As some of you have noticed, (thanks for the email's btw!), I have been totally MIA (missing in action) recently. There have been a lot of exciting changes happening in my world. I packed up my house and moved to Vancouver. I closed my private practice in the Canadian Rockies and am getting ready to start with a new clinic here on the coast. And, I undertook some pretty serious renovations on my new condo....needless to say, this has honestly been one of the most stressful, although wonderful, times of my life. I'm totally fried and with only one week left until I start my new job, I'm really thinking a lot about self care during tumultuous times of prolonged stress, lack of sleep and transition....sound familiar postpartum moms?
Anytime we undergo a life transition it can be unsettling. Lack of sleep, atypical eating patterns and a nervous system that is dominated by sympathetic activation (aka always in fight or flight) can take it's toll on your body. I thought I'd write a little post about strategies I've used to stay as grounded as possible after three weeks of hard times.
Aside from an INSANE amount of retail therapy I've engaged in, I've been focusing on controlling the things that I CAN control. During times of transition, it's pretty common to feel totally out of control of your life. However, there are some choices you can make everyday that help nourish your mind and body. These include: food choices, a bit of daily exercise and how you choose to respond to stressful situations. It seems like an obvious trifecta of sorts but, sometimes, it's the simplest things that make the biggest differences.
Food: When your dominated by stress and sympathetic nervous system activation, your body doesn't digest or assimilate foods very well. This can lead to a miriad of general IBS like symptoms. Not exactly 'good times'. Support your digestion with simple whole foods that are easy to digest. Don't have time or in my case, a kitchen to cook in? No problem, I pretty much lived off the Whole Foods salad bar. You can microwave the raw kale mix to make it more digestible and there are a lot of paleo friendly choices. Just watch out for any pre-made salads or stewed meats at the hot bar. These may be hiding a ton of canola oil, just read the labels. Here are the foods that have been my staples recently:
- Fermented foods like kraut, water kefir and natural yogurts.
- Gently cooked deep green veggies daily. I've been enjoying steamed kale, collards and chard once but mostly twice a day.
- Lean organic, pastured meats such as flank steak, chicken and game meats. Nothing against fat but , fatty cuts can be harder to digest.
- Safe starches such as white rice, potato and yams. I usually eat these with a meal. Gentle carbs support adrenal and thyroid health. Avoid low carb!
- Avoid too many nuts, raw veggies, sugars, caffeine or processed foods, even if you crave them. They can be hard on digestion and sugar/caffeine is really hard on the adrenals. I did indulge in a giant vegan gluten free peppermint frosted brownie from a local 'clean' bakery but I chopped it into four and ate it over a the course of a few days. This way I didn't tax my adrenals with a sugar overload! I also enjoyed a daily little dose of coconut milk ice cream.....because that's just how I roll.
A bit of exercise. My normal routine was totally trashed but I made sure that I got outside to do something that I enjoyed about every other day. For me this usually looked like a trail run or hike in the woods or in the mountains. Some days I didn't have much time so I found some more urban runs, like the Stanely Park seawall loop here in Vancouver or taking the short 15min walk down to Kit's beach for a paddle in the ocean that made me feel energized and like I was connected to nature. Don't push yourself if you're tired, listen to your body but MOVE a little bit each day. Studies have confirmed that daily activity outside boosts all of your feel good hormones. Here's a great article from Mark Sisson that sums up all the spectacular benefits of regular time spent in nature.
Choose how you respond to stressful situations. I've talked about this before but it is by far, one of the most important things I've learned over the years. Even when everything is out of your control and the pace of life seems insane, you can always choose how you respond to stress. Every moment of everyday we can choose optimism, positivity and happiness over pessimism, negativity and sadness. We can choose to feel stressed or, when we start to feel the stress of life build up within us, we can choose to recognize it and release it. Over the past few weeks, I've just been rolling with it, knowing it will come to an end and laughing at myself when I catch myself feeling like a crazy woman.
So, that's my life in a nutshell right now. Just trying to slow down, ground and relax before starting my new job. I haven't disappeared or stopped working on Baby Making and Beyond....just taking a bit of a pause as I switch gears and find my groove.