stress

Methylation Imbalance: How it could be impacting your health.

Are you an allergy sufferer? Frequent headaches? Prone to depression or anxiety?

A methylation imbalance may underpin your issues.

You may have heard of methylation, read some articles and thought “it sounds complicated”. Methylation is a complex process, but I’m here to break down and deliver the essential information so you discern if a methylation imbalance might be impacting on your health.


What is methylation?

Methylation is a chemical process that occurs in all cells of the body. Think of it as a machine in a production line. It adds a component (a methyl group) to a material (a biological chemical) then spits it out to move on to the next machine. Methylation has numerous roles in forming certain compounds, detoxifying others and controlling their movement in and out of cells.

Some of the compounds that methylation helps to detoxify includes:

·      Histamine[1], the chemical that causes allergy symptoms of itching, redness, swelling and irritation. 

·      Certain heavy metals such as arsenic[2]

·      Oestrogen in its final stages[3], which is a cancer risk if in excess.

·      Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline[4]

You can see how a methylation imbalance has the potential to impact on numerous areas of your health. Furthermore, what’s considered a ‘personality trait’ may in fact be due to the impact methylation can have on our brain chemicals (our neurochemistry).

 
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How might a methylation imbalance present itself?

The process of methylation moving too slowly, termed undermethylation, is the most common imbalance. Typically these individuals are hard working and self motivated. Prone to perfectionism tendencies, undermethylators may set high expectations of themselves and potentially others. They are prone to seasonal allergies, hives, headaches, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), high inner tension and addictive behaviours.  

Overmethylation is less common, however can be equally as impactful on wellbeing. Overmethylators are often artistic individuals. They typically don’t respond well to mainstream interventions such as anti-depressant medication. Common health issues for an overmethylator includes hyperactivity, anxiety, panic disorders and sleep issues.


What influences methylation?

Family history

Methylation can be impacted if you have specific gene variations, otherwise called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are being expressed (more on this in a moment). Natural health practitioners will often look at the MTHFR gene located at C677T and A1298C, though there are many other genes that can impact your ability to methylate. If you have inherited the gene variation from both parents (termed homozygous) you are more likely to develop a methylation issue. This may in part explain why tendencies toward allergies and mental health issues run in families, and also why they are amplified when both parents experience these issues.

Stress

Just because you have the genes does not automatically mean that you are stuck with a methylation imbalance. We now know, through the study of epigenetics, that internal factors (your response to stress) and external factors (pollution, smoking, diet etc.) have a huge role in how your genes are expressed i.e. genes can be ‘switched on’ or ‘switched off’. Through following a healthy lifestyle and successfully managing stress, you may be able to negate an inherited methylation issue.

Nutritional deficiencies

Our ability to methylate is very dependent on two nutritional cycles, the folate and methionine cycle. Both of these cycles have specific nutritional needs to function adequately. Methylation will falter if you are lacking in nutrients due to a poor quality diet, poor absorption of nutrients or you are excreting them too rapidly (think diarrhoea or excess caffeine).

The key nutrients involved in the folate and methionine cycles includes the vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folate, B12 (cobalamins),[5] choline and various amino acids (proteins).


What can you do next?

As you have just learnt, stress can affect the genes that cause methylation issues, so rule no. 1 is to get the stress response under control. Take the pressure off yourself, breath deeply and give yourself the space and time to focus on calming your nervous system. Biochemical changes will follow.

To support yourself with a personalised nutritional protocol aimed at correcting methylation, find yourself a practitioner (e.g. naturopath, GP, nutritionist) who is familiar with methylation. They can do the appropriate testing, work with you to improve your diet and prescribe the correct dosing of nutrients to support your body.  


By Naturopath Lucy Mason

Why stress may be the biggest barrier to healing your gut

Stress management is a phrase I’m sure you have all heard before but may not have realised its significance to your health. When approaching health holistically, managing stress is vital in the proper treatment and management of your digestive health concerns.

To help further the work you are doing to help your digestion and honour the investment you have made in testing and treatments, I want to share with you the importance of bettering your mental and emotional well being.

What is stress?

Stress is anything that is a threat to staying in balance (homeostasis). A threat can be real (i.e. physical stress including temperature change, trauma from a car accident or breaking a bone) or perceived (i.e. psychological stress such as relationship issues, running late and feeling busy). Stress causes our body to carry out a response that helps with adaptation and survival. However frequent, chronic or excessive stress may lead to disease (1, 2).

Your nervous system

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is part of your nervous system that controls muscles of internal organs (such as the heart) and glands on an automatic level (that is, we don’t have to tell them to work). Two significant parts of this system include:

  1. Sympathetic nervous system, which prepares your body for physical and mental activity. It makes your heart beat faster and stronger, opens your airways so you can breathe more easily, and inhibits digestion. This is also the nervous system we fall into when we are in a state of stress, anxiety, fear or overwhelm.

  2. Parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for bodily functions when we are at rest (sleep, meditation etc.) It stimulates digestion, increases digestive juices, relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, activates various metabolic processes and helps us to relax (3).  

Mind-Gut connection

Your enteric nervous system (the nervous system in your gut) is also part of the ANS and is connected to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) by the sympathetic and the parasympathetic pathways, forming the brain–gut axis (1, 4).

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How stress may be impacting your gut health

Feeling of stress, anxiety, overwhelm and worry mean that our bodies’ are working in a sympathetic state (fight and flight) rather parasympathetic state (rest and digest). When these feelings are in excess it may not just be your mind that suffers, but also your gut.

1. Dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria)

There are several ways by which stress can alter your bacteria, including changes in gut cell function, mucus secretion and changes to digestive muscle contractions. Noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter secreted in stress, has been shown to stimulate the growth of pathogenic ‘bad’ and non-pathogenic ‘good’ Escherichia coli and influences their adherence to the gut wall (5).

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)

It is not completely understood, but a change breathing (which occurs when we are stressed) may contribute to GORD by altering the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus, increasing oesophageal sensitivity, and slow stomach emptying (1).

3. Dyspepsia (Indigestion)

People with indigestion experience a poor stomach response to meals (due to lack of enzymes and secretions), post-meal discomfort, prolonged feeling of fullness and an increase in intestinal muscle contractions. These unideal digestive changes have been linked to signals received from the sympathetic nervous system (1).

4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic has been reported in patients with IBD. For example, depression has been connected with Crohn's Disease and stress in Ulcerative Colitis. Animal studies show that stress exacerbates colitis and that depression increases susceptibility to inflammatory triggers (1, 5).

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Stress is factor known to predispose individuals to IBS and is also known to alter the bacterial composition. Patients with IBS have an increased response to stress, and stress is also a predictor of IBS as well as a determinant of symptom severity (5).

6. Intestinal permeability ‘Leaky gut’

Psychological stressor increases small intestinal permeability. Hormones secreted in a state of stress influence different receptors and immune responses and can cause changes to the gut barrier and function(6).

 

There are endless ways you can start to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm in your life. These include breathing exercises, music, meditation and exercise - countless phone apps can support these practices. Explore, find what works for you and make a regular practice of it.

 

Here’s to a happy mind and a happy gut!

 

By Rachel Larsson, Naturopath

Finding balance this Christmas

The magical month of December is here once again. I love the festive season. The days are filled with sunshine, social events and delicious food. But December isn’t here without its difficulties. The array of indulgent treats that cannot be avoided present a problem for many of my clients. So I’ve put together my thoughts on how to find balance this Christmas.

Be prepared

Say you have a specific health issue that you are trying to treat with dietary changes, such as leaky gut (no gluten) or candida overgrowth (low/no sugar). The key to getting through the Christmas season is planning ahead. Initiate an honest conversation with dinner hosts/restaurants about your dietary needs in advance or explain that you will be bringing something for yourself. 

Give yourself permission

While we must honour and nurture our physical bodies, we must also nourish our emotional self. Sharing a meal or a drink with friends and family brings joy into our lives. If you have been working on improving your diet, a day of indulging will not undo all that hard work. On these days, you can counter the negative effects of more sugar, fat and alcohol by adding in some additional digestive and liver support.  Letting go of the strict standards we put on ourselves is part of self-love and in itself can be immensely healing.

Support your digestion

Here are my top tips for optimising your body’s processing of dietary “bad guys”:

  • Drink fresh lemon/apple cider vinegar in warm water each morning to give your digestion a boost. It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is largely responsible for digestive secretions. If your tummy struggles with indigestion and reflux at the best of times, you may benefit from taking betaine hydrochloride and digestive enzymes to get you through.
  • Add in a liver support supplement over the Christmas period. St Mary’s Thistle, Globe Artichoke and Turmeric are among my favourite herbs to support bile acid production (breaks down fat), support detoxification and protect the liver against damage.
  • Take a daily probiotic such as Saccharomyces boulardii to help control gut bugs that are prone to growing out of control when we eat and dink more sugar.
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Support your mind

Stress levels can go up this time of year with more work pressures, increased busyness on the road/at the shops and less free time – which is exactly why we all need to prioritise finding time to calm the mind. Checking in with the breath each hour or a 15 minute morning meditation is enough to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system which is responsible for “rest and digest” activities, such as producing stomach acid.

Don’t let guilt ruin Christmas

Perhaps the appeal of the Christmas spread was a little too good and you ate too much, leaving you feeling unwell and disappointed in yourself. What a perfect opportunity to turn that guilt into something positive and practice self-forgiveness. Holding onto negative feelings toward the self only exacerbates health issues. So let those feelings go and replace them with something positive, such as looking forward to the goals you’re going to kick in 2018!

Extra Resources

Looking for recipes that take into consideration your dietary needs? At Narayani Wellness we love online resources by Teressa Cutter “The Healthy Chef”, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar and Deliciously Ella, Jamie Oliver and Lola Berry also offer some great ideas in their cookbooks.

By Lucy Mason, Naturopath

When to get help and when to do it alone.

We live in a wonderful time when we can access any information we want with just one easy click of the button.  For example, when I typed ‘gut health’ into Google I got a massive 133 MILLION hits! There is so much benefit to having access to this information, as you can get inspired, cultivate hope and discover some tools to help manage your health. However, having this much information has its down sides and can leave you feeling confused, overwhelmed or can even be dangerous.

In clinic I frequently hear my patients start a sentence with ‘I was reading about…’ or ‘I was Googling the other day and…’ Whilst I love hearing that they are taking an interest in their health, unfortunately the sentence usually ends with ‘now I’m confused’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’.

So, how do you know when you are out of your depth in addressing your health alone and when you need some professional help? To help you decide when you need to close the laptop and pick up the phone, ask yourself these five questions.

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1. Does your diet or supplement provide you with an immediate improvement and/or if you were to stop your treatment, would this effect be long-term?

If not, you have probably been providing yourself with Band-Aid support and not addressing the underlying issue. A great example I see a lot in clinic is constipation. Before coming to see me many patients have developed a dependency on strong coffee, laxatives or supplements to ensure a daily bowel motion. It needs to be understood that constipation is symptom of something else going on(1) and can be tricky to treat. There are many causes of constipation including an imbalance of your gut flora, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)(2) or nervous system issues, such as a side effect from a medication or low intestinal serotonin levels. Did you know 95% of the serotonin in our body is found in our gastrointestinal tract? Having enough serotonin is important because it signals the muscles along our digestive tract to contract and relax. This is called motility and it is necessary for regular bowel movements(3).

 

2. Do you feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious when thinking about your health?

If so, these emotions may be making your symptoms worse(4).  When your body experiences these emotions, it enters a state of fight or flight which causes our nervous system to tip into sympathetic nervous system dominance(5). Our sympathetic nervous system is necessary for our survival, as we use it when we need to escape danger or act quickly. However, this part of the nervous system inhibits our ability to rest and digest properly(6)(because who cares about digesting when you are running away danger). Experiencing daily stress, anxiety and overwhelm regarding your health may only be making you health worse. How ironic! A proven example of this relationship is stress and its ability to worsen or flare symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome(7). 

 

3. You have a sense that there is something else underlying the issue and are finding it difficult to get the big picture?

The perfect example of this is acne and congested skin. I meet many people that have ‘tried everything’; they have invested a lot of time and money into topical treatments, medications and diets without any improvement. Potentially this is because they are only treating one part of the problem.
Acne and skin congestion is considered a complex multi-system disease, rather a skin condition. Our skin is a huge organ and the health of it is a result of your diet, nutritional status, gut health and gut bugs, nervous system, hormones and immune system (8). So whilst the oral contraceptive pill or antibiotics may help manage your skin (9,10) if you stop these, your skin may go back to where it started. To make an effective long-lasting change in your skin, you need a holistic inside-out and outside-in approach.

 

4. Are you following advice that is supposed to help you and yet you feel worse?

You’ve starting eating healthier and have invested in cupboard full of supplements, yet you feel worse than ever with less energy, stomach pains, poor sleep and your mood has taken a turn. What could be going? It’s no surprise that we are all different - what works for someone may not work for you. A great example of this is if you have an underlying histamine issue. Histamine is a naturally occurring substance that we create in our body and is present in many foods. It is especially high in aged foods including bone broths, fermented foods, kombucha and kefir (11) and in some probiotics, which are readily promoted for gut healing (12). If you have tried any of these and feel worse, histamine sensitivity may be your issue. Perhaps you need the guidance from someone who acknowledges or understands the issue of histamine to help guide you back to health.

 

5. Is integrative medicine a better fit?

That is, are you required to take medications or are you under the care of practitioner who has limited understanding, interest or awareness of the role diet and gut healing plays in our wellbeing? If you answered ‘yes’ and you are trying to make supplement and dietary changes alone, you may be putting yourself in danger. Thyroxine (thyroid medication) is a great example of something that needs to be monitored closely. A change in supplements, medications and diet may alter the dosage needed to keep your thyroid in balance. If these interactions aren’t understood and accounted for, you may start to experience symptoms of thyroid imbalance (fatigue, shakiness, anxiety, gut issues)(13, 14). A practitioner that will consider these interactions is important in ensuring you a safe road to good health.

 

Closing Thoughts

Before you have lost all hope and motivation, spent years of your time and a mountain of money, reach out and get some professional support.  We love that you have taken the initiative in trying to help yourself and we want to be there for you to reach your health goals in a safe and effective way.   

By Rachel Larsson

BHSc (Naturopathy), BPH (Nutrition)            

Leaky Gut. Do you have it and what to do about it?

Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is linked to a whole bunch of common health complaints that we tend to just put up with or accept as being normal for my body. It has been linked to food intolerance's, acne and skin conditions, allergies and hay fever, asthma, fatigue and thyroid conditions. In addition to this, it can be associated with digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome(1). Clearly, it is very possible that you, or someone close to you, is suffering from leaky gut.

How is this possible?

To understand how leaky gut may be at the root of your symptoms, you need to know a bit about the gut. Our gut has many roles including digestion and nutrient absorption, and is an important protective barrier that monitors our internal and external environment. It also plays a massive part in the function of our immune system. For example, did you know that about 75% of our immune cells live there(2)? It also has an intimate relationship with our nervous system. Have your ever noticed that when you feel stressed or anxious, you may experience a change in bowel movements? Nervous tummy anyone?

Why do we get leaky gut?

In a healthy gut, our gut wall cells are triggered to open up and absorb good things like nutrients and keep our bad bugs and toxins out. Our digestive system is always getting triggered to open up and close but can usually keep a happy balance and recover from any minor insults. When the gut is in contact with nasty triggers like medications, parasites, chemicals and certain foods, it’s ability to close up starts to struggle. If exposure is for a short time, the barrier can return to normal, however if these stressors continue, this barrier is strained. Then the immune system, which lies beneath the gut lining, becomes overwhelmed. It loses sense of what is self and what is a potential allergen, toxin or baddie. This dysfunction starts to cause trouble to the point of developing autoimmune conditions. Remember all the conditions mentioned at the start? Yes, the gut connection is real(3)!

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What can I do about leaky gut?

Gut health and gut healing can be a tricky, especially if other conditions are present. A great place start would be:

1.     Probiotics

Probiotics help with leaky gut because of their beneficial role in supporting the immune system in the gut wall. This is evidence of their support in a vast array of health conditions. It’s so important to understand that not all probiotics are the same and this is where clinical expertise can really help. If you react to fermented foods (a good source of probiotics) or probiotic supplements something else maybe going on including histamine intolerance. This is why it is helpful to work with someone experienced in treating gut issues(4).  

2.     High fibre foods

After putting in all the good bugs into our system, we need to feed them. High fibre foods really means a vegetable rich diet. Great fermentable foods include sweet potato, lentils, pumpkin leek, garlic, asparagus, onion. Think high FODMAP foods. Delicious(5)!

3.     Reduce aggravating factors

We don’t want to keep giving our gut triggers that upset inflammation and immune function. Our body needs the time and environment to heal. This means limit alcohol, gluten, eat organic where possible and get rid of refined carbohydrates and sugar… put down the donut(6)

4.     Manage stress – yes this can be the hardest thing to do.

We live a lifestyle that fuels the fight and flight response and neglects our rest and digest nervous system – which is hugely important for our digestive ability.  Ever experience diarrhoea when you feel anxious or constipation when feeling stressed? Whether it is journalling, deep breathing, yoga or walking, it is important to find a way to manage your emotional and mental health(7).

5.     Eat a colourful, nutrient rich diet.

For our body to function at its best, it needs good sources of nutrients from a wide range of fresh, unprocessed foods. Fill your diet with good quality protein sources, a colourful variety of vegetables and fruits and you are on your way from getting all the nutrients and antioxidants you need for a healthy gut. We give a special shout out to amino acids like glutamine and nutrients like zinc and vitamin A, which the gut just loves.

How can I find out if I have leaky gut?

If you or someone you know suffer from the above mentioned conditions, then you should be considering the health of your gut and determining if you have leaky gut. As a practitioner who just loves all things gut health related, one of the first steps I take with my patients is testing for leaky gut. My inner nerd is thrilled by this test as it a brilliant way to measure how much healing needs to be done and can be tested again to assess progress. Once we identify if you have leaky gut, it is important to determine how to treat it holistically. Not only can you experience a positive shift in your current symptoms, but also prevent complications such as autoimmunity and chronic disease in the future. Isn’t that great?

If you are interested in finding out more about this or would like to be assessed, please get in touch. Let's get to the bottom of this!

Rachel Larsson

BHSc (Naturopathy), BPH (Nutrition)

How any superwoman can create life balance

After my last blog post about me getting real with myself, I thought I’d dig a little deeper and share my personal top tips to help any superwoman create life balance. (And yes, this is definitely applicable to all you awesome supermen)

1. Get real with your expectations of self.

What pressures are you putting on yourself? Are they really necessary? Or can you cut yourself some slack.

After all, you’re only human.

I highly recommend doing a brain dump of all your expectations of self and try to fit it into a weekly calendar. If you find yourself coming up against the limitations of time, then get real with yourself.  It’s best to make a conscious decision of what needs to give, rather than letting something important slide or ending up burnt out.

Be careful that you don’t fall in the trap of giving up the essential (and I mean critically important) time for self, exercise or time with friends. Yes, work at times can be a priority but a life of all work and no play is a life of struggle.  I believe that when we get our life balance right, spending time having fun with your loved ones can make your time doing work so much more productive and engaging.

2. Set a benchmark for your achievements each day.

Rather than having huge to-do lists, and becoming overwhelmed with it (which usually results in procrastination or lack of balance as you throw every single minute into ticking it all off), set a benchmark of what you need to do each day to feel successful, happy or productive.

Yes, it’s tricky for us over-achieving types, but once you get the hang of it I promise it can seem almost miraculous. You let go of pressure, life flows easier and you start to cultivate a feeling of satisfaction and success.

Since I’m balancing a newborn and running a business, my benchmark is just one thing related to my work each day. One thing only. When I manage this, then I allow myself to sit in the satisfaction of a productive and successful day.

3. Learn to prioritise and learn when to let things go.

This supports the previous two tips. It’s critical to push through your beliefs around the need to get through your to-do list or else.

Or perhaps the need to prove to everyone just how capable you are?

If you don’t get your entire to-do list done, the world won’t stop turning and chances are your life will only benefit from it. You won’t lose value and your peeps will still continue to love you.

Give yourself permission to prioritise time for self or creativity over doing the dishes or cleaning the house (unless of course these tasks really light you up). If you are a writer, then prioritise time to create in the morning, rather than leaving it until you’ve cleaned up after the kids, gone shopping, paid those bills… you get the picture. After all what’s most important to you?

4. Don’t get so busy working in your life that you forget to work on your life.

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading “The E-myth” by Michael Gerber, an extraordinary book for business owners or people considering becoming a business owner. He makes the wonderful point that too often we get engrossed in our lives with the doingness and day to day busyness that we forget who’s driving it.

Allocate time for you to contemplate, reflect, learn and grow.

Be the driver of your own life.

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5. Learn to delegate and do it the right way.

What is it that you absolutely need to be doing?  I bet that for most, it would translate to only 5% of what we are doing.

In his book “The Big Leap”, Gay Hendrix describes four zones of being. The incompetent, competent, excellent and genius zones. For tasks that fall in our incompetent (we have no skill in doing the task) and competent (we can do the task, but we don’t enjoy it and we don’t do a very good job) zones, it may be helpful to delegate these to someone else. Let them go, as they don’t fill your cup and well, truth is, someone else could probably do a better job.

And whilst it makes sense for us busy superwomen to delegate tasks like house-cleaning or car maintenance, be careful to not abdicate the more important tasks that fall in your incompetent or competent zone.

It’s definitely worth getting clear on what outcome you want (and how to get there in some cases) then to leave it up to Frank or Mary, who with the best intentions may only create even more problems for you. Yes, it’s easy to think that it’s too hard to understand or too far out of your comfort zone, but be careful of letting go of all control in that area of your life. You may just be giving your power away.

I’ve done this plenty of times myself including early on with marketing the first event of The Healing Forum, a day focused on sharing healing stories and healing wisdom. I hired a marketing student to “take on” the whole marketing side of things. I was so excited initially as I believed I was delegating tasks correctly. Something that I’ve really struggled with. But in this instance, rather than delegating I was abdicating my responsibility to this very important aspect. I gave very little direction and didn’t take the time to research what I wanted or felt was best for our brand. I actually convinced myself that handing this over to a complete stranger was a show of respect…. Well, it resulted in a nightmare and ended up taking a lot longer and a lot more month. The attitude of “you just deal with it” doesn’t always work out well in the end.

When delegating be clear what outcome you want, give direction about the process and be sure that you don’t give your power away to someone else.

6. Finally, recognise there is much to be gained by being. So stop doing, and start being.

I can’t say I’ve mastered this one, but I’ve certainly glimpsed the truth of this statement. Solutions, ideas, and some of my biggest ah-ha moments have happened when I’m away from my desk having a walk in nature or a cuddle with my boys.

The most productive countries in the world are also those that promote shorter work days. But better than this, they also happen to be some of the happiest countries. Rather than getting caught in a spiral of hard work and struggle, these statistics are showing us that containing our working hours and prioritizing activities that make us happy, will actually be of benefit to our work and career.

With that, I can now tick off my one thing to do today and can go finish a jigsaw puzzle my son got for his birthday (thanks Abi!)…

 

Kapow! Bam! Zap!

Om Namo Narayani,

Superwoman Dr Fi

Getting real with myself

It’s been amazing. I’ve had the most wonderful time on maternity leave. Yes, there have been many sleepless nights and even some challenging moments with both kids having meltdowns simultaneously as I’m trying to get out the door or cook lunch or take a breather!

But generally I’ve loved it. Cherished it. And been very grateful for it all.

So with a little sadness and trepidation, mixed with excitement and curiosity, I am preparing myself to return to clinical work in December. Rather than the headstrong sink or swim type of gal I usually am, I’m easing my way into it in an attempt to embody more self-love and gentleness.

One of the rewards of breastfeeding is having moments throughout the day where you have to sit and just be. It is at these times that I deeply connect with my little one, but also get to reflect on my life.

As I sit there, feeling connected and loved, I find myself easily entering a state of enquiry. So many questions flowing through my mind challenging my state of reality and assumptions, urging me to change and grow - How do I want to live my life? Why am I a doctor? Why am I running my own business? How can I help others more, and be available for my family? How, what, why?

What if?

As the end of the year comes closer I want to share with you something I recently did, which was so simple yet profound. I created a weekly calendar and allocated times for everything I wanted to do. All of my expectations about how much work I will be doing, how much time to work on my business, how much time for study, family, yoga, exercise, daily meditation practice, cooking, friends etc etc etc… I basically did a big brain dump and tried to organise it in some way into my weekly planner.

And what I found was life changing.

I couldn’t fit everything in.

Not even remotely….

And then it dawned on me.

No wonder I forever feel like I’m not doing enough.

That I’m not enough.

It explains the pressure I constantly carry, created from the feeling that I’m not studying enough. Nor working enough.  Or doing enough exercise or spending enough time with my kids.

But in truth, if I continue with this, I can never meet my expectations of what is enough. It’s just not humanly possible. I’m setting myself up to fail in a big way and to condemn myself in the process.

But not this time round!

Next year, I’m challenging my expectations and getting real.

I’m setting myself up to win. I’m scheduling in me-time, time to be in the moment, in the state of enquiry and in that state of love and connectedness.

I’m setting myself up for a marathon, not a sprint. I do believe I can have it all, just not all at once. So to make my inner child feel like she’s not missing out, I’m drawing up a big plan to show her how even if it takes an additional 6 months, 12 months or even 18 months longer, we still get there.

And we get to enjoy the journey too!

So as the end of 2016 comes around, I wish you all luck in getting real with your plans for 2017.  And may you too push through the murkiness of misaligned expectations of self and come out the other side shining too.

With love,  

Fiona

P.S Thanks for reminding me of this during 2017. I’m always open for a bit of gentle nudging in the right direction….

Stress and anxiety free