Monday Must: A Naturopath’s Guide To Moving Beyond Burnout
Hello! I’m Dr. Emmalee Maracle and I’m a naturopathic doctor practicing virtually in Ontario. I have a focus on women’s health and hormones which means a lot of conversations about menstrual cycles, stress, gut health, and mindset. I am particularly passionate about the impacts of stress on the body, which lead me to create ‘The Maracle Guide to Stress and Burnout’, a program designed to help women move from a state of burnout and overwhelm to a place where they feel connected with their bodies, are living a life of pleasure and are tapping into their highest potential.
My life of pleasure looks like traveling the world with my partner, spending time on Georgian Bay with my family, hanging out with dogs, especially my mini Aussie and golden retriever, and enjoying an Americano.
It is important to first understand that not all stress is bad. The type of stress that occurs when there is danger or a threat can literally save your life, like running away from a bear. The problem today is that the body is constantly receiving messages that we are under threat. From work demands, to finances, family and relationships, health, living through a pandemic, societal demands, boundaries, trauma, racism, bigotry, and the perceived control over the stress, stress is
pretty much coming at us from every angle. All of this on top of the superwoman- conditioning that women have been subjected to often means that their own priorities and health get put on the backburner to take care of others, ultimately adding to the stress. This is part of why I feel so strongly about empowering women to listen to the messages the body is communicating and to take action in reclaiming their health.
Here are my 5 ‘musts’ for moving beyond burnout to a place where you are thriving and loving life the way that you deserve to be.
Start with the basics.
When it comes to health, we always want to make sure that we’ve got the fundamentals in place. Focus on nourishing your body primarily with whole-foods such as a variety of vegetables and fruits, animal or plant-based protein sources (meat, eggs, legumes etc.), and lots of healthy fats (high quality olive oil, avocados, nut/seeds etc.), while also allowing some room for foods that are simply for pleasure. Make sure you are drinking an adequate amount of water, prioritizing 8+ hours of sleep every night and moving your body in a way that listens and respects it. Some days this might be more intense or longer workouts, other days it may be snuggling up on the couch with a good cup of tea. This kind of stuff really does make a huge difference.
Create a morning routine:
Our brains do well with a routine. Routines can not only help to set the tone for the day, increase productivity and creativity, but by completing the routine, we signal to the body that we are safe and not in a place of chaos. One of the keys to a good morning routine is to keep it simple. The easier that we make things to do, the more likely we are to actually do them. Start to think about how you can plan ahead to set yourself up for success the night before. For example, get your running shoes out, choose your outfit, pour a glass of water to keep on your nightstand, prepare food for a quick breakfast, get your journal or book out, pack your gym bag etc. Start with one thing that you can change (either add in or eliminate) tomorrow. Try to pick something that you can be consistent with. As you start to change your morning routine, try to tap into the energy and identity of the version of yourself that already does those things effortlessly.
Say “no” more often.
Saying “no” does not mean that you are selfish or a bad person or that you don’t care. It’s about knowing your boundaries and respecting them. Stop saying yes to things you don’t have time to do, don’t have the emotional or mental capacity for right now, or just don’t really want to do. If “no” hasn’t been in your vocabulary for a while, start with something small. This is one of those practices that gets easier the more that you do it.
Feel all the feels.
It sounds simple enough but most of us were never actually taught, let alone encouraged, to feel. When emotions are disregarded or suppressed, as often is the case with chronic stress, the energy can become stuck in our bodies and this can even result in physical symptoms like headaches, digestive upset or skin rashes. While there will certainly be times where it may not be appropriate to express exactly how we are feeling in the moment (like yelling in frustration at a co-worker), it is still important that we acknowledge the emotion and experience it later when we are safe to do so. The next time you are feeling like you need a little bit of an emotional release, find a song that matches your current mood and just let your body move or dance to the music without any restrictions. It will probably feel a little bit silly at first but that’s totally normal.
Bring more pleasure into your life.
Pleasure doesn’t necessarily have to be huge elaborate plans or gifts towards yourself, although, if that is something that resonates with you, enjoy. The type of pleasure I’m talking about is those moments throughout the day where we are simply enjoying the experience of life. Start to take note of the moments when you are feeling your absolute best, when you feel calm and at peace, have been smiling or laughing so hard that your cheeks hurt, or when your heart just feels full, and work towards creating more of those moments. Can you create a special place in your home that lights you up every time you are in it or walk by it? Begin by taking a look at all of the things that you are doing on a daily basis such as brushing your teeth, washing your face and showering, having a cup of coffee, eating, or interactions with people. Is there a way that you could enhance the experience or bring more intention and awareness to these actions?
For example, washing your face before bed. Instead of just going through the motions, bring the intention of cleaning your face as an act of self-care. Notice the temperature of the water, the feeling of your face wash in your hands as you lather it up and apply it to your face. As you are applying it, gently massage it on to your skin and give any areas holding tension a little extra focus. Take note of any smell. Can you start to feel how fresh your skin feels? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment? It’s a totally different experience when you start to slow it down.