Today I want to talk about creating space.
I think a lot of us have heard that “when we ‘create space’, we make room for something better”. But where exactly is this space we’re creating? How do we create it? And what is the ‘better’ we’re making room for?
In today’s post we’re gonna dive into what it means to create space and discover practical ways to do it.
Hello my friend, I hope you’re doing well, and if you’re not then I hope you find this post helpful. AND, if you prefer listening to this post, you always have podcast option at the top of this page.
Today I’ve got loads of good stuff for you, including a couple of free digital downloads, and some solid self care techniques.
So, let’s get to it.
Alright. Creating space, is a super helpful tactic to add to our regular self care routines. In fact, I believe in it so strongly that before I became the (self proclaimed) guru for Self Care Independence, “Creating Space” was actually my original modus operandi. But, alas, my true mission in life isn’t merely to inspire space makin’, but, rather, to provide a kind and gentle boot camp, if you will, for those who are ready to take confident charge of their overall wellness.
So here we are.
Anyway, creating space is a broad and complex thing, much like most of self care, right? And that’s exactly why I decided to dive into this topic today. I love taking the complications out of things. So, before we get into a bunch of ways we can create space, let’s first answer a couple of those earlier questions.
Where is the space we’re trying to create?
Well, when we’re talking about self-care, we’re talking about the WHOLE self. So when we’re creating space, it might feel a little metaphorical when we open up the mind, body, and the mother-lovin’ soul. But sometimes, it actually means clearing out literal, physical space. .
In any event, what we’re doing is making room to welcome healthier and more fulfilling things into our lives.
Creating space gets rid of the shit that keeps you stuck, trips you up, or bogs you down so you can roam around more freely - literally and figuratively.
Sooo, I guess I kind of already answered the next question; what is the ‘better’ we’re creating space for?
The better, simply put, is ease. Ease within the body. Flexibility within the mind. Fluency throughout day-to-day life. Creating space eliminates restrictions and loosens the rigidity that holds us back from living a juicier life.
Okay, so, space is good, Got it. Now, how do we create it?
If you’ve listened to either of the episodes, Understanding the Self for Better Self Care, or, Intention Setting - Where Science and the Woo Collide, you know that I like to divvy the self into six different categories being the physical, practical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual selves.
And that’s because the more aware we are of all the things that make us a whole living organism, the easier it is to pinpoint our self care needs. So today we’re going to run through all the selves and explore a few ways we can create space in each one.
It’s gonna be delicious…
Alright, my friend, let’s start with the MENTAL SELF.
Because the mental self is the conscious bit that’s able to make all of those decisions in your life, it only makes sense that we’d start by creating space here first.
Sooooo, I’ve witnessed FAR too many people (myself included) try to start a new self care regime without clearing their head first.
Here’s the thing, we are creatures of habit. And habits aren’t just behaviors, but they’re thoughts as well. Most of us have some old bullshit chatter going on in our head that’s telling us that we can’t do something, that we’re undeserving, or maybe the chatter just gives us a general crappy self-limiting, rigid, exclusive, conclusive attitude. If this is the case, we increase our chances of experiencing resistance when it comes to creating space anywhere in our lives.
Creating space in the brain helps us welcome change, and navigate our wellness more clearly.
So, how we’re gonna create space in the ol’ noggin is by practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness, by the way, just means paying attention.
Alright, so, there’s a million-and-one ways that you can practice mindfulness. But because you’re busy I’m going to share the simplest way to start decluttering your brain so you can strengthen your consciousness muscles.
Now, I like to get into the reasons WHY we do what we do, because I feel like when we back our actions with solid reasoning, we’re more likely follow through. So thanks for sticking with me while we get into the nitty gritty of it.
Okay, so, the reason we practice mindfulness is because a lot of times we’re not actually focusing on whatever it is that we’re doing. Like, when we’re cooking dinner for instance. We might be chopping and dicing and making a meal, but while we’re doing that we may also be chatting with another human in the house, listening to podcasts, scrolling through social media, or maybe even daydreaming about a hypothetical argument that hasn’t happened yet. Because cooking has become a semi-familiar activity, we can split our consciousness between that and some other activity.
Unless, of course, we’re following a brand new recipe. Which then, from time to time, we’ll have to redirect the majority of our focus towards the directions.
That is an example of harnessing the power of the conscious mind. THAT, my friend, MINDFULNESS.
Every time we practice mindfulness, or putting our full attention into whatever it is we’re engaging with, our brains get better at staying focused. It’s like squats. The more you do, the stronger your thighs get. But in this case, it’s your brain. Consequently, the stronger we become at staying focused, the more self aware we become. The more self aware we become, the easier it is to manage our emotions and make better decisions. It’s a total win.
Okay, so, mindfulness means focusing on one thing at a time and it’s kinda like having a self care super power. Got it. Now, how often should we practice mindfulness?
Honestly? All the time.
Not, like, 24/7 all the time - you’d make yourself crazy. But, rather, sprinkled throughout your day, like sprinkles on a donut.
Mmm, delicious little mindful moments.
Anyway, at the risk of sounding cliché, the most powerful way to practice mindfulness is by using your breath.
Seriously, using your breath as a tool to practice mindfulness is the best way to go.
And here’s why.
For starters, you always have your breath.
Your breath, it’s always with you, and that’s super handy, it helps you focus, but it’s ALSO a powerful tool that calms the central nervous system (which is a fancy term for your brain and spinal cord). And if you’ve been following along here at CMC, you know that your brain is in charge of all the things that happen in your body.
So, one of the reasons we get super cray-cray in the brain is because we’ve allowed our imagination to be an untamed wild horse. We let hypothetical situations dictate our anxiety. We invest too much energy in rehashing the past, and we worrying about the future. In short, our imagination can cause us a boat-load of stress. Friend, our realities are stressful enough, we don’t need to add to the pile.
Practicing mindfulness with your breath will bring you back to the here and now. It will will also connect your conscious brain with the autonomic nervous system and the body. I recently learned that our inhalation is linked to the sympathetic response (also known as fight or flight), and exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic- the rest and repair response. When we consciously, inhale deeply, we make a connection with the stress bits of the brain. And when we slowly and completely and consciously exhale we can override that stress response and activate the bits that relax your ass.
It’s a beautiful thing.
So, using the breath to practice mindfulness will create space in the mind by ridding your brain of cluttering thoughts, and allow you to wrangle that wild horse of yours.
Great. So, how do we do it?
There’s lots of ways to breathe, but I have my personal favorites. I like to be able to tap into my breath no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, and not worry that I’m making a spectacle of myself.
I’m sorry the public is not ready for some of these breathing techniques…
Anyway, there’s a super powerful breathing technique called ujjayi breath, but it’s kind of a noisy one and probably not the best choice if you’re in a meeting or at the DMV.
It is, however, great if you’re stuck in traffic or in the loo and needing to release more than just your bowels.
And this is how we do it.
Start by taking a big fat breath through your nose. Make it so big that it fills your chest and your belly.
Hold it for just a second, and then release it slowly and gradually through the back your sinuses as though you were a highly annoyed teenager.
That’s right, you’re gonna sigh through your nose.
If you’re not sure what I mean by this, try exhaling through your mouth first like you’re trying to fog up a window, but then close your mouth so that strong foggy breath reroutes through your nose.
Let’s try it together.
Yeah, like that.
My second go-to breath is the 4/4 breath.
And this puppy is super simple, and you can do it literally anywhere. All you do is inhale for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. Bonus points if you make it a deep breath. You can hold your breath for a second or two in between inhaling and exhaling if you want, but it’s not necessary. Just do what feels right for you. I will say this, though: Do the counting, especially if your brain is being extra nutty. Pairing the counting with the breath just ramps up the level of focus.
The more things you give your brain to do, the harder it is for it to wander.
Okay, we create space in the mental self by breathing. Check and check. Next up we have…
THE PHYSICAL SELF
Your physical self is the entirety of all the bits that make up your meat suit. And those bits function quite a bit better when you create space within the body.
So, before we chat about how you can create space in your body, I want to tell you that by practicing breathing, you’re actually already tapping into one of the ways to open it up.
SEE! YOU’RE ALREADY WINNING!
But yeah, breathing not only relaxes the mind, but it also relaxes the body. And more often than not, when we live with chronic stress or tension, we hold this madness in our fascia and musculature.
Fascia, by the way, is connective tissue that creates this crazy suspension system throughout your entire body. Like, everything within your skin sack would just be in a heap at the bottom if it weren’t for fascia. It’s interconnected with every bit including the bones, muscles, organs, blood vessels and even the nerves. And in a perfect world it’s stretchy and flexible, and allows for you to move in all sorts of dynamic ways. BUT, it’s super sensitive and get’s tight when it’s stressed physically and emotionally.
Stress is such a bitch, my friend.
Anyway, when bits of the body are tight a whole host of problems can pop up like, headaches, neck, back, and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and plantar fasciitis We can lose range of motion in our joints, restrict blood or nerve flow, have decreased energy, crowd the organs, yada yada yada, it’s a lot.
So, when we tap into this gorgeous breath of ours, and consciously exhale WHILE ACTIVELY RELAXING THE BODY, some of this tension can actually go away. ALSO, when we take a deep breath, we expand the space in our ribs and the belly, and create more room for the organs to do their job more efficiently.
Your breath is a badass.
Okay, back on track…
As a massage therapist, I like to get to know what my clients are doing with their time. Not because I’m nosy, but because I want to know what’s going on with their bodies.
So, I’m willing to bet that you spend the majority of your life in the same rotation of postures and actions.
We’ve all got our classics.
Think about what you do for work, your hobbies, your commute, your leisure time, how you sleep.
When we have repetitive postures or motions, we subconsciously train the body to create different holding patterns.
What do I mean by this?
Well, imagine a person has a desk job where they primarily sit while they’re at work. Even in the most ergonomic of situations, they’ll have at least three points of flexion; at the knees, hips, and elbows. Even though the body may appear to be relaxed while sitting, these passive contractions are STILL creating shortness in the flexed soft tissues, the hamstrings, hip flexors, and biceps for instance.
Another example might be how you watch tv. I worked with a guy who had really bad neck and shoulder problems. Turns out, it was caused by the location of his tv. He spent a few hours every night watching his favorite show with his head turned slightly. For shits and giggles, I suggested he rearrange his viewing situation so that he’d be in a more ergonomic position.
Guess what, his neck and shoulders got better.
When we create imbalances in our frame work, we invite problems to come along.
Anyway, one of the ways we can create space in the body is by STRETCHING. Creating length and flexibility in your soft tissues can help you move about more freely. Not only that, but we can relieve some of those other problems that I mentioned earlier. By the way, stretching is just ONE way we can create space in the body, but, again, because you’re busy, we’re just discussing this one today.
So, how do we stretch?
The first thing you should know about stretching is that you’re working with fascia and muscles. And the thing about these soft tissues is that they’re a lot like taffy. What I mean is, when taffy’s cold, it ain’t got no stretch to it. You’ve gotta warm that shit up first, THEN it becomes nice and stretchy.
So how do we warm up our soft tissues?
You’ve got to move it, move it! …sorry.
But yeah, so, when you move your body, you’re actually using energy to generate heat. And the cool thing is, you don’t have to get crazy about this whole movement thing. You can simply march in place for a few minutes, if that works for you.
Seriously, it’s that easy.
And here’s another cool thing, you’re actually benefitting your body in so many other ways, when you move. Like, you’re pumping oxygenated blood throughout your whole enchilada, bringing nutrients to your organs. You’re also firing up your lymphatic system, which means you’re keeping your immune system nice and strong.
Moving is amazing.
Anyway, so, you’ve warmed up your soft taffy tissues. Now it’s time to stretch.
Because we can’t sit together for the next 48 hours discussing all the ways in which to stretch, I’m just going to give you a few pointers. Side note: I’m creating a bank of stretching videos. Some of them will be released to the entire wild world, but ALL of them will be released to my Patreon Members.
Anyway, these are my rules for stretching…
Tease it Out
I see WAY too many people cranking their stretch out like they’ve got something to prove. Dude. all this does is create more tension in the body. Gently going in and out of a stretch will give you more bang for your buck. You can go deeper into the stretch over time, but don’t start there. Wiggle into it.
Breathe With it
Before you dive into the stretch, take a deep breath, and with the power of your imagination, send that breath into the bits you’re gonna stretch. I know that sounds weird, but trust me, it works. As you exhale, relax what you’re stretching and really sink into it. Oh, and GO SLOWLY.
You’re a multidimensional organism, meaning, you can move in all sorts of ways. When you’re teasing out your stretches, play around with movement until you find the sweet spots. Often times you’ll find a whole new muscle to stretch when you wander off the beaten path.
I absolutely die a little inside every time a client acts like stretching is a form of torture. Friend, stretching doesn’t have to suck. Throw on your favorite show, put a squishy blanket on the floor, let go of what you think stretching ‘should’ look like, and just have fun opening up the nooks and crannies in that gorgeous, gorgeous body of yours.
Alright, let’s get to the PRACTICAL SELF
The practical self is the part of you that manages the responsibilities in your life. And let me just tell you, this self functions a whole lot better when you’ve created space in your environment and in your schedule.
If you’re the type of person who seems to either always be running late, misplacing things, mismanaging money, who never seems to have time for self care, or runs out of essentials like toilet paper, your practical self may need a clearing-out.
So, how do we do that?
Well, to start, clearing actual literal space is a HUGE help. Even if you’ve lived with clutter since the dawn of time, and you’re very familiar with it, it can actually cause unnecessary subconscious stress. Now, I’m not saying you have to go full-on Marie Kondo minimalist with your life, but if you’ve got things lying around that’s serving zero purpose and just taking up space, dude, get rid of it. …especially if it’s a free-loading, loser boyfriend. Sorry, past life projection there.
Anyway, another way to tidy up your life is to create schedules, routines, budgets, and lists. Yes, my friend, organize your life.
Now, personally, I used to pride myself on being a bit of a free spirit, and would buck at the idea of being so regimented. But OMG, creating structured systems that assured that everything was always in it’s rightful place, including things my shoes, my money, and myself has actually created SO MUCH MORE free time for me to devote to wanderlusting. True story.
Anyway, if you’ve got a boat-load of practical space to create, looking at all-of-the-things can feel super overwhelming…trust me. I know. The trick is to organize your plan of action BEFORE you even start tackling any of it.
Start by making a list of all the things you want to accomplish, then break that list down into tiny bite-sized, practical pieces. Next, choose just one thing to do at a time. And once you’ve completed that one thing, literally cross it off the list. Do a happy dance to celebrate, or congratulate yourself in a way that feels authentic.
Seriously, do this with EVERYTHING you accomplish. We spend so much time beating ourselves up for the things that we DON’T do, and not nearly enough time celebrating all of the things that we achieve every single day.
When you acknowledge the wins in your life this gives your brain a surge of those proud accomplished feelings. And when you start feeding your brain this kind of love, your confidence grows and makes you unstoppable.
For real and for true. I’m living proof.
Alright, let’s talk about the SOCIAL SELF next.
The social self is how you identify in all of the different roles you have in life. And sure signs that you need to create space in your social wellness is:
- If you have problems saying no
- If you feel guilty when you take time for yourself
- If you always put other people’s needs ahead your own
- If you resent certain people because they take too much of your time
- If you can’t speak up for yourself
- If you make excuses for other people’s behavior
- If you feel under appreciated or taken advantage of
- If you over-share the details of your life with people who aren’t close with you
- If you try to be like the people you’re with, rather than being yourself
- If you allow unwanted behavior
- If you’re passive aggressive or feel like a victim
Then, my friend, it might be time to tidy up a bit.
So, what does it mean if you identify with any of these circumstances? Well, it means that your boundaries could use a little zushing.
Having boundaries means that you’ve written a rule book for what you will and will not accept in your life. And when you establish clear, solid boundaries, that have your wellness in your best interest, you clear up a lot of emotional space, and honestly, you gain a lot of time and energy.
Setting boundaries protects your overall wellness, and is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.
Okay, so, how do we set boundaries?
First, let me say, this can be hard. And if setting boundaries is new for you, it might feel shitty. You could feel like you’re letting people down. You may even experience a backlash from those who you’re trying to set boundaries with.
That’s because people get accustomed to having things the way they are, even you. And when things suddenly change, it gets uncomfortable. People can get prickly. If someone got away with busting through your softer boundaries in the past, chances are, they might get upset if you set some new rules.
If that’s the case, let me say, I’m so sorry. That really sucks, and I know how that feels. Relationships are hard sometimes.
But here’s a few things you can do..
1. Establish what your boundaries are.
A good place to start is figuring out your feelings. Your emotions and body sensations during different social interactions (including when you’re by yourself), are good indicators whether you’re dealing with a healthy boundary or not. But feelings can be complicated and unclear. To help you figure out what you’re feeling, I’m going to leave a few free feelings pages for you in the show notes. These are pages that are included in some of my digital self care guides, which I have available at my website.
2. Figure out exactly WHY you’re experiencing these feelings.
What is the other person saying or doing, and what are you allowing? What needs to happen instead for you to feel safe and secure? What needs to change for the balance of power to become equal?
3. Give yourself permission to establish these boundaries.
A lot of times boundaries are busted up because we don’t value ourselves enough. When self love, worth, and acceptance fall low on the charts, it’s easier to be taken advantage of. So, whatever you can do to practice self love, do it. Know that you’re worthy and deserving of self respect, and the respect from others.
If you don’t know where to start, start by journaling. Practice writing down the reasons why you deserve to have healthy boundaries, and all the ways they’ll improve your life.
4. Be clear about your needs
It’s easy to dance around words when we’re afraid of upsetting someone. Practice having really clear communication about your needs, and why. Try using the “I” message.
If you’re unfamiliar with what I mean, this is how it plays out.
First, call out what the other person is doing. Don’t be a douche bag about it, just lay the facts. Then, tell them how that makes you feel. And here’s the important part, once you’ve established your feelings, tell them what you need from them instead.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your friend is always showing up late, or bailing last minute on your plans. You could say something like this…
When you show up late or bail on our plans last minute, I feel hurt, like you don’t value our friendship, or my time. What I need from you is a stronger commitment to our agreements.
Sometimes people are unaware of the effects of their actions. Letting people know how you feel helps keep you both accountable, and can strengthen the relationship.
5. Be consistent
Establishing boundaries takes time, practice, reinforcement, and quite a bit of courage. Hang in there because you totally deserve to live with healthy boundaries. And life is so much easier when you do.
By the way, if you’re in a sticky situation where you feel like you’re in danger, get help with this. I’ll leave a link to a list of crisis hotlines below in the show notes.
WOO! Are you still with me?
Good, let’s keep going…
So, let’s tap into the SPIRITUAL SELF next.
The spiritual self is that bit of you that is your shiniest, truest, most authentic self. And it lives from a heart-centered place.
And how you can tell that you need to create space in your spiritual self is if you no longer feel like yourself. Or maybe there’s no sparkle in your life, or perhaps you feel perpetually unfulfilled, empty, uninterested, unsatisfied, or disappointed.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you did something that really brought you joy? Not just a fleeting sense of happiness, but a full body experience that made you feel lighter.
When was the last time you immersed yourself in something you’re interested in?
When was the last time you sat in silence and contemplated all the things that you’re grateful for. But didn’t just think about gratitude, but felt it?
And when was the last time you were consciously generous, without having any motives other than simply being kind?
By the way, being generous doesn’t have to mean you have to give money. You can be courteous, welcoming, compassionate, and supportive through gestures and words. And often times those kind gestures and words are way more impactful than any amount of money.
So, taking the time to lose yourself in acts of sheer goodness, will crack that spiritual self wide open in all of the best possible ways.
Remember, do the things makes you happy and feel good. Showing up for yourself in these ways will make you shine a bit brighter.
And that, my friend, is your purpose. The universe needs you to shine for yourself. And when you shine for yourself, you end up becoming a light for others.
Ohmygod, I’m getting emotional.
Alright, let’s get to the last self and talk about the EMOTIONAL SELF.
So, the emotional self is the bit of you that experiences, processes, and manages your feelings.
And, if you recall, when you practice creating space in the mental self, consequently, you create space in the emotional self as well. But do you want to hear something even crazier? If you practice creating space in every single one of the other selves, your emotional self has no choice but to follow suit.
When you open up your mind, clear out the clutter, get yourself on track, get in touch with your body, set solid boundaries, and make sure you invest some of your time to the things that matter for you, you’re going to create space emotionally.
The beauty of all of this, is that every single one of these actions are intertwined with one another. That’s because you’re a whole, living organism, and there is no part of you that’s independent of itself. One simple conscious action can create a ripple effect, opening you up to so many possibilities.
And another thing, you cannot get this wrong, or do too little. Every effort you put into creating space is going to liberate you more and more. And that, my friend, is was creating Self Care Independence is all about. It’s finding your freedom because you’re living well.
Alright, my friend, because action and accountability are important ingredients in creating space, I’m offering a simple daily checklist to ensure that you keep up with your space makin’. You can find the link at the bottom of this page, and it’s for free! It’s my gift to you because I care about your wellness.
And, if you want to learn more about anything else that I’ve mentioned today, or would like to explore other products and services that I offer, you can explore crystalmclaincreative.com, or check out the notes below.
I love you.
I appreciate you.
Thank you so much for being here.
I’ll see you soon.
* * * NOTES * * *
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Crisis HOTLINES courtesy of Talk Space