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“Forest Bathing” and Beyond: Counselor Nani Waddoups Shares Tips for Self-Care

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Nani Waddoups has more than two-decades experience as an entrepreneur, and that doesn’t even include her past six years running a private therapy practice in Portland, OR. As a seasoned small business owner and a professional counselor, QB Community member Nani is uniquely positioned to offer up self-care strategies for staying centered and grounded -- something particularly important for entrepreneurs working around the clock to build a successful business.

Beware the Red Dot Syndrome

As Nani explains in this profile, the high-tech age we live in has created not just connection, but, for many of us, a sense of over-connectedness. The dot in “Red Dot Syndrome” refers to the notification icon alerting us that someone or something needs our attention. Nani points out our addiction (yes, she uses this word deliberately) to instantly responding to anything and everything is disruptive, to say the least.

“When we see a red dot icon, we immediately stop what we are doing, stop what we are thinking about and stop being, in order to respond,” says Nani. “But no matter how much unsubscribing we do, there is an upward climb in the number of items in our now-proverbial inbox. This increase in emails, voicemails and texts will never decrease.”

To combat Red Dot Syndrome, Nani believes we all need to create (and protect) uninterruptible time to be tech-free or otherwise “off the grid” every single day. After all, she explains, in order to give the Self what it wants and needs, first we have to tune in to that  Self – which requires tuning out a whole lot of other noisy, distracting stuff.

Nourish yourself (genuinely)

Nani notes that it’s easy to think of self-care as just one more thing to add to our already-too-long to-do list. She suggests you can minimize feelings of obligation by asking yourself, “What feels nourishing?”

“Self-care is very personal; a spa day is not for everyone,” Nani says. “For me, it might be cleaning out my closet or paying my bills. Ask yourself, what is it that you really need right now? Do you even know? Therein lies the secret to true self-care.”

Go “forest bathing”

We all know spending time outside in the fresh air is good for our body, our mind and our soul. Says Nani, “Being in the woods and moving and breathing deeply is just so good for us. The Japanese call it ‘Forest Bathing.’”

In her private practice, Nani takes the inherent pleasures and health benefits of being outside to a new level, offering “walking” therapy as one of her client services. She finds people often feel more relaxed, open and attuned to their thoughts and feelings when they’re out on a trail. Nani recommends we all do some daily “forest bathing” to boost our concentration, creativity and energy.

Nani’s self-care toolkit

Nani doesn’t just help others find meaningful ways to practice self-care. Over the years, she has developed her own approach to daily, weekly and when-she-needs-it strategies for staying centered and grounded. Here they are, in Nani’s own words:

  • I regularly revisit why I do this work by reciting a quote by Pema Chodron: We don't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts.
  • I do yoga and meditate in my office
  • I get out in nature
  • I write about it in my journal a lot
  • I take lots of hot showers and wash my hands a lot
  • I garden
  • I have a good cry about the pain in the world


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QB Community members, what are your strategies for daily nourishing your mind, body and soul so you can always be on top of your game?

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1 Comment
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@Anonymous - I, too, get so much more from "forest bathing" than a simple walk in nature. Being outside, away from modern worldly concerns, feels like the equivalent of washing my soul (like washing one's hands). The feeling I get when I exit that environment is pure invigoration and I am renewed to handle the tasks at hand, that do often feel like they're ever present. Thanks for your wisdom! And for finding clever ways to connect your thoughtful practice with the practice of doing good business.

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