Episode 21: The 4 Pillars of Self Care

Ever feel like you’re constantly running on empty? You’re not alone. Most of us try to be the best version of ourselves we can be- but often find ourselves getting undermined by our body’s exhaustion.

This episode introduces the four core pillars of wellness: Sleep, Soothe, Fuel, and Move. Each of these pillars plays a crucial role in our body’s functionality and overall health. Surprisingly, even small changes in these areas can have a profound impact on your wellness journey. One of the key highlights of this episode is the exploration of self-compassion in the context of holistic healing. We delve into how to assess our wellness honestly, cultivate a positive relationship with our bodies, and foster resilience in our lives. 

What you will learn on this episode:

– Exploring the four core pillars of wellness: Sleep, Soothe, Fuel, and Move.

– The importance of sleep, nutrition, stress management, and movement in overall health. 

– How making small changes in these pillars can enhance your overall health and wellbeing. 

– Discussion on the role of self-compassion in holistic healing and wellness. 

– Emphasizing the need for a joyful and resilient approach to wellness.

– Strategies to build a strong foundation of these pillars to foster a resilient and confident life.. 

– Seeking professional help when necessary to untangle the complexities of holistic wellness.

– The importance of looking at the big picture in problem-solving for overall wellness. 

– The critical role of these pillars in preventing burnout, depression, anxiety and chronic illness.

Let’s Connect! 

I absolutely love to hear your thoughts and get your questions. 

You can email me at:  Leighagermann@gmail.com

I can’t wait to hear from you!


This podcast is not intended to provide mental health treatment.  Leigh Germann is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and not a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist.  She does not provide diagnosis nor offer therapy through the LeighGermann.com website or in the information offered on the website. It is important that you do not disregard professional medical or mental health advice or delay seeking professional medical or mental health treatment because of any information on the LeighGermann.com website including but not limited to blogs, newsletter, videos, podcasts, e-books, programs, webinars, courses and other services. Leigh Germann and offerings on LeighGermann.com are not providing legal or financial advice, business advice, psychotherapy, supervision, religious advice, or medical advice. The information contained on this Website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

By consuming this information and any information offered by Leigh Germann, through the LeighGermann.com website or any products and information offered there, you acknowledge that you are participating voluntarily in using the website and the products and information housed there, and that you are solely and personally responsible for your choices, actions and results, now and in the future. You accept full responsibility for the consequences of your use, or non-use, of any information provided on or through this website, and you agree to use your own judgment and due diligence before implementing any idea, suggestion or recommendation from the LeighGermann.com website to your life, family or business.


*This transcription below was provided for you or your convenience; please excuse any mistakes that the automated service made in translation.

Hey everyone, and welcome back to Leadership Parenting. I am so happy to get this time to spend with you. You know I think about you guys all the time at the grocery store. When I’m working with clients, I’m constantly thinking about what can we talk about that will help you in your efforts to feel good and to show up as a parent in the way you want to show up. I just love the content that we have the opportunity to explore. 

I invite you to take a moment at some point and go back and look through the episodes of this podcast. I don’t know if you realize it or not, but we are stepping through key, critical things that you need to know to be more knowledgeable, more connected, more aware with how you, your body, your brain works so that you can be empowered to really show up and take care of yourself. And we’ve just spent quite a bit of time on self compassion and this sets the stage for us to be able to go deeper, to go deeper into what it is you need to be able to feel good, particularly with your self care, in looking at how you work with your body. Today we’re jumping into your wellness from a body perspective, and you may remember from a previous episode how I explained that I don’t really look at your emotional and mental wellness separate from your physical body. Well, we call this a holistic approach and I love this way of looking at our experience. It actually has eliminated the roadblocks I used to run into when working with clients. For instance, I used to be trained in only cognitive behavioral therapy and helping people change their thoughts and work with them, but it really only took us so far, because once the thoughts happen, the experience is felt in the body. So we have to enlarge our vision and start to include the body. 


And then we have our behaviors. Our behaviors come from everything I just mentioned. Too many times we try to drop into our behaviors and make a change and we just aren’t very successful at that. And this is, I don’t know if you noticed that If you just try to change a behavior without understanding exactly what makes it up, it’s just really hard to do that. And this is so vital to remember for yourself, but also very important to remember for your kids. As parents, we often engage with our kids at the point of behavior. So if you were to draw this out on a line, the behavior is at the end of the line and everything before it, the way our body feels, what we’re thinking and feeling, it all comes before and it influences the end, that behavior point. So we try to change an outcome when it’s already baked, like the thoughts, feelings, how our body is experiencing things. Those are all the ingredients, like the flour, the sugar, the eggs and the heat of the oven, and then we pull out the cake. That’s the behavior. So we can’t just yell at a cake and have it change. We have to work with the ingredients before the cake is baked. 


So I love behavioral strategies, I believe in them, but not as separate entities. I love thinking and cognitive strategies and emotional regulation strategies. They’re all good, but not as separate entities. We of course separate them out to learn about them. You’ll notice that we address those as separate episodes. I address them as separate modules in my courses. I address them as separate workshops so that we can break them down and really study them and understand them. But in application, in problem solving, we need to zoom out and see the whole picture, how they work together. In fact we can nail the thinking strategies, that separate kind of module. We can get you really good at regulating your emotions. But if your body is depleted, like if you’re really low in sleep or any of the things your body needs, we will get undermined. 


So you may get tired of me saying, oh, this is so important because I say that a lot. I understand that and I’m doing it again. I’m bringing you yet another thing that I think is so important to add to your holistic picture, to the holistic puzzle. This is another piece of that, and that’s because we need all these pieces to function well, and this is often why our wellness gets bumped up to a higher care level, meaning that we need to seek a professional to help us untangle this, to kind of find the trouble spots, and I’m glad we have specialists to help us with this. But oftentimes those specialists only look at one part, like a specialist for your mind. That might be me. If I only looked at just how you’re thinking and how you’re regulating your emotions, I might miss something, which is why I’m going to zoom out this episode and ask you a little bit about your physical body and its care, in addition to the mental health aspects and the emotional wellness aspects that we are usually addressing. So this is me checking in on your body and the wellness of your body, and it’s good to have a family doctor or an internist or a nutritionist who asks you about your emotional and mental wellness in addition to your physical body and wellness. 


So my goal is certainly not to be a fix to every problem you’re facing, but rather teach you how to do this, to get good at zooming out and then zooming in and seeing your challenges and your wellness from both angles. And I want you to do this with your kids too, especially with your children, because you want to be able to see the problem, or what we identify as the problem with your kids, what the problem we’re trying to solve, and zoom in detail it and study it, and then zoom out and see it in context and start to look for contributing factors. You know that’s what I do. When a parent comes in and they give me their list of concerns, we definitely look at those, we write them down, we detail them, we kind of turn them inside out and then I ask them I want a bigger context. I want to know how your child is sleeping. I want to know how they’re feeling in general with their relationships. I want to know all of the good stuff that’s happening, the things that you maybe aren’t paying much attention to because they’re expected and you think they’re going well. I want to see the big picture and I want you to see the big picture too. What you get when you do this is a deeper bucket of options that you can access to help you troubleshoot the problem and maybe even prevent it from happening in the future. 


Okay, so what we’re learning here is more than just the content. What we’re learning is a process, and so when you learn this process of how to zoom in on specifics and zoom out and get context, you’re really arming yourself with this kind of a well of water that keeps giving, keeps giving you that kind of skill set that you need to solve any problem. So we’re kind of. Another analogy is we’re teaching you how to fish right, not just teaching you getting a fish for you, a specific fish. We’re teaching you how to do this process so that you can apply it to helping yourself and your children solve problems and even just approach your life in a very empowered way. 


And some terms that we like to use I like to use is having tools that are prescriptive, in which we’re zooming in and we’re addressing a specific problem and what’s happening in the moment, and then tools that are preventative, so that means we’re zooming out and looking at the big picture, things that can lay down the foundation to protect us from trouble or to even kind of help us figure out why we might be having these specific problems. So let’s zoom out for a minute. There are some very basic things, very foundational things, that we need to attend to every day in order to set the groundwork for our wellness, and these things are so basic. I really think we’ve become a little numb to them, because it’s easy to not prioritize them and, even more, I think it’s easy to take them for granted. And these are the powerful tools for us to use, both prescriptively, when we’re having trouble, and preventatively, to lay down the foundation of wellness to protect us. And here they are. 


I call them the four pillars of your self-care wellness Sleep, soothing, through connection, usually nutrition and movement. For a shortcut for you to remember it, it’s kind of easier this way. I call it your sleep, soothe, fuel and move needs. And these are all in the self-care pillar of our resiliency system and they consist of the four main things that will build you up if you are low in energy and struggling really in any way physically, emotionally or both and they’ll protect you from burnout, depression, anxiety, as well as a host of other physical ailments, including chronic illness and possibly even autoimmune disorders. So this concept on our physical wellness and these pillars are both prescriptive and preventative. So I want to really walk through these with you so that you can be thinking about how can I use this knowledge, this content, to help me solve any problems I might be experiencing and also just lay them down as a foundation for me to strengthen and protect my wellness in general. 


Okay, let’s get into the four core pillars of wellness Sleep, soothe, fuel and move so you can start thinking about this and how you want to implement it into your life. So these four pillars directly impact your body’s ability to do everything it needs to do for surviving and for thriving. And while we can focus on many of the tools of resilience and get really good at managing our minds and controlling our behaviors, they’ll all crumble if our foundation isn’t in place. Which is why I’ve had to move from being a CBT therapist or a cognitive behavioral therapist who works with the mind and moods through cognitive mastery. I’ve had to grow into an expert on how the body works and what the body needs to be able to do all that cognitive mastery stuff. I’ve needed to add training in how sleep affects your mood and how hydration and nutrition impact you and how your nervous system responds to threat real or imagined and kind of hijacks all your resources and drains your battery, in order to cope, I’ve had to retrain my approach to be holistic in helping women feel good, because a lot of what ails us comes from that cracked and unstable foundation of sleep, soothe, fuel and move, and anything we focus on beyond these four things is going to be built on top of this foundation. 

So all the thought, work, the boundary setting, the positive psychology, resilience training it just kind of gets knocked over by the needs of the body, which it sounds kind of serious. I don’t want this to be frightening discussion, but we do need to be real about it. I’ve sat with women who are so incredibly strong and determined. They’ve built an incredible life with a vision and goals and the commitment to stick to whatever plan they lay out. And then they come to me with some depression, anxiety, feeling burned out, tired, chronically ill, dealing with fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, thwarted and ultimately blaming themselves for not being strong enough. And I have this mountain of knowledge and tools and ideas to help them. 


But guess where I start? I start with the pillars of wellness sleep, soothe, fuel and move and sometimes it’s a surprise and even a disappointment to them when I have a woman come in hitting the wall like we talked about in episode 16, and she wants an amazing plan, something she’s not thought about, like a magical cure. She wants me to drop some knowledge and she wants to feel better, and I do. But I first have to start with the basics. The first thing I ask her is how much sleep she’s had this week, this month? What’s the sleep look like for her? Most of the time, and sleep is tricky, isn’t it?  Just like all of these pillars can be a little tricky. 


Sleep is both a symptom of a problem when we’re overwhelmed or we’re depressed, or we’ve got anxiety, or sometimes we even have a medical problem. Problems with sleep can be a symptom of that problem, but it also can be a cure to those same problems. So when we’re dealing with stress or pain, depression or anxiety, it affects our sleep. It can make it hard to get it to disrupt it, but it’s also part of the treatment. Kind of ironic. Sleep’s very sensitive that way and it’s a good thing. It can just be frustrating trying to harness it and make it work for us. So we have research on sleep. We have a lot of research why we need it and what can help us sleep better, and you’re going to want to know that stuff and keep it at the top of mind. 


Another pillar that we’re dealing with nutrition, appetite and nutrition is linked to this. Did you know that when you’re stressed, your body spends more energy, so it craves more fuel, and when you don’t have enough sleep, your body will give you intensified cravings for food that gives you the fastest bursts of energy, and that kind of food is usually high in sugar and carbs that carry big energy to your system. So those cravings for sweets and junk food not a sign that you’re weak, more a symptom of your body needing something. 

Okay, let’s talk about movement. When you move your body, you keep everything in your system working as it should, which helps your sleep, helps your mood, helps your energy and your nervous system handle the stress. But with low energy and high stress, moving and exercise can feel too big. So the body goes to other ways to conserve energy by shutting down or escaping or numbing. So when we move, even gentle movements like yoga, stretching or even walking just a few minutes a day, we start to reverse the spiral of the body’s  frantically grabbing for anything it can get to stay fueled. And when we actively sense our stress level rising and know how to dial down our own stress response, the body isn’t in as much distress. So it doesn’t need the high burst of frantic food consumption. It can rest more. So sleep is better and energy is going in the right places because you’ve turned down your own stress response and the body has the luxury of taking care of body business the way it needs to. So more energy you get sick. Less you feel, more hope and happiness. 


Do you see the interweave, how these pillars link together and affect each other? Now that can be overwhelming if we try to get each pillar in the perfect place and have them be equally balanced and perfect all the time. But if we just start working on one thing at a time, one little change in one pillar, like they say, just a 10% increase, a 10% better in one area, we’ll start to notice things changing for the good. 


How do your pillars look right now? Do you have a little sense of what feels like it’s working for you and what isn’t? Do you get enough sleep? Is it easy for you to sleep or difficult? And do you feel rested when you wake up and throughout your day? And how about your stress? That feeling in your chest or your body that feels like a motor revved, like you’re running hot, maybe having some tightness. What does that feel like in your body? And how is your fuel? Are you drinking water and eating throughout the day, getting gas in your tank? And finally, what does your movement look like for you throughout the day and the week, the ways that you move your body to keep active and keep all the systems working? 


This isn’t a report card that we’re scoring. I’m hoping to invite you to sit down with yourself and just have a little peek into how you’re feeling and what you think is going well and what might need a little bit more of your attention.

When we start to prioritize things, we’re putting the focus back into the rightful order and we can get a leg up and start stacking things in a way that they’ll stay. They won’t get undermined and toppled over. 

And we can’t keep parenting at this high level that we expect, this high resilient parenting, leadership  parenting where we’re thinking about our children and what they need. It’s so hard to do that when our own needs are crying out to us and we don’t feel that foundation beneath our feet. 

So picture four corners, four pillars of your foundation where you’re going to build your self-care structure, keep sooth, fuel and move. So definitely worth it to train in understanding these pillars and personally tailoring a plan to implement them in your life, not just once in a while, but every day. These are the foundational things that you and I need every single day, and I know this is a big statement, it’s a big ask, but you want to have your body work well and your mind work well and your mental and emotional health work well, and in order to have that happen, we absolutely must have each of these things as part of our regular care routine. 

Okay, take a deep breath. 


Let’s face the reality for a minute. I’m talking to moms with kids and jobs and schedules, and not just one schedule, but like three, four, seven, eight schedules that you’re probably managing every day. Isn’t it a little gutsy of me to say there’s something you must do every day to be well? 

I know I worry about this, how it comes across. I will even hold back sometimes. When I’m working with a mom who’s really overwhelmed, I don’t just drop this in her lap or on her to-do list while she’s barely treading water and almost going under and I’m one of those specialists that people come to see when this is happening, right. So I don’t just throw that statement out to her and, like, start snapping my fingers and giving her a list and making sure that she walks out the door with a huge to-do list. It’s a lot. I don’t want that to happen to you either. 


This is kind of the beauty of listening to a podcast and me being able to lay out my wish list for all of you in a non-therapy setting, in an educational setting. So I have the luxury of just teaching you the research and the knowledge and letting you decide how you will implement it, because I can just drop the knowledge and let you figure it out. 

But I’m still mindful that many of you may feel overwhelmed just by taking care of the basics for your kids and it could feel like too much to be adding all this expectation for what you need to be well. 

So we’re walking a line here and if you were with me in my office, I would know your specific circumstances and would be tailoring a plan to you. And if you need and want that extra help, you can reach out to me, schedule a coaching call we’ll break it down for you or meet with your therapist, if you have one, or if you have a doctor who’s open to taking the time to help you figure out a plan, or a health coach or even a friend to talk through this with and come up with creative ideas so that you can take the content I’m about to explain to you and apply it. 

We will definitely be talking about ways to do this in this podcast, but in general, I’m not going to know your personal circumstances, so that means you need to invite your wisdom to listen in with us today that wise part of you that probably is going to be nodding her head to all the things we talk about because somewhere at the back of your mind you’ve heard this stuff, you know what’s important and you probably even try to give it to the ones you love. So a lot that I shared today may not be new information, but it’s in considering it for you that’s going to have the power, and your wisdom can help you listen for what you need the most the one or two small and doable things you can start to focus on to help you get what you need. 

Did you notice how I said that? One or two small and doable things, not four, not 10, not all of them? There’s a way to do this that is gentle, loving and kind, without guilt and without threat and, hopefully, definitely without fear. Over the next couple of weeks and months, we’ll look at each one of these pillars in an episode and I’ll give you some action items that you can start to add to your own self care plan so, gently and slowly, you can start to strengthen your foundation pillars of wellness. 

To prescriptively help you feel better and start solving whatever problem you might be facing, and preventatively, to protect yourself and prevent burnout, illness and get ahead of that exhaustion.

So they are front and center in your awareness, with feelings of understanding and confidence in taking care of yourself. 

And over the next few weeks we’ll look at why each of these pillars matter to your wellness, what the experts have found in their research and how you might start to get creative and get more of that good stuff into your life So I’m purposely taking this slow, starting with building a connection or a friendship with your body and then working on understanding the self-critic that we all have and how she shows up for you, and then starting to learn how to increase your self-compassion so you get on your own side. And now we start to look at the research on sleep and all the pillars of wellness, because I want to come at that research and the plan you make for sleep and for soothing your nervous system and for getting fuel and movement. I want all that to come from a place of unity and compassion, you and your body working together. So I’m gonna send you back to episode 17 to be reminded how to be friends with your body. Maybe today you just start with listening to your body and beginning to get a little more thoughtful, a little more friendly with it, setting the stage to start to make the changes in the places where you could use a little more TLC. 

You know, all of these episodes are thoughtfully and purposely laid out as part of a journey. We call it the leadership parenting journey, where first you learn to lead yourself and then you learn to lead your family and we’re actually walking the steps of the roadmap, starting with your care, your foundation, your knowledge base, and then that just keeps building, it keeps stacking, so you have the foundation to stand and then parent from that strength. 

So get quiet for a few minutes this week, find some time to ask your body what it might need and then listen to the answers that come. Your wisdom will perk up and start to give you those answers when you pause and ask the questions. And we don’t need to be afraid of what answers come. We’re not gonna kind of pile you down with all sorts of things you have to change and do all at once. Tiny, small adjustments, little things that we add, can make really big differences. 

We are training for joy, we are training for resilience, because we have both in our life. We have times where things are going well and we’re embracing that and we’re savoring it, and then we have times where running on empty a little bit. So we need both sides of a coin that symbolizes our life. We need to train for joy and we need to train for resilience. So I’m grateful for this time with you this week and I look forward to being with you next week. Take care. 

Thanks so much for listening. You can always find me on Instagram, @LeighGermann, or on my website at LeighGermann.com. Thanks again and I’ll see you next time. 

The Leadership Parenting Podcast is for general information purposes only. It is not therapy and should not take the place of meeting with a qualified mental health professional. The information on this podcast is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, illness or disease. It’s also not intended to be legal, medical or therapeutic advice. Please consult your doctor or mental health professional for your individual circumstances. Thanks again and take care.

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