My clients tell me they are exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed. One powerful woman said, “Remember last year when I was handling three crises and some uncertainty and I thought it was a lot? Those days seem dreamy now.” She was talking about managing big helpless feelings about the election, but also about climate change, four nearby fires, systemic racism, her kids growing up, early menopause, work stress, loss of income, and loss of loved ones. We’re not hardwired to handle so many stressful challenges at once. We need to make a 3-2-1 self-care plan.
My plan is the same one I’ve used while waiting for scan results (that announce whether the cancer has returned). The purpose is to remind me to Connect. Move. Breathe. I think of it as a 3-2-1 plan: 3 people-2 places-1 thing that nourish me, center me, and restore me.
What’s your 3-2-1 self-care plan?
3 people (who lift you up):_______ ________ ________ (I’m available if you need a 3rd!)
2 places (that inspire and center you) : ______ _______ (Mt. Sanitas, Boulder Creek)
1 thing (that calms you and makes space for joy): ________ (Dalai Lama playlist)
How do you choose your 3-2-1?
3 people. Pick three people you adore, but you don’t call because they are far away. Who haven’t you spoken to in awhile? We can get stuck only talking to the people we have been isolating with since March. What helps is to connect with others, those people who lift us up and just listen, without trying to fix us. If you struggle to name three, you can add me to your list.
2 places. Where do you go to support your mind and mood? Do you feel better when you walk outside? Nature grounds us. Especially if you need to move your body to get there. I chose a nearby hill and creek because they remind me of geologic time, the resiliency of lichen, and the natural cycles of change. But you can pick a place in your home: your bathtub, a square of floor to dance, or a chair by a window.
1 thing. What brings you quickly back to your best self? Do you have a breathing practice? (If not, try a triangle breath: inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 4, exhale through the nose for 4.) I also learned that the quickest way to move out of the “fight & flight” nervous system and into the “rest and digest” nervous system is to hum. Humming activates the Vagus nerve which tells the body it’s okay, the lion is gone. You don’t have to limit it to one thing. But you need at least one. What is one thing that restores you? Music? Belly dancing? Baking? Yoga? Meditation? Writing?
Write down your 3, 2, 1 and stick it to your fridge or your forehead.
Mine lives next to our list of numbers for the nearest hospital and fire station. You think you don’t need to display it because you know the responses by heart. But in the midst of a crisis, it’s easy to forget. Your 3-2-1 tells you to Connect. Move. Breathe. Then you can handle whatever comes your way.
This is election week. Get your 3-2-1 ready and make a plan.
You made a voting plan. Now what’s your Voting Day plan? Don’t sit in front of the TV and listen to moment-by-moment, breathless updating of trivial changes when what matters is what happens when the night is done. Many are saying that it could take a lot longer than a day to know the outcome. Use your 3-2-1 to brainstorm what you are going to do Tuesday night and Wednesday to handle the waiting and the results.
I am an impatient person. If I don’t have something to do while I wait, I become a terrible, mean, nasty person. So I made a plan.
On election day, we’ll invite our pod of friends for an outdoor dinner and leave our phones inside. We want to be around people and in fresh air. On Wednesday, we’ve blocked out two hours of work to hike in the mountains.
If the outcome doesn’t go the way I want, I choose to feel the despair fully without trying to numb or distract my way out of it. Then I’ll need my 3-2-1 to stand back up. What’s your 3-2-1? And what’s your plan for Voting Day?