224: Breaking the Stress Cycle

Today’s show is all about taking a holistic approach to achieve balance and take back control of your life. Join us to learn more.

Zarya Rubin is a physician and functional medicine health coach. She is a formerly stressed-out mom who now helps women in mid-life get to the root of their health issues and manage their stress to take back control of their lives.

In this episode:

  • What is stress?

  • The relationship between stress, control, and our response to stressors

  • The body’s primal response: fight, flight, or freeze

  • Zarya explains her self-care graphic and gives factoids about stress

  • How unmitigated stress often leads to burnout

  • Personality traits that make you prone to burnout: being a workaholic, superhero, perfectionist, or lone ranger

  • Common stressors in daily life are work, family, life events, health, finances, change/loss, and pandemic stress, which all of us have experienced in the last several months

  • How stress CAN be a positive thing that motivates us to accomplish daily tasks

  • How women can reduce stress levels by sharing with others and finding community

  • Three types of stress: acute, episodic, and chronic

  • The gut/brain connection and how stress affects it

  • How to prevent stress, manage stress, and build resilience:

    • Use stress-busting techniques.

    • Take care of the basics.

    • Use a checklist, speak up, and practice self-care.

    • Practice breathing techniques, meditation, and mindfulness.

  • What self-care is

  • Types of rest: physical, mental, social, sensory, emotional, spiritual, and creative

  • Zarya gives examples of breathing exercises and meditation that you can try at home

  • Tips for good health habits for those with executive functioning impairments


* Rough Transcript *

Ep. 224

Aurora: Welcome to the Embracing Intensity Podcast. I’ll be sharing interviews and tips for gifted creative, twice exceptional and outside the box thinkers who use their fire in a positive way. My name is Aurora. Remember Holtzman, after years of feeling too much, I finally realized that intensity is the source of my greatest power.

Now instead of beating myself up about not measuring up to my own self-imposed standards. I’m on a mission to help people embrace their own intensity and befriend their brains so they can share their gifts with the world. Through the embracing intensity, community coaching, educational assessment, and other tools to help use your fire without getting burned, you can join us@embracingintensity.com.

Hello. Usually this would be an interview episode, but because I had a last-minute cancellation and it’s the end of my school year, so I haven’t really had a chance to get caught up on interview episodes, I decided to let the professional editors do their thing on my breaking the stress cycle talk with Zaria Rubin. You can find the full video recording with presentation in the embracing intensity community@embracingintensity.com, and our next one is coming up on the third Saturday of each month. And the next one for this month is going to be on asynchronous development in gifted adults. Tiffany Chiam, which should be fantastic,

so, you can find out more about those and all our other events on my events calendar on my website@auroraremembered.com, and you can join us in the embracing Intensity community for all the past recordings and information on upcoming calls and an exclusive, more casual meetup that happens on the first Saturday of each month. So, come join us and hope to see you there. embracing intensity.com. Enjoy.

Zarya: Okay, this is breaking the stress cycle, a holistic approach to achieve balance and take back control because as we know, stress is an inevitable part of life, and I’m not here to tell you how to avoid stress. Or get rid of stress, cuz it’s not really possible.

It’s more about learning how to, how we react to stress, how we respond to stress, how we handle stress, how we develop resilience and tools so that when the stress does arrive in our lives, cuz it’s. It’s gonna be there. It’s not something we can necessarily avoid. Maybe, I guess, I don’t know if you went to some sort of like tropical island where everything was taken care of for you, maybe, I don’t know.

Maybe that would be stressful. Cause it would be too perfect. I don’t know. And this little image right here is the cover of my. Stress toolkit, which is a guide, a free guide that I’ve developed for folks on how to be stress proof, and that is available to all of you guys. I will, I’ll share the link in the group, or I’ll give it to Aurora.

It’s on my website so you can get that as well. Okay. All right, so a little bit about me. You guys know about me that I’m a physician. I’m a functional medicine health health coach. It says formerly stressed out mom. I like to say that I’m a formerly stressed out mom. I’m still a mom. I’m still stressed out, but stress doesn’t rule my life in the same way as it used to.

I mean, it used to really be the dominant driving force. I think, you know, when people ask, you know, how are.  I think my default was to say, I’m stressed. I’m stressed out. Yeah, I’m stressed. Yeah, I’m good. I’m good. I’m stressed. Good. Stressful. Everything’s stressful. Yeah. And it just, you know, it became kind of a way of life for me, and now thankfully, that is no longer the case.

And so, I like to help women in midlife get to the root cause of their chronic health issues as well as their stress so that they can truly thrive and take back. Okay, so if some definitions, I mean, you guys probably know a lot of this stuff. This is a smart crowd, but sometimes it can be a little challenging to define stress.

Like what exactly is stress? We all know what it feels like, but what is it? How do you pin it down? So, it can be a thing. It can be situations or events that put pressure on us, you know, and stress the definition, the true definition of it kind of evolved as like a change in a response to a homeostatic system.

So, when a system. Encounters a change and it becomes unbalanced. That is a stress on the system, certainly from the world of engineering and mechanics and physics. There’s that concept of stress as well. So, we have, you know, maybe a lot in our plate, a lot to do, a lot to think about, and we don’t necessarily have a lot of control over what’s happening.

I think that is often an element of stress is the control issue. It feels out of control. It feels like there’s these things happening to. And that can feel stressful. So, then it’s also the feeling. So, it’s the thing, the actual stressor, and then it’s our response and the feeling that we get in reaction to that.

And that is, you know, we’ve got demands placed on this that seem to exceed what we’re able to cope with. And that’s really kind of, for me, the definition of stress. And so, when you perceive that the demand exceeds the personal and social resources that the individual is able to mobilize, and that’s one of the.

Oldest definitions of stress out there, and I love this image of like the cogs in the wheel and the clock and turning and how it just sometimes feels like you’re in this race against time to get things done and you have too many things in your head. So, another concept that’s often associated with stress is the fight or flight or freeze response, and that is your body’s reaction.

That’s very primitive and primal as though we are in danger. So, it’s that feeling of, you know, a rapid heartbeat. You get sweaty, you’ve got this adrenaline rush, your blood pressure probably goes up. Pupils get big and dilated, and those reactions are wonderful actually, they are protective. They’re lifesaving.

They developed back in the day when we had to fight sabretooth tigers and, you know, warring factions and clans that came to pillage our village, you know, well that rhymes, but are we really in danger every day? Luckily, for most of us, not really, however, Sometimes when you’re on Facebook and you’re engaged in a conversation with somebody that feels very threatening, your body doesn’t necessarily classify that response any differently than it would, you know, being attacked by something real out in the real world.

And I think that is where we run into a lot of trouble and where we, we’ve. A very stressful feed forward system in our lives where we’re constantly exposing ourselves to these adrenaline producing activities. Okay. This is my little stress cycle graphic. I’m so proud of myself and I actually made this, I don’t know if it, if it makes sense, but here it is.

So, the stress cycle. So, you can start really at any point in the cycle. And I think that’s the whole point of it, is that they’re all interconnected and they all relate. So, The stressor, and that’s, you know, any kind of an event, an acute event, a chronic event that disrupts your balance. And then you’ve got these other factors that contribute to your ability to respond to the stressor.

So that can be like a. Lack of sleep, poor diet. And that can be a baseline issue or it can be a reaction to the stressor. And then you’ve got your coping mechanisms and just your sort of inner resources. And that is, you know, if the stressor is severe enough.  I’m gonna be honest, you know, no matter how much resilience and how many toolkits you have, and if you have like a really traumatic event or you know, a really major loss, that’s, that’s gonna be tough to cope with.

But it can also just represent a lack of internal resources, a lack of external support. A lot of us maybe don’t always have that, and then that can worsen the stressor and then the stressor can then worsen these other aspects of, you know, it can cause us to not, you know, it can cause us then to eat really crappy food and then that can feed back and feed forward.

And so that’s how the loop just continues to flow. Okay, a couple of little factoids about stress. I love that my, my daughter, it’s her constant refrain. Is mommy more factoids? She’s seven. So, we love factoids in our house, so about 75% of the population at any any given time report, physical symptoms of.

And I mean that to me sounds like we’ve got kind of an epidemic of we have a pandemic of stress on our hand and 50% of the population say that stress has a negative effect on their lives. Yeah. I think a lot of people maybe even don’t perceive the effect that stress has on their lives. And then this is a real shocker.

I don’t see any men attending the talk today. I don’t know, but women experience more stress than. We tend to take on more responsibilities. We tend to be responsible for our own lives, our work lives, the home, the family, probably the extended family, all of it. And so, yeah, and possibly just the way we’re wired.

We also have all of our cyclical and hormonal stress that we have to go through, you know, every month, which is another reason why women are perhaps more vulnerable to stress and experience stress on a deeper level. I’ve just added in a, a couple of slides about burnout versus stress. Cause a lot of people talk about.

together, and I do feel they are related. They kind of go hand in hand. One sort of leads to the other. So, when stress is, when you perceive that the demands exceed your personal and social resources that you’re able to mobilize, and then if that goes on for a long time, unmitigated, that can lead to burnout.

Another factor in burnout is a sense of emptiness or apathy or hopelessness. And I think that that’s really salient when it comes to your work because people can have stressful jobs and not burn out. But there’s this other component of you’ve sort of lost empathy for your job. And maybe that’s because you have a terrible supervisor or you don’t have any control over your work or your work, or there’s unrecognized trauma that’s gone on from your work.

And certainly, for me as a physician, as a medical trainee, it was extraordinarily traumatic. There’s a lot of hazing. There’s a lot of abuse that goes on in medicine under-recognized, and that leads to apathy. It leads to something called compassion fatigue. When you are constantly caring for others, it’s experienced by soldiers, it’s experienced by anyone who’s in a caring profession that over time you can really develop this and not can really also contribute to burnout.

These are some character traits of burnout and these are kind of, a lot of us might recognize some of these as personal kind of special superpowers that we have. Certainly, the workaholic is prone to burnout. That’s sort of when your response to challenges and problems is to work harder. Not familiar with that for sure.

And there’s the superhero, and this is from, this is from a really great article about stress and burnout amongst physicians, but I thought it applies universally to all of us. So, the superhero personality is you feel like every challenger problem is your responsibility. It’s on your shoulders and you have to saw it.

You’re the one with the – then there’s the perfectionist. I don’t think anyone here can relate to that. Right? You can’t stand the thought of making a mistake ever, and you hold everyone around you to the same standard. So, you are constantly hyper-vigilant or any, you know, mistakes. And then the Lone Ranger is kind of a Corolla to that one, I think.

And that’s, you gotta, you’re just, you do it all. you. If you want it done right, do it yourself. That kind of thing. Don’t ever ask for help. Don’t let anyone do anything around you, and you sort of end up micromanaging those around you and all of these character traits, I mean in moderation, they can be great and they can lead to a lot of success and productivity, but in excess.

And when they involve you not managing stress properly or not seeking help, they can, they can be a downfall. Okay, so some common stressors in our lives. So, I just wanted to have a little aside and note that stress can be positive. It’s not always negative. It follows this really funky, inverted, U-shaped curve and that you.

When there’s not enough stress, I don’t know if any of us are familiar with this. When the project is not due for a while, are you motivated to work on it? Possibly not. So, then you get to that point where you’re like, oh, that that thing is due next week. I’d better work on it. And then it’s like that thing’s due in an hour and my boss just changed what it.

That’s not great. So that’s where the, you come in, you know, too little stress or too much stress can be problematic. And also, positive life events can also cause unwanted stress. I mean, just think about getting married or having a baby or getting a promotion or getting a, starting a new job. I mean, those things are all positive, but they can also be stressful.

So, yet these are just the common sort of stress categories that we see a lot, you know, obviously.  It’s usually the top one that I hear about. Family stress. I mean, yeah, a lot of folks have family stress. Of course, all the life events I talked about. Health can be a huge stressor if you’re, if you have health issues, I mean that you have to manage every day.

Financial stress, of course, you know, all of us. Experience that any change or loss. And then of course the, the big one is like, it’s not a common stressor, but pandemic stress. I mean, all of us. I think. I’m gonna get to the statistic. Yeah, there it is. See, that’s my next slide. I, this was in a study, I think it was a Harvard study, that we are all under approximately 30% more stress than before, just due to the.

That’s just a little added bonus. Little nice, little extra layer. I love this days of the week. Little felt bored cuz that’s kind of how I felt. The past year, this day, that day. Other day. Someday yesterday, today and next day. Like what day is it? I don’t know. Dunno if anyone else has felt like that in the past year.

So, this is an interesting tip that I came across in my research and that’s that sharing with others. Can reduce stress levels, especially for women. We like to gather, we like to be in groups and we like to share. And knowing that perhaps you’re not alone and you’re not the only one who’s experiencing these kinds of stressors.

And there are other people around you who get it. I think certainly that’s true of those of us who are two E parents. It’s just, it’s so nice to have that camaraderie and that group support and that’s, that’s why Aurora also, you know, has her amazing community. Okay, so drinking my matcha latte here because I cut out coffee many years ago cuz it was too stressful.

So, types of stress. We talk about acute stress, episodic stress, and chronic stress. So, acute stress is, you know, it’s, it’s here, it’s now, it could be intense, and then it’s gone and it can sometimes be helpful and more easily managed. because it goes away. But chronic stress or episodic stress can really wreak havoc on your body and mind.

So, epi episodic stress would be something like, you’ve got a long and stressful commute to and from work, and that’s every day. It’s brief, you know, but it’s like you can sort of count on it that it’s coming every, you know, every morning. And then chronic stress is, is really the one that. Work hard with people to, to break and to break down because it can become a way of life.

It can become a mentality, it can become sort of a badge of honor. You know, our, in our busyness culture and our productivity culture of like, yeah, I’m stressed, I’m stressed, I’m stressed, and then it just becomes your way of life. And I just, I love this image of this woman who the books are flying at her and she’s kind of losing her mind.

We don’t wanna get to that point. And so, the chronic stress is where we see lots of health effects. So, I love this graphic because it can, it sort of demonstrates some of the, the, the list is endless in terms, I don’t think there is any condition, I mean, other than like, I don’t know, a gunshot wound. But I mean, that, that would be stressful, I guess, but that you can’t attribute in some way to.

any medical condition. You know, starting from the top down and starting from the head. You know, we’ve got like headaches, headaches, brain fog, memory issues, all of these things. Stress can definitely affect our ability to think and process, and it hijacks our executive functioning as well because you’re basically running on that lizard brain.

You’re running on the amygdala and you’re running on that fight or flight. Response, you know, insomnia, it can affect your sleep. And then of course, GI staff, heartburn, very common to have stomach issues, stomach acid issues. Stress can affect the acidity and the pH of our stomach acid. It can actually reduce.

Our stomach acid pH, which can result in all kinds of issues and digestive issues and whatnot. Lack of absorption of minerals and vitamins and nutrients. So, stress can even have a detrimental effect on our nutrition. Of course, you know, there’s breathing and the fact that you, you can get into this more hyperventilated state and you’re constantly feeling like you’re short of breath or having to catch your breath and.

I think it, it’s interesting that sometimes when people are under chronic stress, they’re kind of in a state of where they’re almost always holding their breath, and when you get people to like breathe out, it’s very powerful. The release of, you know, you know, guess what? Hey, you’re actually holding your breath all the time and you don’t have to.

And I think that that’s often very, stress directly impacts the immune system. High cortisol levels can impact, can weaken the immune system, especially over the long term, can make you more vulnerable to infections. And we all know sort of the cardiovascular risk of risks of stress. Those are kind of the ones that we kind of think of right away.

It’s like, oh, you’re gonna under so much stress, you are gonna have high blood pressure, you can have a heart attack. And that’s true. Those are all real. That’s not just in the movies. So prolonged chronic stress can raise your blood pressure, can also put you at risk for type two diabetes, raising your blood sugar.

So that’s, you know, one that we don’t often think about. That the prolonged stress, so we’ve got the acute stress hormones, which are adrenaline and norepinephrine, and then we’ve got the chronic stress hormones, which are cortisol and prolonged levels of cortisol can cause your insulin to not work that well.

And so, then you can get high levels of blood sugar and then that puts you at risk for type two diabetes and all kinds of systemic effects from. Yeah. We talked about some of the, you know, the palpitations, the cardiac stuff. Stomach ache. Yeah. I mean, we actually have the majority of our serotonin and our nerve endings reside in the gut.

It’s like the gut produces 90% of our, the serotonin in our bodies, and there are the nerves that connect the brain and the gut. I mean, there is a direct connection, so what’s going on in your brain directly affects your gut and vice. What’s going on in your gut can directly affect your brain. So, it’s this feed forward.

It’s another cycle. It’s another system of when you know you’re super stressed, that can affect your stomach acid can affect your digestion, it can affect the composition of your microbiome that can in turn feedback the by the vagus nerve, back to your brain and if your microbiome is disrupted, we now know if your research that that can contribute to anxiety, to depression, to Alzheimer’s, to A D H D, to O C D, to all these things.

So yeah, it’s complicated as sort of an understatement, but yeah, stress is kind of at the root of so many things. Fertility issues, of course. You know, we don’t often think about that as, as a cause for when women have trouble getting pregnant and they don’t necessarily put two and two together, that if they have very stressful lives, that’s another protective mechanism of the body.

When you’re in fight or flight mode and you’re running away from a sabretooth tiger, your body is gonna say, now is not the time to get pregnant. Probably not a great idea. So, we have to convince the body that we have moved. From the sympathetic state into the parasympathetic state. So, the sympathetic state is that fight or flight overdrive, adrenaline, all of that.

And that’s great for short bursts, but we don’t wanna live in that state. And when you live in that state, we get all of these health issues. And when you, when you move into the rest and digest the parasympathetic state, it sends the message to your body that, oh, it’s okay to eat. It’s okay to digest. It’s okay to make babies.

And all of these things, you know, so things like, you know, your hormones, your sex drive, we all know about muscle tension in states of stress. I mean, your shoulders go up, you’ve got neck pain, back pain, all of it. So yeah, I can go on and on about all the physiologic effects of stress. But we’re gonna get to some more slides.

So, this is an interesting slide that I created that I think is, we’ve talked about some of the obvious sources of. Back a couple of slides ago, you know, like work and finances and family and this and that. And so, I think that these are some of the hidden sources of stress that we don’t think about. So, food, these are things that I’m super passionate about and that I work on with my clients.

So, food, I mean, this is an image that I took of the internet of like food, and it’s not really food. If you look at it more closely, I mean, this is all fake food, it’s all highly processed. It’s full of refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial flavors, preservatives, God knows what. So, when you put that in your body, your body is not designed necessarily to, to recognize and, and digest those things as safe.

They may show up as foreign invent. They’re not necessarily like the way your body would recognize a carrot or, you know, a piece of fish. And then of course, food allergies and, and sensitivities are a whole other source of stress on the body. Another area I put the, the factory and the cosmetics is, are, are toxins.

They can wreak havoc on your system in terms of an added source of stress, environmental toxins, you know, pollution, mold, things like that. I mean, Lead, things like that in your environment. And then we don’t often think about our personal care products, the things we put on our face, on our skin, on our hair, our makeup, our skin creams, all of these things.

It’s another, it’s another side hobby of mine that I’m super passionate about. Clean skincare and beauty. Because most of our products are full of toxins that can wreak havoc. They’re full of endocrine disruptors, perms balls, all of these. Chemicals, carcinogens that also send distress signals to our body.

And, and most women we use like, you know what? What is it? I think it’s 11 on average, 11 products a day totaling 168 chemicals. So that’s a lot. And I put Neurodiverse kiddos on there for all of us. And I love this kid in the middle. It’s not my kid, but it could be my kid, I just read an article recently about being the parent of a neurodiverse kiddo and how those stress levels really paralleled another set of parents, and those were parents with, with special needs, disabled children.

And we don’t often think of that, and we don’t, you know, we sort of think like, oh, you know, we’re so lucky and well, other people also. Oh, you’re so lucky. I know your kid’s so smart and it’s not, it must be so great. It must be so. Well, it’s not and being neurodiverse ourselves is another stressor, and having to constantly try to be normal or fit in in society, that can be stressful as well.

Okay, now we’re getting to the good parts. What can we do? How can we prevent stress? I lied a little bit earlier when I said we couldn’t. There are some things we can do. Prevent stress, manage stress, and build resilience. And I feel like when you have different tools in your toolkit, you can really become more stress proof.

And you know, I know it sounds impossible, that stress is always gonna be a significant part of our lives and it’s impossible to. To be resilient, but it is possible. So, I’ve redone this graphic and now I added these little busters here and there. So, the stressor itself, we don’t necessarily have a lot of control over that.

Sometimes things happen and they’re unpredictable. Sometimes stress can be predictable. , but I didn’t put a little buster there. But in these other situations, so when we’ve got the other factors that contribute to the cycle, lack of sleep, poor diet, not taking care of yourself. So there are ways to combat that, you know, rest, proper diet, setting boundaries, and then the lack of coping skills.

lack of resources and lack of support. So there are tools for our toolkit. There’s breathing exercises, meditation techniques. You can work with a coach, you can work with a therapist. If you have supportive friends and family and community, those can be the busters, the, the stick in, the spokes in the wheel that can help break the cycle.

Okay? So some prevention and, and, and techniques and taking care of the basics. Can really help you to avoid stress in the first place. I know that sounds crazy, but just getting sleep, adequate sleep and avoiding electronics, especially at night, who’s always on their phone, especially at bedtime, like, oh, I just gotta check one more thing.

Or like, oh, what was that? What did that person say on Facebook? Or you know, for me it’s like I gotta finish the New York Times spelling bee puzzle. Cause I’m obsessed with it. . Yeah, the blue light, of course, can disrupt your, your sleep cycle and your circadian rhythms, and it can send you signals that you’re supposed to be alert and awake, and that can raise your cortisol levels.

And cortisol and melatonin are in a, in a delicate opposite balance, so cortisol high. Melatonin depressed. When melatonin is high, cortisol is low. So at night your melatonin is supposed to go up, that’s your sleep hormone, and your cortisol is supposed to go down. That’s your stress hormone. But if you’re on your phone late at night getting stressed, your cortisol is gonna be unnaturally high and then your melatonin’s not gonna be able to come up, you’re not gonna be able to sleek.

So it’s a, it’s a another one of those feed forward things. And cortisol’s not all bad. We need it. You know, you hear about sort of adrenal fatigue, which is, I could give a whole other talk on that, and it’s a complicated issue, but when you don’t have enough cortisol, when your body has burned out from chronic stress and your cortisol levels are bottomed out, you’re not gonna be able to cope either or function.

You’re gonna be very exhausted, very depleted, not able to get up and get outta bed in the morning. And so we do need cortisol to some extent, but it has to be in the right place at the right time, in the right amount. Okay? Food makes sure that you’re putting healthy food in your body and avoiding. These are some of the, the real top stressors, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

If we know there are three things that are universal, I would say I usually add in gluten and dairy, but that’s not true for every. Some people can handle gluten just fine. Some people can handle dairy just fine. I don’t vilify those foods. You gotta trust your own body and figure out what works for you.

But definitely too much caffeine can mimic the symptoms of stress in your body. It can disrupt sleep. I mean, some people, even if they have a cup of coffee for myself, I know if it was I, if I had a cup of coffee after. You know, noon or after maybe two o’clock in the afternoon was like the absolute maximum.

When I see people drinking espresso after dinner, I’m like, you clearly have different phosphodiesterase system than I do because I cannot metabolize caffeine in that way. So again, trust your body. But I have found that switching over to matcha is just like, oh my God, it’s a game changer. It’s such a, a more smooth release of caffeine.

It’s got other. Antioxidants and mitigators of the ca. So you don’t get that spike in that crash of the like jittery, too much caffeine. Same with sugar. Sugar causes, spikes and troughs in our blood, in our blood sugar. You know, certainly refined very simple sugars cause these, you know, . Sugar highs, sugar crashes, and that causes stress on your body.

And then of course, exercise. We all know that exercise is wonderful. It’s good for our health in moderation. Of course. Too much exercise can also be stressful. People who become obsessive about it and they have to exercise for hours and hours, that can also drive your system into a high cortisol or a depleted cortisol state.

But exercise has these wonderful endorphins and it releases the tension sometimes from stress buildup. Okay, so managing some of the stress. I mean, these are just a couple of symbol tips and everyone probably has their own. I’d love if you guys have tips, you know, Keeping a list, just a simple checklist of things.

I’m like, where’s my, oh, I got this really cute thing. So cute. That’s stuff I need to do, . And it’s got all of these really cool lists and things, and they’re all sticky notes so you can stick ’em places. And there’s just like this short checklist. I’m a big list person. Pen and paper speaking up. This is a big one.

I think that especially as women, we often don’t make our voices heard. We don’t make our needs obvious to people, whether it’s at work or whether it’s partners. Sometimes we expect people to be mind readers and to just simply respond to what we need. Like it’s obvious. Like I had to specifically tell my husband this morning, I don’t have time to eat breakfast.

Can you please save me some bacon because I know he and my daughter are going to eat it all, and then I’m gonna be stressed and angry that they didn’t take my needs into consideration. So speak up and advocate for yourself and if a deadline on a project is too. Soon, you know, you have to say something rather than say, oh yeah, sure, I’ll do it.

And then not be able to complete it or complete it. But drive yourself crazy and say, you know, actually I, I will get that done. I just wanted to make sure that I do an outstanding job so I can have it to you instead of Friday. I’ll have it to you by Monday or Tuesday. Cause don’t work all weekend. And then of course, self-care, finding something that helps you.

Relax. I’m gonna talk about self-care a little bit cause I think self-care is kind of a dirty word these days. It’s trendy, it gets a bad rap, and it can be really simple. And what self-care means for the individual. It, it’s different for everyone. It looks different for everyone. Could be just singing in the shower, you know, and then building resilience.

And this is part of building your stress toolkit. So my favorite tools are breathing exercises. And I have a couple that I love to teach my clients and that I work with them. And there’s, the box breathing is tremendous. Anyone who practices yoga or anyone who’s a singer and I do both is gonna have familiarity with breathing techniques and that.

Belly breathing rather than the shallow up here. Breathing is really gonna help. And when you, when you do deep breathing, and especially when you focus on the exhale, and even on some mild breath holding, that is a stimulus. The excess carbon dioxide, when you hold your breath, it sounds crazy, but it’s a stimulus for the parasympathetic nervous system to get your lungs to expand and to take deeper.

So meditation and mindfulness. I am a huge proponent of meditation and mindfulness, and they’re not quite the same thing. Mindfulness is more the concept of being attuned to the present moment and being aware of your surroundings, and meditation is a tool to get there. Now, I am famous for saying in the past, I’m too stressed to meditate.

I can’t meditate, I’m too. . It’s ridiculous. I hate meditation and that’s literally was my excuse. And I think if that’s your take on meditation, you need meditation, . So I started meditating, gosh, I don’t know how many years ago, and it’s been years now, and I meditate every day, at least every night. often in the morning as well, and it can be two or three minutes.

I started with two or three minutes a day. Doesn’t have to be one of those things where you sit on a hard surface for 30 minutes going home, and that’s not what meditation is. It can be really simple and I help my clients incorporate meditation practice into their lives if that’s something they wanna try.

And then of course, you know, seeking help. There’s no shame. in seeking help. I think it’s actually a sign of strength and as a recognition that, you know what? I need to address this and I need some help from an expert, so a therapist, a coach, being part of a supportive community. I think those things are all instrumental.

Okay. So I promise we would talk about self-care a little bit and on the knot list. I mean that could be a little bit, I mean, yeah, so it’s, people often think that self-care means you gotta spend a lot of money. You gotta go to a spa, you gotta get your hair done, get your nails done. You gotta, you know, exercise like a maniac.

Oh, Facebook is my relaxation, so I’m gonna scroll on Facebook. I’m eating a sheet cake. I had a picture of Tina Fey eating a sheet cake on Saturday Live. I don’t know if I, I think I took it out of this presentation cause I do make slides, but it’s really not that, and I think it does get a bad rap.

These days that self-care is just this buzzword amongst influencers and people who are, you know, the beautiful people who spend a lot of money on themselves. And that’s not what self-care is. It’s about prioritizing your own health and wellness, whatever that means for you. It’s about setting boundaries.

It’s about learning to say no. I used to say yes to everything. Anytime someone wanted something from me, whether it was a free. Free content or a meeting about. I don’t know what I’ve just learned to say. No, no, thank you. I am not able to accommodate that right now. There’s some great scripts and tips for how to say no.

Making time for yourself. I mean, I’m trying to practice what I preach. I’m taking two days away from my kiddo, which is the first two days I’ve had it off, like I said, since early 2020. I need to do it more obviously, the. Was a bit of a wrench in those works. Spending time with friends, again, really difficult right now, but hopefully we’re coming back into that.

Figuring out what it is that makes you recharged and then practicing that, that’s a form of self-care. And if that means. , you know, reading a book then great. If it means watching a bit of Netflix, that’s okay too. And finding a hobby or a passion, some Vitamin J, you know, joy that can really. Recharge you and be a form of self-care as well.

And for me, I used to be a professional opera singer and I still sing with the Portland Symphony. And of course that’s all been off for the last year and a half. So we’re hoping to get back to singing Zoom. Okay, this is a really cool graphic taken from an article about seven types of rest. That we need.

And oftentimes if we think, okay, I need to take a break, need to rest, it’s like, go lie down. But there are other forms of rest. There’s physical, like we just talked about. There’s mental, sometimes you need a mental break if you’ve been working on something for hours. Social rest, especially for folks who are introverted, I don’t know what that’s like, but for some people being around people, you need a break from that.

My husband’s like that sensory. , I do know what that’s like. And sometimes you just need to get away from too many sensory inputs. Emotional rest. Yeah. I think we all need a bit of that right now. Spiritual rest, getting back in touch with your spirituality, whatever that is, whatever that looks like for you.

That doesn’t have to mean going to a church or a temple. It can mean for me, it means usually going out in nature and that is really restorative and then creative. rest. Sometimes you need to take a break and rest, but you need to also create, or sometimes if you’re a very creative person and your work involves creating, sometimes you need to take a pause from that as well, cuz it can be very intense.

Always creating. Okay. Whew, . So that was a lot. That was a lot. Now we’re gonna do a little bit of fun stuff. We’ve got a little bit of time, so I’m gonna show you guys a breathing exercise. So the breathing, my favorite breathing exercise, it’s not for everyone, but I love it. It is called the 4 7, 8 breath, and it was sort of championed and pioneered by Dr.

Andrew, we, who’s an integrative and holistic medicine doctor university of Arizona. He’s pretty famous. He’s this big guy with a big beard and he’s wonderful. So the 4 7, 8 breath is just a series. And a pattern of breathing where you breathe in through your nose for a count of four. So

then you hold your breath for a count of seven, then you breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight. So let’s try that together. Okay. So I’ll, I’ll talk you guys through it. So we’re gonna breathe in for a count of four through the.

Then we’re gonna hold for a count of seven,

then we’re gonna breathe out for a count of eight.

How did that feel? That’s just one cycle to complete. A full cycle. You’re supposed to do that four times and then do that a couple of times. At first he says, you know, you can get a little dizzy from it, so do it. Only do it a couple of times. Now, I often do this before going to sleep. I’ll do it before going to sleep and it helps me fall asleep and I’ll do it maybe, you know, five or six times in a row.

Wanna try it one more time? I’ll just do the, I’ll do the numbers this time. You can close your eyes or you can just, you know, breathe in through your nose to account four. Breathe, 2, 3, 4, hold, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Out, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. I know some people have trouble with the holding part and with the breathing out.

that it feels too long. So it is a skill. It is something that you can work up to and become more proficient and, and it has to do with how deeply and slowly you take the in breath, and usually that’s breathing from the diaphragm and expanding your ribcage from below if that exercise doesn’t work for you and it doesn’t work for everyone.

I love it. There’s another alternative, which is called box breath. It’s called box breathing because the breath is kind of in the shape of a box. So you’re gonna breathe in for four. Hold for four, breathe out for four, hold for four. So that’s a little box, so wanna try that one. Okay. In for four.

Hold for four out for four.

Hold for four and repeat in for four. Hold for four out for four.

Hold for four. You wanna do this at a pace that’s comfortable. You don’t wanna do it fast, obviously, cuz that kind of defeats the purpose. You don’t wanna do it too slow so that you feel like you’re struggling for air. But yeah. How did that feel for folks? Did it feel relaxing? Did it feel like after a couple deep breaths,

even just that clearing. Breathe everything out can really kind of shake out the stress. Cobwebs. Okay, we’re nearing the end folks. I know this was a lot of fun. I would love to share my stress toolkit with you guys. It’s just an amazing, cute little booklet that’s got all of these tips and tricks and a lot of the stuff that we talked about today and that you can get that on my website.

I’ll share the link with Aurora in the group and then this is the way to get in touch with me. You can check out my website. You can email me. Health Coach at Wild Lilac Wellness, that’s supposed to be.com somehow that fell off. And so my social media is at Wild Lilac Wellness everywhere. So on Instagram, on Facebook, I also have a woman’s group on Facebook called Clean Living with Wild Lilac Wellness.

And we talk about all this stuff. Talk about stress management, parenting recipes, lots of clean skincare and beauty, and lots of health and wellness. You’re all welcome to join there as well. It’s free.

Aurora: Awesome. So I love when you were talking about self-care being, you know, involving saying no and finding those things that recharge and energize you and joy.

That goes right along with stress balance or the stress and energy balance workbook and chapter that I have in my Ignite Your Power thing. But the, it’s funny because the five areas of stress and energy balance overlap with those seven areas of rest. Some of them are combined, but that’s, I thought that was pretty.

But one of the things that I realized, it was from a book called Breaking Free from Persistent Fatigue, that I TA talks about that, and also a book called Self Reg overlaps those areas. But what I realized, I love the book.

Yeah. But what I realized is that, is that because for me, that those health tips of like, you know, eating better, exercising, sleeping better, I mean, we all know, right?

We all know that those things are issues. But as you mentioned in the beginning, ha, the stress and health issue. negatively impact our executive functioning. And so I would kind of beat myself up for not doing that. And I realized after a while that if I really looked at adding more energizing things and trying to reduce the draining things first, then I had more energy to do those healthy habits.

And so I reframing that instead of looking at what I should do, which. Draining looking what at what was, you know, energizing and nourishing was really helpful, but I was wondering if you had any more tips for those folks, those of us who have significant executive functioning impairments in making those health habits that we know we should be doing easier.

Zarya: Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. Yeah. I have a lot of executive dysfunction as well, and you know, Anxiety and P T S D and it makes it really hard to do things sometimes. And I think that what I teach with my clients, so I mean, of course work with a coach, that’s one way to help obviously, cuz sometimes we need that extra help, but people can do it on their own and, and, and like you said, it’s like we all know what we’re supposed to do.

It’s a question of how do you do? , how do you implement it? How do you make it a priority? How do you make it a habit? So I love the, the concept. So I, I read the book Atomic Habits quite recently, and I, I was very reassured and loved the fact that it was what I was teaching anyway to my clients. I was like, oh, great, there’s research that fax this all up and this is, this is awesome.

A lot of it is about scaffolding and about the things that we’re already doing. So if you can link a habit to an existing habit, , that’s gold, that’s money. And, and then that can become just part of your daily routine. And initially it may be a little challenging, but you know, I, I really was really bad at flossing my teeth.

I’m gonna be honest. Like I’m not, I was not good at it. I hated it and I didn’t like it. And then I was like, God, I know I should be doing this. Like right, it’s healthy. I need to do it for my teeth, wasn’t doing it. And then I had all of this jaw dysfunction and needed a mouth guard. For my tmj, so I noticed that I had to soak the frigging mouth guard in hot water for a while at bedtime after I was brushing my teeth, I was like, okay, I gotta soak this thing, soak this thing.

What am I doing while I soak this thing? I don’t know nothing. Oh, I know. Floss my teeth. So now I never don’t floss my teeth because it’s just scaffolded to something that I need to do or that I’m already doing. And of course, you know, it, it’s, you gotta establish one of those habits first. But same with meditation.

Like it is just part of my routine of I go to bed. That is just, it’s, it’s ingrained. And so I think if we can scaffold habits to existing habits, that’s great. The food piece is, is. is a little different and it can be really challenging for folks to eat healthier, especially, you know, with everything going on now.

And, but I think folks are eating healthier cause they’re not eating out as much everyone’s cooking at home. But I tell folks, try to make it easier on yourself. If that means buying precut vegetables, buy precut vegetables. If it means getting a meal prep kit, service. Get a meal prep kit service and try that and don’t beat yourself up about that.

I’ve had clients that say like, oh, I know it’s like more expensive to buy precut things and da da da. I said, if that’s a difference between you going to McDonald’s versus you know, making soup. And buy the precut vegetables. It’s okay. You’re allowed. Allow yourself, I think we often don’t allow ourselves to make things easier.

We think we have to make things hard and we don’t.

Aurora: That’s very true. Well, thank you so much.

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