breathe

5 WAYS #BADASSWOMENRELAX

 

 

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For part two of my blog series on my favorite kind of women – the BADASS WOMAN – I thought I would write a little about how to incorporate relaxation in to the badass woman lifestyle.

Badass women are women who function highly in many different areas of life and career paths. If you are a BADASS WOMAN, you refuse to take shit from others and stand firm in your beliefs, ideals, and life choices. You are not afraid of climbing the ladder, telling someone what they think, and being successful. You know what the line between right and wrong and you make sure others follow in the lines. You almost never choose the easy road, you chose the road you want. You are polite and caring, generous, yet, no one can stand in the way of what you want. You may be in a high powered position or perhaps you have chosen an alternative career, but you are most definitely great at what you do and an invaluable worker.

For all you badass women out there, you know how difficult it can be to really take time for yourself to relax. You are set on “DO” mode and may find it a struggle to just “BE.” Perhaps you relax with TV series, netflix movies in solitude and/or spend free time socializing. Your socializing includes time out with friends drinking or using substances to relax and you feel like you have to be “ON” all the times, maybe even as if you are the entertainment for the crowd.

You wear a mask and seldom feel as if you are yourself while out with friends. In your solitude, you may fill the hours with entertainment and while it is relaxing to numb out in front of a screen, you feel as if you there is something missing. You may even try yoga, running or other sports and still feel disconnected from receiving benefits of the activity. You feel inauthentic, as if you are acting a part, a fraud. You want to DO SOMETHING, but you are not sure what. 

As you tune into your body, you come into the awareness that you often feel either angry or anxious. It feels like this fluctuation is present almost constantly. At times you may rage out, only later to come to the realization that you overreacted and likely regret your behavior. In times of anxiety, it is difficult to settle, to sitstill and think clearly. You hide from others the distressful state of your internal world and push through the day. You cannot seem to just relax anymore.

The real trouble is that you feel out of control of your internal world. You can’t believe it has gotten to this place and you are ready to do something to ease the pain and struggle. 

The great news is that you did not chose to create this internal world for yourself, it has happened over time and you can recover. Your behaviors, while no longer serving you, are protective in nature and have kept you safe.

Here are some places to start to relax. 

  1. Gratitude.  Thank your mind and body for protecting you. Anger and anxiety are animal defense mechanisms. When they arise, your mind and body are trying to keep you safe. Remember to be thankful for your body and mind’s protection rather than beating yourself up for having these reactions. Adding a layer of guilt and shame to your worries can further exacerbate your overall stress level.
  2. Breath.  Breathing is a powerful mechanism for turning on the self-soothing chemicals in your mind and body. Breathing in 3 counts and out 6 counts can turn on soothing chemicals in your body, turning off the stress response. Try breathing in the 3 inhale, 6 exhale count about 4 times and notice how it changes your body state.
  3. Progressive muscle relaxation. Before going to sleep, spend five minutes tensing and then relaxing each muscle group of your body, one at a time. Or if you prefer, just relax and don’t tense muscles. Start with your toes and move to the top of your head, relaxing one muscle group at a time with each exhale.
  4. Connection. Humans are wired to connect for survival. It is important to spend time connecting with people while doing calm activities. Yoga, meditation, hiking, making art, and attending religious services all can be very soothing. Spending a few hours of your week participating in these activities can improve your mood and help you feel relaxed throughout your week.
  5. Solitude. Spend some time in soulful activity on your own. Explore meditation, mindful walking, making art, dancing, or any other soul nourishing activity for just one hour a week on your own. Notice how that one hour a week can affect your week.
  6. Reach out. Because connection and relationship is such a large part of our functioning, reaching out for help and receiving help may be the most powerful tool for overall relaxation and mood stability. Often dysregulation of your mood and mind is a result of very old wounds in our relationships. Repairing these wounds with a therapist is powerfully healing. The great thing about this is that it does not necessarily mean sharing traumatic stories, instead the focus is on the limiting beliefs you may have.

Much love and gratitude to you in your journey,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows badass women in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

FROM GRIPPING TO EMBRACING FEAR

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Today I take a step towards embracing fear and releasing my grip on fear.

You may not believe this….. but guess what? I am an imperfect psychotherapist.

I am on my own journey, weaving in and out of the depths and surface of this life. I delve deep and stay for a moment, in solitude, attuned to my inner goddess. Shortly after, I get in my car and drive around Washington DC or listen to a stand-up comedian and exist on the surface. The next day, I show up to hold the space for my clients, walking with them in their own journey in and out of the depths of soul and surface. I show up for different people in the place that they feel comfortable, accessing the different levels and parts of my being. At times the chameleon-like process feels like whiplash, though well worth the disorientation for the experiences and souls I have the pleasure of encountering. 

Today, I acknowledge my fear.

I journey in and out of depth and consciousness, lack of awareness and forgetting, surface living, and reaction.

At times the fear feels consuming and my body tightens in response to the fear. My breathing constricts, my palms sweat, my heart races, and my gut feels unsettled. As I notice the reaction has already occurred, I recognize that I did not intervene before it had a hold on me.

I acknowledge the hold of my primitive reptilian flight response
and begin to take breaths. 

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

3 counts in – Calm

6 counts out – Relax

I notice my body loosen, my heart slows. My mind slows and becomes more at ease. I see that fear again but from a more objective place. I see that my habitual response around this fear is to grip, grasp, hold on for dear life. Yet, my life is not at stake.

I REMEMBER my baggage, the internal space I continually have to go back to and challenge myself on. The attachments and expectations I created long long ago as a small child to have the illusions of control and certainty.

Today I release certainty and embrace my fear. I REMEMBER that fear is part of the experience. It informs but does not have to cause suffering. I lovingly embrace fear as it returns and listen in to what it has to tell me.

To remembering in this breath and moment,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensoriotor therapy or to work on anxiety & fear in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

STEPPING OUT OF THE STORY

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I know my old story.

It is :: I AM BROKEN.

And even before that it is :: I AM NOT WORTHY.

The stigma of having been divorced, the first of my friends and in my age group to do so, often bites at my heals, begging for me to pick it up and ride the downward spiral of WHAT IFs and SHOULDS. 

What if I tried harder to make the relationship work?
What if I wasn’t tolerant enough of my husband’s behavior?
What if I had staged an intervention?

I should have been able to see it sooner and leave…I wasted so many years.

I should have known, as a therapist, what my husband’s issues and my issues were.

I should have been able to help myself.

I should be married with children now.

And then the WHYs come parading into my brain in an endless stream of existential confusion.

Why have I been given this life?
Why must I go through these trials?
Why can’t I have the family I dreamed of as a child?
Why do they teach us fairy tales as children if that is not the script of reality?
Why didn’t anyone see what was wrong and tell me to leave the relationship?
Why can’t I get it right?

How long have I held this belief of unworthiness? Where did it start? Why is it so hard to shake?

I get lost in the story and forget to breathe. I look at the clock and I see how much precious time I have wasted trying to figure out an answer to the uncertainty of life. The unsolvable.

Then I melt into the embrace of unknowing and uncertainty, gratitude towards my path, trusting that I am headed in the direction I am supposed to be going. The anxiety and groundlessness ends as I sink into my feet, allowing the energy to disperse throughout my limbs and trunk, loosening my grip physically and mentally. I take a few moments to notice the peace I am currently surrounded by, the smell, the image, the sounds. I send an energetic bow of thanks to the universe for giving me the journey I am on, appreciating the highs and lows, the experience as a whole.

To say it no longer hits me would be a lie. I can, with strong conviction, assert that it hits me much less often and for short increments of time before I identify it, kiss it, and say goodbye. I trust my path. Only with time and practice have I learned to tune into this power, my power, my own intuition drawn from my feminine divine energy. 

I invite you to tune into your feminine divine energy to step out of your story when you can. To end the cycle of rumination over the unsolvable and unknowable and instead to tune into and be grateful for what you have now.

To tuning into the Divine Feminine in you, me & us,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute consultation for art therapy, talk therapy or sensorimotor psychotherapy to begin the process stepping out of the story, email kim@yoursoultherapy.com