Podcast Episode 7 – Flirting with Burnout

Taking a look at burnout, overwhelm at work and what we can do to alleviate stress – with Grace Galliott from the Natural Health Clinic

Michelle: 12 years ago I had a burnout.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever said the words in exactly that way before because I think for most of the last 12 years I’ve actually been in denial that it was actually a burnout.

I think I had in my head that burnout meant that the men in white coats came and dragged you out of the office or at the very least you went off on long-term sick, never to return, when in fact what happened to me is I just turned up one day and quit, and turned my back on 20 years of hard slog to get me to the position I was in, which was on the board.

It was only recently, when I started researching this subject, that I looked at the symptoms of burnout and I thought, “Actually I was experiencing most of those.”

One of the classic symptoms leading up to a burnout is denial that you’re in trouble and I think I was totally in denial of the stress levels I was under.

I was routinely visiting my doctor with a variety of symptoms, but all I really wanted was something to help me keep going.

I didn’t want to listen to her advice about slowing down at all and likewise, I had a coach at the time, but it was a similar story. I was just looking for ways to help me do more, rather than looking at how I was doing things, why I was working at breakneck speed.

I was accumulating a whole list of ailments, IBS, food intolerances, shortness of breath; I regularly had adrenal failure.

I knew about stress relief so I was running, which I’ve learned since is a really bad way of working with stress, because it’s another “charge” activity. My body was giving up anyway, and I kept getting running injuries.

I wasn’t sleeping well. I was self-medicating with wine and although I was working long hours, I was becoming less and less productive during those hours. I remember I had the attention span of a gnat by that time.

I think the most damaging thing was that I saw stress as weakness and something shameful to admit to, so there was a lot of outwardly putting on a show, but inwardly self-loathing, beating myself up for not being able to cope better and beginning to feel overwhelmed and useless.

That’s what drove me to quit without another job to go to.

I did get a couple of companies approaching me for other high-powered roles, but by then I was so full of self-disgust and self-loathing, I’d failed. I couldn’t do this anymore.

That’s when what I call the “long year of the soul” began. It wasn’t just a “dark night”, I can assure you.

It felt like I’d fallen off a cliff. I didn’t know who I was without the job and I just felt totally worthless, which apparently is one of the signs of burnout.

When did it all go wrong? I loved my job, and I think I was pretty good at it up to a certain point.

Maybe the job grew faster than I did. Also, I was working at a time where that first shift came from being able to leave work at work and having a little handheld device which enabled you to read your emails at home.

That was the start of the 24/7, always-on culture. That was 12 years ago.

Reading an article in the Sunday Times recently on women and stress today, certainly the problems I was encountering back then haven’t got any better.

In fact, they sound like they have got 10 times worse, but what might be different now to back then, is I think we might be able to talk about stress more now?

Can we admit it? Do we still see stress as a sign of weakness?Are we now better informed on what to do, the alternative therapies and other methods available to us?

I’ve been working as a coach now for 12 years and during that time, I’ve met a lot of stressed people.

I think, like I was back then, most people who are stressed come to learn how to cope, how to do more, how to get more done rather than do less. Sadly it’s often not until people are already burned out that I get to work with them.

Today, I have invited a local therapist, Grace Galliott, to join the Podcast. Grace runs the Natural Health Clinic over here, which offers a whole array of different therapies, a lot of them around stress prevention.

I’m really interested to hear what Grace is going to have to say to us today. Could she have saved me from my burnout?

I’m delighted to say Grace is now with us, so welcome, Grace.

Grace: Hi, Michelle.

Michelle: I just need to tell you, Grace and I have been working together for, what’s it about?

Grace: About three years, I think.

Michelle: Three years or so, where we do swaps. I coach Grace and she gives me all sorts of wonderful treatments. I just have to say, she’s brought this tea for us to drink. What on earth is this stuff we’re drinking?

Grace: This is mushroom tea. It’s called Lion’s Mane and it’s by the company called Four Sigmatic, who I’ve really got quite obsessed with. Lion’s Mane is really useful for brain function and helping us to focus and concentrate, so I thought it would be quite useful for our podcast this morning.

Michelle: Right, okay. Shall we say it’s an acquired taste?

Grace: Earthy.

Michelle: Yes, it’s earthy. She’s also got me doing a celery fast at the moment or rather celery juicing.

Grace: I have you juicing in the morning, yes.

Michelle: Yes, so I was just saying that I’ve never seen breakfast look so appealing while I’m juicing my celery, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Stress, are you seeing lots of stressed people come through your clinic?

Grace: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I just think in this day and age, I know you spoke about your burnout and that being 12 years ago, but I think it’s even worse now.

People are so over-stimulated with the addition of social media, that with everything else on top of it, I think it’s just been too much for people.

Michelle: What I was saying before about being ashamed of being stressed, I was the only woman on the board and within a very male-dominated world, I didn’t feel I could be seen as the weak woman. Is that something that you see?

Grace: No. I think the clients that are coming in, they are coming in where they are desperate and they’re just like, “Please help me. I’m not really sure what to do, I just think you can help me.” They do feel comfortable with me, but obviously I’m not sure how they air that in the workplace or if they do at all, because I only see people coming with their problems. I’m not sure how they speak about stress in the workplace.

Michelle: Let’s pretend to time travel back 12 years and I’m coming to you instead of going to my doctor, going “Give me a coping pill,” and I came to you and said, “Look, these are the symptoms I have. I’m really beginning to struggle at work.” What would you do with me?

Grace: Okay, first of all, if we go into what physiologically happens in the body when we get stressed, the adrenals release cortisol and adrenaline. Then that in turn causes our heart to race. We can get panicky, we can get IBS.

But stress can also be a good thing.

If you’re going to a meeting, and you’ve got adrenaline pumping through your body, then you’re going to probably perform better, but if that’s constantly happening over time and the blood is rushing to the extremities because the body thinks we need to run away from a bear or a lion, even though there’s nothing to run from and we’re just sitting at our desks, then that’s when the problem starts, because cortisol is constantly being released all the time.

Usually cortisol helps to keep inflammation in check, but when it’s constantly being released all the time, inflammation can run riot and it can lead to adrenal fatigue as well.

We can’t avoid stress, but if we’re constantly being chronically stressed then the effects on the body are just awful, from heart disease to obesity.

Stress massively impacts our microbiome, which then in turn massively affects our mood, how we feel, disease, all that kind of thing.

We know now that stress affects our DNA and damages our telomeres. Everything is initially caused by stress of some kind. Because we can’t avoid it we need to look at the natural solutions, and there are many. That is, I find, especially with social media now, that there is lots of information available for people quite easily, so I think that is helping.

Michelle: That’s a positive.

Grace: Massive positive.

A lot of people follow natural health pages and all that kind of thing now with people offering different advice and people getting desperate and trying things and realizing, “Actually this is making a difference to how I feel.”

If we go in now to the things I recommend for stress, the first thing is yoga and exercise, massively reduce cortisol and can help us to get more embodied.

Most people are just in their heads and not embodied in their body, which is really, really important to feel grounded, because when you get stressed, you get overwhelmed, it’s really easy to just stay in your head and then that can have a really negative effect.

Michelle: Yes, I mean, there’s been an absolute explosion of yoga, but mostly for women.

You don’t see a lot of guys in the yoga classes. You also said exercise, but I was doing running at that time, which I’ve been told isn’t good.

Grace: Yes,

if you actually burn out, then any physical exercise is not a good idea because you’re depleting an already-depleted body.

The things like yoga and meditation are definitely a good idea.

If you are suffering with just a little bit of stress, there is no harm in doing things like weight training in the gym, just not endurance stuff, pushing your adrenals even further to the max, releasing cortisol even more, but there’s lots of things that you can do to assist bringing that cortisol down if you feel that’s really going to help.

Michelle: Yes, so it’s the endurance stuff which is the problem

Grace: Yes. It’s just so much stress on the body.

Michelle: I was doing half marathons. It’s tough.

Grace: Yes, so I’m not surprised you were injuring yourself all the time. Your magnesium levels were probably extremely low and your body so stressed and tense anyway, can you imagine if you think of a really tense muscle banging on the concrete all the time, it’s going to lead to trouble and imbalances and hip problems and all sorts of things.

Michelle: I think I liked running at the time because that was the only time that I got into …. I wouldn’t really say I was the type of runner that could get into flow, but I was able to just not think about anything else for the half an hour, an hour, whatever, I was out running.

Grace: Yes, you were just focusing on what you were actually doing, but yes, that probably still wasn’t a good idea.

There’s lots of different ways we can get into that state by creating stillness within the body as well. Going on from yoga and exercises and meditation, it’s probably a very good idea.

Meditation isn’t for everybody because if your head is so busy, busy, it’s really hard to try and meditate.

I’d say if you’re at that point where you’re at burnout, it’s probably useful to do it with a group because then you’re there and you have to be there.

You’re being guided or there’s a lovely App that you can get called Headspace, which starts with just a 10-day, 10-minute meditation every day, just guided by a lovely, calming man’s voice that is very useful to just get you settled a little bit. Then if you want to progress from that, you can either carry on with that or you can start finding guided meditations on YouTube.

Michelle: Yes, I mean, I’ve been doing yoga now for quite a number of years, and I’ve been part of a spiritual school which does a lot of meditation, but I’m not a natural cushion-sitter, I never was.

One of the things I find with meditation is that when you get still, that’s when the inner critic voice starts getting active.

So yes, guided meditations, but I’m not sure that I could have done meditation at the point that I was at. I was too zizzed.

If you’re not really going to go towards meditation and you’re doing a bit of yoga, what else?

Grace: Okay, next thing is,

acupuncture is amazing, massive research, scientific proof around reducing cortisol and having a massive impact on the immune system.

Yes, just really, really, really helping stress massively.

The most important thing that I want to talk about today is if our stress bucket is full, okay, so yours was really, really full at the time, the job you had. You also would have had a lot of stress in your body anyway because any time that our breath is shocked throughout our life time, which is obviously quite a lot, there’s a trauma.

If you’ve got all of this stress in your body anyway, Andre Duquemin when I worked with him for the Cranio Sacral stuff, called them fulcrums and compared it to, if you imagine a big sheet, calling up a big sheet and pinching one thing, pinching another every time the breath changes and it becomes this big, really tight, horrible, restricted thing that’s not very flowing.

The breath has been affected by that. That’s sitting inside your body as a stress.

You’ve got to look at suppressed childhood issues, any stuff to do with your own personal birth, any emotional trauma throughout the life, especially if it’s stuff that’s been pushed down and avoided, which most of us do because we like to suppress our stuff.

We’re quite good at that, I think. We’re much better in the last few years, I think, at trying to get stuff out, but that is a massive thing that I would have wanted to work with you on at that stage if I’d seen you there, is actually addressing the physical body to get things settled, but also looking at, where are there suppressed emotions in the body and where does that inner drive come from in you? Is it a parent’s voice? Is it a teacher’s voice? It’s some limiting belief for you that you had at that time that, that’s what success and happiness looked like.

Michelle: Oh, absolutely, Yes. I mean, I’ve done a lot of work myself with this, since I’ve become a coach, and one of the things that I’ve done is trained as an Enneagram practitioner. I now know that my Enneatype is a Type 3, which is the Achiever. That is where you’ve got this internal driver that really says, “I’ll be safe if …” It’s an addiction to actually striving rather than on the surface it looks like an addiction to success, but actually it’s this addiction to, “If I just do a bit more, if I just do a bit more, then I’ll be safe.” We all have our own different versions of that, but I know that one, I’ve really worked with it for the last 12 years, I know how strong that was in me.

Grace: What happened to you when you found that out, that that was your type?

Michelle: Oh, well, the thing is, when you find out what your type is, you tend to think, “Oh, my God, that’s the worst type ever.” I think when you found out your type was a Type Seven, it was like, “Oh, my God.”

Grace: Yes, it makes total sense.

Michelle: Yes, because it’s our Achilles heel. It shows us the things that we don’t want to actually see, but yes, I’m interested, because it’s not just the personality type.

You said about traumas and certainly I’ve had traumas through my life. I remember being made redundant in my twenties, that was a huge trauma for me. My marriage broke up in my thirties, that was a big trauma and I probably did exactly that, pushed down the emotions. I think I was very proud of that, that I could pick myself up, dust myself off and carry on.

Grace: Yes, you saw that as being strong.

Michelle: Yes, being strong, but also the ancestral stuff. What happened? I’ve been talking with my daughter, who’s rather stressed herself at the moment and when I look at her patterns I’m thinking, “They’re very similar to my patterns, and they’re very similar to maybe my Dad’s patterns as well”, this stuff that gets passed down through the family as well.

Grace: Yes,yes, that subconscious age especially isn’t it, that nought to six, is when that stuff is really drummed into us and not on purpose by our parents at all. They’re always doing the best that they can, but there are things that they do, especially during that time, that we learn as, “Oh, this is what’s right. This is what the world is like.”

Michelle: Yes, and that’s where our inner critic actually comes from, the little voice in our head that’s always on our back to do more. It’s wanting to keep us safe, but it will do whatever the patterns were from our childhood. How do you work with that?

Grace: We’ve done stuff together around that. When I learned about my Enneagram, that really helped me with that kind of thing. I mean, when I first met you I was probably on the edge of burnout. We thought that I was in between a Helper (2) and an Achiever (3) at that time, because that’s the behaviour that I was showing, but I had a very, very traumatic birth with my son and I wasn’t a therapist when I first started out, I was just massaging, so I’d never sleep at night.

My son never slept, and I’d be taking care of other people all day. I’d started up this company making candles, which was an extra thing to do, so I wasn’t getting any down time. I felt like, “If I just help other people and keep doing this, then I’ll be successful and everything will be great,” but there was no real sitting down and actually thinking about it until I came and had a session with you, where you’re just in that space where you’re just trying to figure things out and being guided by someone that knows exactly the right questions to ask.

That, for me, was just so powerful, because I was just taking care of everyone else and not myself.

That is another really common thing that people do, and as a yes person, I’d say yes to everyone I wanted to be, what I thought at the time was a good person. Yes, I mean, looking at the Enneagram, we did some inner child work where I had to sit in the position of the inner child looking at myself now. I was imagining I was seeing myself sat in the chair, and that was such a powerful release.

I think I remember, as that inner child sitting there looking at me, I think I remember saying, “I just feel so sorry for her. She doesn’t have fun. She doesn’t take care of herself. Why is she so serious?”

Just being absolutely so upset by seeing that, and obviously sitting in the position of my inner child, just allowing the release of acknowledging that, disown part of myself, I think. Yes, I mean, I found that saved me, to be honest, having those sessions with you.

That time, in a really busy, fast-paced life that I had, that was my time to work it all out. The realizations that you have are sometimes so painful but so powerful and really worth the growth that they bring.

Michelle: Well, that’s lovely to hear.

Grace: Mm-hmm (affirmative), you know I love you.

Michelle: Thank you. This wasn’t meant to be a plug for my business, but thank you very much, Grace.

You gave up doing the candles, and you went on and set up the Natural Health Clinic. Tell me more about the services that you’re offering there, particularly with stress.

Grace: Okay, services that we offer for stress, I’d say the EFT stuff is the ideal hands-on sessions.

Michelle: Slow down. EFT, what’s that?

Grace: EFT is emotional freedom technique. The sessions that I offer around it are slightly different to the traditional way of doing EFT, which is sit opposite to each other, whilst I’m tapping you’re tapping and you’re just copying what I do, copying what I say, and we’re trying to get you to go into your body. I work it slightly different, because I’ve combined it with reflexology first. I like to work with reflexology because it can pick up on both the physical and emotional stuff that’s going on in the body.

So I can feel if their adrenals are really stressed because I really want them taking adrenal supports, which we’ll talk about after, and making sure that they’re okay and that they know what’s going on and maybe why they feel the way they feel.

We do reflexology sessions first, see what’s going on, see where the blocks are in the feet that the body wants to work with first, because a client could come in and say, “I want to work with X, Y, Z. I think that’s what’s making me feel the way I feel.”

I prefer to listen to what the body says, because they might not be ready to work with what they’ve come up with, so I prefer to work with what the body says and be gentle. We work with the feet and then with whatever comes up on the feet, we then come on to the body. I work with Reiki and tapping on the client and getting them to go into the body and saying, “Right, okay, what’s here?”

Michelle: Which, yes, for me, when I think back to my situation, I was going in thinking with my head that I knew better,

whereas what you would have done with me would have been to consult my feet first and see what my body was saying rather than what I was wanting to override.

Grace: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and I probably would have felt that your head was like a merry-go-round and that you weren’t in your body. I would have worked probably quite gently with you at that point to try and get the energy moving very gently down, and getting the energy settled in your head so that it didn’t feel so confused and overwhelmed, and get things gently moving down.

Michelle: You’d have been able to pick up that my adrenals were completely ***

Grace: Yes, I would have-

Michelle: I was going to use a rude word there, but yes, you’d have been able to pick that up.

Grace: Yes, definitely, definitely. When I worked on them, they actually would have felt very sore to you as well. You could have really jumped on the couch if they were really quite bad.

Michelle: You mentioned tapping. What on earth is tapping?

Grace: Okay,

Tapping is a form of psychology, energy release.

We work with the tapping points, which are on the meridian points, like the same that you would work with in acupuncture.

You’ve got this one on top of the head, there’s one above the eyebrows, side of the eye, under the eye, and all the different points release different things.

Some release sadness, some release anger, some release grief.

Some release the inner critic, lack of focus. All the different points mean different things.

Traditionally psychologists used to use it with just using the points required for the area that they were working on, but can you imagine if you were trying to work with something that you felt very angry about, and just working on just the anger point, that’s a very hard thing to remember for that psychologist to go, “Oh, that’s that point, oh, that’s that point.”

They’ve made EFT much more widely available now for when you’re working through something, just tapping on all the points, which I find is just really easy.

It’s something that you can use yourself, so I would have taught you tapping at that time, so I could teach you how to acknowledge the feeling you wanted to acknowledge in your body, “I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling X, Y, Z.”

You want to acknowledge the negative first.

Then I would have got you tapping on positive affirmations, so “I’m feeling calm, I’m feeling safe, I’m feeling grounded,”

all that kind of thing, so that you’re almost really getting that feeling of that energy in your body to assist the adrenals to get your body believing what you’re trying to get your mind to believe, if that makes sense.

Michelle: Yes, okay. If we do a little run-through now, if I’m tapping the top of my head, what would I be saying to myself?

Grace: You’d acknowledge the negative first. The side of the hand is the tuning in point, so you’d say,

“Even though I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I fully love and accept myself.” That in itself can bring a release.

When you get people saying, “I fully love and accept myself,” they’re like, “What? You want me to say what?” Because they’re sometimes just not used to that, so even saying that can bring a massive emotional release.

Some people just cry or they feel like they can’t say it. I’ve had people before that, “I can’t say that.” I have to get them believing that they can say that.

Michelle: Yes, because I was saying before, I really remember those feelings of just low self-worth that came with the stress, so yes, being able to say, “I totally love and accept myself,” would have been amazing.

Grace: You can do that three times on the side of the hand. Three is the magic number.

“Even though I’m feeling X, Y, Z, it’s okay. I fully love and accept myself.”

Then, as we tap through the points on the body, from the top of the head, above the eye, all that kind of thing, you’d go, “I’m feeling stressed. I don’t like how this is making me feel. I really don’t like how this is making me feel in my body. I’m feeling horrible. I really don’t like the feeling of stress. I’m really stressed.”

You go through all the points that way, then the next time you would go through with the positive side.

“I’m feeling calm. I’m feeling safe in my body, I’m feeling relaxed,” all that kind of thing, to really change that feeling that’s there. It really does work, but it can bring a big release. I think at that stage if you’d done that, you’d have probably had a big energetic release or a cry or, I don’t know.

Michelle: Well, yes, I mean, I think if I’d done yoga then, if I’d learned about my Enneatype then, if I’d known a huge amount of stuff I know now, it would have been hugely different.

One of the things I’ve learned about in the last few years is the vagus nerve. Now, I’d never heard of the vagus nerve until a few years ago. Can you explain a little bit more what this is and how it plays a part in our stress system?

Grace: Yes,

we’ve got two different parts of our nervous system. We’ve got the part that’s “rest and digest” and we’ve got the part that’s “fight or flight”.

Most people are in fight or flight all the time. It’s how do we get that vagus nerve activation to get back into rest and digest.

Michelle: Okay, that’s the magic highway between the two.

Grace: Yes, yes. If we get the vagus nerve activating and allowing ourself to get into the subconscious as well, it’s very, very powerful, especially if you’ve got stress-related IBS, your blood is constantly being pumped to your extremities and you’ve got all this adrenaline in your body all the time, you’re not going to digest your food well.

It’s just not going to happen, because that side is switched off.

Yes, to get the vagus nerve activation, there’s lots of different things that you can do.

Sea swimming, in cold water swimming is probably the most powerful thing that you can do.

I remember the first really, really cold swim I did without a wetsuit. I think it was in March, which is the coldest month.

Michelle: It is, yes.

Grace: I’d gone in, I think I went with Emma Despres actually. She really encouraged me to take the wetsuit off and we were swimming out, we were talking, and I couldn’t talk anymore.

I had this bolt that shot from my spine at every single area in my spine like a lightning bolt shot all the way through my body. My whole body was just tingling. I had done a lot of cold water swims before that, but wow! That was a powerful moment.

I felt incredible after that, so calm, so grounded, whereas I’m usually quite a manic person.

I seem quite calm to people, and people always say that to me, “You’re like a swan,” but I can get quite manic.

Again, that’s part of my Enneagram, which when I learned I really found was really useful to see the traits and realize I was like that.

I think that was a real vagus nerve activation for me, so yes, cold sea swimming.

Michelle: Not for everyone. You introduced me to it, what was that – 18 months ago now?

Yes, I’ve just completed my first 12-month period of swimming all the way round the year. We’re in a nice warm time. The sea is 18 degrees at the moment, but there’s something almost missing with it at 18 degrees.

Grace: Yes, I don’t like it as much.

Michelle: No, I don’t get the high that I do when it’s at the colder time of the year.

Going into the sea is like it takes your breath away. The nearest I can describe it to, I don’t drink diet Coke anymore, but when you pop a really cold Coke and take that first swig, it wakes you up, so sea swimming does that for me now.

Grace: When you’re going in when it’s cold, you really have to decide that, that’s what you’re doing, because you take that first step when your body goes “No,” you have to really, really want that high that you get.

For me it’s an absolute flow state because you’re forced to focus on your breath.

You’ve got to really take in a lot of air to help. Once you take the arms out and really that first glide is immense, it’s beautiful, but yes, not for everyone.

Michelle: No, I mean, I would say it’s always different.

Sometimes I just get this massive hit of joy and other times I get the state of oneness. I feel like I’m communing with the divine, and other days it’s just a friggin cold swim.

Grace: Yes, what’s really interesting as well, looking at what happens in the body on a physiological level, is our brain, especially when it’s very, very cold releases a chemical called DMT, which is diatriptomine something like that.

I’m not very good at remembering the whole name, but that is released from the pineal gland when we die, which makes us feel euphoria, oneness with everything, sheer joy, and I think that’s really cool that we can release that, especially when it’s really cold.

I’ve found that, especially if I’m swimming with someone that will push me a little bit more and say, “Just stay in a little bit longer,” because I’m usually like, “Okay, I’m done now.” If I’ve got someone that really wants to have a good swim, I’m a bit better off staying a bit longer, and I find those effects last a bit longer.

I just feel so grateful to be alive.

That’s what Paula always says, doesn’t she, after our swim? She says, “I’m so grateful to be alive.” I just think, “Wow!”

Michelle: Yes, I totally get it, I totally get it.

The biggest thing, I think, for me over the last 12-18 months, in terms of my contentment, joy with life, has gone up through the regular early morning sea swimming.

Grace: Yes, and when we look at it on an energetic level as well, it’s very, very cleansing so if you are around people all the time, especially if it’s sometimes emotionally draining, where you’re working with clients or you’re putting your hands on people all the time, there’s going to be an energetic transfer.

I find it’s just very cleansing if I’ve had a really difficult day with clients, or I’m feeling overwhelmed, if I get in the sea it’s all gone.

I walk down to that sea, I’m tired or stressed or sad or whatever it is, and I come out a completely different human, even if it’s just a few minutes. I do think there’s definitely some kind of magic.

Michelle: Which is one of the things that we’re really lucky with because we live in Guernsey, so close to the sea.

I know there’ll be people out there listening who are going to say, “Yes, but I haven’t got time to go for a sea swim.” What else can they do?

Grace: People that haven’t got time, yes, I mean, especially if you’ve got children and if you’re working full time, it makes it really difficult to do anything outside of that, even if it’s going to a yoga class or going to an exercise class.

It’s like you have to look at what you’re doing in your life and work out what you can change, because if there’s so much happening, you do.

Something has to go, you have to decide, “right, I’m taking care of myself now. In this schedule that I have, what can I change?”

Is it cleaning the house? If you’ve got a full-time job and you can afford a cleaner, get a cleaner.

If you want to spend time with your family, I think having someone else clean your house that wants to do that, enjoys that, it’s massive.

I think there’s a lot of shame around that for women that feel that they should clean their own house.

I think if you’re really busy and you haven’t got time for that, and you want your precious time that is free away from work to be the best it can be, then why not pass off the stuff that you don’t want to do.

Michelle: Oh, absolutely. I’ve had the same cleaner for 30 years which is incredible. In that time, well, apart from when she goes on holiday, I never change my own bed, I don’t wash my own sheets, and I don’t iron my own clothes. When I gave up my corporate job she said, “Oh, will you still want me?” I said, “Yes!!”

Grace: Yes, please don’t leave me.

Michelle: Because I don’t want to do those things if I don’t have to. I’d rather pay somebody to do that.

Grace: Yes, yes, and I’m sure that some people have opinions about that, but I think you’re really amazing at what you do. That’s what you give to the world, so you need to focus on that, and keeping taking care of yourself so that you don’t reach burnout again. If having a cleaner and having someone else doing those things for you helps, then that’s amazing.

Michelle: I mean, I did have that in place when I had my burnout, but I totally agree.

There is absolutely no shame in having a cleaner or a gardener, or any other help that you need.

Grace: Yes, yes. Going back to the EFT sessions that I do, I really like that because people can feel stuff happening in their body. It’s not just, “Right, well, I’m telling you this is what’s going on.” They’re feeling it, too. It’s not just me sounding like I’m a bit of a witch, like “This is what’s happening, da da da da.” They’re actually feeling the sensations in their body, or the release of the emotions, so if someone was at burnout, that would be a really good thing to do I think, because it would make you reflect and think about what was going on.

You know then that you’ve got someone there that you can go to and vent, or talk to about how you’re feeling without feeling like you’re burdening them, which I think is really useful.

What else have we got at the clinic?

We’ve got the lovely Todd who does remedial massage.

Again, if you’ve got lots of shoulder tension, neck tension, from sitting at a desk, that internal rotation through the shoulders, really, really lovely to have a decent massage because it’s such a common thing, isn’t it, especially tension headaches, with stress. That’s a massive for releasing the muscles.

We’ve got Chrissy, who does Chinese medicine and acupuncture.

Acupuncture, amazing for stress as I said before, and

We’ve got Jo, who we bring over from the UK, who is an amazing healer and a Bio-dynamic Cranio-Sacral Therapist.

She’s just so amazing, so, so amazing and yes, she’s always really busy, but if you want to see her, then just give us an email.

We’ve got Gareth that comes over, who does more sports injury stuff and chronic pain issues with a therapeutic P-DTR.

We’ve got Sam Le Compte who does massage as well.

She’s absolutely awesome and she does all sorts of things. Her favorite thing is just really helping people to release tension, especially in the hands and the shoulders and the neck.

Yes, we’ve got a whole host of people that can help with all sorts of things.

I think, because we don’t have a receptionist or anything like that, if people are unsure about the right thing that they should do, just send us an email via the website and I’ll get back to them with what I think they should try.

We also have lots of supplements that we sell, and essential oils and things like salts. I’d quite like to talk about the adaptogenic herbs and essential oils.

Michelle: Yes, tell me more about that.

Grace: It would have been instantly useful to you at that time.

We’ve got adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola.

Anything that’s an adaptogenic is really assisting the body to reduce cortisol.

Adaptogens mimic hormones okay? Rhodiola complex is really, really good. What else have we got? Ashwagandha is a really good adrenal support, like at times that you know that you’re stressed they’re really, really useful things to take. It’s not something you have to take all the time unless you’re chronically stressed.

We’ve got a lovely supplement at the clinic called Cort RX, which is by ATP Science.

This is a new company that we’ve been working with. It’s just a combination of all of those things that have scientifically been proven to reduce cortisol levels in the body.

Even for people that aren’t actually really stressed with their situation, but they’re always in the gym or endurance running or on the bike, they should be taking things like that to reduce the cortisol in the body.

Michelle: What happens if you’ve got too much cortisol?

Grace: Then you’re really risking burnout and adrenal fatigue and inflammation is just able to run riot in the body, so then it could lead to disease really quite easily.

Michelle: All of these things help to reduce the cortisol, which really stops the stress from going too far.

Grace: Yes. We’ve also got a lovely supplement coming in tomorrow called Resilience, which is more of an immune support that is also really good for people that are chronically stressed.

It’s got frankincense, gold and myrrh. The gold is the turmeric. It’s just really interesting. What else has it got in it? Just some really useful immune supports.

If people join the Natural Health Clinic group, we’re going to be posting lots of really useful information in there about stress and the different supplements that you can use, and podcasts going into great detail about these things by the guys who created them.

Michelle: Okay, we’ll put that on the show notes.

Grace: Yes, because I think it would be really nice. People are going to put lots of recipes in there. We did have a Facebook page, but I just find it doesn’t get to people as easily to find a group.

If people are interested you can see and have a look if you actually want to.

Epsom salts, also amazing. Epsom salts are magnesium sulphate. Most people are deficient in magnesium.

Now, every time you eat sugar, which of course, if you’re stressed, you’re tired and you’re at work, what’s the easiest thing to go to? Coffee and sugar, and that just keeps you in that loop.

Michelle: Or chocolate and wine.

Grace: Yes, yes. Not at work, not while working but when you get home.

Michelle: I know when I was in my biggest stress phase, I was living on chocolate and wine.

Grace: Yes, sure. If we’re always depleted in magnesium, we’re then feeling even more manic, more anxious, we’ve got sore muscles. Then we look to chocolate, which then depletes the magnesium further. There is magnesium in chocolate, in cacao or cocoa, so that’s why our body can sometimes crave that, and obviously the emotional attachment to chocolate, too, with it melting in the mouth and being almost a bit like breast milk.

If we’re keeping depleting our magnesium levels then you just become in this vicious circle.

The more sugar you eat, the more you deplete your good bacteria.

Then you crave more rubbish stuff because you’ve got the dysbiosis of good and bad bacteria. The more bad bacteria you’ve got, the more you crave junk, the more you don’t really make your own serotonin, so you’re not really happy with normal life. Therefore, you’re always chasing a high if we are stressed our gut is out.

Michelle: Yes, which is a lot of the work we’ve been doing together for the last couple of years is sorting out my biome.

Grace: Yes, it’s so important. The biome, there’s so much that we know in the last few years, which has just been absolutely fascinating, about the biome and how important it is. I mean,

The Greeks said it, didn’t they “Health begins in the gut”.

Most people start out life with a dysbiosis because we’re passed our microbiome from our mothers.

If hers isn’t very good, if she’s missing some of those 42 strains of good bacteria that should be in there, which is likely that she would have, then we’re starting out life with not a great microbiome.

Then we’ve got sugar, antibiotics. If we don’t have breast milk it’s not as good, and obviously some of the milks can be on the sugary side of things as well. That has a massive impact.

Then we get sick. Then we get more antibiotics, then we crave more sugar because our microbiome isn’t good.

We’ve got more bad than good, so we’re just craving more. We see it with children all the time. They’re just craving sugar because their microbiome isn’t very good. It’s really hard.

I mean, you can have the best intentions as a mother to want your child to eat well. If they’re not going to eat it, it’s really, really hard, especially if it’s what their microbiome is asking for, because it’s being controlled by that.

Michelle: Well, I’ve experienced that, when I’m doing one of your programs, one of the best things is that the cravings for any kind of thing sweet stuff just disappear after a short while.

Grace: Yes, if they’re not physical they’re only ever going to be emotional so that has to be addressed as well, doing that kind of thing.

Yes, Epsom salts,

if you soak in Epsom salts in the bath for at least 15 minutes, you’re going to replenish your magnesium stores within your body.

I mean, Epsom salts baths were an absolute saviour for me. They’re extremely grounding, extremely cleansing. If I’m stressed, I use Epsom salts in the bath with essential oils. I get out of that bath a completely different human and ready for bed or to sit calmly and read my book without wanting to be distracted by my phone or whatever.

Michelle: Two questions. One is how often should you be doing the Epsom salt bath, and what essential oils would you put in?

Grace: Okay, Epsom salts baths, I have about three a week. Epsom salts are not cheap, so it has to be realistic. You need about a mugful in the bath. I always buy the big five kilo bags from Kobashi which we have in the clinic.

Now, when it comes to essential oils,

the best essential oils for stress are lavender, frankincense, juniper, and camomile, all adrenal supports, very calming, very grounding, help to control the breath.

There’s lots of blends that I make and sell that are those four oils blended into either grapeseed oil or as a singular oil that the people can buy for themselves to make their own.

I also do a roller ball, which is very useful, especially if you’re stressed at work, to actually roll on to the pulse points, over the chest, through the diaphragm, get you breathing properly, put them on the adrenals on your feet, really powerful.

Essential oils are very, very powerful and that’s really starting to come to light now with lots of different studies happening with them.

It’s just going to get more and more popular, I think.

Michelle: Yes, I mean, I’ve only just started getting into essential oils and I now put on my room diffuser, but I haven’t put that blend. Lavender, you say?

Grace: Lavender, frankincense, camomile, and juniper.

Michelle: In equal quantities or do you put a drop of each?

Grace: If you were to have that in the bath, you would use a maximum of 10 drops.

Now frankincense is quite earthy, so I put maybe two or three drops of that. I put about four drops of lavender, one drop of camomile because it’s very strong and it’s very expensive, and maybe two or three drops of juniper.

Juniper is a very powerful one for stress, reducing cortisol, assisting the adrenals.

Michelle: Would that blend work in a room diffuser as well?

Grace: Yes, absolutely. In a room diffuser I’d do more like 20 drops, especially if you need it to last a bit longer.

You can make it up with those oils but it’s going to change the smell the more.

It’s like cooking. Making blends are actually really fun if you like that kind of thing, but yes, you can make it into a massage oil.

You can make an oil to then put in the bath so it’s a bit more luxurious.

You can just do a cap of olive oil and put your drops in, but yes, very, very, powerful, especially putting through the chest as well, especially if you feel like you’re not going to be able to sleep.

If you can’t stop thinking about something or stressed about something, rubbing it through the chest and through the back of the neck, and just really inhaling it, it really does help.

It really helped me when I was really quite stressed a few years ago.

Michelle: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes, I think I’ll give that one a go. I have to say I’ve only just got into essential oils, so I haven’t really known yet what to do with them.

Grace: Yes, yes. I’d also say, if I would have seen you at that time, I would have got you doing some journaling, perhaps, on what was happening with you. You might not have been at a point to do that.

Michelle: I wouldn’t have done it, I can assure you.

Grace: Yes, I’m not doing that, Grace. I would probably just got you getting out in nature where it was realistic for you, and just getting you just spending five minutes taking your shoes off and just getting on the floor, and just trying to focus on your breath whilst focusing on where you were and trying to be in the present moment.

Michelle: Yes, and I think what would have helped more than anything, would have been just being able to acknowledge that it wasn’t just me.

It wasn’t just me that was broken, that what I was experiencing was normal, and I think that would have made the biggest difference of all.

The more that we can actually talk about this subject, let everyone know that it’s normal to feel these things, and to feel useless and worthless when we get overstressed. I think that would have made the biggest difference for me.

Grace: Yes, Yes, just taking the shame away.

Michelle: Taking the shame away. Okay, well, that’s been really, really fascinating, Grace. Thank you ever so much for imparting your wisdom to us today.

Grace: You’re welcome.

Michelle: We’ll go back to our lion’s mane tea.

Grace: Oh, I forgot to talk about Reishi.

Reishi’s also a very good mushroom for stress, which you can get with the same company, very, very useful.

Michelle: Very useful, but it ain’t that nice.

Grace: Shh, don’t tell anybody.

Michelle: Okay, okay, well, till next time, good bye.

Grace: Bye.

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