On this episode of the Feel Good Effect Podcast, Fifi Buchanan talks about healthy coping habits and connecting with your inner voice. Fifi shares ideas around coping habits, self-care, the role of rest and why it might be difficult to access, and the power of finding and using our voices.
Healthy Coping Habits, Self-Care & Creating Space for Voice with Fifi Buchanan
Finding a voice
In a past time of high anxiety, Fifi sought out audio sources to learn more about how to manage anxiety, finding lots of podcasts and shows, but none with the gentle voice she needed.
She noticed that she also was not talking to herself in a way that was gentle; she was craving something externally that she needed to do internally.
Fifi had received feedback from her voice-overs on Youtube videos that her voice was calming, and not seeing that in the podcast space on this particular topic, she put together a show.
So many of us lack skills related to our mental health until we start working with a professional.
It was a combination of going to therapy herself and practicing yoga helped her build these skills and find her voice.
In therapy, Fifi built coping skills for anxiety, finding particular relief in the practice of replacing unhelpful thoughts with helpful ones.
And at the beginning of yoga practice, there is a space created to set intentions; it’s not about being better than anyone or the performance.
A calling to wellness
You don’t need to have a wellness background to practice wellness, and there’s no one way to come to it.
Fifi has a background in English and engineering.
As an analytical person, she always belonged in engineering and what she found was that she really enjoyed being a solution-finder.
Fifi also loves storytelling, which brought her to English.
She loves using stories to solve problems, to draw connections with other people.
If we can look at the thing that people come to us the most for, even if we don’t think we are an expert in it– that’s our calling.
For Fifi, it was related to wellness.
When we come to wellness with our diverse set of backgrounds, we create a pool of approaches for a range of people, not just one kind of person.
A relationship with anxiety
Anxiety is something that has been with Fifi her whole life.
Sometimes anxiety presents in a good light (e.g. the person who is very prudent, responsible, planning ahead, anti-risk), but it’s really a struggle with anxiety.
In college, Fifi also discovered that she had ADHD, which can manifest like anxiety in women.
Understanding where a struggle comes from can empower us and as a result, Fifi is very intentional, whether it leads to her desired results or not.
With that understanding, she wanted to create a platform to help people find their barriers to wellness in a way that was not a tough-love approach (something she saw out there that did not match her needs).
It’s not negative to express your solutions or things that cause you to worry, because we need to verbalize them in order to solve them.
No matter what environment you learn best in, whether it be tough-love versus gentle or audio versus visual, just knowing that about yourself is a skill and to make an empowered choice in alignment with that.
A relationship with emotions
Fifi went to her first yoga class when she was in college.
She realized yoga was a way to workout and she felt more prepared for afternoon classes when she practiced yoga beforehand.
Yoga helped her find her voice and build a better relationship with emotions.
Ignoring the voice was also related to assigning certain emotions to be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
When we assign an emotion to be ‘negative’, we don’t feel that we can explore it (e.g. anger, jealousy, disappointment, regret).
But feelings are such a blessing; they’re an alarm, they’re an indicator, they help us to figure out which way to navigate.
Instead, Fifi started reframing, asking “Why am I feeling jealous? Why do I feel resentful? What story am I telling to arrive at the point that I feel this way?”.
And when we do feel these ‘negative’ emotions, we frequently shame ourselves and shut it out, which hinders our ability to listen to our intuition.
That’s what the feel-good effect is– it’s a felt sense of feeling good is different from immediate gratification or ignoring your feelings.
We don’t have to categorize things as if negative thoughts = bad.
To feel good, you have to feel many things.
Self-care is any action that benefits us in the present and invests in our future health, done intentionally.
It can look a lot of different ways, but intentionality and presence are key.
Perhaps it is a fear of missing out or a productivity mindset that keeps us multitasking, but we are not always present in our self-care.
If we want to practice self-care, we need to start practicing being present.
We need to fully be in every moment of self-care that we want to fully remember, enjoy, and benefit from.
Part of this struggle comes from a lack of even acknowledging that we are worthy of rest.
In the Western world especially, capitalism has an effect on a micro-level, telling us that we can have all the things we want if we just work hard enough.
Self-care and social justice
This is a relevant issue talking about Black Lives Matter, too.
Fifi reflects that as a Black woman, being told that the gap she sees, all the resources she doesn’t have, all of the opportunities that are not hers, that if she were just more productive, worked a little harder, that the gap would be closed.
There is no way to outwork a system that’s working against you.
After a lifetime of hearing that, it’s hard to unlearn the idea that just working a little later or taking on another project would bridge that gap.
Productivity has become attached to worth.
Fifi notices this in how she responds to people asking her how she is doing, as she is more likely to respond with what she is doing.
“I am allowed to just be. I have breath in my body, I’m a human being, I deserve to be here”.
There’s no way to talk about human rights without talking about self-care.
You deserve self-care.
Deserving to rest
Think about the stories in your own life around deserving rest.
Perhaps feeling like you don’t have value or that you just need to work harder and do more– is that true? Is that what you want the story to be?
If we don’t fundamentally think that we and others deserve and value rest, then the whole conversation of self-care becomes very difficult.
Long-term changes in action need a mindset shift.
Self-care in the context of rest
It’s important to have some structure in our lives, and it is equally important to be in the moment and flexible.
Fifi has a morning routine that starts with hydration followed by prayer and meditation that could last between 5- and 45-minutes depending on the day.
She notices in herself, though, that when she skips a morning prayer, she shames herself for it, something she is working to change.
A morning routine is valuable, whether things happen in order or not.
A morning routine sets the tone for the day of how worthy you are, how valuable you are.
Fifi’s platform, Wonderfully Made, was created as an affirmation, from a bible verse in Psalm 139.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, an idea that one’s whole person, spirit, body, the essence of them, it’s a mystery that was intentional.
For Fifi, knowing that she was raising her self-esteem and having a balanced view of herself, she wanted to call her platform Wonderfully Made to affirm herself as much as she wanted to affirm anyone else listening.
Wonderfully Made Podcast
In her podcast, Fifi uses storytelling.
For example, there is a story Fifi tells about a baby eagle to get across an idea of comparison.
She tells the journey of the eagle who is growing, having no idea of how majestic and feared it is and as it gets ready to leave the nest, it is busy watching a jaguar in its grace.
The point of comparison is that you miss your own greatness when you are meditating on the greatness of someone else.
Fifi has many more stories like this in bite-sized pieces so that you have time to go away and think.
In the last year and a half, Fifi has added visualization exercises to help you fall asleep or to have a comfortable time meditating.
In these, she picks a scenery and describes every tiny aspect of it, really to help you focus on it and bring your body back to a calm state.
The role of the wellness industry
The wellness industry is really a marketplace for different types of needs, dietary needs, spiritual wellness, mental wellness, etc.
There are so many voices in it, so whoever resonates with a particular voice can choose to go down that path for health and wellness.
To make it better
To improve the wellness industry, Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color would be considered.
Their voices would be heard and they weren’t just another thing to sell.
In order for wellness to happen, the needs and issues of these particular communities need to be explored.
“Wellness is connectedness; if one person isn’t well, we’re all not well”.
We need to come in and consider everyone to figure out why things are the way they are, connecting back to the way we view color, race, gender, etc.
Even if it’s unsolved, it is then considered.
On what it really means to be healthy
There is a concept of wholeness, of me striving to be whole. We cannot fully achieve anything perfectly but we can do our best.
Fifi Buchanan began her career journey as a mechanical engineer, and now works a copywriter, content creator, and voice actress. She currently lives in Southern California, where she enjoys writing and podcasting for her own brand as well as other brands. Fifi hosts a lifestyle improvement podcast called Wonderfully Made, where she uses storytelling, soothing sounds, and personal experiences to help others reflect on some of life’s biggest questions and challenges. She believes affirmations and encouraging words can propel us forward into healing and a great sense of life fulfillment.