The “Skills” of Self-Care with Christine Gautreaux
Do you often find yourself exhausted before you even get the chance to do some self-care? Are you ready to find out how you can prioritize yourself while still being of service to others?
Self-care isn’t really about the glitz and glamour in the midst of your busy lifestyle. The myth of getting your hair done or putting on nail polish won’t really help you get back into your body. It’s more about reconnecting and reprioritizing yourself. So, what should you really be doing to take good care of yourself physically and mentally?
Christine Gautreaux, MSW, holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Social Work and is a professional speaker, coach, author, and entrepreneur. She is the co-author of Stillpoint: A Caregivers Playbook and the co-host of the Women Connected in Wisdom Podcast. Christine believes in the power of body wisdom and somatic play to help heal trauma. She works with women from all walks of life to maintain balance and do self-care during these intense times in which we find ourselves living.
In this episode, Christine shares what self-care is really all about, and it’s not what you’ve always thought! She also discusses the actual skills involved in self-care and how you can practice them.
What you will learn from this episode:
Identify what self-care is and is not
Learn how you can reprioritize yourself and put yourself back up on the top of your to-do list
Find out ways you can take care of yourself while taking care of others
“Self-care means tuning into ourselves and learning how to read our own body language.”
- Christine Gautreaux
Valuable Free Resource:
How to start your proper self-care journey and reprioritize yourself: christinegautreaux.com
05:33 - Challenge is reprioritizing their health and wellness which hinders them from finding ease and time for themselves
06:29 - Not prioritizing themselves and putting everybody else’s needs ahead of their own needs: the common mistake business women leaders make when trying to do self-care
07:20 - One free and actionable tip you can do to assess yourself and practice self-care: The very first thing I tell myself and I tell everybody else is to take a deep breath and get back in your body. And you'll say, "Christine, I'm breathing" and you may not be. Like you may be breathing fast or holding your breath because that often happens in stress. So, the first thing I would say is to take a deep breath consciously, let your belly relax, let that breath go all the way down to your belly, and then let it out
08:40 - One valuable free resource to help you be reminded to take a minute to take care of yourself and breathe: christinegautreaux.com
09:46 - Q: Are there actual skills involved with self-care? A: The answer to that is yes! We've identified five skills of self-care in the book, Stillpoint that we stand by, and we live by. I'm going to name them for your audience.
“Take a deep breath, and get back in your body.” - Christine Gautreaux
“Find something that is not work, and that is not beholden to somebody else, where you can be with yourself and get in tune with your body.” - Christine Gautreaux
“Self-care is also not, and this is a big one for our female leaders, putting ourselves through frequent reoccurring cycles of overwork, followed by crashing to recover this rhythm of full speed ahead, followed by total collapse is damaging to all dimensions of ourselves-- the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.” - Christine Gautreaux
“Self-care is tuning in. It's recognizing earlier and earlier, the subtle physical signs of potential difficulties.” - Christine Gautreaux
Ways to Connect with Paola Knecht
Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown
Full Episode Transcript:
Christine Gautreaux 0:00
Self-care is not continuing to educate and train ourselves to withstand more stress in order to take on more stress.
Sarah E. Brown 0:16
Hello, everyone, welcome to The KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women, where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I'm your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.
Sarah E. Brown 0:35
My guest today is Christine Gautreaux, MSW. She holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Social Work and is a professional speaker, coach, author, and entrepreneur. She is the co-author of the book, Stillpoint: A Caregiver's Playbook. And she co-hosts the Women Connected in Wisdom Podcast, which has recently achieved stellar reviews. I'll get her to explain that as we talk today. Christine believes in the power of body wisdom and somatic play to help heal trauma. She works with women from all walks of life to maintain balance and self-care during intense times, like the ones we're living in right now. Christine, thank you for joining me today.
Christine Gautreaux 1:34
Oh, thanks for having me, Sarah. I'm delighted to be here.
Sarah E. Brown 1:38
So, Christine, and I have known each other for over five years. We have participated in a mastermind group together. And one of the things that just enthrals me about her is her focus on helping women understand caregiving, balancing it with self-care, and balancing with their vocation. And that's going to be a lot of what we'll talk about today. So, Christine, set the stage for us on the caregiving scene right now as we find it in our country.
Christine Gautreaux 2:15
Oh, absolutely, Sarah. So, the first thing I want to say is caregiving is a dangerous profession. There are, over the latest statistics- I don't even think we have the latest statistics since the pandemic, honestly. But before the pandemic, there were 57 million identified caregivers in the United States, most of them being unpaid, which meant those were private caregivers. That number does include our professional caregivers, also, but when we're talking about private and unpaid caregivers, a lot of them are women. And they're of the sandwich generation, where a lot of women leaders are caregiving kids and parents at the same time, or say they didn't have kids, but they have parents. And so, women tend to be the ones that people look to take care of their parents, their communities, their teams, and their organizations. So, they get asked a lot to take care of things outside of their job in addition to their job. And it can be dangerous because what happens is they tend to put everybody else first and not take care of their own health and wellness needs. And that shortens lifespans.
Sarah E. Brown 3:28
Okay, so if the tendency is to take care of others at the expense of ourselves, how would you define self-care?
Christine Gautreaux 3:37
Oh, I always love that question, Sarah. So, what we do in Stillpoint is start with what self-care is not because I think it's very valuable to identify what it is not. So, self-care is not continuing to educate and train ourselves to withstand more stress in order to take on more stress. We all know people who insist on staying in unhealthy jobs or relationships while asking for help in order to tolerate more abuse gracefully. Self-care is also not, and this is a big one for our female leaders, putting ourselves through frequent reoccurring cycles of overwork, followed by crashing to recover this rhythm of full speed ahead, followed by total collapse is damaging to all dimensions of ourselves-- the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. So, you say, "Okay, Christine, you've told me what it's not, but what is it?" Well, in our definition, you know, dominant culture teaches us that self-care is the spa and our nails and our pedicure and all that's great and wonderful, and I'm not opposed to that at all. But what we define it as, in the book, is self-care is tuning in. It's recognizing earlier and earlier, the subtle physical signs of potential difficulties. Caring people, which includes our leaders, become good at reading other people's body language, such as clenched jaws, stooped shoulders, and sad eyes. Self-care means tuning into ourselves and learning how to read our own body language. So, it's about getting in our bodies. Yeah!
Sarah E. Brown 5:19
And I probably know the answer to this question after that definition, but let's be clear, just for clarity's sake. What's the biggest challenge you're helping female leaders face in dealing with this today?
Christine Gautreaux 5:33
Right! The biggest challenge is reprioritizing their health and wellness, so they can find ease and time to breathe and reclaim joy in order to sustain and thrive in their lives. I help leaders access- I also help them get in their bodies and access the power of play, Sarah. Because like the latest research is showing us that play helps us be more productive. It helps our brains be more efficient and resilient. And often is, women, we're like, we're too busy for that, right? Or we don't allow ourselves out. Or we shut that part off us when we were younger because we have so much to do, and so many responsibilities. So that's the biggest thing-- it's reprioritizing, scheduling ourselves, and putting ourselves at the top of our to-do list.
Sarah E. Brown 6:23
And what would you say are the biggest mistakes your clients make before working with you or reading your book?
Christine Gautreaux 6:29
Not prioritizing themselves. They put everybody else ahead of their own needs. They also think they have to do self-care by themselves, so it often gets bumped. And I'm a big believer in "partnership power", in scheduling things and having accountability buddies. And I want to be clear, I don't want it to just be another task on your to-do list. I don't want that feeling of dread to come over your body or, the folks that are listing, their body. I want you to be able to be in your body, and access your joy and your happiness as much if not more than the stress and the weight of the world that you're carrying.
Sarah E. Brown 7:07
And what would be a free and actionable tip you can share with our audience today to help them advance this concept and take care of themselves while taking care of others?
Christine Gautreaux 7:20
Right, the very first thing I tell myself and I tell everybody else is to take a deep breath and get back in your body. And you'll say, "Christine, I'm breathing" and you may not be. Like you may be breathing fast or holding your breath because that often happens in stress. So, the first thing I would say is to take a deep breath consciously, let your belly relax, let that breath go all the way down to your belly, and then let it out. If you're in a place where you can, with a big old sigh, like let your body get rid of some of that stress that you're currently holding. And then the other thing I would say is to go back to your evening and morning practices. So, if you don't have any, let's create some and schedule at least 30 minutes for yourself in the morning and the evening for some embodied practices. And what I'm talking about there is like just sitting and breathing, or stretching, or dancing and walking or meditating. Find something that does not work, and that is not beholden to somebody else, where you can be with yourself and get in tune with your body.
Sarah E. Brown 8:30
Hmm, that's a good idea. So, what is a valuable free resource you can share with the women who are listening today to help them understand this challenge better?
Christine Gautreaux 8:40
You bet! If you visit my website at christinegautreaux.com, you can download self-care in a minute, which just to remind you, I know it's so silly sometimes that we have to be reminded to breathe and other things, but we're busy. We're taking care of a lot of people and a lot of things in our jobs. So, I like to have a printout where I can put it on my bulletin board or put it in my calendar, and I can look at it. And so that's available on my website. And you're also invited to join me at an interplay event as my guest. So, interplay is a modality that I use that uses movement and storytelling and voice. And it helps people get into their bodies in an incremental playful way, and access that joy and happiness. And we can put up a link and just tell me that you're coming from Sarah's KTS Podcast, and you can be my guest!
Sarah E. Brown 9:34
Great, and I will have that link in the show notes. Christine, what's one question that I should have asked you that will help our audience take action to address this challenge? And then would you please answer the question?
Christine Gautreaux 9:46
Oh, you bet, Sarah. I love this! I think the question would be, are there actual skills involved with self-care? And the answer to that is yes! We've identified five skills of self-care in the book, Stillpoint that we stand by, and we live by. I'm going to name them for your audience. So, number one is sorting and separating. So, this is sorting and separating what belongs to us versus what belongs to others. So, we have clarity in our roles and how we take care of each other. Number two is letting go and surrendering and learning when and how to do this. Anybody that's been involved in a 12-step process, or has a belief in a higher power knows that you know, we can't do this all by ourselves. And often we have to let it go and surrender to something higher than us. Number three, building and using partnership power, and this is about getting help from others. This is about we don't have to do it by ourselves. Let's find our allies. Let's find the people that can help us. Number four is stepping back to get the bigger picture. And the relationship between the parts that often, and we've always heard this, about, you know, sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. So, getting that practice of stepping back to get the bigger picture. And number five, this is a biggie, and this is often a tough one for women, exercising choice by saying no, and yes. So often, we say "yes" way too often and more than we should. So, exercising our choice by having boundaries, and saying no to things so we can then reprioritize ourselves.
Sarah E. Brown 11:33
Great advice! Christine, thank you so much for being with me today.
Christine Gautreaux 11:37
Oh, thanks so much for having me, Sarah! This is delightful. I am a regular listener to your podcast. And I am just so grateful for all the resources and support that you give to women who are making a difference out in the world, in their organizations and in their communities, and in their lives.
Sarah E. Brown 11:56
So as a final word, why don't you tell people where they can find your podcast, Women Connected in Wisdom, and also give a shout-out to the award you just got?
Christine Gautreaux 12:07
Aw, thanks, Sarah! Yes, Women Connected in Wisdom Podcast. We stream live on Wednesdays at 5 pm Eastern and you can find us on LinkedIn. You can find us on YouTube or on Facebook. And we also, within 24 hours, it is lightly audio produced and put up on all the major podcasting sites. So, wherever you listen to a podcast, you can find us and we were just designated as one of the top 10% of the podcast in the world. And Sarah is going to be on it! So, if you haven't listened to it already, check it out and check out her episode for sure.
Sarah E. Brown 12:46
Christine, thank you so much for being with us today. And congratulations on the success of your podcast!
Christine Gautreaux 12:52
Oh, thank you, my friend. I appreciate you.
Sarah E. Brown 12:55
Sarah E. Brown 12:56
Thanks for listening to The KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you're hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now.
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