From Dr. Frock’s Desk: Surviving the Holidays

In our new series, From Dr. Frock’s Desk, we sit down with Dr. Frock to gain a psychiatrist’s perspective, anecdotes, and tools on a variety of topics. This month, we are talking about surviving the holidays: how to navigate the stress that the holidays can bring.

 


What kind of things seem to cause stress around the holidays?

To start, traveling is hard. If you’re part of a big family, you might find yourself spending a lot of time in a confined space with people you don’t have the best relationships with. The obligation to attend large family reunions or gatherings with people you don’t stay in close contact with, and whose values may differ from yours, can bring a lot of dynamics into play and bring up emotional triggers for everyone involved.

In addition, the holidays are a time that most of us associate with family, so it becomes hard not to think about those who aren’t with us anymore. This can raise a lot of grieving emotions on top of what has already been mentioned. 

 

Over the holidays, it seems that feelings can be magnified for those who are having a hard time.

Absolutely. Think about the habits that make up your baseline that are being disrupted; from traveling, to changes in your sleep patterns, to eating and drinking differently, to not exercising as much as usual. 

In addition to the grief aspect I’ve already mentioned, I also find that folks tend to get a lot of anticipatory anxiety as the holidays approach. We can’t help but think about disagreements that emerged in the past and the likelihood they could happen again. 

 

Do you have some tips to help cope with all of that during the holidays?

Setting clear boundaries for family gatherings can be a great way to minimize conflict and emotional triggers. Like no politics, religion or money, and being clear about conversations or activities you’re not willing to engage in. We can also set boundaries for ourselves – consciously remembering that we can choose what to get upset about. You know Uncle John is going to say some crazy stuff, but you can choose whether you want to light that fire with him or not.

Also find ways to anchor yourself by taking care of your baseline self-care. If you’re a runner, bring some cold gear with you and make that run happen. 

 

Can you tell us about S.A.D., what it stands for, what to look out for, and any strategies to help cope with it?

S.A.D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. “Seasonal” is what it sounds like. “Affective” is just a more academic way of speaking about someone’s mood. And then “disorder” implies that it’s a diagnosable condition. 

We go from summer where the light is bright, we’re outside doing active things, to fall where it starts getting cold out, the sun is setting earlier, and you’re getting legitimately less sunlight in the fall and winter months. So it starts in September and builds for a few months, and can become something like an actual condition with symptoms including: like feeling less motivated, changes in appetite (often eating more), being less active and feeling sluggish, and not enjoying things that we used to. 

Nashville is very unique in that it’s the furthest east major metropolitan area in the Central Time zone, so we can really be affected by S.A.D. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that we should be in the Eastern Time zone. In the winter, the sun starts setting before 4pm, which leaves most office workers not getting enough sunlight and it can cause a vitamin D deficiency. This is actually much more significant in Nashville than in other places I’ve worked.

Fortunately, it’s very treatable. There are some medication options, folks can also find some benefit with Vitamin D supplementation, and using a light box from mid-September through February can be helpful for many people. Using the light box can trick out brains into thinking we are actually getting more sunlight than there is outside.  

 

Key takeaways for surviving the holidays with minimal stress:

  • Try to keep to your routine as much as possible. 
  • Set clear boundaries with yourself and others.
  • Get outside in the sun as much as possible.
  • Know that you’re not the only one struggling.
  • Give yourself some grace.

 


Download our FREE Guide to Surviving the Holidays

What is Blocking Your Intuition?

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

Albert Einstein

 

The quote above may make you think that scholars like Einstein are trying to speak poorly of reason, but the truth is quotes like this are meant to remind us how much we as a society rely on thoughts over anything else. The rational mind is not meant to be done away with or ignored…it helps us with a lot of things. The rational mind is here to protect you and keep you safe. The problem is, we as a culture have relied so heavily on reason and have put so much influence on people outside of ourselves that it is hard to hear our own calling, our own intuition.

 

Listening to your intuition is not always an easy or smooth path. It also won’t be perfect. Oftentimes our intuition will want us to take the road less traveled or ask us to go against the grain. A lot of fear can come up while working with your intuition. Through my experience with myself and working with clients I have come up with a list of common blocks to intuition and ways to nurture your intuition. 

 

What is blocking your intuition:

 

As mentioned above, we are taught to value fact and reason so much in our society that anything within the unknown is automatically labeled as fiction. If you have spent your life criticizing yourself or wanting to have all the right answers, working with your intuition can bring up a lot of self-criticism. 

 

Fear of Being Wrong and Perfectionism

Perfectionism is one of the first blocks I see when trying to access intuition. If you have spent a lot of your life wanting to be the best at what you do (haven’t we all been there?) or have all the right answers, starting to trust your own inner knowing and body can bring up a lot. Practices that help release perfectionism like taking moments to just be messy, therapy, and saying affirming words to yourself are some ways to combat this. If you need an extra push to continue to start the process of learning to understand your own intuition, remember that the process will help you release perfectionism. Because your intuition, just like everything else will never be perfect and learning to become okay with that will help bring you peace. 

 

Forcing an answer

Your intuition doesn’t work in right or wrongs or yes’s and no’s. Your intuition may speak to you as an inner knowing, colors, feelings, songs, etc. Your intuition is unique to you. Intuition is a subtle energy that takes some time to get to know. If you don’t feel a lot of self-trust or trust of your intuition don’t fret. It doesn’t mean you won’t get there. But just like any relationship you have to build it and tend to it before getting everything out of it. You wouldn’t make a new friend and demand that they tell you everything about themselves on the spot. You build a relationship, and over time you will begin to learn. 

 

Codependency

A major block to intuition is codependency. When you are in a codependent relationship/s we lose connection to our own feelings, desires, and self-trust because you put the other person’s wants and needs before your own. When working with intuition, it is important to start to take note of how often you put others’ needs before your own. Everytime you allow someone to dictate how you should feel or what you should do, you lose a little bit of self-trust and connection to your inner knowing. Books, like Codependent No More by Melody Beattie, are a great resource for codependency. Another resource could be seeking out help from a coach or therapist. 

 

Remember, everyone has the gift of intuition. There is not one person in this world that doesn’t have access to it. Everyone can hone in on their own inner knowing, it just takes a little practice and maybe some trial and error. Join me, Massey Armistead, and Kim Breese for Intuitive Integration, a two-part workshop on October 7 and October 21 to start the process of deepening your intuition! 

 

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Tune into Your Intuition

Instinct, a gut-feeling, spidey sense… whatever you call it, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of your inner wisdom communicating with you, but how do you tune into your intuition when you need it most?

 

By definition, ‘intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.’ Conscious reasoning is located in the mind, and while the mind is a very useful and necessary tool, it can often get in the way of our intuition. Intuition is one of those things that can be tricky to understand, and often gets pulled into the ‘woo’ category’, but there are practical ways to access it. 

 

The psychic clairsenses (you’re probably heard of clairvoyance) correspond with the 5 senses of sight, smell, taste, hear and touch. One of the simplest ways to access your intuition is through your senses. Paying close attention to the senses, can make you more present in your body as well as the present moment, which helps to support the opening of the sixth sense.

 

We all have a prominent clairsense that helps to guide our intuition. This clairsense is the cornerstone of our inner wisdom and directs our wants and needs. It also provides insights into our outer world and can be a foundation for how we move through life. The more we understand it, the more we can practice getting in touch with it, the more we can use it to feel grounded and confident in our daily lives. 

 

Let’s take a closer look at the clairsenses:

 

Clairvoyance means clear seeing. Images or visions from past, present or future come into the mind’s eye much like a daydream. This could be eating an ice cream cone or building a campfire or making a spaghetti dinner. It often shows up as a metaphor and has relatable meaning for the individual.

 

Clairaudience means clear hearing. Words, sounds, or music enter the mind’s eye when it is inaudible. It can often show up as a voice singing a song or sharing a meaningful phrase, sometimes just a word or number. The tone of the message will be even and calm.

 

Clairsentience means clear feeling. Feeling another’s emotions or physical sensations within your body. This could be in the form of a gut instinct or sensing the energy in a room before entering. It can also show up as a physical ailment like an ache in the knee or tight throat. 

 

Clairalience means clear smelling. Smelling odors that don’t have a physical source. Smelling a rose when there isn’t a rose in the room or coffee brewing that brings up a childhood memory or fresh cut grass in the middle of winter. 

 

Clairgustance means clear tasting. Sensations in the mouth of tasting something that is not there. This could be a taste of chocolate or lemonade that stimulates the taste buds. Sometimes it can be metallic.

 

Claircognizance means clear knowing. Knowledge of people, places or events that you would not otherwise have any insight about. It is an immediate download of knowing something without any conscious reasoning. It could be knowing your friend’s grandmother died before being told or knowing the flight is going to be canceled then get a text telling you so or thinking of a friend and they call you the next day. 

 

We all have intuition. We all have the ability to access it. We all have the ability to trust it.

 


 

Developing our intuition is very much like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to build strength.

Join us for Intuitive Integration, a fun and enlightening two-part workshop on October 7th and 21st. We’ll be doing a deep dive into intuition with not one, but TWO experts in the field, Kim Breese and Massey Armistead

This intimate two-part workshop includes an exercise to discover which is your strongest clair sense, practical tools for strengthening and trusting your intuition, meditation, energy work, and oracle readings. Open your heart and mind while learning practical ways to connect more deeply with your inner wisdom.

 

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My Body Has Cancer

The first week of May of this year I woke up from a deep sleep and felt a tingle in my right breast. My hand instinctively moved to where I felt a twinge and there was a small lump. And something in me knew my life was about to change.

 

I called my primary care doctor that day and had an appointment set up for the following week. She could visibly see the lump when she did my breast exam. It moved easily to her touch and didn’t hurt. It is hard to dissect what it could be through touch, so she referred me to get a mammogram. I didn’t allow myself to go too far down the Google rabbit hole in this case. The little research I did, and based on the nature of the lump, made me think it might be a cyst. 

 

Two weeks later, I was in the office for a mammogram and ultrasound. After both tests were performed, I was informed the radiologist wanted to speak to me directly. As I sat on the exam table, feeling a little sore and exposed, the radiologist quickly explained that the results were inconclusive. He used a lot of technical words I did not understand. From what I did, I needed to get a biopsy for further conclusion. I felt very small on that table as he stood over me delivering this news. The only thing I could think to ask was if it was a cyst. He definitively said no. The lump needed further examination.

 

It took about a month to get my biopsy scheduled and during that time I didn’t allow my mind to wander too much. I only told a few people as I didn’t want to cause any concern for something that was unknown. The doctor biopsied the lump and the lymph nodes under my armpit while he regaled me with stories of his trip to Scotland during our hour of time together.  The nurse had given me a washcloth to clean my breast before the doctor went to work, and it became a stress-ball I squeezed in my left hand to calm my nerves. I didn’t feel any physical pain due to whatever numbing drug he injected into my body, taking deep breaths to hold back the tears while he worked.

 

I had recently had a mammogram in December of 2021 and there was no indication of a malignancy. I have extremely dense breast tissue, which is common amongst women with less body fat, and lowers the sensitivity of a mammogram. But, the report gave no cause for concern. I am 42 years old and lead a healthy lifestyle that the idea of breast cancer wasn’t even on my radar

 

One week later, I received word from my primary care doctor that the biopsy results from the lump had come back positive of a malignancy, which in layman’s terms is cancer. The lymph nodes were negative, which means the cancer had not spread beyond that lump so in a sense I had caught it fairly early. She did not know the stage or have much more information for me other than they would follow up with me the next day with a referral for an oncologist. 

 

I was at The Happy Hour when I got the news and Clara, the owner and founder, was waiting for me downstairs. As soon as she saw my face, she ran over and embraced me. I broke down and sobbed in her arms. When I pulled away from her to take my first deep breath of the day, there was this inner knowing that this is how it is supposed to be. All of this is happening for me and not to me. 

 

I have since learned that my breast cancer is stage 2, triple negative, which due to its nature, requires a pretty aggressive form of treatment. I will start 6 months of chemo this week, followed by breast surgery to remove the lump and then radiation. In total, I am in for about 9 months of treatment. 

 

Writing has always been a therapeutic tool for me and I feel it will be part of this journey.  Something in my heart tells me I need to share the most vulnerable parts of this experience. I am not sure what that altogether looks like and will figure it out as I go. So much of the work I love to do is teaching and helping others to get in touch with their most vulnerable selves. For in that vulnerability, the most healing can happen. 

 

Well shit…now the teacher becomes the student. 

 


Learn more about our inspirational energy practitioner, Kim Breese

Kim will continue to take appointments, as the nature of her work is healing for her as much as it is for you. Plus, it equips her with a grounding routine and a place to get outside of her head. She is still figuring out her schedule and it may need to change. Please be understanding and flexible if your appointment needs to be rescheduled on short notice- you will not be penalized. 

This blog was republished with permission from Kim’s personal blog, where you can follow her journey.

The Link Between Diet and Mental Health

What we eat doesn’t just impact our physical health, it can also impact our mental health and overall wellbeing. Think about our body as a working machine – all parts are related! The fuel for this machine, or our body, comes from the foods that we eat and what’s IN the fuel, ie the quality, can make all the difference. Read on to learn how food impacts our mental health and mood.

 

How are diet and mental health linked

While the relationship between diet and mental health is complex, it’s well known, (and studies have shown,) that they are closely connected. The connection between diet and mental health stems from the link between our gut and brain. This link is called the gut-brain axis. Don’t worry, we won’t go too sciencey about this, but we’ll give you the gist!

 

Your gut is filled with billions of bacteria that impact the production of chemical substances that are constantly carrying messages back and forth from the gut to the brain. Having a healthy and nourishing diet promotes the production of “good” bacteria. This good bacteria has a positive influence on these chemicals. A poor-quality diet can increase inflammation which hinders production of the good chemicals.

 

Think about it this way: a good-quality diet equals good communication within your brain and therefore your emotions can articulate it. When the communication goes awry, emotions and mood can be negatively impacted. It all comes down to the communication. 

 

So how does this affect mental health?

When we eat a poor-quality diet, such as a diet filled with empty-calorie foods, high-sugar desserts, and lots of refined carbs, we’re more likely to have greater mood fluctuations. This can increase our likelihood of developing or increase our periods of depression and anxiety. Eating these foods has also been shown to lead to a poor outlook and increased negative thoughts.

 

The quality of the food that we eat also impacts our concentration and productivity. Both of these can have a long-term effect on our mental health.

 

So, what should you be eating?

We’ve mentioned that foods that are filled with empty calories and high in sugar and refined carbohydrates should be limited, but what about foods that we can eat MORE of? 

 

Whole Foods

Whole foods, or those free from preservatives, additivities, and are minimally processed can help to promote the production of good bacteria in our gut. Look for foods that have fewer ingredients or come in a “raw” form such as fruits and vegetables.

 

Antioxidants

Antioxidant-containing foods, such as berries and leafy greens, fight inflammation in our body. 

 

Complex Carbs

Complex carbs are those that take longer to digest than the simple form, and therefore sustain our energy longer. Complex carbs include whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. Complex carbs also contain fiber, which has been shown to promote the production of good bacteria in our gut.

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps with the production of one of the chemical substances, serotonin, that assists with sleep and mood. While we usually think of vitamin D as coming from the sun, we can also get it from dairy sources, we can consume vitamin D in tuna, fortified juices, and mushrooms.

 

Next steps

Although it’s still important to think of the way that food makes us feel physically, don’t forget how it also makes us feel mentally and emotionally! Try incorporating more of the foods mentioned above while consuming foods with poor nutritional quality in moderation. Healthy eating is just one component of your mental health that is in your control.

 

The content of this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for a therapeutic relationship.

 


Do You Want to Fuel Your Mind and Body?

 

The Whole You 90-day holistic coaching program takes a multi-faceted approach to wellness, with the help of professionals that will give you the guidance to kick start a change in your life, equip you with knowledge and know-how, and encourage you to stay consistent.

 

EACH MONTH YOU GET:
  • Two (2) 50-minute sessions with your Certified Holistic Life Coach
  • One (1) 50-minute Nutrition Coaching Session
  • One (1) 50-minute Energy Work session
  • A personalized program and game plan, made just for you.
  • Check-ins and journaling prompts 5 days a week via our virtual platform.
  • Curated content from our extensive resource library. We do the research for you and send the best nuggets of insight to you weekly, to streamline your growth.

 

LEARN MORE + SAVE YOUR SPOT HERE

The Importance of Holistic Wellness

Have you ever started on a journey to improve one aspect of your life and found yourself losing steam  and eventually giving up? You may have beat yourself for not being more disciplined, for not having enough willpower, and not having what it takes to achieve your goals, but what if we told you it’s not your lack of willpower holding you back?

 

Often what we see as forward movement  in others, is actually (whether by design or intuition) the result of approaching wellness holistically. Frequently, the most profound growth comes down to considering what you need for your mind, body, and soul to thrive in harmony.

 

This isn’t some new-age woo-woo. This is cold, hard science.

 

Take your emotions for example. Stanford Neuroscientist, Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. explains

“The vagus nerve is responsible for emotion, and the way it does that is to pool – to aggregate – the conditions of your gut, the conditions of your heart, and the conditions of your breathing, which includes your diaphragm and lungs, and takes that kind of as a collection of information and sends it to the brain, and controls what we call your emotions.”

 

Now you might be thinking, “If that’s true, why do I still feel anxious when my gut health is so good it would make the supplement gal at Whole Foods jealous?” 

 

That’s because your emotions are controlled by your body, but they are also influenced by cognitive events like processing stressful news, being hurt by someone you care about, or hearing great news that gets you excited. Dr. Huberman explains that your brain doesn’t act on information alone, so it combines the external factors with your body’s response to those factors, which in turn creates your moods.

 

Let us break that down:

INCOMING INFORMATION + EXTERNAL FACTORS + BODY’S RESPONSE = MOOD

 

So what does this have to do with your personal growth? Everything.

 

Knowing how your mind, body and soul are connected allows you to approach your wellness journey holistically. Having simultaneous support for your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual/social health allows you to work towards your goals in a way that has built-in safety nets. Supporting yourself in this inclusive way helps minimize setbacks when life throws you curveballs.

 

You could be working hard on your mental health with your trusted therapist or coach, but find yourself not progressing how you’d like. You might be feeling held back by brain fog and energy levels so low that you simply can’t motivate yourself to take action. This is where working with a dietitian or health coach could be the key to unlocking the next level of your mental health journey. Optimizing your nutrition to make sure you’re getting a wide variety of brain-boosting and blood sugar balancing nutrients will make sure your body and mind are being fuelled in a way that supports your wellness journey.

 

Similarly, you could be carrying a lot of your emotions physically. Headaches, stiff muscles, and belly aches might be so frequent you’ve just chalked them up to simply “getting older”. PSA: Getting older doesn’t mean you have to feel like crap. Those aches and pains are your body’s way of letting you know something needs attention. One of the best ways to get unstuck emotionally is to move physically. Introducing a physical aspect to your stress reduction strategy, like walking, yoga, or massage can help shift the tension out of your body. Working with a coach can help you examine your routines in a way that doesn’t add another thing to your to-do list, but finds natural opportunities to integrate movement into your day.  A practice like energy work combines physical relaxation with introspection and mindfulness in a way that can really take your holistic wellness to the next level.

 

If you’re working on your physical wellness with a goal to have peak energy and feel strong and confident in your skin, excessive calorie restriction and endless hours on the treadmill are unlikely going to help you see the progress you’re after. If you’ve been down this road before, you’re likely familiar with the burnout and misery that accompany this approach. A life coach can help you identify what is holding you back from reaching your goals. They might work with you on boundaries and stress reduction. Introducing a mindfulness practice and more active rest might seem counter-intuitive, but they might be the missing piece in your overall wellness puzzle.

 

It’s starting to make sense, isn’t it? How wonderfully, intricately connected we are. How we can’t thrive in one aspect of our lives, while neglecting others… not for long, at least. 

 

At the end of the day, that future version of yourself you’re working towards is not going to be found through immense willpower and relentless grind. It’s going to be achieved by supporting your mind, body, and spirit so that they can work together to help you achieve your goals in a way that doesn’t require willpower. It’s going to be achieved by finding a state of flow, balance, and intention. A place where you feel grounded in yourself and where your potential is limitless.

 


Do you want to Transform Your Life using a holistic approach?

 

Consider this: feeling grounded, confident and unshakeable by building a lifestyle that uniquely supports your total health. Encompassing the four areas of health: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual, the Whole You program will lead you through a 90-day lifestyle evolution.

 

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The Beauty of Mindful Moments

Your alarm sounds and autopilot kicks in. You get out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, jump in the shower, get dressed, grab a bite to eat as you hurry to start your work day. You get into a flow, working through your endless to-do list, relying on coffee to keep your battery charged. Doing everything you can to feel good about being devoted to “the job”. At the end of the day, when it’s time to check out, you feel too mentally exhausted to do anything that fills you up before you fall asleep and do it all over again tomorrow.

 

Let’s take a second to think about this. Our current state of navigating constant change and uncertainty has left us feeling consumed and stressed by expectations we’re supposed to live up to. Simply making it through the day feels like an achievement in itself.

 

Do you experience this kind of reality? How do you shift to bringing life and purpose back into your days? By giving attention to self. Mindful moments allow us to channel productivity and progress in the direction of wellbeing, by focusing on small, present moments of time, versus adding another thing to your to-do list.

 

Ask yourself this question, what do I want to experience today? If your answer is calm, peace, quiet, and de-escalation, then these precious moments called mindfulness are for you. Now ask yourself, am I open to something new, different and enlightening? If your answer is yes, then light up your day today with a little something for yourself that will only cost you moments. Here’s how we do it.

 

Take some time to think about what you truly enjoy, you can make a list or just apply thought. (examples:  sunshine, music, favorite colors, scents, sports)

 

Reflect on what your day-to-day is like, and come up with the best time or way to have your mindful moments. (examples:  mornings before starting your day, before bed, during a lunch break).

 

Then begin. At your desired time, intentionally bring into thought that which you enjoy.  Allow yourself to be in a comfortable or stable position whether standing or sitting.  Visualize this or physically look at it, touch, taste or smell, depending on what it is.  Allow yourself to dwell upon it, notice its nuance with direct attention. Does it shine, is it soft, is it cold or warm? 

 

As you engage that favorite color, melody of sound, calming scent, allow yourself to breathe, noticing the inhale and exhale while engaging something that brings subtle joy and feels good. Just for a moment, allow the presence of subtle joy and breath.

 

The more we do this, the better we get at receiving calm. Quieting the constant chatter of our thoughts and dimming the escalation of the hustle and bustle of our environments. Instead of rushing back to your to-do list, take a pause to experience calm and quiet. Finding the joy in present moments, appreciating the little things.

 

Give yourself this stop, this pause, as often as you can throughout the day and allow it to grow into your personal feel good moments.

 


Need Help Developing Your Mindfulness Practice?

Join us for Meditation Off The Mat, where you’ll learn to bring meditative moments into your day-to-day, no mat, fancy poses, or app required!

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Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Five

That’s a wrap! What an amazing month it has been! Our guests have blown us away with their insights, honesty, education, and openness, and the last week was no exception.

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Grace Goodwin Dwyer

Grace is a registered dietitian and lactation expert here in Nashville. She helps women to prioritize when it comes to nutrition.

On Intuitive Eating

She gave us some wonderful advice on how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine. Intuitive eating is based on the idea of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Simple right? But in today’s culture of a million diets, intuitive eating promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image. She gave us some wonderful advice on satiety and how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine.When it came to wanting sweets after a meal, Grace had three suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself if you are still actually hungry and you need more of the meal that you just ate (remember eating slowly and with intention will help you decide this!)
  2. If the answer is no and you are satisfied, but still can’t get rid of that sweet tooth, then Grace suggests satisfying that craving in a manageable amount so that later on you don’t over do it because you denied yourself for so long.
  3. Move on sans guilt! (We love this)

On Mental Wellness

As with many of our other takeover guests have recommended, Grace recommended getting recommended getting that a daily dose of fresh air and moving your body in some way as a simple way to manage stress and boost your mental wellness each day..is important for mental wellness.

On What to Eat

Finally, Grace gave us some killer ideas for wholesome meals. Her key: eat food that makes your body and mind feel good. Here is one of our favorites, simply pick an item from each of the 3 categories and you have an easy, balanced and satisfying snack:

Category 1

  • dried apricots or figs
  • cherries, berries
  • sliced apples, pears, peaches, melon
  • cucumbers, broccoli, celery, pickles

Category 2

  • toasted bread
  • pita chips
  • seed crackers
  • tortilla chips
  • flatbread crisps

Category 3

  • nut butter
  • guacamole
  • yogurt dip
  • edamame
  • sliced meat (deli or leftover)
  • tofu cubes
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • spreads (pesto, tapenade, hummus, babaganoush)

For more, visit Grace’s website.

 

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Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell is the owner and manager of Bend and Zen Hot Yoga Nashville. She shares why yoga has been so pivotal to helping her maintain mental wellness.

On the Ripple Effect of Yoga

Originally, Amanda was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits, but as her practice continued to develop, she began to notice a ripple effect. She started to gain mental endurance, learning non-reactiveness and resiliency, and taking those lessons and applying them “off the mat”. She learned how to use breathing techniques as a source to calm and realign herself with the present moment. And most importantly, she learned how to connect with her emotions.

On Movement and Emotions

Yoga has given her a safe space for her to experience and show her emotions. As a business owner, she had often felt that she needed to keep her emotions under lock and key. She has found that during her yoga practice, she is able to tap into emotions that she has been storing her body.. Sheshared these insights for deeper emotional connection:

  • By moving your body you are changing hormone levels. This endorphin release can help to bring about an improvement in mood.
  • One does not always need to maintain a  tough and strong persona. Allow yourself to show a softer and more vulnerable side in order to create depth in your emotional range. Doing this in a safe space is a great place to start.

On Where to Begin with Yoga

  • Studio hop! Explore each of the studios in town to find a place that feels like home.
  • Give yourself permission to let go of something that isn’t serving you, knowing that you can show up however you need to the class.
  • Show yourself some love and grace when starting your yoga practice.

On Meditation

  • Meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way – all you need is a quiet space.
  • Taking a moment to breathe can help you move forward from a place of anxiety.
  • It is not about not thinking, but controlling what you are thinking about, choose one single touchstone as your focal point.

Decide what takes real-estate in your head.

For more, visit Amanda at Bend and Zen.

 

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Ali Schaffer

Ali Schaffer is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in reframing and helping clients find a new perspective. Reframing is not about simply putting a positive spin on situations, because we’d miss the lessons from big emotions and difficult conversations by doing that. Reframing is about creating a new view or experience of something so that we can arrive at new solutions that we might not have seen before. Remember, some situations don’t end in a solution, but a new ability to exist in an elevated level of understanding.

On Big Emotions

Ali reminded us that big or heavy emotions have value. The ability to experience these emotions improves the depth and the richness of our human experience. In fact, trying to avoid, run away, or diminish heavy emotions could be taking more of a toll on us than we realize.

On Comparative Suffering

Comparative suffering can be explained as “This isn’t as bad as someone else’s situation, so I am not justified to feel this way”. When we experience emotions through comparative suffering we:

  • Set ourselves up to discount or diminish what we are experiencing, creating an unhealthy view of the emotion or experience.
  • Put a value or judgement on the emotion.
  • Set ourselves up in a place where we can’t move forward.

Instead, Ali suggests taking a “both/and” approach

  • Both aware of your own experience and acknowledge the experience of the other person/people.

On How to Approach Therapy

  • Think about what you are looking for? What is going on in your life, can you name it? If you don’t know the answers specifically– that is ok!
  • Schedule an intake phone call. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation with a therapist to see if they are the right fit for you.
  • Go to a session!
    • You don’t have to be an expert at “going to therapy”.
    • You can let the therapist know that you need help navigating the experience.
    • Virtual sessions are making going to sessions even easier.
    • Try out a few sessions, the first few might feel a little awkward, but you are learning about yourself and the process.
    • If it is not a good fit, most therapists will help you connect with someone who is a better fit for you.

For more, find Ali on Instagram.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Three

We’re more than halfway through Mental Health Month and our brilliant guests keep bringing the wisdom! Here’s the recap, you might want to get a pen and paper to take some notes. 😉

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Kenya Raymer

Kenya blew us away with her outlook on the connection between mental health and spirituality. Kenya is a spiritual guide with a masters in social work, a combination that allows her to deliver a unique service called Spiritual Therapeutic Sessions, which are spiritual readings that incorporate therapeutic theories. This interview was filled with so much wisdom and light, that we really don’t know if we’ll do it justice here. But, you can check the recording out for yourself here.

On Spirituality

The spiritual journey is two-fold. The first part requires you to connect with yourself and your gifts (btw “gifts” don’t have to be something supernatural. Think about what you’re good at and what comes naturally to you). This is where the deep dive into your self-awareness comes in, and this part of the journey brings you meaning. The second part of the journey is to connect with Spirit and use your gifts for the collective. This part of the journey brings you purpose.

The way Kenya defined spirituality had us levitating, it was so inspiring. She defines spirituality as “getting to know myself at the most authentic level, so that as my awareness of self deepens, my ability to experience the world expands.”

On Embracing Discomfort

As Kenya says, “you can’t Love + Light your way through healing or to wholeness. You MUST do shadow work/ego work/inner child work.” If you don’t get honest with yourself about what’s bugging you, you’ll always be out of alignment, regardless of what positive mantras you have. You must address the root of the problem and sit in the discomfort of those feelings before you can truly move through to be your highest version of yourself. Pro tip: never go to bed out of alignment.

On Going to Therapy

Kenya talks about therapy as an investment into your life, and something that everyone should do at some point. Obvi we couldn’t agree more. In her spiritual work, she helps bring people into awareness of past traumas or issues through which they need to dive more deeply. When you intentionally avoid those traumas and issues, it stays in your body as energy, and talking through these things help move the energy around and release it, so you can move past what’s bringing you down. Preach.

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on therapy or readings yet, grab a journal and start to get curious. Here are some questions to get you started: “Who am I?”  “Who am I without a connection to other people?” “What is freedom?” and “What is my truth right now?”. Those might keep you busy for a while.

On Balance

Do away with it. It’s not realistic to be 100% in all areas of your life at all times. It’s so important to carve out dedicated personal time to check in with yourself and understand what you need. Honoring what you need in the moment is critical. When you set boundaries and organize your day/week/month into different areas – me-time, family time, work time – you can be more present in each of these areas vs trying to be all things at all times. Understand when you are spreading yourself too thin, and above all, give yourself grace. “Seek to pass all words, actions and thoughts through Unconditional Love, Universal Compassion for all, Grace for yourself and others, and your Truth.”

On Truth

You are the absolute authority on yourself, so “don’t seek externally for something that only exists internally.” Know that your truth can change. When you get to know yourself more deeply, your awareness expands and allows you to experience the world differently, thus what we know to be true evolves with us.

“Be more like the moon. She only shines once a month. The rest of her time is spent resting and evolving. Cycles are necessary for alignment.” 

Continue to follow along with Kenya’s story on Instagram.


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Paul Nyhart

Speaking of truth, Paul Nyhart spoke to us about finding purpose with a refreshingly honest and passionate insight. Paul is many things – an author, producer, Podcast & TV host, and marketing pro – but his most precious moments have been advocating for communities who can feel unheard and ignored. Paul’s latest project, a podcast called “The Story of Bao,” highlights the experiences of individuals defining the moment in their lives when they realized what was precious to them.

On Telling Your Story

In general, people undervalue themselves. As a society, people have been trained not to share their truths, and because of it, we often don’t even realize that we’ve gone through life changing, and often inspiring, experiences. Telling your story is so important, regardless of the audience – you could share your story with the world or simply share it with a friend – you’d be surprised who you might inspire with your words. Plus, it’s a super helpful way to process your experiences.

On Finding Yourself

It can be so easy to bury the interesting things that are going on around you right now because it’s hard to be present in the moment. We’re not trained to think in moments, but rather, we tend to think in vague chunks of time, like “past” and “future.” Without even realizing it, we miss out on the joy that’s right in front of us.

But, what if you don’t know what brings you joy? Start by trying five new things, dive into them, and actively think about which of those really click with you. For example, through his work as a TV and Podcast host, Paul found that what made him tick wasn’t the idea of being behind the microphone, but rather from hearing other people’s stories – those who have typically been ignored in the past. This led him to continue this outside of the studio – advocating for the homeless and mentoring the incarcerated. It was through these experiences that Paul found happiness, purpose, and a deeper understanding of himself.

Finding joy is a journey, so don’t shame yourself if it feels like you don’t know! Similar to “Part 1” of the spiritual journey that Kenya discussed, Paul believes that “happiness is discovering who you are.” Anyone else have the chills?

What’s Precious To You?

Well, what is it? This is Paul’s signature question to help people dive into their self-awareness and ultimately happiness. We turned the question back on Paul, and his answer was all about connection with others and finding inspiration from unlikely places. This reminds him that people are inherently good and strong, which inspires him to do the same.

“If you can connect with a person, that makes you precious to them. By being who you are, you can inspire someone that you don’t even know. Both the beauty and the curse of life is that you’ll never know who you are inspiring.”

For more, visit storyofbao.com.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Two

Two weeks into celebrating Mental Health Month and we’re more excited than ever! Not only have our guests been dropping truth bomb after truth bomb on us, but we’ve been so inspired that we’ve incorporated some of their mental wellness tips and practices into our day-to-day. If you missed any of this week’s content, not to fear, here comes your weekly recap…

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Rachel Beauregard

Rachel is a musician and yogi, and we couldn’t wait to learn how she cultivated her wonderful sense of confidence and comfort in her own skin. It all started with a really positive and supportive upbringing, but Rachel noted that at some point you take your mental state into your own hands, and have to do the work to start understanding your tendencies and values.

On Loving her Body

When it comes to having a positive body image, it’s important to remember it’s a daily practice of figuring out how to be your own friend, instead of your enemy. Rachel also finds strength in the affirmations: “You HAVE a body, you are not your body.” She also noted that it’s important to recognize that you will have bad days, and no book or mantra will bring you out of it. At that point it’s important to acknowledge and be honest about your thoughts and your feelings, so you can eventually move on. Remember, “You HAVE thoughts but you are not your thoughts.”

On Acceptance of Change and Cultivating Grace

Rachel’s confidence and ability to go with the flow comes down to putting in the work:

  • Create a Routine
    • Makes you accountable to yourself
    • Allows you to start your day with presence
  • When Things get Tough
    • Have a check-in buddy, so that you don’t feel the need to hold it all in
    • Talk to a therapist
  • Start with Humility
    • Acknowledge that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay
    • Understand that what you can manage can look different from day-to-day
    • Make small changes, without beating yourself up for missteps
    • Be accountable and don’t make up excuses, but accept that you can make mistakes

On Pregnancy

  • Find a community, or person that you can reach out to that won’t shame you for your feelings
  • Understand that you can be SO grateful for the gift of a child, but that your hardships are still valid. You are allowed to complain
  • Ask for what you need

“Feelings are truth, but they are not you as a person, they are not your character.”

Follow Rachel on Instagram


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Kathy Thomas

Kathy is a photographer, mother and the owner of Collective 615, the first women-owned coworking space for women in Nashville.

On Mental Health

As Kathy has grown wiser over the years, she allowed her own experiences, and the experiences of those closest to her, pique her curiosity about mental health. She began slowing down and peeling back the layers of her twenties and thirties, where she admittedly didn’t prioritize things like spiritual and mental health; and instead focused on who she is as a person.

“You cannot move forward until you truly face yourself.”

On Career Change

After working in corporate America, Kathy decided that she wanted to own her time, but found working from home alone isolating. She began looking into it and saw that women who worked from home saw an increase in depression. From experience, Kathy felt like her home was no longer her home, but her job. She had trouble with boundaries, with work infiltrating her personal and family time, and infiltrating a space that she wanted to feel sacred.

This inspired Kathy to open up her heart and eyes for what makes people work, and led to creating Collective 615. She knew she wanted to focus on a sense of support and energy of community.

On Being Role Model to New Business Owners

  • Give yourself a lot of grace.
  • Find a core group who supports you when you’re flat on your face. Your community doesn’t have to look a certain way, it needs to FEEL a certain way.
  • Don’t force relationships that have run their course. Sometimes with growth, you’ll outgrow certain friends. If a relationship brings you down or makes you feel bad, then let it go.
  • Asking for help can sometimes be the hardest thing, especially when help is one-sided. You may not be able to reciprocate right now, but don’t let that stop you asking for the help you need.

For more, visit Collective 615


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Alli Mills Lindsey

A Certified Holistic Coach, Alli has a way of blowing your mind with profound nuggets of wisdom, wrapped up in the most accessible delivery. After years of teaching yoga, she looked into coaching as a way to help people become more present mentally and physically.

On Being Present

Our culture is so focused on go go go, and we’re so focused on the future that we can become disconnected from our present. It can take a lot of courage to acknowledge fearful parts of our lives, in fact our minds are programmed to move away from things that cause us fear. If left unchecked, this can lead to stress, lack of sleep, emotional distress and even physical pain.

On Grounding

Use your breath to check in with yourself at least once a day. What you notice will be different from hour to hour, day to day. But, by checking in, you can become aware of your feelings and needs, and your thoughts will remain fluid.

  • Close your eyes and notice your breath. Breath is a really powerful link to our life.
  • Take your breath into your physical body.
  • Take your breath into thoughts. Are they in the future? Are they in the past?
  • Take your breath into your emotions.

On Cultivating Mental Wellness in Young Women

In Alli’s work with young women from all backgrounds, she noticed a common thread: they were all stressed out, and what they needed most was a safe space to be quiet, present, and loved. Giving them space to let go and be themselves was huge.

Her advice to mothers and mother figures wanting to connect with their daughters is to have an easy presence, allowing them to come to you. If you make sure they feel seen, and you give them the space to just be, they’ll be more receptive on the occasions that you do need to tell them what to do.

Another big thing is teaching them grounding breathwork, and to listen to their inner wisdom. During the transition from child to adult, they begin to explore who they are, and can also often feel pressured to be someone else. Parents need to recognize and respect when girls are listening to themselves.

On Getting Unstuck

Patience is key here, it’s a process. Small turns can lead you away from your life’s purpose.

  • First things first, find out where you are. If you think of your life like a map; to get to where you’re going, you first need to understand where you are. Otherwise, no matter how good a map you have, you’ll likely remain lost. Be patient with yourself as you begin this inquiry.
  • Become more present. Focus on your breath – get grounded.
  • Take that first step, no matter how small it is. We often get so distracted by the end goal, that it feels insurmountable. The universe will respond, but you have to take that first step.
  • Think about your purpose. Think about where your path changed – what led you that way? Start to notice the things you do that make you feel like you have purpose.
  • Come into your power. Finding your authenticity and living an authentic life is powerful. That’s not to say there won’t be bumps in the road, but it will give you a better ability to return back to who you are.

“If you make enough right steps, you will eventually get home.”

For more, visit Alli’s website


Koula Callahan

Yogi, Koula Callahan, took over our stories to give us a peek into a day-in-the-life and how she uses mindful movement to set herself up for success.

Koula typically starts her day with a yoga class, whether or not she’s teaching. A key to her mental wellbeing, is a rule she sets for herself – no looking at the phone until after class. This mindful movement helps her to start her day from a place of physical presence, working out any tensions and resistance she might be carrying. It also helps her to start her day from a centered and calm space, keeping her in her limbic brain for longer, and building her up before the stresses of the day weigh her down.

On the Importance of Mindful Movement

Mindful movement helps to develop the mind-body connection, and helps us work through structures in the body that are keeping us stuck. It also increases the activation of your prefrontal cortex, and helps to develop self awareness and self compassion.

People with a mindful movement practice:

  • Experience less stress and anxiety
  • Are less likely to develop cognitive disabilities
  • Sleep better
  • Are less likely to get sick
  • Have an improved mood

On the Brain

The limbic brain is where you process emotions, creativity, and the subconscious self. The prefrontal cortex is where you process higher thought patterns, problem solving, and is essentially the part of the brain activated throughout your workday.

By spending time in your limbic brain before you activate your prefrontal cortex, you help develop your emotional intelligence and process your thoughts through the unconscious thoughts that could be keeping you stuck. This is why it’s key to spend your mornings doing something mindful, (think: movement, walking, or writing) before checking email and moving into the ‘higher thinking’ part of your brain.

“With practice, you can become more integrated with yourself, your emotions, and your physical self.”

Follow Koula on Instagram