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Integrating Self-Care – Building an Escape-Free Life

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We talk a lot about the self. Yourself. Taking care of yourself, tuning into yourself, making time for yourself. Sometimes we feel guilt or negative, selfish feelings when we make this effort. I don’t know where this narrative comes from and I don’t care. If you want to be in a conversation with someone else, function at your job, be a role model for your kids, have fun with your friends… you have to be YOURSELF and you can’t be yourself unless you have given energy and time to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want out of life.

This week we had an incredible guest on Ivy Unleashed that helped us think about what self-care means, how to make it part of your routine, and why it’s so important. Think you know all there is to know about self-care? Keep reading.


Sonja Ecklund

Sonja is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, a yoga teacher, a financial wellness professional, a low-impact minimalist, a debt free lifestyler, and a houseplant enthusiast. She has over 9 years of coaching experience in both corporate wellness and private practice. Sonja empowers people to create mindful, sustainable, and intentional lifestyles through the power of coaching and is passionate about helping people bring intentional self-care into their lives.

Episode Highlights

“Self care – starts with asking yourself – what do I need? And then giving yourself permission to do whatever that thing is,” Sonja shared with us. She went on to explain, “I look at self-care as the ongoing practice of engaging in activities that help you to build self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-esteem and ultimately help you create a life that feels really intentional and empowered.”

Sonja believes that the more you take care of yourself, the more you build your confidence and the more you make yourself a priority, the more you figure out what you need. We take care of ourselves by creating the time and space to explore ourselves. If you’re aligned with your values – you get rejuvenated through that and in return have energy. There’s a misconception that self-care has to be added to your to do list, that it needs to interrupt your day. But Sonja believes true self care is intertwined with a life that’s true to you – you find true self care in the daily actions, life you live, it’s your daily life and it’s your habits.  

2020 forced people to confront the reality that they are living a life they want to escape from. It was a beautiful year to learn what we need to incorporate into our daily routines and homes to make us feel nurtured. And for Sonja, this starts by building awareness – starting by seeking support and accountability with a coach. Working with a professional can help us in understanding our values – the hard questions that you really only confront when you are working with a coach or therapist.

Not only does Sonja have personal experience with self-care, but she also know the science and facts to back it up. She walked us through the science behind self-care. She explained that there’s a lot of neuroscience behind self-care and that we build neural pathways in our brain for the things we do a lot. If self-care isn’t something you do a lot, you likely don’t have neural pathways and that means our actions have to be intentional so that we can build them and wire them into a habit/pattern our brain remembers. Our brain likes comfort and will take the path of least resistance. We must pair a new behavior with something you already can do and are comfortable with. Sonja recommends stacking your self-care habit onto something you’re already doing. For example, brushing your teeth + practicing a mantra or using a jade roller. It’s okay if it feels like a challenge- you are literally rewiring your brain when you start taking care of yourself. 

When we asked Sonja “How do we know if the practice is effective?” She responded by stating, “taking care of ourselves means we draw from the whole spectrum of emotions. What are my emotions teaching me? What is my anxiety teaching me? What value is my sadness helping me discern? We can look at self-care as something that co-exists with all of the other emotions that we experience as humans. We know our self-care is effective, not immediately after an action, but when we hear our self talk as really kind and compassionate (i.e. “it’s okay I forgive you”, “What did I learn from this experience?”, “What can we do differently next time?”). When we punish ourselves for being human, that’s when we need to re-engage with our self-care.”

We also asked Sonja, how she recommends one starts to get in tune with their thoughts and feelings. She responded by stating for her it was, “by understanding what makes me feel activated/anxious and starting to notice what made me feel calm and centered. I started paying attention to the difference and where I needed to start making some adjustments.” Ask yourself, “What makes you feel activated and anxious vs. what makes you feel calm and centered”. Sonja believes this is the key to unlocking what self-care is for you as an individual.

It’s also important to recognize the difference between self-care and self-sabotage. Sonja recommends asking yourself, “is it a dopamine/temporary hit or am I giving myself something that I know will enhance my life?”

Self-Care or Self-Sabotage?

Will this act help me love myself in the long term?

What need will this fulfill for me?

How will this serve me?

How will I feel after I do this?

Am I taking care of myself or am I avoiding something?

People avoid talking or thinking about these questions because they are hard and they get you to a truth that you may not like about yourself or that you’re not ready to give up. Sometimes it’s not about putting things in, it’s taking things out and that’s hard. The truth is it get’s worse before it gets better. Until you write it down or say it out loud, you can’t let it go. You have to acknowledge it first. We believe you can’t get to your gold until you unleash your ivy. 

As a collective, we are all learning that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Sonja explained that, “proactively taking care of ourselves allows us to give the best of ourselves to the world around us – and we need that so much in the world today. The world needs us to show up as the best version of ourselves. The more aligned you become with what you values, the more you can bring forth your sense of purpose. Taking care of you is vital.” 

 Self-care is contagious. If you are doing it for yourself, you wish it for other people.  You don’t look at people and think that they’re being selfish by what they’re doing. If you’re filling up your cup and you realize the value of how on fire you feel about what you’re doing or how you’re living, you want that for other people. And then when they’re taking care of themselves you’re not comparing anymore because you’re so happy about filling up your cup that you want other people to fill up their cup. People you see you putting yourself first, taking care of you, and you’re in return giving them permission to do it for themselves. 

“Bring a little bit of joy into your everyday experiences. Easy way to truly practice self care and it’s so impactful. Engaging your senses – what is your favorite smell, what do you love to look at. Changing the background on your desktop at work. You get to choose what your life looks like.” – Sonja

Self-Care Ideas from Sonja-

-Breathing exercises – Youtube

-Working with a coach or therapist – invaluable way to show that you prioritize you and your growth

-Taking your medications

-Going to be early or late depending what you need

-Experience play


-Committing to or breaking your routines

-Setting health boundaries with relationships

-Taking a shower/bath

-Hand or face massage

-Muting or unfollowing people

-Taking a break from social media

-Buying something nice for yourself

-Eating foods that nourish you 

-Guided visualization

-Taking a sip of water

-Exercising or skipping your workout


-Observing your thoughts

-Keeping one small promise to yourself

-Put your hand over your heart

Visit Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Youtube, or simply click the links below to listen/watch the full episode of Ivy Unleashed ft. the incredible Sonja Ecklund.


As we are all navigating 2020, integrating self-care into our daily routines is needed now more than ever. Gold Ivy invited Sonja Ecklund, a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, to walk them through strategies on what to ask yourself so that you can align with what you need, how to get started with free and easy self-care ideas, and how to change up your environment in a way that removes the feeling of needing to escape your stressful life. Listen as Andrea, Brooke, and Sonja address the misconceptions associated with self-care and break it down to a less-overwhelming idea that anyone can benefit from. The more we know ourselves, the better we can take care of ourselves, and this episode will help build the confidence you have been looking for in creating a life that reflects your truth and your values each and every day. 

Behind-the-Scenes Video

3 Gold Stars

1. Pay attention to the moments when you feel whole and complete AND broken and depleted to discern your values.

2. Say no- give yourself permission to say no to anything that brings you down, takes away your peace, or doesn’t feel like it’s in alignment with who you truly are.

3. Breathe- use to help us turn around negative thoughts, beliefs, and find new energy, power, and life.

Ivy Reflections

  • What helps me feel nourished?
  • When do I feel the most nurtured?
  • When in my life have I been the most calm and relaxed?

Piece of Gold

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.

Brene Brown


  • Find Sonja on Instagram@sonjaecklund


Please and Thank You Granola Bars – 10% off when you use the code “GOLDIVY”

Instagram – @pleasethankyougranolabars

We thank you for joining us in the fearless pursuit of self-discovery and growth and hope that you transform our lessons into your gold. 

Listen to your truth and go chase your gold.

– Gold Ivy Health Co.

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