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What’s in your head vs what’s in your body (Newsletter 11/27)

Originally sent out to the Pathless newsletter on Nov 27

Some of you may know I dealt with adrenal fatigue a few years ago, something I think a lot of startup industry folks here in SF are probably experiencing without realizing it.

Let me try and describe what that’s like real quick:

Imagine you’re trucking along in your job and things are stressy but you’re pushing through it. You’re tired all day but then you can’t sleep at night, your mind is spinning into high gear.

Eventually you start to feel less and less able to get yourself out of bed in the morning, your moods are irritable and messy, your brain is foggy in a perpetual “what day is it again?” sort of way, and nothing you used to love to do sparks any joy for you anymore.

Exercise wipes you out for days — I would go for a walk and then have to sleep for 12 hours and feel kinda achy and flu-like the next day. Things start snowballing from there in a fairly epic downward spiral of doom, with mineral deficiencies causing a myriad of other symptoms.

You may not know that the recovery is a long, slow process. Leaving my job and that stressful environment definitely helped, but the stress of self-employment was a pretty speedy replacement.

I sing the praises of kundalini yoga & meditation all the time, but even that can only go so far. I’m generally pretty good most of the time, but when I am in a stressful situation, or even around people who remind me of that stressful situation, sometimes I feel a PTSD sort of visceral body/nerves flashback and I’m right back in the downward spiral of doom all over again.

This summer I was doing pretty great. I had gotten into a nice routine with waking up at 6am, doing some meditation, keeping on top of my to-do lists and feeling really productive.

But after a few months, I caught a cold. I let myself start sleeping in again. I recovered from the cold, but I still haven’t gotten my sleep schedule back on track. My body still feels run down, even though I’m not sick anymore.

Then this damn election happened. The gigantic step backwards our president-elect and his administration represents for this country and the world is heart breaking. The impending loss of human rights we’ve fought for for decades guts me. The dismantling of progress we’ve made in healthcare, education, nutrition, and the environment… I can’t stomach it. And watching the media blow up pettiness into scandal while burying actual corruption … every day invites new outrage.

It’s exhausting. I have so much more to say on that, but before I can climb onto a soapbox, I need to get out of bed.

So this is my rebellion, for now. It’s a self care rebellion. I’m setting some new rules for myself. And I’m listing them here for accountability, and also in hopes that you’ll share with me your rules. How do you set boundaries and ensure that you can stay strong when your world is in chaos?

Rule #1: I will manage my stress levels by committing to daily meditation and writing my daily schedule in my bullet journal each night. I’ve completely slipped on this since the election, and the feeling of floating in and out of each day without a plan, with no anchor, is not helping my frazzled nerves.

Rule #2: I don’t believe in deprivation. Everything in moderation. And I know that when I’m feeling stressed and traumatized, I reach for refined sugars, processed foods, and alcohol. So in the spirit of vigilance, not deprivation, I’m going to fill myself with healthy nutritious foods as much as I can, and go easy on myself if I slip here and there.

Rule #3: I’m going to limit alcohol to two drinks a week. This is the worst time of year to try this, with holiday parties crowding our calendars, but alcohol just wears me down. Friends, help me on this one!

Rule #4: I will take care of my gut. I was pretty blown away by this article in Scientific American about the enteric nervous system in our bellies, what scientists have dubbed our “second brain.” So no antibiotics, take a powerful probiotic supplement, fill up on probiotic foods, and eat prebiotic foods like jicama, onions, garlic, leeks, and asparagus for the soluble fiber our good gut bugs love to eat.

Rule #5: I’m going to try and drink bone broth every day. I’ve been reading Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet after hearing her interviewed on the Yoga Body Talk Show podcast. She writes way too much about losing weight and erasing wrinkles, but then she goes into the science of why our bodies need gelatin, collagen, amino acids, all the stuff we get from simmering the bones of happy (not factory-farmed) animals for several hours until the bones start to dissolve and release super healthy stuff for us to drink.

She talks about strengthening our immune systems, reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases, healing the gut, and even preventing heart disease and increasing the efficacy of cancer treatments. She even says ADHD, asthma, and allergies can be reduced by drinking bone broth.

Turns out it’s pretty easy to roast a couple chickens, then make bone broth from the bones.

Rule #6: I will check in with myself every day. If I need a day off of rules, I will take a day off from rules, guilt-free. But I will remind myself that these rules are here so I can keep myself healthy and strong. When I take too many breaks from these rules, I become weak, sick, and confused.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have any rules or rituals for self care? How are you nurturing yourself? How can I help? Hit reply and let me know, or start up a conversation in the FB group.

Love Sarah


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