Taking steps to become grounded, mindful, and present to get the most out of a busy life
By Kathleen Mercer, BScND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
I have been working as a naturopathic doctor for 20 years. I feel blessed that I am head over heels in love with what I do as a profession. Medically trained and naturally focused, I get to be very real with people every day. We go over mental, emotional, and physical health concerns. We cover food, sleep, nutritional supplements, and herbs, but also stress, anxiety, depression, adrenal fatigue, feelings of overwhelm, difficult relationships, and personal fulfillment. The theme that flows through the stories of high-functioning businesswomen is that life is extremely full and often overwhelming and fatiguing. My goal is to help.
Women are amazing! Women are running businesses and households. Some are parenting solo or with a partner. We are caring for elderly parents and extended family. We are volunteers. We may be partners and wives. We try to socialize and exercise. We are doing all of this while having periods, birthing babies, breastfeeding, and having hot flashes. We are feeling social pressures about body image, aging, and what it means to be female. We do all of this while showing up each day looking fabulous and as if all things are together in our world.
The downside of this busy and full life is that we are sometimes missing our own lives. I encourage women to not let life pass them by: don’t be too tired and overwhelmed to be the beneficiary of your own hard work and brilliance. I have learned from elderly female patients that they wish they had been more present in their lives, had done more for themselves, had had more fun, broken the rules more, and had more sex. (That’s a whole other article!) With this in mind, if things are feeling overwhelming and life is moving too fast, I recommend the following strategies.
Press pause. Take at least one full day off to be alone out of your house, or book a night or two away by yourself. Go offline. Bring your journal. Let it be a retreat to do some personal accounting. Figure out what is not working in your life. Figure out what you love and want to do more of. Set goals for your personal, professional, family, and future life. Then design actions to make these things happen. Create a personal mission statement that you can always fall back on when challenges arise.
Practise mindfulness. With responsibility comes a busy mind. When we are carrying many thoughts, we are also producing adrenaline. Too much adrenaline can lead to high blood pressure, degeneration, inflammation, poor digestion, insomnia, and anxiety. Find mindfulness through yoga, meditation, breath work, or nature. Take time to learn a practice and commit to it daily. This can be ten minutes a day to start. The resources to learn are out there. Committing to a daily practice can be life-changing. Use bodywork to go into full relaxation. Consider reiki, acupuncture, massage therapy, reflexology, and cranio-sacral therapy.
Be present. By becoming mindful, you can also become more present in your life. This means getting grounded, starting by literally feeling your feet on the ground wherever you are, taking note of your physical environment, dropping your breathing into your lower lungs, and allowing yourself full focus on whatever or whoever is in front of you. Some tools can help you shelve your thoughts so that you can work on the issues in front of you. This focus can improve productivity and give your brain and nervous system a break from juggling too many things at once. Another option to consider is designating hours in your day when you are both off work and offline.
Deal with the practical. Some basic naturopathic guidelines for busy women can be helpful. Decrease your intake of processed sugars. Avoid artificial sugars. Drink less coffee. Increase healthy proteins and fats and decrease simple carbohydrates. Drink at least two litres of water per day. Plan meals on the weekends, to avoid cooking stress and take-out. Consider supplementing with some basics like B-complex, vitamin C, and fish oils, and eat something green every day. Be sure to eat slowly every day, sitting away from a screen.
Know when you need help. Health care practitioners can help you with all of the above strategies. Acknowledge when you may need guidance. A health care practitioner will set you up with a personal plan and help with accountability and reflection on your process.
So that’s it: feel your feet on the ground. Head up. Nice deep breathing in your belly. No more cheap seats to witness your own life. It’s time for an upgrade. Get the best seat and enjoy the best show of your life. It is your life to enjoy, your one-woman show!
Kathleen Mercer, BScND
Kathleen Mercer, BScND, is a naturopathic doctor working in NL since 2004. Kathleen has a busy practice with Winterholme Wellness Center, as well as locum clinics in Conception Bay North and across the province. As business owner and naturopathic physican at Health For Life, Kathleen has a unique perspective on work-life balance. Being a divorced mom of three awesome kids has offered Kathleen personal life experiences that help other woman going through stressful personal and health crises while still needing to show up in their professional lives and be awesome.