You live and learn
With the little energy I had left, I forced myself to walk in the woods daily. I can truthfully say that it was the woods which helped me to regain perspective, to see things in a new light and to slow down the pace of life I had taken on. What started as small gentle strolls turned into hour long walks where I’d get hopelessly lost. There is something wonderful about getting lost in the woods. Everything around you knows where you are, it’s just you that hasn’t a clue!
It’s these wood walks that ignited my passion for foraging, medicinal mushrooms, and eventually forest therapy, as well as my deep love and appreciation for trees. Nature has such immense healing properties, we humans totally underestimate that.
To get my brain and body back into full form after overexerting every inch of me, I had to truly practice what I had been preaching to my nutrition clients for years. I had to nourish myself properly, take the time to sit, chew, and balance my meals carefully. My knowledge of Ayurveda and supplements turned out to be my life saver. I put myself on a combinations of herbs and nutrients that supported my sleep, mood and energy levels. It was satisfying to see that what I preached worked and that I could save myself from having to take prescribed medication.
Anyone who has been close to a burn out may know that your threshold for handling stress seems to change. A lot. What you could handle easily before, can suddenly become completely unmanageable. Although Qi Gong, yoga and mindfulness helped with this, I felt I needed a different solution which I could apply any time of the day, anywhere, in any scenario. The answer lay in something so simple it seemed silly. Managing my breath.
I started to study the breath extensively, from coherent breathing to Pranayama. Eventually it was the Buteyko breathing technique which helped me most and which I could apply easily in my day-to-day activities. I still continue to explore the breath to this day and am a firm believer that being able to fully control your breath allows you to control your emotional and physical wellbeing extremely well.
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. A person has to be ready to change, ready to face their shadows and perceived downfalls. But most of all, be ready to be vulnerable and open, which can be the hardest part of our healing journey. I wish I had accepted more help when I wasn't doing well, and I'd love to be of help to those who have the courageous to ask for it.
Anxiety if a funny thing. I never realised it was such a big issue in my life. It expressed itself in very subtle ways. A constantly racing mind, excessive worry, difficulty breathing deeply into my lungs, occasional bouts of severe insomnia, a bit of OCD, bloating, difficulty being in crowds... Nothing too extreme.
Until I was pushed to the edge. In 2014 I was asked to co-author a nutrition book with Bear Grylls. An opportunity I could not refuse. Little did I know that what should have become my road to success turned into my road to a near burn out.
Having to write content under extreme time pressure while also having to create 70 recipes from scratch in a tiny, not very well equipped kitchen while privately dealing with some difficulties too left me so incredibly anxious and overwhelmed that insomnia took a complete hold of me.
Upon completion of the book I could barely function and had to admit to myself that I was not doing very well, at all. My mind was going thought a strange whirlwind of emotions. I was now overwhelmed pretty much all of the time, I felt like a failure, was riddled with guilt and embarrassment, full of unxplained fear, and haunted by a constant feeling of doom and gloom. All of that while simultaneously feeling totally flat. Yet, I did not tell a soul how I was really doing. Instead, I simply put on a brave face, a fake smile and continued my nutrition work with clients.
But when the universe tells you to stop and change, eventually all you can do is listen, no matter how hard you try to fight it. And unless you ask for help, the road to recovery can be slow and arduous.
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Science / Therapy
Qualified Dietary educator
Qualified Buteyko Technique Instructor
TCM nutrition certified
Mental Health First Aider
Areas of expertise:
Mental health and anxiety
Insomnia and other sleep disorders
The Buteyko breathing method for anxiety, asthma, COPD, sleep apnea, insomnia and any other breath related conditions and diseases
Vagal breathing techniques for anxiety & stress