, our exchanges become short, shallow, transactional and one-dimensional. We’re missing nuance, tone and this type of empty communication does little to feed our hearts, establish and build relationships, and cultivate social and emotional intelligence.

It’s easy to succumb to the seduction of productivity and forget we’re not “human doings,” we’re messy, complex, wild, troubled and sometimes brilliant human beings.

What are you doing on a regular basis to nurture your inner landscape and emotional well-being? Study after study reports one of the biggest factors that affects our quality of life as we age is how deep and consistent our social interactions are with our friend circles. Alternately, when we’re disconnected from ourselves and others, this can lead to depression, anxiety and worse (read my recent post on Loneliness).

We need each other fully and completely: hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Not just through rapid fire texts, emojis or Facebook likes. It’s important we gather, connect, circle up and hug, laugh, cry and share. Coming together in this way is one of the most essential aspects of the human experience (my good friend Margaret calls this face-to-face interaction “belly time”).

This week I challenge you to look at your emotional self-care and examine how your heart it doing. As part of this, explore ways you can make your communication more authentic and personal. Try picking up the phone to call a friend you haven’t spoken to in months, setting up a girl’s or guy’s night out or (gasp!) dropping by a friend’s home unexpectedly just for a hug and to say hi. We need each other. (Want more? Read my post on Why We Need Each Other.)

YOUR HOMEWORK: One of my favorite exercises for connecting to our “inner world” is the Quickie Journaling Exercise (from my popular life balance book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Way to Find Peace & Harmony in Everyday Life). It involves asking three simple questions and recording your answers in a notebook or journal. It often helps to write stream of consciousness–let whatever wants to emerge–and place a hand over the center of your chest while reflecting on each question. How do I feel? What do I need (at this moment, at this life stage)? What do I want (what is my heart’s greatest desire)?  Try this exercise every morning for one week. Often in just five minutes, you are able to unearth a whole world you didn’t even know was present.


emotional self-care

Join me here at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the crisp, cool MA Berkshire Mountains this Friday, Sept. 21-23 for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat. Packages start at just $500; commuter options available!

  • Retreats are ideal if you’re in transition, exploring, “What’s next?” and want to create new ways of being. Join soulful, like-minded women in an empowering and deeply supportive environment this fall for two restorative women’s self-renewal retreats. I’ll be in the MA Berkshire Mountains at Kripalu this Friday, Sept. 21-23 (lodging is almost sold out!) and in the ancient CA redwoods at 1440 Multiversity Oct. 26-28; learn more.
  • Craving authentic community and want to find (or create) your tribe? Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators  and empower/support women in your community! More here on how to become a RTA-Certified Facilitator and join our inner circle ($100 off through Friday, 9/30; includes private coaching with me).
  • Want to help you your employees, organization or conference members rock their game by learning the art and science of self-care? Schedule me to present a custom work-life balance/resiliency presentation or workshop in 2019. I travel and speak around the globe at conferences, leadership retreats and employee events; one of my most popular topics is Finding Balance in a 24/7 World: The Art & Science of Self-Renewal. Learn more.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and living intentionally including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.