We've all been in a place at some point in our lives when we're not as happy as we once were or maybe things are just unsustainable as they are and some sort of change is deeply needed. Even more dishearteningly, we may not necessarily even know what is bothering us or how to get back on our path to happiness. Luckily, we had the good fortune to have the very inspirational Libby DeLana, author of Do Walk: Navigate Earth, Mind and Body, join Pat and Dr. Huberman at our July Basecamp to discuss the power of radical self-care. She told us her story, how she walks the walk, and how it has helped her transform her life.
Libby’s Story of Transformation
By all external metrics, Libby DeLana was success incarnate – she was a well-respected entrepreneur and advertising executive, mother, wife, and former Olympic rower. Despite how things appeared on the surface, something was missing. Libby felt there was a component of what was essential to who she was that she had put aside and didn't honor, specifically taking time to commune with nature. Somehow knowing she needed this MIA part of herself to reconnect, she committed to simply taking a walk every morning for three months, something she’d later call an act of radical self-care. Come rain, shine, a case of the grumps, or a hectic morning, Libby had to get up and go out for a walk. She found the practice so rewarding and transformational that she's still going strong ten years later.
“We don’t find time for things that are important to us – we make time.”
Libby says her walk is no monumental gesture. How long and far she walks is not the point. Being in the elements and giving herself the space for problem-solving and self-care are what breed healing and transformation. Libby sagely puts this idea into a simple phrase: "emotion needs motion." Through her committed daily practice, she's reconnecting with herself, nature, emotions, and shows up better at work, home, and in her world. Her practice was so transformative she went outside of her comfort zone to write about a book about the experience, Do Walk: Navigate Earth, Mind and Body, in the hope that others may find healing and transformation in her story as well.
The Science Behind Physical Motion and Consistency
Dr. Huberman explained some of the science behind Libby's story. The process of thinking, in and of itself, is flawed. It's very hard to control the mind with the mind, so you have to look to the body. Physical action, like walking, moves us through visual spaces and connects us to reality. This creates a self-generated optic flow that connects us to space and time. Walking first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to do this.
Libby pointed out that it's not always easy to get up and walk every day, but she learned to quiet her inner storyteller. The storyteller who could rattle off any number of reasons why she shouldn't get out and walk. However, as time went on, it became less of an obstacle. Dr. Huberman pointed out that as we change behaviors and are consistent in our change, the nervous system follows suit and re-wires us. When we choose to create a habit, the brain and the chemistry of neuroplasticity change as such that the behavior starts to form a positive association, even if the thing we are doing isn’t initially pleasurable – it becomes pleasurable over time. In essence, this is how we make habits that last.
“The thing I’ve committed myself to is more powerful than the story I’m telling myself about the cold, my feet, etc.”
Practicing Radical Self Care: Transforming Micro Habits into Macro Results
Pat, Madefor Co-Founder, highlighted three important takeaways from his conversation with Libby during July’s Basecamp. When viewed as a whole, these are the keys to converting a small habit into a big positive change. Maybe walking isn't your thing but you can choose anything that brings you joy including dancing, painting, or reading. No matter what you do, keep these three things in mind.
Change Your Self-Care Mindset – Taking care of yourself isn't selfish, it's a service! There's a reason why they tell you to put your face mask on first, it's because you need to take care of yourself to take care of others. When you’re your best self, it can be contagious to those around you!
Commit – Transformation doesn't require a huge gesture, it does require commitment and consistency, however. Create space in your day for your new habit and lock it in. Resist the desire to build in excuses. Stay firm in your commitment to yourself and living your best life.
Challenge – Chatter often makes us feel like we are losing control. Get it back by tidying up a space in your house, writing a list, or organizing that junk drawer you’ve been putting off!
Not sure where to start? Start with a walk like Libby did and get your emotion into motion this week.