#4: You Can’t Pour from An Empty Cup Part 1 - Making Self Care and Sleep Intentional

In this episode, we refill our cups by learning how to make self care and sleep intentional in the midst of busy agricultural responsibilities.
In this episode and our next episode, we summarize our “You can’t pour from an empty cup” webinar. One of the ways to refill our cups is to practice self care. A way to think of self-care is to imagine a stool with three legs: a social and relationship leg, a physical self care leg, and an emotional self care leg. This podcast session hones in on making physical self care intentional, in particular through good sleep habits. First we hear from Shauna Reitmeier. Then, Brenda Mack joins.


Megan Roberts:
Welcome to this session of our Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture podcast, series one. The Cultivating Resiliency project develops tools for women in agriculture to recognize, adapt to and develop positive coping strategies to life stresses. This podcast series is developed from our cultivating resiliency webinar sessions. I'm Megan Roberts, and I co-lead this project along with Doris Mold. In this podcast, we feature Shauna Reitmeier and Brenda Mack as our session hosts. Shauna and Brenda are professionals in behavioral health with family ties to farming. In our next two sessions, we summarize our, "you can't pour from an empty cup," webinar. One of the ways to refill our cups is to practice self care. A way to think of self-care is to imagine a stool with three legs, a social and relationship leg, a physical self-care leg and an emotional self care leg. This podcast session hones in on making physical self-care intentional. In particular through goods and habits. First, we hear from Shauna Reitmeier. Then, Brenda Mack joins. Here's Shauna.

Shauna Reitmeier: How do we take care of ourselves? Which in my mind is, "how do I put that oxygen mask on me first before I can start getting into really, how do I fill my cup?" And part of that is making decisions and setting intentions. It's hard sometimes. We want these things to just happen. But they don't happen unless we actually make some decisions as we move forward.

Brenda Mack: Thinking about self care as, what are the ways and things that you can do that refill and refuel you in healthy ways? And I think Brianna Weist said it really well. She said that, "true self care is not only salt baths and chocolate cake. It's making the choice to build a life you don't regularly have to escape from." And so I think when you're connecting with others and you're tapping into those individuals who do fill your cup, who energize you and who don't deplete your energy or exhaust you, that's some of the strategies on the foundation of taking care of yourself and reducing your stress. And then all of those other additional bubble baths or short-term activities just enhance that foundation of taking of yourself by connecting with others. By reframing your negative messages into more optimistic or hopeful messages. And by just having your basic self-care needs met. Your physical needs. Your sleep. Your eating healthy. Your drinking water. Your exercising and-

Shauna Reitmeier: I like that word "choice," that you use Brenda. And it gets to even some of that boundary setting. We make choices and we set those boundaries and we make decisions that might seem hard and might seem stressful at the front end, but once we make some of those hard decisions or set intention and purpose to things, our energy goes up because that weight goes away. Once the decision is made, many times things just start to feel a lot better for people.

Brenda Mack: And I really like your word of the day of intentionality. And we've heard from some of the participants on the webinars before that, where they're living can be really isolating. And so how do we connect in intentional ways, given some of those barriers of living out in a rural remote area. And my example this morning of... That I hopped on the computer and had virtual coffee with a friend,. that is a way that technology is making connection a little bit easier. And we had to be intentional about that. I had to be intentional about that.

Shauna Reitmeier: I like that. In setting the time, scheduling that time.

Brenda Mack: Right. In 45 minutes I mean, if that doesn't work. That even for 10 minutes connecting with someone or doing a 10 minutes worth of exercise can also make a big impact on our emotional health and well-being.

Shauna Reitmeier: There is also a breathing technique called 4-7-8, that is a great mindfulness exercise. That makes you start thinking about your breathing and what you're doing with breathing. And many times that stress, we forget to breathe and we can't forget to breathe because our body needs that oxygen so we can actually make good decisions and stay focused. And so when we get to that point where things... And even as we're going to talk about sleep here, that is an exercise that I know I use at night, many times if I struggle with getting to sleep, because I've got a bunch of things racing in my head. That I will practice that breathing technique as well. And so to stay energized we also need to make sure that we're sleeping and we can't be energized if we aren't sleeping. And managing stress is really challenging when we're not sleeping.

And so this information is shared to you by the national Institute of health, through the national Institute for sleep. And some of these are researched and very well known. There's still a lot of work being done on sleep and how it affects the brain. But one of the things that we know is when we sleep, that's when the brain starts organizing all of the information in what's happened in the day and the week. And allows the brain and ourselves to be able to recall things better. Be able to just make decisions and problem solve. And so these are just some tasks or things that you can be thinking about or practice and do. Be intentional in doing those to help you sleep if you find that you're struggling, sleeping. And so the first one really is about setting a schedule. So try to get to bed at the same time every night and try to wake up at the same time.

That's something that we say a lot of times, "I'll just catch up on my sleep on the weekend." Well, the reality is, we don't ever catch up on sleep. It's what happens in that night. And so the more we can try to sleep... And now everybody said, "you need six to eight hours." It's really different depending on each person. And the research is starting to show that when you're an infant, of course you might be sleeping 16 hours a day. But then as we age, we don't need as much sleep. But it's monitoring how do I feel? How am I managing? Is really whether or not how much sleep you need. Relaxing before you go to bed. Do you drink a hot cup of non-caffeinated? I should put herbal tea in here maybe, not caffeinated tea. Reading a book.

So now I know that there's a lot of folks that use readers like Kindles or fire tablets and all of that. That's okay. But make sure you're using a setting so you're not having that white background signing in your face. And that gets to one of the other pieces of avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and electronic screens in the evening, is that it brings up that blue light on devices. Mimic as if you're a daylight and stimulates the brain. Create a space in your room for sleep. Remove clutter. Remove TVs in the bedroom. Having cool temperature between 65 degrees, they say, is supposed to be a really good temperature for sleeping. Try to keep exercising. And if you can't sleep at night, get up, don't stay in your bed. Get up and try to go do some relaxing activity. Maybe you pull out a book again. Maybe you do some stretching to relax. But really keeping your bedroom as the place really is for sleeping and for sex. Those intimate relationships that you have. Is keeping that space really as a place to promote what the bedroom is intended to be so you're able to sleep.

Brenda Mack: So that you associate the bedroom with those specific activities, rather than your brain thinking, "oh, this is the time to watch TV or this is the time to work on my computer" that you want to train your brain, that this is the place that you primarily need to go to sleep and you engage in intimacy.

Shauna Reitmeier: Exactly. And if practicing these things don't work for you, I would go talk to your doctor because maybe you have sleep apnea. Maybe you are struggling. You're snoring a lot. You find moments where you're waking up gasping for breath. There's sleep studies that can be done. Maybe you just need a CPAP machine and your doctor through those sleep studies will be able to help you figure that out as well. I keep a notepad beside my bed. So all of those thoughts that come up... I mean, this happens to me, when things are stressful for me, sleep is my first thing that's affected. And so I have a habit of, I get to sleep well, but then I wake up at two, three o'clock in the morning and my head just starts racing. And I'm like, "oh, I forgot to send that email. I've got to get this report out the door. I need to respond to somebody." So I keep a list. I write those things down. And then that gets me out of my head and then I won't forget about it. And then I rip that off and I take that with me in the morning when I go to work.

Brenda Mack: In addition to what I do is, if I wake up in the middle of the night, same thing, I all of a sudden I'm running through everything that I have to do tomorrow and how am I going to get it done? That I'll try to stay in bed for a little bit to see if I can let that go and go back to sleep. So probably 15 to 20 minutes, maybe even up to a half an hour. If after a half an hour I'm in that environment and I can't get back to sleep, I get out. Otherwise, I'm going to stay there and stay awake for hours.

So I'll get up and I'll get out and I'll go and lay on the couch in a different environment. I'll throw a blanket on me and I will do that mindfulness breathing. Breathing in and out and repeating that message that works for me. Be still and know. Other people don't need a message. You can just focus on the breathing, focus on the breathing. And oftentimes if I get out of the environment, then I'll either fall asleep on the couch or I'll get to such a relaxed state that I go back to my bed and can fall asleep again quickly. So those are a few additional tips.

Doris Mold: So ladies, don't you think too... And you've covered this a little bit, but preparing yourself for sleep too and preparing yourself just to relax. I know that especially if you've been working outside a lot, you've been out in the cold, your muscles and joints are cold, taking a hot shower or a hot bath and just getting yourself really relaxed. Because part of what wakes you up, sometimes it's just aches and pains. You got a cramp or this happens or that, and then you're wait for hours and-

Shauna Reitmeier: Doing that with enough time. Like an hour before you would normally go to bed, starting some of that routine. And again, it gets... You start associating this practice with being in your bed and sleeping. So preparing a hot shower. A hot bath. Even smells, essential oils or lavender lotion that you put on before you go to sleep. And start associating some sense and smells with what sleep is, can help as well.

Brenda Mack: And I think that can be adjusted as well, because I think about women in agriculture with young children. You are putting your kids to bed really just moment before you're trying to unwind and go to bed as well, because you need to get up early in the morning to do work around the farm or whatever. And so there are... You have to figure out which one of these activities and suggestions is going to fit best you and work best for you.

Shauna Reitmeier: And then the other piece. And this like the person, what tips do you have at night when you're having a hard time getting to sleep? I use this, dump your mind. Use this as an opportunity to, when you give yourself this alone time to start preparing, to make decisions and be intentional in managing this stress is, write down. Whether it's on your phone and your notes section. Whether it's on a computer, on a piece of paper, on a whiteboard, you don't have a whiteboard, but yet for some reason have dry erase markers. You can do them on a window in your house. Write everything that you have to do down, write your worries down, write the tasks. What are the activities? What are the big decisions that you have to make, write everything down. Because getting that out of your head and onto paper helps separate it. It makes it tangible. When I can see that on a piece of paper.

Megan Roberts: Thanks for joining us on this Cultivating Resiliency for Women in Agriculture podcast, series one. In this session, we focused on the physical self-care leg of the self care, three legged stool. Remember you need all three legs, relationship, physical and emotional to make yourself care stool, steady and stable. In focusing on physical self-care in this session, we learned several strategies to improve our sleep and relaxation habits. Becoming more resilient takes intentional choice and we can become more intentional about getting adequate sleep. Think back over the tips and suggestions from the session. How can you implement at least one or two strategies to improve your sleep and to help clear your mind when you are awake? Our next podcast, we'll continue our look at self-care and filling your cup. As we focus in, on emotional self care through the context of positive decision-making. This project is a collaboration of American Agri-Women, District 11 Agri-Women, University of Minnesota Extension, Women in Ag Network and the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center, UMASH. You may find the recordings for an entire webinar series on the UMASH or American Agri-Women websites under Cultivating Resiliency.
#4: You Can’t Pour from An Empty Cup Part 1 - Making Self Care and Sleep Intentional
Broadcast by