The last 2 months were really productive for me. I wrote an e-book (The Mindful Smoothie Guide), am just wrapping up running my 30 day program with a wonderful group of participants from Australia, Canada and the USA. I also built a new website (this one yay!), and creatively I’ve been feeling inspired. It’s been a great flow. But it didn’t come on demand. Not even close.
At the end of June I was awarded permanent guardianship of my 3yo, a process which took a year, a lot of red tape , an overseas move, and of course emotional and financial strain.
[There is a bigger story behind all of this that I promise I will share more about when I am ready.]
Being back in my homeland, I uncovered more about my ancestral and family trauma patterns, rooted of course to the addiction and abusive behaviour in my family.
Leaving home at 15 was starting to make more and more sense as I faced the truth of my toxic upbringing. [Even as an adult with years of therapy under my belt my first instinct was to adjust myself, be more giving, and fix the situation.]
In December last year, a few months after moving here, things took a bright turn. I met someone special, and although totally unexpected we had an undeniable strong connection.
It surprised me, and at the same time made so much sense to find him now, during my biggest growth. I felt ready.
During that first year with the little one I had an employment opportunity fall through that was meant to cushion my landing in Canada, housing issues in the area I moved, my main support person fled the scene (my mom), daycare difficulty (there were 4 months where I could only work 15 hours /week), I lost most of my belongings in a shipping scam, and not to mention just adjusting to being a mama after years on my own.
I didn’t understand how or why, but it seemed toxic situations were blowing up all around me.
This is how I learned vital life changing lessons in setting boundaries.
Now even as my environment settled, my mind was not the same. The creativity, passion and ideas I once had, just weren’t there.
It was scary, to feel I’d lost the sense of ‘me’ in all the change.
Using my voice and being seen through my work, these were things I’d worked for years to connect to. [Read my past post, How Stepping into the Spotlight Healed My Shame]
So the period of not feeling productive challenged me. I’d been totally burnt out before a few years ago, and I feared I’d lost the healing work I’d done.
It was hard to rest, as it always is, when I wanted to be busy.
But knowing the slippery downhill burnout trajectory, I rested. I let go.
I noticed first my anxiety started to increase (rooted in my tendency to ‘fix’ things by doing more) in certain situations. Especially in situations where stimulation was high (even going on a boat trip with my partner was hard because it was new), and I guiltily craved alone time, which was now hard to come by in a family environment.
I became more aware of how much emotional trauma was still there in my body. Triggering my introverted self to run the show. Self doubting my own every move.
Even though on the surface I was always managing ok, there was subconscious work to be done.
Making time, witnessing my soft spots, working with my ‘doubter’ fearful self, and being more compassionate to my vulnerable states took patience. It took the whole summer to ‘overdo the self care’ and fortunately, kind of miraculously, it got me there.
I started to feel less anxious. A more real me emerged.
My ‘me time’ gave me space to healingl, and as this is part of what I teach here it also, very serendipitously, informed the new work that came forth.
With this personal story of mine, what I want is to share with you are my key tools for healing through trauma, overwhelm and stress.
What has kept me grounded as I walked through the trenches of self doubt, emotional turmoil and deep fatigue.
My Top 6 Tools for Coping Through Overwhelm Are
- Meditation – I have practised daily for 5 years now, and was able to go deeper into a teacher training last fall which helped deepen my practise immensely.
- Good nutrition – I practise what I teach, yes there are moments of imperfection, but I know first hand that food keeps us together like nothing else can. No junk food, no sugar, no gluten.
- Journaling, self awareness, a therapy tribe – having set times for exploring feelings and tools to feel more, and people who can guide you, makes the deeper work possible. All bodywork is helpful and important.
- Nature and grounding – being outdoors, looking at the sky, being in or on water and feeling sunshine are all powerful healers.
- Gentle movement – no matter how tired you are, do not be stagnant. Movement is essential to free stress chemicals.
- Adaptogens and probiotics – supporting the stress response, helping to heal the adrenal glands and also ensuring the gut is thriving are vital for us to survive in a ‘wicked’* learning environment.
These tools, although I ‘know’, are still hard to remember.
It seems we all need reminders from the outside, no matter how ‘expert’ we become.
I’m grateful for the support that all these tools bring. And value their role in my life time and again as ‘break downs’ and healing show up and teach.
There is no overnight fix when it comes to stress management. We have to grow our patience, and resilience. By going through it.
I know without a doubt that the more care I pour into myself, the better example of self regulation I am being as a mom, and as a partner.
To practise self care, is the definition of being well. Under any circumstance.
*I’ve borrowed the wonderful term “wicked learning environments” from Author David Epstein, who talks brilliantly about the powerful role of struggle in shaping our learning, growth and longevity in his book, Range, which I highly recommend.