December Self-Care Challenge Day 16: Phone A Loved One



Sometimes we get so busy we forget to do the simple things in life, like talking to a loved one.


Today I invite you to phone up a loved one. They could live around the corner, or across the globe. The important thing is to phone them up for no other reason than to say hello, and perhaps remind them that they are loved by you.


My family is both near and far. I have two siblings and their families that both live less than a mile away from me. But then I also have siblings that live across the country and parents that are snowbirds (meaning they fly south for the winter months). I see my siblings that are here in town a good deal but even with that I wonder when the last time it was that I called them up just to see how their day was going. Usually, we are calling each other to arrange a meet up or texting in the family chat about the daily life happenings.



It can be challenging to remember to do the simple things like this: To call up someone just to say hi. Why? Because we are all so wrapped up in our daily life duties and responsibilities that these simple acts of self-care and love are often forgotten or put off.




But there could be another reason. If you are like me, and so many others, you actually get anxious when you talk on the phone with others. This phenomenon is so common in fact that there have been many studies around it and actual studies to see how it can be overcome. Here’s one such article.


However, studies have also shown the emotional release and mental relaxation that can come from talking to a loved one on the phone or in person.


Studies show that when interacting with someone you care about your brain releases Oxytocin (positive emotions such as love) and ignites your Amygdala (which is responsible for processing memories, making decisions and emotional response).


In fact new studies show that a loved one’s voice heard while in a coma will actually increase the brains activity and recovery!


Let’s pause for a moment and discuss the words I’ve been using: Loved ones or ones you care for.


I have been very careful in my choice of words in this post. Why? Because for some, talking to a family member may activate negative emotions and memories, rather than the pleasant emotions we are seeking for self-care.


You can love someone but still know that they are unsafe for your mental wellbeing.


Likewise, those you deeply care about may not be bound to you by blood and family ties.


So today, before picking up the phone, I want you to pause to contemplate who it is you are calling and what they mean to you. If you know that by calling this person you will feel uplifted, joyful, and perhaps even loved, then they are the one to call.


If on the other hand, if the person you are thinking of calling brings up feelings of guilt, shame, anger, betrayal or any of the other negative emotions you may experience in their presence I invite you to recognize that and chose NOT to call that person today.


If you need help overcoming, or mindfully setting aside those feelings I invite you to practice this simple technique.


 

1) Pause for a moment

2) Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth deeply, filling up your lungs and chest and then releasing it.

3) Name the emotion you are feeling.

4) Attach the name of the person that ignites that feeling to the emotion by saying the following. “I feel angry when I think of talking to_____”

5) You can go a step further with the sentence by using the following “because____________”

6) Now it is time to let that go.

7) Say to yourself “it is okay that I feel this way. I am releasing this feeling for the moment.”


I like to use hand gestures when I am meditating in this way. That is not typical but for me it brings an added sense of connectivity and release.


If you’d like to try this with the hand gestures, I invite you to gently place your hands over the area of your body that you are feeling the negative emotion. Then when you take steps 6 and 7 you can bring your hands up and lay them flat in front of you, as if you are releasing a bird. This symbolizes the releasing of the emotion.




 

This action is also a self-care moment. By recognizing how someone makes you feel whether positively or negatively, and releasing that emotion, you are practicing not only self-care but self-awareness and self-acceptance. What a beautiful combination!


So today my friends, let’s take 5 minutes to call up someone we care about and tell them just that “you are loved.” You will be amazed at the feeling of love and appreciation you receive from this simple act.


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