EPISODE 27: Building Resilience with Pleasure

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

The Politics of Trauma by Staci Haines

Episode featuring Dr. Sarah McKay: https://www.changeagent.studio/blog/63692-podcast-16

Apps for sleep: https://loona.app and https://www.headspace.com


Emily Carter  00:09

Hi, I'm Emily. And this is From Hustle to Hell Yes, the podcast where I share insights and interviews on entrepreneurship for small business owners craving a GPS. Hop in, and let's joyride to a sustainable, profitable business without burning out, getting stuck, or stalling out. Destination: more revenue, less hustle  Purpose and Pleasure.   To me, these are also the keys to being a resilient human, and building a resilient business. On today’s episode of From Hustle to Hell Yes, we’re going to focus on that last one: PLEASURE. You’re inherently resilient - all humans are - but we all need reinforcements, you know what I’m saying?! 

Emily Carter  01:18

This episode is a little different from most of my podcasts here on from hustle to hell yes. Instead of talking about theory alone, I'm sharing a peek at how I use these ideas in real life in my life. I hope that by sharing how I create purpose and pleasure in my business, that you'll see where you can do it too. A lot of what I've learned and therefore teach, I've learned because I had to figure out how to move through the world experiencing a lot of anxiety. And to be honest, I think we've all been experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and fear over the last few years. And I suspect that it's changed us, but it's too soon to know how and what that means for us all. So much of what we know about resilience, the scientific research on it, is through the lens of trauma. And that's why you'll hear me referencing sources that specifically discussed resilience through that lens. But I want you to know that if trauma is an influencing factor for you, that I encourage you to find resources that will support your healing. 

Emily Carter  02:22

In order to thrive I’ve had to figure out a few things about coping with intense anxiety. Please note that I’m not a therapist and I can’t give you medical advice. Nothing in this episode of From Hustle to Hell Yes is meant to be taken as medical advice - please seek the advice of a medical professional if mental health is a contributing factor for you; you can contact the NAMI HelpLine—800-950-6264 or info@nami.org— NAMI can offer you sympathy and support and provide you information about resources in your community or use the Crisis Text Line - just text “HELLO” to 741741

Emily Carter  03:08

In her book, the politics of trauma, Stacy K. Haynes writes of our capacity for resilience. "We are resilient and creative people. Our communities are resilient and creative. There are practices that can help us build resilience for ourselves, those we love our organizations and our communities, we can cultivate resilience." I believe that our businesses are tools for personal freedom, and that they also have the power to create change that scales. And when we practice resilience, when we build resilient businesses, we're creating more resilience for all of us. Before we go further, in this conversation, I want to acknowledge here that resilience has sometimes been used to make unjust situations more tolerable for the rest of us, to minimize the impact of those situations on the people who bear the brunt of that impact. And I also want to clarify that when I say resilience, I'm talking about what Stacy calls "a sense of enlivened calmness, curiosity and connection." 

Emily Carter  04:19

If you're like me, and you want to build more resiliency, here are the practices that I've used that have had the biggest impact on my own resilience, and all of them have one thing in common. They're all about finding paths to pleasure. When I talk about pleasure, what I mean is a feeling of deep satisfaction, a feeling of peace, success, Joy. It's what I do to move away from feeling frustration, anger, feeling stuck in comparison and disappointment. That's what resilience is for me.

Emily Carter  04:55

My number one go to practice for feeling when I'm feeling stretched beyond my capacity and I need to rebuild my resiliency is rest. You might remember if you've been listening to this podcast for a while, I interviewed neuroscientist Dr. Sarah McKay in Episode 16 of this podcast. And I asked her, What is the number one recommendation she would make to folks who are stressed or anxious, or in any way struggling during the pandemic. And her response was immediate. She said Sleep, sleep improves your overall health in so many ways. But it's her number one tip for better neuro health. Now, I'm not going to count all the science backed ways than enough sleep is imperative to your health. It's enough for me that a neuroscientist has said it's her number one advice for improving the health of your brain. And by extension, improving your resiliency during stressful times. In 2020, like so many folks out there, I knew my anxiety was off the charts. And that as a result, I wasn't getting enough sleep. So I actually had to reteach myself how to sleep properly. And I almost always get one of two reactions, when I say had to teach myself to rest. The first reaction is, "what on earth are you talking about?" And the second reaction is, "oh, my gosh, can you teach me!" and the answer to these top 2 reactions is what I'm going to share. It's my hot tips for sleep, some of which totally go against popular advice. But this is what I had to teach myself. It required lots of experimentation and practice. And if you're having trouble sleeping, it's time to experiment and practice what might work for you. But here's what works for me. 

Emily Carter  06:33

DO have a sleep routine. Having a sleep routine primes your brain. And that makes all the difference in the world to me. I do not stay away from tech actually read on my phone fairly often to fall asleep. But I stay away from news and social media and games. Everything else is fair game. So I have books on my Kindle app. And when I wake up, and I don't want to wake up my partner, I just read until I fall back asleep. Usually I don't make it past two pages. Oddly satisfying videos are good for me. So I found the Loona app is really nice for this. They have these really amazing videos that you can watch that I find deeply satisfying and enjoy. I'm also a huge fan of headspace. They have sleep stories, and I am obsessed with rain day antiques. It's my favorite. I think I listened to it every night. I know my son listens to it every night because I play it for him to nothing much happens in the sleep stories. But they allow me to focus on something that disrupts my overthinking. So I'm not affiliate of any of these, they've just worked wonders on helping me fall asleep and stay that way or go back to sleep quickly when I do wake up.

Emily Carter  07:43

So I'm also really mindful of what I'm consuming. If I want good restorative sleep, I have to mind what I put in my body and when also movement of the body. 

Emily Carter  07:55

I'm someone who really needs to use all of my energy to have a good night's rest. And that means that I tried to be active every day throughout the day for at least 15 minutes at a stretch. So I love to take super long walks and hikes. But if I can't do that, I at least do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening walking my dogs. 

Emily Carter  08:14

Now rest isn't just about sleep. It's also activities that fill you up that energize you the stuff that gives you energy rather than expending it right. So again, this requires a little bit of experimentation. But for me, those hour long walks, I was just talking about making Indian food for dinner, and also yoga nidra have all been really excellent sources of of rest that isn't sleep. So let me put it this way. If work is on one side of coin and plays on the other side, then rest is the thin edge of the coin between the flip sides. It integrates them. That's what rest does for our mind, body and spirit. And when we're rested, it's so easy to see what's working for us and what isn't. We have more capacity for saying yes. And also more capacity for saying no. When we can value the whole coin, we can have more profit, and more pleasure. And rest isn't just about sleep. Like I said it's about rejuvenation. It's about filling up your cup, so you can pour into other things later. So part of my rest regimen isn't just sleeping, it's also having a really good laugh. It's taking exceptionally long and meandering walks. It's laying in my hammock because it just feels so good. It's like the most relaxing position for me to be in. Rest is my number one practice for reinforcing resilience. 

Emily Carter  09:42

My number two practice for building resilience is building my pleasure tolerance.

Emily Carter  09:49

This is gonna sound weird, but I've actually had to teach myself how to enjoy the experience of pleasure. This is a newer practice to me than the practice of rest so I can't speak as deeply into it. And this is the one that really causes people to stare because either they have no idea what I'm talking about, like, "what the heck is a pleasure tolerance?!" and are utterly confused about what I've just said - like it's just a string of random words. Or it's because they know exactly what I'm talking about. And they now have a vocabulary for what their human experience has been. What does this mean? Well, most of us are acquainted with the idea of a pain tolerance and how we learn to manage painful experiences and avoid them or tolerate them when they can't be avoided. But did you know that it is also possible to have a pleasure tolerance, where we limit our experiences of pleasure, often because of trauma, that's what the research says, like I said, a lot of research on resilience is focused on trauma. But it can also be because of other difficult experiences, that taught us to avoid reaching certain levels of enjoyment. So instead of feeling safe in our enjoyment, we reach a certain level and we start to feel unsafe, and that  leads to those varying degrees of fight flight freeze responses within our nervous system, right. This can also manifest as anxiety. So if this is making you wonder a bit, if you have a low pleasure tolerance like I did, then there are some characteristics you might identify with. If you're someone who identifies as a workaholic, and for many years I was, then it might be easier for you to return an email related to your job than it is to have like a light hearted chat with your friend. Another common expression of low pleasure tolerance is, if you have something on your to do list that needs to be addressed later, you might actually rush through something that brings you real joy, even if you have plenty of time for it. So for example, if you have to take something to the post office and buy stamps, and you're going to be spending some time at the post office, you might find yourself rushing through your typically relaxing walk or skipping out on your afternoon tea, because you need to do one more thing in your business first. Or, for example, when you're on vacation, maybe you just cannot shift from thinking about work to just be in the moment, relaxing in the sun, reading that new NK Jemisin novel. If you often feel guilty about doing the fun stuff before all the work is done, or have a tough time relaxing during a much needed break. Consider whether you might need to adjust your pleasure tolerance. I know I needed to. 

Emily Carter  12:32

So here are some examples of things that I've done to lean into increasing my pleasure tolerance. Mostly this focuses on doing some really quote unquote, indulgent things during times I typically wouldn't have made it a point to do them. And again, these are examples that that I discovered for myself, I had to do a lot of experimenting and practicing before I landed on some ways that I could really lean into this. So here's one way every morning, for the last few weeks of winter, I would start a fire in the fireplace before I started in on my work. I love working in front of a fire. But I've always thought of it as like a special treat or something I earned after a long day. Instead of forcing myself to earn this pleasure. I made it part of a daily routine. It didn't make my fire less special, but it did make my days more enjoyable. I also grew up living in the country and taking long hikes in nature spending all my time outdoors on trails and paths through woods, which I find really gratifying. Now, I don't live in a place like that right now. So I've started adding to my house plant collection. I am not known for having a green thumb. In fact, I have quite the reputation for killing houseplants. However, I'm really enjoying caring for my plants and spending time that way, watering them noticing how they're growing and changing. Bringing nature into my space is helping me increase my pleasure tolerance.

Emily Carter  14:05

Another thing that I've recently started doing is practicing actually being in my body, I've had the tendency to dissociate from my physical experience in favor of living in my head. And I love my internal life. I love thinking about things. But it's not the only space I want to occupy. I want to experience all the modalities available to me. So making daily habits of engaging all my senses, has helped me to be present and to savor things like taking a really hot shower or a cold one just for the physical sensation of it. Eating something very slowly. I started with chocolate which is divine. But there are so many amazing foods to do this with sweet or savory. Smell it. Notice how it feels in your mouth and the texture of it. The depth of the flavor. I've even enjoyed doing this with beverages, especially when I'm trying to relax after a long workday. Whether it's a hot cup of vanilla dandelion root tea, or a salty sour Margarita, being so engaged in your ex taro ception, sensing the world through the five senses of taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. So I'll be trying this out more all summer long. by heading to see outdoor concerts, taking camping trips, enjoying tacos on the porch of my favorite summertime bar the Sixth Street dive in downtown Lafayette. My last pleasure thinking tactic is making room for beauty and pleasure in my actual physical space. This is less about spending money and more about being particular about the way the space is organized and being really intentional about creating a space that I appreciate. So my workspace for example, I am in a room with a lot of natural lights. I have a couple of different lamps right next to my desk so that I can add to light if it's early in the morning or later in the evening, and it's dark outside and I'm not getting that natural light. I've collected my favorite books that I like to come back to again and again on my desk. And I have some little doodads and postcards and notes that I find inspiring and uplifting, that are from friends from mentors from my son, from my husband, and those are also collected on my desk to brighten it up. 

Emily Carter  16:41

As with so many of the practices that I share with you here, take time to experiment and find your own practices for getting more rest and building your pleasure tolerance. These are both really excellent paths that lead to stronger foundations of resiliency. I hope that hearing about some of my practices, has given you inspiration for what might work for you. And when you find what works. Make it a habit. block time on your calendar set reminders. Tell the folks who will ask for updates on what you're doing. I'll leave you with one last thought. Fear is a five lane highway in the brain. While resilience is a footpath through the woods. We can make that dirt path wider by walking it over and over again. Andrew Huberman thank you again for listening. Take good care of yourself and each other. Till next time, bye for now.

Emily Carter  17:46

Hey, before you go, thank you so much for listening today. If you liked this episode, please share it. Leave a review wherever you listen and hit that subscribe button so we can keep the conversation going. If you want to dive even deeper into today's episode, just go to www dot change agent dot studio slash podcast and look for this episode of Show Notes.