Breaking Free from the Hustle Culture: Rediscovering Confidence
Let’s be honest: In today’s fast-paced society, being a woman comes with its unique set of challenges. It’s not easy at all. And someone who claims something else is a liar.
We live in a world where the importance of a regulated and relaxed nervous system cannot be overstated. There’s an emphasis on that because to more and more people it gets clear that the quality of their lives depends on how well-balanced the nervous system is.
A regulated nervous system is key when it comes to self-care.
Women Face Many Stressors
For women, who often find themselves juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, this is particularly true because how we are wired is so different from men. And yet the world we live in is still mainly made for and focused on men.
The stressors we face as women are manifold: societal expectations, hormonal changes and fluctuations, and the constant struggle to maintain work-life balance weigh heavily on our shoulders. The modern world bombards us with information, and our to-do lists seem never-ending. We’re often overstimulated and overwhelmed, caught in a relentless cycle of hustle.
But it doesn’t end there. We’ve been conditioned to push, compete, and constantly compare ourselves to others. Sadly enough, we’ve learned that this is how we measure our worth. “The more we do, the harder we work, the worthier we are”, that is the narrative that runs the show and it’s deeply ingrained in the collective.
In the process, we’ve become disconnected from ourselves and the people we love. Our relationships then bear the brunt of this disconnection, adding even more pressure to our lives.
Nervous System Overwhelm Can Lead to Burnout
The toll this takes on us is undeniable and should be taken seriously. Many women find themselves exhausted, burnt out, and overwhelmed by the burden of stretching themselves thin and thinner until the cup is fully empty and there’s nothing more to give.
Feelings of inadequacy and not being “good enough” pervade our thoughts, eroding our self-confidence.
I’ve been there multiple times myself – too many times – and in my work with women that is what I see is the most common issue amongst women and it is heartbreaking to say the least.
And that’s why I do the work that I do. I know how it feels and how easy it is to get caught up in this madness, in a world that is not designed for us women. So we have to create a world that is meant for us. And who can create life better than women?!
Women Need to Prioritize Self-Care
We have the intrinsic ability to nurture ourselves back to life, to feeling good, and building a new life for ourselves. This is the mystery of being a woman: there’s a strength and resilience within us that is unmatched.
So, it’s time to break free from the hustle culture that strips us of our confidence and health. It’s enough!
We must reclaim our sense of self, prioritize self-care religiously, and nurture our well-being. We must come first in our lives. We must be our first priority.
By doing so, we can rewrite the narrative, finding strength, resilience, and the confidence to thrive in a world that often pushes us to the brink.
As women, we are more than capable of redefining success on our own terms, fostering genuine connections, embracing our true selves and our feminine nature. It’s time to shatter the chains of what’s been holding us back and empower ourselves to live authentically, confidently, and with purpose. And a well-balanced, regulated nervous system is the foundation of exactly that.
9 Self-Care Rituals For Calming The Nervous System & Cultivating More Confidence
So, here are 9 of my favorite self-care rituals that personally have helped me throughout the years to stay more connected to myself and to recover from my burn-out.
If practiced regularly – no matter which one you choose to go with – it may help you feel more relaxed, confident and good in your own skin. You’ll feel the difference in a short amount of time.
Remember, it’s not about the quantity of practices – or as I call them rituals – as it is about the consistency and the dedication you pour into yourself.
And the reason why I call them rituals is because the word ritual refers to something that is being celebrated and treated as sacred and as very important. And that’s how I want you to look at and treat yourself: as a woman that is sacred, as a woman that is worth it of pampering herself and pouring all the love she has into herself.
So, let’s have a look at my top nine self-care rituals to relax the nervous system and build resiliency, so you feel more confident as a woman in this world:
1. (Mindful) Meditation
Meditation As A Strong Foundation
My number one daily ritual is meditation. It changed my life in the best way possible and I know it will change yours. Whenever I need a reset, or I feel stressed, rushed or not really myself, I carve out at least 15 minutes to center myself. I just owe it to myself. I’m worth it.
It’s a game changer and the perfect time-out from the mundane things.
Try to dedicate time each day to mindfulness meditation or any meditation. It doesn’t have to be long, and you don’t have to sit and chant “Om”.
Becoming Aware Of Yourself
Meditation is about turning inward, listening and becoming aware. You hear lots of spiritual teachers and coaches say meditation is about quieting the mind, but I personally don’t agree. Meditation is about becoming aware of your thoughts and yourself. It’s about being in the present moment and not letting your random thoughts and emotions dictate how you feel and make decisions.
The best thing about it is: It’s for free, anyone can do it and it comes with no negative side-effects.
I’ve designed a Complete (Beginner’s) Guide to Meditation with 5 Guided Meditations that you can download for free.
Making it a Habit
And as with everything, for it to become a habit it needs to be practiced. And just know not every meditation feels amazing.
In fact, the best meditations I have are the ones where I have to overcome myself and not give in to everything that I think and believe. That’s when I have the biggest breakthroughs. That’s when my nervous system eventually relaxes and calms down because I have let go, I got out of my own way.
I highly recommend meditating first thing in the morning, when your mind is still clear and fresh. Try to avoid looking at your phone and checking your social media when you wake up. That can wait until after.
Personally, whenever I don’t meditate I’m not my best self. Simple as that. I then tend to be more reactive to what’s happening around me and I feel more easily irritated. And that’s not how I choose to be and feel because I know how all of that impacts my overall well-being.
Priming For The Day
I assure you, by beginning your day with morning meditation, you’ll cultivate a sense of peace, clarity, and intention that can positively influence your entire day. It’s your daily anchor, your foundation that you set for the day.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that your days will always be perfect or that they don’t come with challenges – not at all: you just don’t react any longer to it the same way you would have in the past. And that makes all the difference. You pattern-interrupt and your nervous system gets a chance to come into homeostasis.
And trust me, it will have a ripple effect. You’ll see, over time this practice will help you approach challenges with more resilience, more confidence, it will help you reduce stress, anxiety and depression and it will enhance your overall well-being.
A Minute To Change How You Feel
Even if it is just one minute in between calls and meetings, that one minute has the power of changing your life.
If you have never meditated before, then I hope this will inspire you to start your daily practice. And if you are not new to meditations then my wish is for you to reintegrate this powerful tool in your life or get more disciplined. I’ve recorded several podcast episodes on that topic. You can listen to them here if you want more inspiration.
2. Journaling for Self-Reflection
Magic happens when we write it all down.
Morning pages, afternoon pages, evening pages, whatever you want to call it, journaling is one powerful tool that can enhance your life in a minute. It’s one of THE most powerful tools for self-reflection. And with more self-reflection you get more confident.
I always say to my audience “whenever that pen hits the paper magic happens.” And it’s true. Try it for yourself.
What’s Really Going On
Somehow our inner world emerges, and along with it an entire universe that wants to be explored. And that universe is YOU.
Write in a journal regularly to express your thoughts and feelings. Reflecting on your experiences and emotions can help you gain clarity, reduce anxiety, and build confidence through self-discovery.
By putting your thoughts on paper, you gain insight into your thought patterns, behaviors, and emotions. This increased self-awareness can lead to personal growth, better decision-making, and improved relationships with others.
Paper Is Patient And Nonjudgmental
I’ve been writing since my childhood. On and off, but over the years I’ve collected countless journals that tell many stories of many versions of myself. It’s like writing my life book. It’s like writing myself into a new version of myself.
Paper is patient, it doesn’t judge, it listens carefully and holds the space for the entire spectrum of our human experiences and emotions.
I love how I can write everything down as it is, as I feel. It’s nourishing my soul.
And I always carry a journal with me, so I can capture my thoughts when I’m on the go.
The benefits of journaling are endless. Besides emotional release and processing, it enhances your self-awareness, your ability to cope with stress, it allows you to set and track your goals, aspirations and progress, and it improves problem-solving and decision making.
Therefore, incorporating journaling into your daily or weekly routine can empower you to better understand yourself, manage your emotions, and work towards personal growth and well-being which will build up your confidence. Whether you use it as a tool for introspection, creative expression, or stress relief, the benefits of journaling are numerous and can have a positive impact on various aspects of your life.
3. Movement is Medicine:
Physical activity is not just about maintaining a healthy body; it’s also about nurturing a healthy mind. When we engage in regular exercise it releases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers.
Whether it’s yoga, running, dancing, or any other form of exercise you enjoy, making it a part of your routine can boost your confidence, improve body image, and reduce stress and therefore the nervous system is more regulated.
Shaking It Off
Personally, I love to dance in the morning: I put on my current favorite tune and then I move my hips, or I jump around, or I dance wildly to the beat, letting my feminine essence flow through me. And throughout the day, whenever I feel a sense of unease or I’m too much in my head – and that happens more than I’d like to admit to – I make sure to move my body to music and just shake it off. And within minutes, everything has changed and I look at things differently.
Yoga and Stretching
Yoga is one of my favorite practices to regulate my nervous system. I love how it releases tension in my body and how it improves my flexibility, my posture, and my body awareness. It’s so relaxing and just makes me feel like a better person.
Apart from that, it’s very meditative and brings me back to the present moment and into my body. We, as women, can become so disconnected from our bodies and thus disconnected from our intuition. And that is exactly why we need to take extra good care of ourselves and reconnect with our sacred temples aka bodies.
Activating the Prefrontal Cortex
Especially for women with ADHD – myself included –, who often struggle with maintaining focus on tasks regularly, exercise in the morning is imperative. It can enhance cognitive functions like attention and concentration.
Of course it depends on where we are at in our monthly cycle – we don’t want do the HIIT and Bootcamp workout when we are menstruating – but making sure that we move our body to get that blood into our prefrontal cortex is vital.
Engaging in physical activity triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a crucial role in attention and executive function. These neurotransmitters can help regulate impulses and support better concentration. And who doesn’t want that in a world where overstimulation is at the forefront.
The Magic of Resistance Training
One way to build resiliency is through resistance training. When we involve weights or resistance bands in our training it not only helps build muscle strength and endurance. As we witness our bodies becoming stronger and more capable of handling physical challenges, it simultaneously boosts our confidence in what our bodies are capable of achieving and our mind can overcome. We will handle daily stressors differently, with much more ease and less emotional attachment.
Ladies, I cannot stress this enough: you gotta start your resistance training and you gotta keep it up.
4. The Power of Breath
I always say: “Breathing is the first thing that we do when we come into this world and the last thing we do when we leave it. So it is kind of important.” Most of us succumb to shallow breathing. We hold so much tension and also trauma in our bodies which affects the quality of our breathing, which in reverse affects the quality of life.
Tune into: Right now, are your shoulders relaxed? If not, you’re holding your breath or you don’t breathe deeply enough.
If we don’t breathe properly our bodies don’t get enough oxygen which is crucial for cellular respiration. Deep and controlled breathing can activate the body’s relaxation response, reducing the production of stress hormones like cortisol and promoting a sense of calm and well-being. Instead of holding the stress and tension locked up in our bodies, we can release all of it through simple breathing techniques. And the good thing about that is, it is absolutely for free.
Taking Time To Breathe
Let’s try it right now: as you’re reading this, just focus on your breathing, focus on your body. Set the intention to breathe more consciously and more deeply. Do it right now. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold it for a second and then release the breath throughout your mouth. Repeat this at least 4 times and you may notice a difference.
You just gave yourself a little pause, you just relaxed your body and your nervous system. You became more aware of yourself, your body, and the environment that you’re in.
You might even notice that your mental focus and your concentration is enhanced. And it just takes less than a minute to change your state of being.
So, incorporate short and deep breathing exercises into your daily routine, and throughout the day remind yourself to take slow and deep breaths, especially when feeling stressed. It’s a game changer.
5. Nature Connection:
Picking wild blackberries
The Earth’s Pulse
Nature is the greatest healer. Have you ever noticed that once you are in nature you slow down? You unclench your jaw, your shoulders relax, you breathe differently and you feel more at ease? That’s because you are connected to the earth’s pulse. This earth’s pulse is innate within all of us but it gets easily disrupted in our busy (city) lives.
Nature – The Feminine Force
Women feel the impact of this disconnection way deeper and sooner than men. Nature is a feminine force, it is the nurturer, the healer, the giver of all life. So, when we lack the connection to nature, we lack the connection to our very own innate power.
I always tell my clients that in order for them to feel more connected, more regulated, they must connect with nature on a regular basis. It sounds simple, but so many of us don’t understand the importance of it.
Nature Is Simple
Nature is simple, but our lives have become way too complex and complicated. And therefore we tend to think that the answers to solving our problems must be complex and complicated as well. But that’s not how it is at all.
A Park, The Woods, A Garden Or A Pot Of Soil
Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike in the woods, or simply sitting in a garden, nature has a soothing effect on us. I once told a client in London to put her hands in a pot of soil to reconnect and calm down her nervous system since she wasn’t anywhere near a park. And guess what: it worked.
That’s what I do every morning. I myself live in a big city and I don’t have direct access to nature. I just don’t fall out of my bed into a beautiful garden. So, what I do instead is I put my hands into one of my pots on the balcony and it instantly soothes me. Try it yourself. Make this a daily ritual. It doesn’t take long. Over time, you’ll notice a big difference.
It’s imperative that we, as women, connect with this feminine energy as much as possible to reconnect with our intuition and wisdom. And being in alignment with our intuition and feminine essence is what makes us feel confident and at home in our bodies.
6. Adequate Sleep & Rest
Listening To The Body’s Cue
Rest is an integral part of productivity. I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to your body’s cues when it needs to slow down and rest.
When we, as women, consistently fail to get enough sleep, we become more vulnerable to a range of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. I got myself a tinnitus which is very unpleasant, especially as a musician and when you want to wind down.
Sleep is when the body repairs and regenerates, and a lack of it can lead to a weakened immune system and decreased resistance to illness. And that’s why a set of good self-care rituals are essential for a woman’s well-being.
The Calming Effects on the Nervous System
Rest and sleep play a crucial role in restoring and calming down the nervous system, including the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve, a key part of the parasympathetic nervous system, is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions of the body. It helps regulate heart rate, digestion, and the body’s stress response. When we prioritize rest and adequate sleep, we support the health of our vagus nerve and overall nervous system.
Here’s how it works:
1. Restorative Effect:
During deep, restful sleep, the body undergoes essential processes for rejuvenation. This includes repairing cells and tissues, balancing hormone levels, and calming the nervous system. Sleep, particularly deep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, allows the brain and body to reset, promoting overall wellness and providing the vagus nerve with a much-needed opportunity to restore its balance.
2. Stress Reduction:
Adequate sleep helps regulate stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can wreak havoc on the nervous system when chronically elevated. When we get sufficient rest, we are better equipped to manage the demands of our daily lives, and our vagus nerve is less likely to be overstimulated.
Rest Isn’t Laziness
Unfortunately, in our modern society rest is labeled as lazy, and hard work is still being glorified.
We have to break the pattern of this dysfunctional kind of thinking because the pressure to constantly perform can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. And this can have serious long-term consequences if we, as women, don’t take care of ourselves.
The Quality Of Your Day Depends On The Quality Of Your Night before.
And therefore our most important rituals should be our bedtime and morning rituals. Prioritize a bedtime routine that promotes relaxation, such as reading, soothing music, a warm bath, less or no screen time and meditation. Physical intimacy with your partner or with yourself may relax your body and get you back into your feminine energy where you can let go of the day and enter into a deeper state of surrender. This is where you let go of the masculine shield and where you let go of being in survival mode.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Find out how many hours of sleep your body naturally needs.
Here’s how you do it, preferably on a weekend:
- Go to bed when your body signals the first sign of sleepiness.
- Try to be in bed by 10 p.m. the latest.
- Keep your devices such as phones, laptops etc. out of your bedroom.
- Wear blindfolds to allow for complete blackness.
- Don’t set an alarm clock, let yourself wake up naturally.
- Repeat that a couple of times and note the average amount of hours of sleep.
- Soon your body is conditioned to wake up naturally and almost every day at the same time.
Try it out, the quality of your sleep should be a priority and you notice a difference in short time: You wake up refreshed and replenished, you have more energy and you feel more vital. You are more relaxed because your nervous system is more relaxed. You are more productive as well and the best thing is you feel more confident and simply good about yourself. And who doesn’t want that?!
7. Quality Time With Female Friends
Nurturing & Caring
Quality time with friends and family is a cornerstone of a fulfilling and well-balanced life. These relationships provide a support system for us, offer emotional sustenance, and create lasting memories we cherish for a lifetime.
While all relationships are essential, it’s worth highlighting the significance of strong female connections, as they bring a unique dimension to our lives.
Female friendships offer a safe and nurturing space where we can share our thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities without judgment.
A Strong Network of Women
Throughout the years, I’ve come to understand the importance of having healthy and nourishing friendships and connections with my female friends aka sisters.
This emotional support I get from connecting with my friends helps me cope with life’s challenges. The moment I talk to one of my sisters I feel the weight of the stress reduce. We laugh and cry together, we listen and share. We have each other’s back.
Women are meant to have a great network of other women they can connect and build with.
Bringing The Best Out Of Each Other
“There’s something about women’s connections that makes you take action and pursue your dreams.” – from my dear friend Zel Garcia
This is so true. Whenever I connect with my besties aka my sisters, something magical happens and it’s like we activate each other and bring the best out of each other.
Therefore cultivating strong friendships with other females is a crucial part of our wellbeing. It calms down our nervous system and simultaneously breathes new life into our hearts. It’s just so beautiful.
Earlier this year I hosted a 4-week online course called Thriving Sisters with women from around the globe. And it was simply magical as we all dove into the meaning of authentic connections and sisterhood, unlearning competition and comparison and relearning vulnerability and openness with each other.
It stood out how important a strong female bond is for our health, knowing there are friends who genuinely care about our well-being is simply priceless.
Investing In Friendships
So, surround yourself with people who support and uplift you, and let yourself be supported, celebrated and loved for who you are. Create rituals together that will strengthen your relationship. I personally love bonding over homemade food and eating with my friends.
Doing New Moon and Full Moon ceremonies together like in the good old days is also one of my favorite ways to connect with my sisters.
Every friendship is unique, try to find things that both uplift you and make it a priority to invest in your connection on a regular basis.
Strong female connections build a strong world.
Please note: don’t be afraid to seek professional help or therapy if needed. I think everyone should have a therapist, coach or mentor they can talk to on a regular basis.
And I’m also here for you.
8. Setting Boundaries
Boundaries Are Not Walls
Women often find it challenging to say no and establish healthy boundaries. However, setting boundaries is a form of self-care that is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being.
I always say boundaries are not walls. Boundaries are an act of deepest self-respect and self-love. They don’t keep people out (although it can also mean that) but they make us connect with people in healthy ways, showing others what is acceptable for us and what is not, how we want to be treated, and how we want to be loved.
In a world that often demands unceasing empathy and selflessness from women, the practice of setting strong boundaries emerges as a powerful self-care ritual. And I cannot stress enough how important they are.
Three Reasons Why You Need Strong Boundaries
I’ve listed three compelling reasons why we need to have strong boundaries as part of our self-care regimen:
- Preservation of Emotional Energy:
We, as women, often find ourselves in roles that require emotional labor, such as caregivers, friends, partners, and employees. When we constantly give without replenishing our emotional reserves it can lead to burnout, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion. By setting clear boundaries, we can preserve our emotional energy while maintaining a healthy balance in our relationships. This self-care practice allows us to prioritize us and our emotional well-being. We can only give from a full cup, ladies.
- Protection from Exploitation and Manipulation:
Unfortunately, women can be vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation, both personally and professionally. Therefore, establishing strong boundaries is a means of self-defense against those who may attempt to take advantage of our kindness, generosity, or willingness to help. By defining and communicating our limits, we can guard against situations that compromise our values or self-worth, fostering a sense of empowerment and self-respect.
- Enhanced Self-Respect and Self-Worth:
Setting boundaries is an expression of self-respect and self-worth. When we assert our needs, preferences, and limits, we send a powerful message to ourselves and others that we value our own well-being. This practice can lead to increased confidence, self-esteem, and a deeper connection to our authentic self. Over time, and practiced religiously, strong boundaries can help us develop a strong sense of self, making us less susceptible to external judgments and more resilient in the face of societal pressures and expectations.
Learning to Communicate Your Needs
I also encourage you to learn to communicate your needs and limits clearly. When you practice this, even though it can be very uncomfortable and hard, it will empower you to prioritize you, your self, your needs without feeling guilty or overwhelmed and step into your full power. Boundaries make you more resilient and feel more confident because you know who you are.
9. Nourishing Nutrition
Our bodies are our temples. They are sacred and they should be treated as sacred. They should be nourished and well cared for.
With a well-balanced diet we provide our bodies with the proper nutrition they need to be healthy and vital.
Therefore, it matters what we consume, it matters what we put into our bodies.
Stress Can Lead To Emotional Eating
When stressed, we tend to make poorer life choices and don’t take enough care of our bodies, let alone of what we eat and drink. Something that should be the highest priority at all times easily becomes neglected.
Have you ever noticed that when you are stressed or you deal with life’s challenges that you tend to go for more processed foods and indulge in way more sugary things and coffee than you usually would? I certainly have been there countless times.
Unhealthy Cravings Masked As Coping Mechanisms
All of a sudden, you have these strong types of cravings and you eat without being aware of what you’re letting into your system.
Or maybe you are aware but you can’t help it because the craving is too strong and you can’t help but to give in even though you know it’s not good for you. Sometimes you may even feel guilty about it, which doesn’t help either.
Food has now become a coping mechanism for something that is lying underneath the surface that needs to be addressed.
A coping mechanism is your body trying to protect you from overwhelm, stress and harm. But it doesn’t necessarily mean just because your body is trying to protect you (in ways that it learnt to protect you) that it’s also good for you.
You can retrain your body and yourself to make better choices. Choices that are actually healthy and sustainable. One question that helps the most in making a better choice is:
“Is this loving to myself?”
If the answer is no, then I need to refrain from it.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
I highly recommend opting for nutrient-rich foods that fuel your body and mind. Greens are an awesome source of nutrients and fiber that your body needs. Go for the rainbow: eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Have diversity on your plate and try to eat more mindfully as well.
Pay attention to how different foods make you feel and then adjust your diet accordingly.
And don’t forget to drink at least 2 liters of water a day. Keep your body hydrated at all times.
Bless Your Food
Personally, food has been a huge part of my own healing journey: from having severe eating disorders to celebrating my food and body. I’m so happy where I am today. I make it a ritual: I bless my food and water before it enters my mouth. I’m giving thanks to all the farmers that have grown my food and to the people that have delivered that food to me or cooked it for me.
It doesn’t take long but it surely elevates my state of feeling and awareness.
I’m also giving thanks to myself for nourishing myself, for taking care of myself. I bless my body for it to digest and break down everything perfectly.
I included a little galery of my homemade food:
May these pictures inspire you to give your body the absolute best and most delicious foods. Be gentle on yourself, and don’t make it yet another to-do-list. Have fun with it. Experiment with it.
Remember that self-care is personal, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to experiment with different practices and create a self-care routine that aligns with your needs and preferences. Consistency is key, and over time, these practices can significantly boost your confidence and overall sense of well-being.
Now, I don’t want you to overwhelm you. You don’t have to do them all. Pick what feels right to you. I’ve recorded a podcast with another 10 simple self-care practices if you want a bit more. Click here to listen in.
Be curious and add new practices and rituals whenever it feels good.
You are worth it. You are worth showing up for yourself.