Trying Out ‘The High 5 Habit’ During the Luteal Phase

Dear Hearts…

The year is marching on, the seasons shifting in one direction or the other depending on which corner of the earth you find yourself. Here, in my own little haven, I’ve been breathing more deeply, making the most of the deliciously dry and sunny early winter days while I am quietly laying the foundation for the upcoming book projects, content and resources that I’m working on. 

If you follow my work, then you already know that I am passionate about exploring various methods of cultivating calm, relieving anxiety and ultimately developing a balanced sense of self, even in the face of adversity. So, when new mindfulness or personal development tools are on my radar, I am always intrigued to investigate and experiment with integrating them into my personal self-care (or soul care) practices. That said, a few months ago, all the buzz and positive reviews around renowned author, Mel Robbins’, latest self-help book, The High 5 Habit: Take Control of Your Life with One Simple Habit, caught my attention. Robbins describes the ‘High 5 Habit’ as a “holistic approach to life that changes your attitude, your mindset and your behavior.” Robbins shares that she began cementing this somewhat peculiar habit in her own self-care routine during a particularly challenging period of her life when she was, “exhausted, beaten down and burnt out”. She immediately noticed the positive impact her new habit had on her, how it uplifted her energy and catalyzed a profound shift in her relationship with herself. When she began sharing her ‘high 5 habit’ online during the pandemic, she was blown away by the effect it had on people who also started practicing it. 

What Exactly is the ‘High 5 Habit’? 

To practice this very simple approach, she guides readers and online challenge participants to start the day by taking a few minutes to connect with themselves in front of the mirror. The general instructions for the process are as follows:  

When you brush your teeth in the morning, take a few minutes to look at yourself in the mirror. 

Set an intention for the day. 

Think about how you are going to show up, who you are going to be and what matters most to you in terms of the areas you want to make progress in for that particular day. 

Then you raise your hand and high five your reflection in the mirror to seal the intention. 

In all honesty, at first glance, the ‘high 5 habit’ seemed a bit cheesy. I am big on setting intentions and journaling in the morning (see my latest journal Soulful Sunrise: A Mindful Morning Reflection Journal available on Amazon), and although I’m also familiar with the concept of ‘mirror work’, its benefits and have done many such exercises, I wasn’t quite sure how Mel Robbins’ method would be any different to that. Out of curiosity, I decided to go ahead and just be open to the possibility that it may surprise me. I figured that the luteal phase would be a great time for me to experiment with Robbins’ method. It’s the period of the female cycle that often brings up all kinds of strong emotions, anxieties and when we may feel drained or fatigued. It is the period of time when my inner critic surfaces, so I am more likely to list all my perceived failings and go down a negative spiral. We often fall into the trap of nitpicking our appearance and berating ourselves during those moody premenstrual days. And of course, on cycles where you happen to be trying to conceive (TTC) or going through fertility treatment, the emotional turmoil and anxiety can be even more pronounced during the two week wait (TWW). Mindfulness exercises, art therapy, tea meditations and yoga have all been beneficial resources for me to lean on during the TWW. So, uncertain of what to expect, I was curious to explore whether the ‘high 5 habit’ could be another nurturing tool to add to the mix. On cycle day 15, the first day of my luteal phase, I showed up in front of the bathroom mirror, looked into my own eyes in the reflection and followed through with the ‘high 5 habit’ guidelines. I kept a basic log of my experience, and here is a glimpse at what I noticed over the course of the first seven days:  

By the end of that first week, I could appreciate what Mel Robbins had been talking about. Robbins puts forward that because of the positive association with the act of high-fiving, it immediately stirred up feel-good energy, making it easier to cultivate affirming thoughts rather than self-deprecating ones. I certainly noticed that. I enjoyed the feeling of unexpected comfort, calm and inner joy that it awakened in me. I was also very aware of how it enabled me to keep my inner critic in check. 

Reviewing the book in her article, writer, Natasha Lavender, summed it up perfectly when she wrote: 

“You’ve probably performed this gesture hundreds of times before. Your brain subconsciously knows what a high-five means: celebration, reassurance, teamwork, determination. So when you give your reflection a high- five, your brain automatically gives you that little thrill you get when you do it with someone else. It tells you that you’re cheering on the person you’re high-fiving—in this case, yourself.”

In essence, we have a psychological predisposition to mine uplifting thoughts and feelings when we carry out a simple physical act that has an associative feel-good factor. Put that way, the impact of exercise makes a lot of sense.  

Lavender’s article goes further to say that: 

“Facing yourself in the mirror can be an intimidating experience. Not because of the things you don’t like about your reflection, but because it makes you take stock of all the life experiences you’re carrying around. That includes sad things that have happened to you, and bad things you’ve done that you haven’t forgiven yourself for. That’s why a high-five is such a perfect gesture for repairing that relationship with yourself. It’s lighthearted, but it also means something serious: We’re on the same team, and I’m going to be here for the struggles and the celebrations.” 

The feeling of being fully held, seen and supported is truly underrated and this was one of the exercises that showed me the extent to which we support others, but regularly and often unconsciously abandon or disassociate from ourselves. Are we as happy to see ourselves in the mirror as we are when we see a friend or loved one? Do we offer ourselves nurturing internal dialogue when we’re feeling low (the way we would a friend) or do we berate ourselves further? Robbins found that many of us either ignore or criticize ourselves in the mirror. Practicing the ‘high 5 habit’ reminded me on a daily basis that I owe it to myself to be more present and compassionate to ME. It also reinforced that each day I have a choice as to how I show up, a choice to focus more intently on what matters most to me and that in itself is empowering regardless of the many pear-shaped things I am unable to control.

 A Forbes article by speaker and author, Blake Morgan, reminds us that:

“No one is immune to challenges and dark times. The strain of the world and work challenges can feel overwhelming and isolating, especially for entrepreneurs. But the simple habit of taking just a few minutes for yourself and giving yourself a high five can change your day, and over time can change your life. When you’re excited to see yourself and cheer yourself on, you can take control of your life and make amazing things happen.”

Whether you experiment with the ‘high 5 habit’ or not, the sentiment rings true in any situation – When you show up for YOU and meet yourself with compassion, you rebuild your relationship with yourself. You rebuild your sense of self-worth (and boy has my self-worth needed a lot of repairing I’m the midst of subfertility and pregnancy loss). You make empowering decisions that benefit your wellbeing and personal growth. You are reminded that you deserve your own love, kindness and devotion just as much as everyone else in your life does.

Have you read the book, “The High 5 Habit”? Have you tried out this practice? What was your experience like? 

If not, which practices help you connect with and nurture yourself? 

Nurturing Your Heart on Mother’s Day 


Dear Heart, how are you feeling this week? 

Are you finding ways to support and comfort yourself through the sticky moments of this journey? 

There is a lot going on at the moment. This past Sunday marked ‘International Bereaved Mother’s Day’. It is also ‘Maternity Mental Health Week’ in various countries at the moment, and of course Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, 8th May. It can be a confusing and bittersweet period where we each do our best to walk the fine line between grieving loss and infertility, and celebrating motherhood/the mothers in our lives. 

In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more awareness around and consideration towards the infertility and pregnancy loss community. I’ve seen many touching posts offering support to women dealing with infertility and to those who’ve experienced losses on social media over the last week, as well as a lot more media coverage on these topics. A few companies have also shown some sensitivity with their email lists, giving subscribers the option to opt out of receiving any Mother’s Day related correspondence as they are aware that it was a difficult time for some.

I appreciate these small thoughtful gestures because they are indicators that wider society is acknowledging the emotional and mental impact of infertility and pregnancy loss. It gives me the sense that years of speaking out, educating and advocating for understanding and sensitivity towards women who struggle with infertility and how it affects their lives is paying off, is helping to shatter the silence, the stigma and the shame that often accompanies it. It opens up space for those of us who face infertility to feel seen and it says – ‘You’re not forgotten, your loss is not forgotten, we see your pain and you’re included in our societal narratives’. Being seen, acknowledged and included is profoundly healing in many ways. With this as a foundation, my hope is that it becomes easier to keep building forward, allowing women/couples to better access the support and resources that they need.

Nurturing Your Heart

Even so, this week may still be a challenging time that amplifies your hurt and sense of longing for motherhood. It also doesn’t erase the realities and the pain of your struggle that you face on a daily basis.

“Despite the overwhelmingly positive narrative of Mother’s Day that we see in commercials and advertisements, we know that this is a tough day for people experiencing infertility and loss. And it is important to remember that for many, this day is even more emotionally fraught if their own mothers have passed away, if they have conflictual or complicated relationships with their mothers or if they have one or more kids but have also lost pregnancies, infants or children. This day can catch us up in so many layers of sadness, anger, jealousy and profound grief.”  

~ Dara Roth Edney

So, I’ll offer this gentle reminder: Remember that you are not alone. You are entitled to your feelings, be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do things that nurture your wellbeing. If you feel the need to, then by all means, disconnect from social media and all the Mother’s Day messaging and take some time to do things that you enjoy. It is okay to set boundaries to protect your emotional health.

“Keep those rivers of self-compassion and love flowing over you, with an abundance of patience and kindness.”

~ Shannon, Mothering Your Heart

Three years ago, shortly after my ectopic pregnancy loss I came across a wonderful email series called Mothering Your Heart ( This email series was created as a support resource for women after pregnancy loss. Around Mother’s Day they sent out a series of soul soothing emails. These daily messages were beautiful anchors for grace and came with a workbook of journaling prompts. One of these writing prompts was about ascertaining the best way for you to access calm on Mother’s Day. They asked several questions along the following lines:

• What is the most soothing place I could physically be today?

• What is the most calming event I might include in my day?, and

• What is the most comforting music that I’d like to listen to today?

Just having these simple thinking points to guide me forward brought some ease to something that could have been much more emotionally challenging. The contemplations felt so healing to me. It gave me something different to focus on, allowing me to spend my weekend taking care of my own needs.  

“…be proactive about taking care of yourself. Take the time leading up to Mother’s Day to try and anticipate what will make the day or weekend harder, and then take steps to protect yourself.”

~ Dara Roth Edney

I’d thus like to encourage you to contemplate what your needs are right now and then investigate how you can nurture them this week. 

What is your heart calling for most at this time? 

How can you hold yourself in self-compassion? 

Don’t be afraid to give yourself these things. Set self-nurturing boundaries in order to prioritize your own needs if necessary. Set aside self-judgement and meet yourself with acceptance and compassion. Nurture yourself and your heart lovingly. 

I’ll end off by sharing a verse from a moving affirmation that I stumbled upon last year, as it really touched my heart. It is called ‘Mothering Heart’ by Carly Marie, and reads as follows:

“While I may not have any children here to raise on Earth, I became a mother the moment I opened my heart to the idea of bringing a child into this world. My mothering love has grown and blossomed since that day.”

Love Notes For Tough TTC Days

It’s easy to be happy some days. It’s easy to be optimistic, hopeful and positive that at some point things will turn around again. On those days, I have this inner knowing that eventually I will wake up feeling alive, blessed and centred in the family focused life I’ve always dreamed of. Yet, at the same time, the bad days always come around – those treacherous days where I feel like I’m falling apart because nothing’s working the way I want it to. Doubt and depression rise slowly to cast their silent shadow in spaces that hope and certainty once filled, and the underlying sense of sadness becomes that much more palpable. I find myself feeling like a marching quiver tree in the semi-arid Namaqualand desert acutely aware that in order to thrive I need to make my way to higher ground, to a place where I am better able to breathe, refocus and support my well-being.

Motivational speaker and author, Dr. John Demartini, wrote that “The quality of your life is based partly upon the quality of the questions you ask yourself daily.”  I’ve incorporated this philosophy into my life and you may have noticed that I have a tendency of including questions in the blogs or articles that I write. So, when I am plodding through the troughs I try to ask myself questions that I know will help redirect me in a positive direction. I ask myself things like:

How do I want to feel?

What will help me cultivate those feelings?

And the one question that I often encourage my TTC sisters to examine when they are feeling overwhelmed – What is the most healing thing that I can do for myself right now?

I’ve learnt to trust the answers that come up because nine times out of ten, they’ve helped me get to a more grounded mental and emotional space. One practical idea that I stumbled upon while examining these questions was to create little ‘love notes’ for myself. These ‘love notes’ are like touchstones that guide me back to myself, back to a place of wholeness and calm. They take various forms. I jot down impromptu inspirational notes in my journal to refer back to when I need a pick-me-up. I write affirmations and short uplifting messages on cardboard bookmarks and place them in the books that I’m busy reading. My favourite love note is a kind of pep talk letter that I wrote for myself. I keep it in a special box on my bedside table and reading it on my lowest days always lifts my spirit.

I’ve accepted that as humans we are cyclical creatures. We’re always shifting through seasons of life and cycles of emotions. I’ve written about this many times before – while I’ve surrendered to the fact that there are so many things that we cannot control when it comes to subfertility the one thing I know I can exert some level of influence on is the way I feel and how I choose to approach this experience. Creating love notes for when the going gets tough is one small way of doing so.

How do you offer yourself love and care on the bad days?

What helps uplift you when you’re feeling low?

I believe that it is important to reach towards these things whenever you can. This simple practice of crafting love notes has been a bit of necessary soul balm from time to time. So,if you would like to create your own ‘love notes’ for days when you need a pick-me-up, then here is a little guideline:

Write Your Own Love Notes

Think of one of your close friends or family member, someone that you care very deeply for. You want good things to happen for them. You want to see them happy, thriving and living out their dreams. Now imagine they were going through a rough patch.

What if they are struggling with the exact same thing that you are experiencing? Navigating subfertility, going through the gruelling process of fertility treatment and trying to cope with the sense of loss, failure, anger, depression and a whole host of emotionally challenging curveballs that come with the territory?

What would you say to them to offer some comfort and reassurance?

How would you encourage them to care for themselves and their emotional well-being during their lowest moments?

What would your PEP talk for your friend sound like?

I’d like to encourage you to write down your thoughts, capture your words of comfort and encouragement for a moment.

Then turn the things you’ve jotted down into a compassionate pep talk letter. But instead of writing your friend’s name, write your own name. Write down all the things that you need to hear when you find yourself sinking into that sometimes dark and lonely place.  Pour all your love into it.

When you are done, fold the letter and put it in a safe place where you can access it later on when you really need to hear those words.

If you like, select some of your favourite lines and write them on bookmarks or make affirmation cards with them so that they are easy to use on a daily bases.