Are You In Survival Mode For No Good Reason?

“Oh! that gentleness! how far more potent is it than force!”
~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

 

Most of us are used to pushing, to working hard, to gritting our teeth and carrying on.

If there is a crisis in your life, that is often the only thing to be done. But sometimes, it seems that we become used to living as though all of our life is a crisis.

Friends, that’s not a great plan.

When we constantly push ourselves, and stress ourselves, we begin to alter our body’s chemistry. We normalise a state that is supposed to be about emergencies – living on our adrenalin and cortisol for a ‘fight or flight’ situation. In that state our digestion slows, our body is flooded with hormones that burden our livers, inflame our bodies, suppress our libidos and play havoc with sleep patterns. In that state we convert energy to fat, storing it for the coming crisis. We exhaust our adrenals, ruin our thyroids and put ourselves into chronic fatigue, emotional depletion and a place where everything becomes monochrome. We lose our joy. We lose ourselves.

If you are genuinely in crisis, with an abnormal amount of stress due to external conditions and circumstances, I wish you well and I pray for you the strength to get through these times the best that you can.

But if your whole life looks like a crisis, and you’re tired to the bones, numb from the grind of it all – maybe it’s time to change something. Because you are no longer living, you’re existing. You’re in survival mode. And that is no way to live a life.

When we get to that place we stop making good decisions and default to auto-pilot. We become broken robots.

Image from quotationof.com

Image from quotationof.com

Here are my top tips for moving back to a place of flow and balance so that you can begin enjoying life, and health, again:

  • Simplify. Let go of some of your responsibilities so that you can free up some time in your schedule.
  • Get a health check. If you’re exhausted/struggling/unwell all the time and your life looks pretty normal demand-wise, maybe there’s something else going on.
  • Delegate. Seriously, no one can do it all themselves. Get a team together.
  • Walk away. Sometimes the only thing left to be done is to walk away from the relationship, the job, or the situation. An ending, or a failure to complete, might actually be what’s needed to turn this around.
  • Change your job.
  • Take a holiday, or some time away from it all. Camping and house sitting are great options if finances are tight.
  • Postpone some of your projects, or lengthen out the timeframes.
  • Hire someone capable to sort it/fix it/build it for you.
  • Schedule catch-up sleep and downtime into your calendar as regular events.
  • Get your finances under control. Or get help to do this. No-one can get out from under that feeling of crisis if they are always worrying about where the next dollar is coming from, or how to pay off a mountain of debt. Make a plan and work the plan.
  • Downsize. Sell stuff. Make things more manageable.
  • Do the things that are important to YOU and quit doing things to please others or gain approval.
  • Make exercise and a healthy diet a priority.
  • Choose a hobby and make time for it by stopping something you don’t enjoy, or that doesn’t fill you up.
  • Stop taking new stuff on and get the backlog completed.
  • Say no to people and events. Create some room in your life for you.

Life is not always easy. Crazy stuff happens. Crisis sometimes too. But if your world has devolved into exhaustion and all the joy has been sucked out of living, it’s time for a change. It’s time to be kind to yourself and sort this mess out!

Image from popsugar.com

Image from popsugar.com

Herbal Tea Recipe for Adrenal Fatigue

ginger tea

“My love affair with nature is so deep that I am not satisfied with being a mere onlooker, or nature tourist. I crave a more real and meaningful relationship. The spicy teas and tasty delicacies I prepare from wild ingredients are the bread and wine in which I have communion and fellowship with nature, and with the Author of that nature.”
~ Euell Gibbons

If there was an herb put on earth to assist those with Adrenal Dysfunction, licorice root is that herb.” ~Dr. Andrew Neville

 

In our modern world of high stress Adrenal Fatigue is becoming increasingly common. It is caused by the adrenals working too hard over too long a time, leading to this system in your body becoming tired and less productive. Adrenal fatigue often goes hand-in-hand with thyroid issues, and it is a common complaint for those with chronic illness such as diabetes, Lyme disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include decreased libido, mild depression and anxiety, sleep issues, that ‘flat battery’ feeling where rest and sleep doesn’t restore you, feeling rundown, being easily overwhelmed and unable to cope, and feeling generally exhausted and unwell.

This is a very useful tea for supporting your adrenals, and for soothing your digestion and supporting your immune system. The tea is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory for your body. It is also a mild electrolyte, so this tea will help to rehydrate you as well. If, like me, you suffer from Lyme disease, this delicious tea will also aid your body in kicking those bacteria to the kerb!

Dried licorice root is available in many health food shops or Asian herbalists or grocery stores. So too are fresh ginger and turmeric roots.

Ingredients:

6 pieces of raw dried licorice root, 6 slices of fresh ginger root, 2 or 3 thin slices of fresh turmeric root or a pinch of two of dried turmeric powder, a pinch of Himalayan or Celtic salt, a pinch of stevia, a lemon.

*Note – turmeric has a tendency to stain things yellow, so don’t use your best teapot, or your Mum’s prized china!

If your immune system needs a bigger boost feel free to add more turmeric and ginger.

Method:

Place the licorice, ginger and turmeric in a teapot or thermos that holds one litre (4 cups). Let steep for ten minutes. It will go a very pretty shade of yellow.

licorice and turmeric tea

This tea can also be made in a saucepan on the stovetop. Bring licorice, ginger and turmeric to the boil, then turn off the heat and let steep for ten minutes. This produces a stronger tea.

adrenal tea

To finish the tea, add the pinch of salt, the pinch of stevia (or to taste) and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. For convenience you could also slice the lemon and add a wedge or two to your cup, teapot or water bottle after the boiling and steeping process.

I sometimes make this tea in a 1 litre stainless steel water bottle, replacing the lid once the liquid has cooled to warm rather than boiling. The tea is very pleasant at room temperature. When I have drunk it down to about a quarter full I refill with hot water, and get another batch out of my ingredients. It’s a very easy way to get my water allowance over the day.

herbs

Do you need an Enforced Rest?

Image from The Daily Mail

Image from The Daily Mail

“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

I’m having an enforced rest day today. 🙂 It’s part of my Lyme Disease Recovery Program, and it was prescribed by my Doctor.

So I’ll keep this blog short!

Enforced Rest is about days or chunks of time where you are required to rest. I mean, properly REST. No working is involved. And you can’t go shopping, meet friends for coffee, clean the house, write your memoir or catch up on chores. Instead you are required to lie on your bed and nap, sit in a chair and sunbathe, loll about, read a book and then rest some more.

The world won’t fall apart if you take some time out for yourself, and if it does (or would if you took time off), then it’s time for a re-think on how you’re living your life or the lack of support and realistic expectations. No-one can live like a machine!

For more on burnout and the exhaustion epidemic read this post:

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

In my life enforced rest means short work days, and days each week that have zero activity or commitments.

Enforced rest gives your body permission to heal fully. It allows you to become accustomed to slowing down rather than constantly drawing on your adrenals to keep push, push, pushing through being unwell or exhausted.

How tired are you?

Maybe you would benefit from a prescription of some Enforced Rest Days too!

Thinking of you, and sending you love. Be gentle with you today. Live kindly, most especially towards yourself ♥ Nicole xx

That's going to be me too - lying around at the farm!

That’s going to be me too – lying around at the farm!

Self Care isn’t Selfish

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” ~ Deborah Day

 

A friend of mine has finally taken time out from her crazy over-giving-to-everyone-else-but-herself life to focus on her health. She’s run herself ragged, and her poor body is suffering from years of neglect, so she’s taking a month off to go to a health retreat and get some new strategies in place to turn her situation around.

Another friend has recently quit a long-term social group where she has been the President for over fifteen years so that she can spend weekends working on her art.

A mutual acquaintance shocked me when she said of these two women, “It’s a bit self-indulgent, don’t you think?”

Excuse me?

Since when has it been okay to forgo your own health, emotional well-being and dreams, forever putting your needs on the back burner while you collapse in a heap  from being there for everyone else?

Self care isn’t a natural act for most people anymore. Too many of my friends and clients have confided to me that they feel guilty about pursuing their own interests or taking time for themselves when they have jobs, partners, families, elderly parents and social obligations.

But if we keep drawing on our own energy to support others without ever filling ourselves back up, eventually we end up empty.  We lose ourselves.  We look in the mirror and don’t know who we are any more.  We become little more than machines.

 

When we don’t make time for ourselves the end result will never be pretty.  We burn out, we break down, we stop maintaining the habits and relationships that contributed to our wellbeing, and we often end up walking away from things that were actually good for us or that we were once passionate about.  I see this so often that I call it ‘burned out practitioner syndrome’ – people who worked at what they loved so unsustainably that they came to resent their work/art/relationships and became totally disconnected from their passion and purpose.

Self care isn’t selfish.  Self care is the single most important gift you can give to yourself and the relationships around you. If you don’t know where to start, here are some simple suggestions:

10 ways to be kind to yourself

Remembering to take care of you

Are you setting yourself up for failure this week?

 

Stir Fried Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Broccoli Recipe

2013-04-25 18.09.05

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

 

Food isn’t just food.  Food is also a healing tool.  A spiritual tool. A way to give love and care to self and others.

If you want to think about this recipe as just food then this is what you need to know:

This is a handy recipe – it works well for a vegan or vegetarian main course, or as a tasty side to accompany fish, chicken or meat.  It is equally good served cold as a salad, and is delicious when folded into the centre of an omelette.  The dish is also paleo compliant, as well as being dairy and gluten free.  Needless to say, I recommend you make up enough to enjoy some leftovers!

If you want to think of it as more than just food, this simple recipe provides instant grounding for those times when you feel frazzled, disconnected, stressed and not quite in your body. It works to soothe, nourish and centre your Solar Plexus, Heart and Crown Chakras. It’s anti-inflammatory, and nurturing for those of us with exhaustion issues and adrenal fatigue.

Ingredients for 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish:

2 cups of sliced mushrooms, 2 cups of cubed golden sweet potato, 4 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of tumeric, 2 tablespoons wheat-free Tamari Sauce, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of broccoli florets, 1 sliced red capsicum (bell pepper), 1/2 cup of raw walnuts

*Note – leave the mushrooms in thicker slices or chunks for a more satisfying texture.

Method:

Place 1/4 of the water and the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed frypan or pot over medium heat.  Toss in your sliced mushrooms, stir well and leave to cook for a minute until they begin to soften slightly.  Then add your cubed sweet potato and another 1/4 cup of water. Stir to combine, lower heat and cook five minutes until sweet potato is becoming soft.

2013-04-25 18.00.31

Increase heat again, add in the garlic, tumeric and tamari and stir well.  Then dump in the broccoli and another 1/4 cup of water. Stir fry for one minute, and then add the sliced capsicum. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring frequently and adding the final 1/4 cup of water if required. Add the walnuts, stir through, and remove from heat.

2013-04-25 18.08.55

Your easy meal is now ready to enjoy, and is packed full of good things to help you nourish and heal yourself. The flavours are simple and clean, and the food is easy to digest. Great for those with chronic fatigue, and for anyone recovering from illness. It grounds us, energetically soothes us and helps us to sleep better.

But if you don’t tell people any of that, they’ll just eat it ‘cos it tastes good!

Sometimes you get there faster by going slow

Image by Jakob E

Image by Jakob E

“If you’re having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down. For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up — to know that there’s life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can’t find it anywhere else.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

One of the worst diseases I suffer from is impatience. Especially in regard to my health. I’ve had so many years of being sub-optimal that any time I have the smallest amount of extra energy I want to race around like a mad thing so I don’t miss out on making the most of feeling good. But experience has taught me something very valuable. You get there faster by going slow. Not only that, but you arrive with more juice left in the tank.

Image from tumblr

Image from tumblr

Slow is good for ideas.  Slow is all about stopping, unwinding, relaxing, getting back into flow. All of these make more sense for connecting into inspiration and inner wisdom than that rush-rush energy we tell ourselves will get things done.

Slow is good for health.  When we go slow we de-stress, we can catch up on sleep, sunshine and seasons. Slow makes better sense for weight loss, for healing, for any kind of transformation. Yes it takes longer, but the results are usually much more lasting.

Slow is good for relationships too.  Slow allows us to have time together, to create depth in relationships. Slow helps us to be ok with the spaces as we lose the need to fill every moment with busy-ness. It’s in the spaces that the magic often happens.

Slow is good for the soul; for spiritual connection, reflection, for listening and receiving. We finally get to hear our own heartbeat, and the heartbeat of the earth. We get to hear the stardust and the windsong of the heavens.

Image from

Image from ePi Longo

Slow can be a choice. Slow can be forced upon us. However we arrive at it, once we stop fighting it, slowness is a gift that allows us to live in the moment.

There’s nothing wrong with speed. Who doesn’t love the wind in their hair, that sudden rush of adrenalin, the crazy thrill of momentum?

But we weren’t built to go that fast all the time. When we convince ourselves that this furious never-have-enough-time, squeeze something productive into every last moment, lifestyle is sustainable, we always end up as Broken Robots.

 

How can you make a pocket of slow in your current bubble of craziness? I know slow won’t feel natural if you’ve been racing through life like some sort of human targeted-missile. And sometimes we need to respond to life with speed. But if all you’re doing is busy, you know it’s going to catch up with you in the end, and then the Universe might just tip you into slow by a mechanism not of your own choosing.

When you first allow the energy of slow into your life, a couple of things can happen.  You might panic. The weight of overwhelm that we avoided by running to stay ahead of things might come crashing down. Yes, that sucks.  But ultimately its also good to recognise how insane life has become and how much you need to simplify and let go of this level of complexity and constant demand.

tired

You might grind to a halt altogether.  So many of my students, when I take them away on retreats to learn to meditate or channel, fall asleep, or zone out and can’t remember what I was talking about when we go into those quiet, reflective or meditative spaces. Their bodies need rest first – before anything else can happen.  Rest and sleep are critical functions that we’ve somehow told ourselves are okay to short-cut. When we slow down, usually one of the first things we need to do is top the sleep tank back up.

Something else kind of weird happens when we give ourselves permission to slow down.  As our batteries charge back up, as we get to a place of equilibrium, we find we have MORE energy, and we get more done, better, in less time.  Going slow actually restores productivity – in a lasting and sustainable way.

So, if going fast isn’t working for you, try slow. It’ll get you there in the end. In one piece and able to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Bless xx

Too Busy? Relax!

Image from blogs.monash.edu

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.  ~ Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris

We’re coming into a weekend, and I have a mile long list of things that still need to get done.

So, I should be doing them. Right?

Well, actually…  No!

I’m tired. It’s been a crazy week. Truth be told I’m about as sharp as a beach ball right now. So instead of stressing about all that work, I’m going to take the day off. Maybe I’ll get a massage.  Maybe I’ll go the movies.  Maybe I’ll curl up with a book.

But one thing’s for sure, I’m giving myself a mini-vacation; a mental health break if you will. Having once been the Queen of Burnout I recognise that when life is this busy, I need to take a break so I don’t end up broken.

The work will wait.  And when I come back I’ll be refreshed and my approach will be entirely different. There’s a great power in relaxation, a power to heal, to restore, to calm and renew.

When you are way too busy to take the time to relax, that’s always when you need to relax the most! Even if it’s just a few minutes of breathing while you’re seated at your desk at work.

 

You might also like to read these related posts:

Emotions and Their Impact on Your Health

Doing Nothing is Productive

Nothing Grows Well in Depleted Soil

Drinking in Colour – How to Do a Healing Walk

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Image from wallpapers-biz.co.cc

Are you one of those people who needs to be productive?

I certainly am. Not from any external pressure –  I just LIKE getting stuff done, and I always have several projects on the go, a big fat to-do list, as well as a schedule that stretches out towards the horizon.  Life, and its possibilities, lights my fire!

But there is nothing like a good dose of burn-out to help you realise that less is more, and a dose of near-death really does help you to clarify your priorities.

Where one upon a time I worked endlessly, I now work in bursts, and then have some time out that is totally unscheduled.

Before my big cycles of crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn, repair, go full tilt, crash and burn – okay, you get my drift – my life looked like this:

Image from freeicons.eu

I was a busy little robot working harder and harder, doing more and more, and somehow expecting that I could just carry on that way forever.

I actually thought that if I worked harder and harder I would achieve more and more, ad infinitum.  But of course you end up working with the Law of Diminishing Returns.  More does not make more.  More becomes less.

More work means less sleep. Less fun.  Less clarity.  Less inspiration.  Less connection.  Less well-being. Less healing capacity.  Less opportunity to be spontaneous. Less flexibility.  Less ability to cope with the unexpected. Less true creativity. Less chance of seeing new possibilities, meeting new people and expanding in new directions.

When you keep trying to fit more and more in, something will inevitably break, and that something might be you.

I know this, because I’ve been there.  More than once.  And most of it has been self-inflicted.

I’ve had to ask myself the big questions in life.

I am okay with diminished output if it means better quality of life, and a longer life. I mean, realistically, how much can you get done here if you’re dead? And in the end, does any of that stuff on your to-do list really matter?

So now my life looks much more like this:

Image by Lecsmile – Photobucket.com

I have periods of deep rest, relaxation and doing totally NOTHING.  And then I have periods of doing things, being active, connecting, learning and being crazy-mad infatuated with taking up all life has to offer!

Truth is, I’m more productive than I ever was, in the areas that matter to me.

I hadn’t expected that.

Oh my goodness I wish I’d know this important little nugget of wisdom years ago.

Less is more.

Image from msugradwellness.wordpress.com

That’s right.

Doing nothing is good for you.

If you don’t know how to do nothing, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Naps.  Napping is awesome!
  • Curl up on the couch with a magazine.
  • Go to bed early or sleep in.  Sleep all day if you feel like it.
  • When something frees up in your schedule, don’t fill that spot with another task or expectation.  Let yourself luxuriate in that new spare time.
  • Dawdle. Potter along on a nice slow walk, amble through a park or shopping mall.
  • Go to the movies.
  • Read a book.
  • Nap.  Did I say that already?  Oh well.  Have another one!
  • Lose yourself in a book.
  • Hang out at the library.
  • Go for a surf.
  • Get a massage.
  • Take a bath.
  • Quit something so you can free up your schedule!
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do.
  • Have an early night and bunk down with some tasty treats and a good DVD.
  • Go on holidays.
  • Have a phone free, computer-free day.
  • Stay home and do… nothing! No housework, no odd jobs. Do what makes you happy. Maybe some craft, or cooking, or just hang out.
  • Spend time with the ones you love.
  • Sit in a coffee shop and read the weekend papers while having a long breakfast or an extended brunch/lunch.
  • Go window shopping, just to pass the time and fill yourself up with images, ideas and dreams.
  • Sunbake.
  • Sit by the ocean or the river.
  • Perch on top of a mountain.
  • Fluff around, not getting anything much done, but not minding that either.  Some people call this procrastination – I call it exploring my desk or kitchen drawers to see what’s really in there…
  • Spend time with the family pet – these guys really have relaxation down to an art!

Magic happens when we give ourselves down-time. And a magical life is definitely one worth living. You never know what might happen if you just create a little space in your day…

Image from The Fox and The Child, Hopscotch films, 2009

 

♥ Meditation for reducing inflammation and promoting healing within your body

Maidenhair fern from my garden - the delicate leaves remind me of the branching nerves and capillaries in our bodies, and green is always so anti-inflammatory, don't you think?

I am a great believer in the body’s wisdom and capacity to heal itself. Today’s blog is a guided healing meditation for you to assist in removing inflammation in your body, protecting nerves and circulation to the brain, heart, organs and limbs, promoting healthy immune response and improving digestive function so that the body is well oxygenated and well nourished. The mind is a powerful thing, and our thought and intent are as potent as any medicine.

Inflammation within the body is a corrosive force that wreaks havoc on our nerves, joints, arteries and veins. It is created through stress, and through diets high in sugar, acid and processed foods. It is exacerbated by lack of sleep, lack of sunlight, lack of or too much exercise, dehydration, smoking and exposure to toxins. Inflammation within the body leads to other problems over time, such as weakened immune systems, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, chronic fatigue, adrenal burnout, arthritis and cancer. It is like rust that eats away at our pipes and structural supports.

Image from abstractinfluence.com

Simple ways to reduce inflammation in your body include:

  • supporting your liver, and detoxing where necessary
  • removing foods that create inflammation
  • eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables
  • drinking more water
  • cutting out sugar, caffeine and artificial sweeteners
  • getting plenty of rest
  • spending time in the sun
  • reducing stress
  • meditating
  • using exercise that promotes flow, such as yoga or tai chi
  • eating healthy fats and avoiding trans-fats
  • doing things that make you happy and that relax you

Guided Meditation

I’ve recorded the following meditation to help guide you through a process of reducing inflammation and promoting healing within your body.  It’s around 15 minutes long and all you need to do is close your eyes, and follow my words. (I get a bit choked up near the beginning, so forgive the momentary catch in my voice…)

Nicole Cody’s Guided Meditation for Healing Inflammation and Dis-Ease

Be well. ♥ Know that you are loved, and that healing is always possible. ♥

Image from healinghands.net

Thai Sticky Black Rice Recipe – a breakfast favourite

I’m all for nourishing the soul with food, and this is one of my all-time favourite recipes.  This rice dish can be eaten for breakfast, or as a dessert.  In fact, it’s good anytime.

You’ll need:

1 cup of black glutinous rice, 2.5 cups of water, some palm sugar or soft brown sugar, salt, a can of coconut milk/cream

Soak the rice overnight (or at least 6 hours)  in the water in a ceramic or glass dish.  The water will go a nice shade of purple – try not to get it on you as it will stain some fabrics. Many people suggest you discard the soaking water, rinse and start over, but then you’d lose many of the minerals and anti-oxidants that have leached from the water overnight.

Transfer to a suitable saucepan and place on the heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook for a further half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.  You need to play this by ear a bit, as you might need to add a little more water and cook longer. It all depends on the rice.

Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of  coconut milk/cream, then sugar to taste.  I use about 2 heaped tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you prefer it sweeter, add more.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes until the rice is thick and pudding like. (I sometimes omit the coconut milk as a variation, which gives a nuttier flavour.)

Cool slightly and then serve in bowls with more coconut milk/cream drizzled over the top.  Sliced banana or tropical fruits such as papaya or mango are also good.  In winter I may use berries.  Right now I am also using a big dollop of coconut yoghurt (yoghurt made on coconut milk!) from a company called Co Yo, which is divine.

Nutritional Info: A great recipe – gluten free, full of fibre, anti-oxidants and a whole lot of nurture-y goodness.  Black rice is a source of amino acids, iron, zinc, copper and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is great for supporting and nurturing the liver and kidneys, two organs/energy centres that get very depleted during times of stress, illness or depression.  It’s great food for people with burnout or adrenal fatigue as it is warm and easy to digest.  Coconut is also good for low thyroid function and boosting slow metabolisms.

I usually make double this quantity and keep some in the fridge.  I reheat in a saucepan with a little extra water, but if you are a microwave user, I guess you could go there…

Enjoy ♥