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Caring for Yourself with Attention and Intention

emotional resilience mindfulness negative emotions negative thoughts Mar 16, 2024
Caring for yourself with attention and intention.

Earlier in the month, I talked about your emotions as important feedback into what you are needing. If you want the refresher, find the blog post here, or your email from March 1, 2024.

But today I want to take a slightly different approach, and think about noticing our emotions in the moment, and using them to make new habits, new patterns or associations.

Imagine you are in a meeting, and you hear that from now on, everyone is going to see 3 extra patients per day, and you are immediately full of anxiety and panic. Your immediate thoughts jump to “how on earth am I going to be able to do that?!?” and your heart is racing, all the fight and flight stuff.

Now for most of us, we’ll get stuck there. Or if your emotional response is anger, we’ll get stuck there.

But here’s a moment for a different action. What if instead, when you notice those big feelings occurring, you choose to pause and ground yourself. 

You take deep slow breaths. 

You focus on wiggling and paying attention to each toe on each foot, mindfully.

You imagine a root extending out of the base of your spine, through your chair, through the floor, and connecting into the earth.

That’s going to give you a different experience, isn’t it?

But wait, you’ll stop paying attention to the conversation, won’t you? My friends, let me ask you this; when you are flooded with anxiety or anger, how much attention are you paying at that moment anyway?

Big emotions pull our prefrontal cortex, our “higher” thinking brain off-line. Fear, anxiety, anger, those are seated in the deeper “reptilian” brain. So when we are triggered, we are off-line. So it’s ok to take a hot minute and care for yourself through grounding, before you try to rejoin the meeting mentally. In fact, you’ll get back “online” more quickly.

This practice of noticing the big feelings, and choosing to do something to care for yourself is rooted in mindfulness, and it’s incredibly helpful for emotional regulation. The point is not to discount the emotions; notice we are actually tuning in here, noticing the emotion and caring for ourselves, rather than getting stuck in our feelings OR pretending we don’t have any feelings.

Consider what big feelings come up for you on at least a semi-regular basis: anxiety, anger, frustration, resentment, etc. And then decide what you want to try in response to it next time. The more you practice this, the more emotional resilience we create for ourselves, which makes us better self-advocates, better decision-makers, and overall just kinder humans (to ourselves too).

Give it a try.

And let me know how it goes.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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