womb yoga

Pregnant after hypothalamic amenorrhea! My story

I recently shared on my social media platforms the reason I’ve been quiet for the last couple of months. Just before the new year I found out that I am pregnant and at the end of the summer we will be becoming new parents! I had told family and friends but I didn’t want to announce on the internet for fear of tempting fate. But now the cats out of the bag I want to share my story here of how I got pregnant after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA for short).

Where it all began…

For those of you who haven’t followed my blog since the start you might not know that in my teens and early twenties I experienced a lot of hormonal issues. This was actually what drove me to study nutrition and yoga for women’s health and healing my hormones actually ended up being a full life transformation. You can watch the video on this post for the full story but I will just give you a quick summary here.

At around 14 years old, like many young girls I fell into the trap of disliking and trying to change my body. I started dieting without any nutrition knowledge and basically just ate as little as possible each day to try and lose weight. I also joined a gym and quickly became obsessed with burning calories on the cardio machines. I was totally obsessed with numbers and in my naivety I thought that the number of calories I ate in the gym should be equal to the amount I ate in a day. Calories in = calories out right?!

Of course I completely forgot that a human body, and especially a growing teenage body, needs energy just to function. I got quite skinny for my body type, although never underweight. After a couple of years of this behaviour plus one year on the pill, my menstrual cycles stopped. I had had pretty regular cycles since they started at 12 years old so this was unusual for me. Still, for a few years I didn’t care too much and saw it more as a convenience. I went to university and was too busy partying, studying and trying to stay skinny to care.

A diagnosis: PCOS or HA?

Eventually I did get worried and I went to see my doctor but as I wasn’t considered anorexic according to my BMI they didn’t have too much to say. I went for an ultra-sound scan and because there were multiple follicles seen on my ovaries I was diagnosed with “probable PCOS” and was prepared that I’d likely need fertility treatment to get pregnant in the future. Even at 20 with no intentions of having kids in the near future, this was devastating and I remember crying my eyes out when I found out.

Luckily this despair was the catalyst to getting on the path to healing. After I calmed down, somehow I just knew that what I had been told wasn’t true. I knew that my lifestyle was driving this hormonal imbalance and I was determined to find answers and heal my body. I eventually found Dr Nicola Rinaldi via the Seven Health podcast who explained the common misdiagnosis of lean PCOS in women who actually have HA. She described my situation to a tee and finally it was her book that gave me the information and push to start recovery.

Getting my period back after 8 years of HA

Just because I knew the problem it didn’t make fixing it an easy process. I had the knowledge I needed – that eating more, exercising less and gaining weight were the simple actions to get my period back. However, actually putting this into practice consistently took a lot longer. I went back and forward for a few years, gaining weight then losing it. Stopping exercise then freaking out and going back to daily gym sessions. Allowing myself unrestricted eating and then becoming terrified of the extreme hunger and going back to my food rules.

Even though the physical actions are simple, the mental healing that is needed often takes a lot longer. This is what I see in my clients today who are going through this process. What should be easy becomes very challenging when it’s bound up with years of limiting beliefs, the identity you have created for yourself and the life you have built around that. But truly committing to healing means that each time you slip you get back on the path again. And slowly but surely you heal, body mind and spirit.

Healing and life as a cycling woman

I finally got my period back in March of 2017 at 24 years old and after 8 years of HA. I remember exactly when and where I was at this time as it was such a celebratory moment for me! I can’t say things were perfect immediately and I still had a few small slip ups after that. Becoming comfortable with the weight I gained still took time and I often had body image wobbles. But my period was back and came pretty much every month, give or a take a week or two for the next 5 years.

I loved having my natural cycles and finally felt in touch with my lost femininity. I dived into menstrual cycle awareness during this time. I learned even more how to support my hormones and metabolism through my diet, whilst still eating intuitively and experiencing total food freedom. I studied yoga for fertility and this type of practice only strengthened my connection to the feminine energy within me and allowed her to take up more space.

Again this wasn’t a quick transformation but more of an unravelling over multiple years with other teachers and mentors supporting me along the way. Last year I decided to start offering group yoga classes for women and it’s been lovely to also share this practice. Holding space for other women has increased the energy capacity of my heart and womb spaces even further.

womb yoga

Finding out I am pregnant after HA

I’m telling a completely streamlined version of this story otherwise it would take up a whole book! But during these years I also to Greece, changed career path and we all went through the rocky time of the pandemic. Me and my partner just moved house in November last year after living with his mother for two years. Finally everything seemed to be calming down and falling into place. We travelled back to the UK to visit my family for Christmas. Then BAM!

I track my cycles using an app and just before the New Year I realised my period was late. At first I put it down to the travel and stress of moving house and assumed it would just be a few days late. I felt similar to how I would during the pre-menstruum sometimes with bloating, fatigue and mild cramping in my lower belly. But after a week I decided I’d better do a pregnancy test because that was unusually late for me. I bought the test and left it by my bed to do first thing the next morning.

No surprises now but at the time it was a big shock. I was pregnant! I couldn’t believe it because we hadn’t been “trying” to conceive. I don’t like the word accident though as I don’t see anything as an accident. I’m sure that this baby just knew it was it’s time and decided to arrive no matter what. Me and my partner both knew we wanted children, although we had been on the fence about the time because, like many young couples, we had so many exciting plans for our post-pandemic freedom.

Still we were over the moon and decided to tell our close family straight away. Living abroad meant I would have chance to see them face to face for months afterwards and I couldn’t keep the secret that long.

How I got pregnant after HA

I had always assumed that despite having a regular cycle I’d still take a while to conceive. I had told my partner to be prepared for a year or even two until I got pregnant when we decided it was time. Maybe I was just “lucky” to fall pregnant without trying. But I have a feeling that all of the lifestyle changes I made to heal my hormones meant that my body was fertile and ready for pregnancy. I’d been consistently nourishing my body with nutrient dense foods for years, rebuilding my mineral stores and restoring my metabolism.

I’d given up on intense workouts and only moved my body in ways that I genuinely enjoyed and made me feel good. Despite having a busy lifestyle and being an over-achiever, I regularly practiced restorative yoga and meditation to ground myself, reduce stress and allow my body to feel safe and nourished. I listened to my body and paid attention to the phases of my menstrual cycle, taking myself during the pre-menstrual and menstrual phases and supporting healthy ovulation.

Finally, I’m sure that practice and teaching of fertility yoga also primed my womb space and created this cosy, inviting nest that just called in the spirit of this baby. I was doing a lot of breathwork and visualisation, focusing on clearing and energising the pelvic bowl as well as movement to reduce tension and stagnancy from this area. No doubt that all of this helped to create a healthy, receptive energetic space. Or maybe I am in fact just one of the lucky ones – who knows!

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals!

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How does stress affect the menstrual cycle?

How does stress affect the menstrual cycle?

Many women know intuitively that stress has an impact on their period. But what is stress and how does stress affect the menstrual cycle?

We usually associate stress with particular situations, such as losing a loved one, an intense break up or an overwhelming work schedule. But stress can come in many other less obvious forms:

  • Positive life events e.g. relocating, changing jobs, moving house, having a baby
  • Exercise e.g. exercising too often or too intensely
  • Diet e.g. not consuming enough energy or nutrients
  • Self talk e.g. a loud inner critic, feeling unworthy or inadequate
  • Environmental stressors e.g. chemicals in food, cleaning products, toiletries

All of these things add up to create your stress load. In this fast paced world we live in it can be a lot! Whether they realise it or not, most women today are living with a high stress load. This is one leading factor in many of the menstrual cycle issues we are seeing. Stress can contribute to painful periods, excessively heavy bleeding, irregular or missed periods and unexplained infertility. It may also be implicated in other conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis.

How does stress affect the menstrual cycle?

When we are in a stressful situation, we release stress hormones to help us deal with the task at hand. The most well known stress hormones are cortisol and adrenaline which increase blood sugar and blood pressure giving us that “pumped up” feeling. Every morning a spike of cortisol wakes us up then levels should gradually decrease until the evening so that we can get a good nights’ sleep.

However, when we are under stress we can end up with chronically high levels of cortisol. How does stress affect the menstrual cycle? Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, authors of the book Wild Power, call the menstrual cycle our “stress sensitive system”. Menstrual issues are like the canary in the coal mine to let us know that something is out of balance within the body. Before we realise it consciously, our bodies are keeping the score.

Stress and your hormones

Our hormonal system is one big interconnected web of chemical messengers. A chronic increase in stress hormone production sets off a hormonal domino effect in the body via the HPO (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian) axis. When stress hormone levels are high, the sex hormones which control our menstrual cycle can also be affected. This can lead to changes in the length of your cycle and can also contribute to period pain, PMS symptoms and infertility (Reference).

Dr Claudia Welch, author of Balance your Hormones, Balance your Life calls our sex hormones the “yin hormones” and stress hormones the “yang hormones”. Yin hormones are nourishing, calming and promote wellbeing, healing and fertility. Yang hormones are heating and promote activity and survival. When your body perceives stress, survival is the number one priority and having babies comes way down the list. For this reason it puts producing stress hormones ahead of sex hormones and stress can affect the menstrual cycle.

Can stress cause your period to be late?

Stress can cause your period to be late by delaying ovulation. If cortisol levels are high and this disrupts the normal sex hormone production, ovulation will not occur. Often, the body will have a “second attempt” at ovulation a few days later. The luteal phase (the time between ovulation and your period) is consistent for each women between 10 and 14 days. So if ovulation is delayed due to stress, your period will also be delayed.

Can you have a missed period from stress?

In the same way that stress can cause a delayed period, it can also cause you to miss a period altogether. It really depends on your body and how it perceived and handles stress. Most of the time, a missed period is nothing to worry about. With short term stress, menstruation should return as usual the following month when the stressor has passed.

However, when stress continues over a long period of time and menstruation is stopped for 6 months or more, this is known as Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Many women who experience Hypothalamic Amenorrhea engage in chronic dieting or high intensity exercise. It can also happen in women who are under chronic stress from any of the things on the list above.

Stress and pre-menstrual symptoms

The pre-menstrual phase can be the most difficult part of the menstrual cycle for many women. It’s often when we feel at our most vulnerable emotionally and may be experiencing fatigue and other physical symptoms. When we are under stress these physical and emotional changes can be ramped up, in some cases leading to severe PMS.

As we move towards menstruation, there is this natural call to retreat within ourselves. We tend to become less outward focused, more introverted and less motivated for work or intense physical activities. If we are under stress and we can’t align with this natural shift in pace or if we allow the shoulds and shouldn’ts of the mind to come before the wisdom of the body, we can get into trouble.

The body can fight back with all the weapons it has at it’s disposal – period cramps, mood swings, intense fatigue and exhaustion just to name a few. Often these symptoms are a message that it is all just too much and that is perfectly ok. The last thing we want to do is judge or criticise our bodies for being this way. This only adds to the stress load and can worsen the response.

What to do if stress is affecting your menstrual cycle

The first thing to do is to take a moment to P A U S E.

Grab a journal or use the notes app in your phone to keep track of your stress levels and stressors on a daily basis. When do you feel agitated, rushed, overwhelmed, exhausted or inadequate? Are there particular situations, places or people that are contributing to your stress? Could your current lifestyle be increasing your stress levels? Take your time and get very clear on the big picture of your life.

Once you have identified the the stress which could be affecting your menstrual cycle, it’s time to make a plan. Are there any stressors which can be eliminated from your life? For the ones that can’t, is there a change in approach or perspective which could reduce the stress this thing causes you? Are there any lifestyle changes which could make your life more easeful and nourishing?

Finally, it’s important to have tools to support you in “emptying your stress cup”. This is unique to you but here are a few of my suggestions:

All of these activities can help you to get out of over thinking busy mode and into your body. They help to soothe your nerves and bring your nervous system into a relaxed state. Your body knows how to heal and restore balance when it is given the space.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals!

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person holding a blue empty silicon

How can I get my period back quickly and easily?

One of the questions I get asked the most by women is how can I get my period back? I get it, missing periods can be worrying. Even if you are not trying to get pregnant, irregular menstrual cycles are a sign that something is not quite right with your health. It’s always a good idea to visit your doctor first if your cycles have been missing for 3 months or more. They may carry out an ultra-sound scan or check the levels of hormones in your blood. This will allow them to see if there is any medical condition which could be causing your missing periods.

In many cases, missing periods (aka amenorrhea) is functional and a temporary state. Functional amenorrhea can be caused by:

  • Under nutrition i.e. not eating enough or the right things
  • Over exercise or not fueling your body adequately for your exercise level
  • Losing a lot of weight quickly or being underweight for your body type
  • Short or long term stress
  • Being on or just coming off birth control

So how can I get my period back?

In this post I will share the basics of how to get your period back in a holistic way by looking at 3 elements: diet, exercise and stress management. In my experience, these basics are enough to support 90% of women with functional amenorrhea to get their periods back.

#1 Diet

Nutrition plays a key role in your overall health and ability to produce the right amount of hormones. If you are trying to get your period back, it is so important to make sure you are eating enough energy and macro nutrients on a consistent basis. This means regular meals and snacks at least every 3-4 hours containing a balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein.

The exact amount of energy you need will depend on your height, weight, body type and your activity level. You may also need to eat more than you usually would in order to heal your body and to get your period back. Now is not the ideal time for low-fat, low-carb, keto or vegan diets. If you want to recover your missing periods as quickly as possible it is best to let go of all food rules and restrictions while you heal.

Eating a wide variety of foods will also help you to cover your vitamin and mineral requirements. These are important for correct hormone production but also help your cells to produce energy and for your body to grow healthy hair, skin and nails. Some of the common nutrient deficiencies I see in women with missing periods are copper, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium and magnesium.

If you need support with nutrition to get your period back, I have created a Period Recovery e-book. This guide to getting your period back includes 27 recipes and a 7 day meal plan designed to meet your nutritional needs and support hormonal balance. I also offer personalised meal plans and eating recovery coaching via my 1-2-1 programs if you need more individual attention and support on your period recovery journey.

#2 Exercise

The second key element in the journey to getting your period back is to address your exercise. Are you working out too much or too hard? We are made to believe as women that we must be super lean and that we should be in the gym every day if we want to be healthy. Unfortunately, often this goes too far and women are exercising like crazy without providing their body with enough fuel to balance it out.

Many of the women who come to me with missing periods are doing lots of cardio, HIIT workouts or exercising in the morning before breakfast. What they don’t realise is that exercise is a stress on the body, especially when it is high intensity or long duration. If you are working out regularly, you need to take extra care to support recovery with adequate fuel and rest. Yes, moderate exercise has many benefits for our physical and mental health. But when taken too far it can create additional stress which can lead to missing periods.

Do I need to give up exercise to get my period back? Usually the answer is no but if you are exercising at a high level you will likely need to reduce the intensity and frequency of your workouts until your period returns. Walking, yoga, pilates, dance and leisurely biking are all great ways to move your body while you are healing your hormones. These lower intensity workouts combined with plenty of rest and relaxation are ideal to help you get your period back.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

#3 Stress management

Finally, but no less important to getting your period back is stress management. Stress can be a tricky one to cover as often we feel like our stress levels are out of our control. It is true that sometimes external stressors are present which we cannot change. For example, illness in the family, moving house, the loss of a job or the end of a relationship. In these moments, all we can do is do our best and find ways to manage the stressful emotions we feel.

Yoga, meditation, journaling, art, music and time in nature are all great ways to reconnect with your spirit during stressful times. Incorporating stress management tools such as these as well as traditional tools such as therapy and counselling are just as important as your diet and exercise if you want to get your period back. They can help to reduce the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone which can cause disruption to your entire hormonal system if it is too high for too long.

As well as external stressors, you also have internal stressors which can effect your sense of wellbeing. This includes the way you speak to yourself and the story you tell yourself about the things that are happening in your life. An over active inner critic, a victim mentality and the tendency to over work, rush or pressure yourself are just a few examples of internal stressors which can contribute to high stress levels and missing periods.

get my period back

In my 3 and 6 month Total Nourishment coaching programs, I provide you with tools such as restorative yoga, guided meditation and journaling activities to support you in reducing your stress and tackling some of the mental and emotional challenges that you may face on your period recovery journey.

How long will it take to get my period back?

I am adding this as it’s another question I get asked so often. Unfortunately it’s so hard to say! How long it will take to get your period back depends on many factors including your health history and how consistent you are with your recovery efforts. What I will say is that for clients who are ready to go “all in”, the typical recovery time is 3-6 months. Sometimes it can be faster than this, others need longer to heal. Back in 2017 when I was recovering my own period, it took 4 months to get my period back from the day that I finally discovered the right path to heal. I hope this offers you some encouragement if you are currently on or about the embark on this journey!

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me 1-2-1 to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We will create a plan tailored to your individual needs and vision for your health. I will then be there for support, guidance and accountability as you work towards your goals!

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diet for pcos management

What is the best diet for PCOS?

PCOS which stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the most common hormonal conditions affecting women. It is thought to affect 1 in 10 women in the UK although many do not show any symptoms. Nutrition can play a key role in managing PCOS symptoms. However there are a lot of arguments about what the best diet for PCOS is. In this article I will summarise the current research on nutrition for PCOS.

diet for pcos management

Symptoms of PCOS

Some of the most common PCOS symptoms include:

  • Irregular or missing periods
  • Anovulatory cycles
  • Hair loss (male pattern baldness) or thinning
  • Excessive hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism)
  • Weight gain
  • Acne and oily skin

Clinical markers for PCOS include high androgens (male hormones) in the blood and multiple cysts visible on the ovaries during a pelvic ultrasound exam.

Source: NHS

Causes of PCOS

PCOS is a complex hormonal and metabolic condition with no one specific cause. There appears to be a genetic element to a woman’s risk of developing PCOS. Environmental and lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals also play an important role. Together these lead to imbalances in reproductive hormones, particularly increased testosterone production in the ovaries.

Source: https://academic.oup.com/jes/article/3/8/1545/5518341

Insulin resistance is also common in women with PCOS. This is where the cells become less sensitive to insulin and so levels in the blood are higher than usual. Diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity are also associated with increased risk of PCOS. For this reason blood sugar and weight management is an important part of the diet for PCOS.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922706/

Diet for PCOS management

The key principles of the diet for PCOS are:

  1. Blood sugar balancing
  2. Ensuring adequate nutrient intake
  3. Healthy weight management
  4. Eating anti-inflammatory foods

These are simple principles of good nutrition and do not need to be taken to the extremes. A balanced diet which is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, starches, low fat dairy, legumes, nuts and seeds with smaller amounts of fish, lean red meat and poultry is the most recommended diet for PCOS management.

Dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and the UK Eatwell Guide are all examples of diets for PCOS management. These diets have in common a balance of carbohydrates, fats and protein rich foods to support blood sugar balance. They also highlight the importance of balancing energy intake and output through activity to maintain a healthy weight range.

A wide variety of nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory plant-based foods make up 75% of the diet. Animal-based foods then provide additional nutrients including omega-3 fats and iodine from oily fish and key minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc from meat and dairy. It is possible but not necessary to adapt the diet for PCOS to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

diet for pcos eatwell guide

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8643565/

Low carb diet for PCOS

More recently there has been a trend towards recommending a low carb diet for PCOS management. This idea fits within the principles of lowering insulin levels as diets which eliminate carbohydrates naturally lead to lower insulin levels. Many people have had short term success with energy-restricted, low carb diets such as the keto diet for PCOS management. Such diets can support weight loss, improvement in menstrual cycle regularity and acne symptoms in women with PCOS.

Source: https://bmcendocrdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12902-019-0420-1

However, I see this as sticking a plaster on an injury rather than letting it truly heal. I think in the long term it’s better to maximise the types of foods we eat from natural sources. This way we can ensure a variety of nutrients and our bodies become more adaptive and resilient. Therefore I think a healthy, balanced diet for PCOS including all macro-nutrients is most sustainable in the long-term.

Diet for PCOS or Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?

Finally, something that I think is important to share is the common misdiagnosis of PCOS in women who are experiencing Hypothalamic Amenorrhea (HA). This is when a woman stops menstruating due to under-eating, over-exercising or too much stress. Both PCOS and HA are marked by a lack of ovulation which can lead to cyst formation on the ovaries.

In HA, reduced hormone levels mean eggs may start to mature and not quite “make it” leading to the appearance of cysts on the ovaries. Therefore a doctor may diagnose PCOS from an ultrasound scan without doing blood tests to check androgen levels. This is what happened to me and this false PCOS diagnosis delayed my recovery process by a couple of years as I continued to control my diet for PCOS and exercise daily, based on my doctors’ advice.

If you have been diagnosed with PCOS yet you are underweight and have a history of dieting and intense exercise, it’s important to make sure you get the correct diagnosis. The treatment for PCOS and HA are completely opposite. The diet for PCOS focuses on low calorie density food and controlling energy intake whereas to recover from HA it’s necessary to increase calorie intake, sometimes dramatically. Exercise plays a role in managing PCOS but in HA recovery, rest should be the priority.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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restorative yoga baddha konasana

How to reduce overwhelm and fatigue with restorative yoga

This weekend I have really been feeling the dark moon energy. I know many of my female friends have been too. Last night I taught a restorative yoga for the dark moon phase class. I practiced the sequence myself as I was planning the lesson and it was exactly what I needed to ground myself and restore my energy.

Dark moon phase and menstruation

The dark moon phase is the few days either side of the new moon. This moonless sky was on Monday here in Athens. This lunar phase brings with it a more gentle, slow paced and inward facing energy. We often feel more tired, less motivated to work and play and need time to rest and reflect. Just as the moon disappears from the sky, we also want to retreat away from our responsibilities and obligations.

When we align this with our menstrual cycles, the dark moon phase represents menstruation. This is the time when we feel our lowest energy levels. Some women experience cramping and pain as the uterus works hard to shed it’s lining. We often feel more tired and overwhelmed than usual. We might feel like we need a break from work and social activities.

It’s fascinating to me how many women seem to be bleeding with the new moon this lunar cycle. I started my period on Friday and so my menstrual phase spanned the dark moon phase this cycle. I also have friends in Greece, the UK and Germany who have told me that they were bleeding this weekend. Some of them told me they were experiencing more pain and exhaustion than usual. Collectively there seems to be a craving for rest and healing.

Cycle syncing in the dark moon phase

As much as I try to listen to my body and live in sync with my cycle, it can be difficult at times! In Athens right now it’s over 30°C. It’s quite challenge to reconcile that need for cool and calm energy with the fiery hot summer energy that we have right now. I want to do all of the things and sometimes my body just say no…

This weekend I had plans to go and visit an island with some friends. Even though I was bleeding I wanted to make the most of the trip. We went to the beach, ate great seafood and travelled all over the island. We saw endless pistachio groves and a beautiful temple. It was such a lovely weekend but of course when I came home I was exhausted as I hadn’t been able to take the rest I really needed. I experienced cramps into the 3rd and 4th day of my cycle which is unusual for me. Plus I still feel tired a couple of days later.

At first I started to blame myself for not taking more care when “I know better”. But really, there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to living in sync with your menstrual cycle. Sometimes it is just bad timing and there is nothing you can do about it. As much as you would like to hit pause on the world for a few days and continue were you left off, the world keeps on turning. We just have to do our best to take rest where we can and show ourselves some compassion.

Some ways we can nurture ourselves when we are busy during menstruation include:

  • Making time for a daily nap or yoga nidra practice
  • Spending at least an hour alone to reflect and dream
  • A short meditation or breathwork practice to connect with the pelvic space
  • Going to bed early or lying in if possible
  • Switching off electronics and all notifications for a while
  • Taking time to write in a journal or doodle
  • A daily restorative yoga practice

Yoga for the dark moon

One of my favourites is of course restorative yoga. I have incorporated this into my health regime over the last 3 years or so and it has done wonders for my wellbeing. Restorative yoga aligns well with the dark moon energy as it is a very slow, soft practice. We use lots of pillows and props to support the body and hold postures for 5-20 minutes at a time. The practice is designed to restore energy and stimulate healing within the body mind. It really is a transformative practice!

On Tuesday evenings I teach Yoga for Women’s Health at the Mala Centre in Holargos, Athens. With all of these energies in the air, I decided to offer a slightly different style class last night in honour of the dark moon phase. Some yoga practices can be very intense, building heat and strength in the body. It particular, vinyasa and ashtanga styles of yoga can be very dynamic and need a lot of stamina.

These practices are great for creating a strong and healthy physical body and focus and discipline in the mind. But it’s important to also balance this kind of yoga with a slower, cooling and calming practice. This is especially important for women as we cycle through our own monthly ebb and flow of energy. I love how the yoga practice has so much to offer us and can meet us where we are right now.

Healing new moon yoga sequence

With this in mind, we practiced a kneeling version of lunar salutes or moon salutations instead of the usual sun salutations in a hatha yoga practice. This sequence has a lovely grounding energy to it and includes lots of lunges to open the hips and side bends to create space in the side body. I also included more restorative yoga postures than usual using pillows as props.

As usual, we practiced some postures and breathwork to support healthy menstrual flow and to ease pain in the pelvis and lower back. This includes Badda Konasana (cobblers’ pose), Upavistha Konasana (wide legged seated forward fold) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (supported bridge pose). The class ended with a short yoga nidra practice to support deep rest, healing and restoration of that yin, lunar, feminine energy that we are craving right now.

The students left the class with a healthy, happy glow. It’s a good job the class was in the evening as we were all ready for bed afterwards! I plan to teach a similar restorative yoga class for the dark moon next cycle too as it’s such a beautiful practice.

If you live in Athens and want to join me for yoga in Holargos or Filothei, you can check the schedule and book your space HERE.

Until next time, Namaste…

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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low cortisol causes

Low cortisol causes and how to feel better

High cortisol gets all the limelight because of its reputation as a stress hormone. But when our cortisol levels fall too low or when they are low at the wrong times of day (i.e. in the morning when we need it to wake up) then it can be just as debilitating. Low cortisol causes us to feel tired, weak and unmotivated.

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blood sugar irregularity
  • Low mood and irritability
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Often sick

Basically we can feel in a zombie state because our body needs a certain amount of cortisol to get up and go.

Low cortisol causes

How can we end up with low cortisol? It can happen due to organic problems with organs such as the adrenal glands which produce cortisol or the pituitary gland which sends the signal to stimulate cortisol production. In this case there are dectectable inflammation or damage to the tissues which can be measured with medical tests. Low cortisol causes can also be functional conditions where there is no visible problem with the tissue but it is not functioning as it should be.

There are several causes of low cortisol including:

  • Addison’s disease (adrenal)
  • Congenital hyperplasia (adrenal)
  • Pituitary gland failure e.g. brain injury or tumour
  • Chronic stress

The first three low cortisol causes are conditions you need to work with a medical professional. Today I will focus on the final one – stress. Low cortisol can occur after a long period of stress (high cortisol) when we reach what is commonly known as the burnout state.

low cortisol causes

In this case, cortisol levels will be unlikely to fall to levels that your doctor would consider a “medical emergency” but still low enough to affect the way you feel and function in your life.

The mechanism of low cortisol in the burnout state is not fully understood even within functional medicine. One theory is that either the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and other hormones can’t keep up and eventually fail to produce enough. This is known as adrenal fatigue in the alternative health world.

The other theory is that you continue to produce cortisol but after a while our cells become resistant to its effects. You might be left with that “tired but wired” feeling or feel like every minor stressor sends you into a meltdown. Without adequate cortisol to give us that warrior mentality we become much less resilient and more sensitive to stress.

What to do if you have low cortisol

Whatever the cause of low cortisol, it’s not a fun state to be in! If you think you might have low cortisol, you can consider a saliva based test. Forth offer these as postal tests for any of you living in the UK, I like the phrase “test don’t guess” and it can be helpful to have a baseline measurement before implementing any changes. That way you can more easily see what is working and what isn’t.

However there are some helpful lifestyle changes you can make to help raise cortisol naturally. These are generally low risk so you can try them even if you aren’t sure if you have low cortisol. The most important thing to do if you are experiencing low cortisol (besides speaking to your doctor) is to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. You can also support your body with good nutrition and nourishing practices such as restorative yoga and yoga nidra.

For nutrition I recommend the same protocol as for high cortisol to restore the nutrients lost through stress – check out this post for more info. Eating regularly to support blood sugar balance is also especially important when dealing with low cortisol. By this I mean balanced meals and snacks every 3 hours, making sure to combine carbs with fat or protein (or both) every time you eat. Making sure to incorporate adequate electrolytes too and by that I mean don’t be afraid to salt your food!

Some other lifestyle tips for boosting low cortisol:

  • Dance or zumba to raise energy levels and cortisol
  • Get enough sunlight especially in the morning hours
  • Relaxation and gentle yoga before bed to improve sleep
  • Breathwork practices focusing on the inhale to boost energy

Supplements for low cortisol causes

My favourite 2 supplements for adrenal health are Ashwaganda and Shilajit. Ashwaganda or Indian ginseng is an adapagenic herb which is used in Ayurveda to support the body during times of stress. It may help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and balance cortisol levels. Shilajit is an amazing natural supplement for remineralising after periods of stress. It contains the full spectrum of natural elements plus fulvic acid which supports delivery of nutrients to the cell.

I really don’t recommend taking a lot of supplements as it can overburden the liver. It’s much better to take one or 2 high quality supplements targeted to your needs. I found a great supplement from a UK company called Nature Provides which includes both Ashwanganda and Shilajit and it’s now my go to. The recommended serving is 2 capsules but 1 gives 500mg of Shilajit which is already enough and means this bottle lasts 3 months.

Another great supplement for low blood pressure related to low cortisol is licorice. This can be taken as licorice tea or in tablet form if you don’t like the taste. These could be very useful for any of you dealing with stress, adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue but make sure to do your research and check with your doctor before adding any new supplements into your routine. Especially licorice it’s important to make sure you don’t have high blood pressure already before taking this supplement.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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How to lower levels of cortisol to elevate your health

Today’s post is a summary of my recent social media posts on how to lower levels of cortisol through nutrition and yoga. In my nutrition and wellness coaching practice, I help women who are struggling with hormonal imbalances expressing as missing periods, unexplained infertility, PCOS, PMS or hypothyroid symptoms. These are all caused by levels of hormones which are either higher or lower than they should normally be.

As all hormones interact within the body, when one is off this can cause a cascade effect throughout the whole system. One of the main root causes of all of the hormonal conditions above is an imbalance in cortisol. In particular, high cortisol can impact levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormones through the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. This hormonal system has impacts on our metabolic, reproductive and immune systems just to name a few!

What is the problem with cortisol?

Cortisol is well known as the stress hormone but it actually does an important job keeping us alive. It helps us to manage the stresses of daily life by raising blood sugar and blood pressure to get energy and oxygen to our cells and by modulating inflammation. We are designed to experience a peak of cortisol to wake us up in the morning as well as surges whenever we need to respond to an emergency. Towards the end of the day or once the stressor has passed, cortisol levels should drop allowing us to relax and sleep well.

The problem is when we experience high levels of physical or mental stress over a long period of time, our cortisol levels can remain chronically high. Our body remains in an alarm state and is hyper-vigilant, ready to respond to any attack or urgent situation. We feel agitated and anxious, we can’t sleep and our mood, energy, digestion, libido and fertility can all suffer as a result. We can also experience blood sugar instability, high blood pressure and accelerated aging – eek!

Signs of high cortisol

So how do we know when we might want to focus on ways to lower cortisol levels? Some of the most common signs of high cortisol levels are a rapid pulse, racing thoughts or a sense of restlessness and urgency. However, high cortisol can manifest a huge variety of physical, energetic and psychological symptoms including disturbances to your digestion, mood and sleep.

lower levels of cortisol signs

You can test your cortisol levels through a saliva test. But if you experience 5 or more of the signs above then it wouldn’t do any harm to focus on ways to reduce stress and lower levels of cortisol, regardless of whether you test or not.

Causes of high cortisol

As I mentioned earlier, cortisol is a stress hormone. It is released by our adrenal glands when they receive the signal that there is an emergency and we need to be on high alert. We usually relate stress to psychological factors such as work pressure, family issues, moving house or other worries. But stress can also be caused by other lifestyle factors, especially how we move, eat, think and breathe. Some of the top “sneaky stressors” that I see in my clients are:

  1. Eating inadequate energy (calories) to support their activities
  2. Restrictive dieting e.g. cutting out food groups, low fat, low carb, vegan
  3. Not eating regularly e.g. intermittent fasting or having long gaps between meals
  4. Excessive exercise especially cardio e.g. running, cycling
  5. Shallow or mouth breathing
  6. An overly active inner critic

Sometimes simple changes can really make a difference to our bodies’ experience of stress and help to reduce cortisol levels. Especially making sure we are eating enough nutritious food and OFTEN as well as moving, thinking and breathing in a way that keeps us out of fight or flight stress mode as much as possible.

Diet to lower levels of cortisol

When it comes to eating to support lower levels of cortisol, it is important to focus on lowering physical stress by nourishing your body as best as you can. This means letting go of strict diet rules, eating enough calories and making sure to support your body with the macro and micro-nutrients it needs to thrive. When we are under a lot of stress, our bodies burn though energy and specific nutrients faster than usual so it is important to make sure we are fueling and replenishing regularly.

Some of the key nutritional strategies I recommend to my clients for reducing stress are:

  • Consuming plenty of carbohydrates from natural sources e.g. fruits and roots
  • Making sure to eat magnesium rich foods or supplement with epsom salt baths or transdermal magnesium
  • Eating foods rich in B vitamins, particularly B5 and B6
  • Consuming oily fish such as sardines or salmon or adding in a high quality fish oil supplement

If you are following a low carb diet – forget it! Including plenty of natural carbohydrates and especially sugars from fruits, roots and honey will support your higher energy requirements during a stressful period and help to reduce physiological stress on your body from lack of energy. Giving your body the calories and carbohydrates it needs will help to lower cortisol levels and will also help to reduce cravings and over eating due to stress. Your body is smart and it sends those signals for a reason!

Adding in foods containing magnesium and B vitamins is also helpful as we burn through these important nutrients much faster when under stress. Foods containing magnesium include dark chocolate, sesame seeds and dark leafy greens. B vitamins can be found in dairy, legumes, meat and wholegrains. Cod liver oil is a good all round supplement that can reduce stress related inflammation and support mental health.

Yoga to lower levels of cortisol

Yoga and meditation are amazing ways to lower cortisol levels naturally. Moving and breathing in a way that reduces activity in the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and activates the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system will lower stress in your body and mind. Below is a simple 20 minute sequence you can use daily in the evening after a stressful day or before bed to wind down and get a healing night’s sleep.

From left to right:

  1. Extended child’s pose – hold for 3 mins with forehead resting on the mat or a block or pillow

2/3 Cow pose/Cat pose – flow between these 2 poses for 1 min syncing with the breath

4. Legs up the wall – 5 mins with legs resting against the wall if possible

5. Reclining twist – 3 mins per side option to place a pillow under the knee for support

6. Savasana – 5 mins focusing on deep belly breathing

Practice this simple sequence regularly, focusing on slowing down and being present, to reduce cortisol levels naturally.

Lifestyle to lower cortisol

Implementing the simple strategies in this post is an amazing first step if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of high cortisol above. Other supportive activities for lowering cortisol include gentle walks in nature, listening to music, journaling, creative work or any other way you like to slow down, let go of busyness and be present.

It’s so easy in today’s world to get swept up in work, tasks, social media and to be constantly doing, learning and taking in more and more information. But our bodies were designed for a much slower pace of life and we have to honour that from time to time. This doesn’t mean that we have to abandon everything and go and live in the mountains far away from civilisation. It just means that we need to become aware of our bodies’ signals of stress and find small ways to ground ourselves and connect within daily.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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Signs of spiritual awakening and personal growth

We have finally reached the final post of the Women’s Wellness Challenge 2022! So far we have covered nourishment of the layers of your being, connection to yourself, others and the world around you and cultivating compassion and wisdom. Today’s final post in the series is about signs of spiritual awakening, personal growth and self-actualisation.

What is self-actualisation?

Self-actualisation is defined as reaching your full potential as a human. I understand it to mean realising your purpose in life and then walking that path with confidence and humility. Once we have taken care of ourselves via all of the other steps I have shared in this challenge, we will feel nourished, energised, connected, compassionate and wise – ready to be of service to the world and reach our full potential.

One of the signs of spiritual awakening is realising our true self, connection with the divine and reaching our full potential. Self actualisation is at the very top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It is the final stage of development we can reach after we have satisfied our needs to:

  1. Physical wellbeing i.e. food, water, sleep and warmth
  2. Feel safe and secure
  3. Feel connected and that we belong
  4. Experience self-esteem, status and achievement

I love this simple diagram from Simply Psychology which shows the different needs. I consider each layer as steps toward spiritual growth.

When can we see signs of spiritual awakening?

We can start to see signs of spiritual awakening at any of the layers. But is is harder to focus on “higher” aspects of life when we are struggling to meet our basic needs. If we are stuck in striving patterns because we don’t have enough food, money or security to feel safe, we are going to see the effects in our relationships and other endevours. I know I have certainly experienced this myself!

Self-actualisation is not something that is easily obtained but it is for sure something we can all aspire to. It’s so easy to become trapped by poor physical health, anxieties and fears that hold us back or stress-filled life situations which don’t leave time or energy for exploring our potential. Sometimes the best we can do is to try to create a nourishing life for ourselves and to make the most of each day.

Of course it’s important to acknowledge that many people in the world simply cannot meet even their basic needs. When we are living in a crisis (and it seems like there is one after the other across the world these days), we are simply in survival and reaction mode. But imagine how the world would be if everyone had access to good food, shelter, security and connection and could reach their highest potential!

What it means to grow spiritually

Depending who you speak to, growing spiritually can mean different things. To me, the first signs of spiritual awakening are starting to become aware and attuned to our inner world and our connection to the world around us. Spiritual growth also looks like moving beyond the mundane, ordinary aspects of life and starting to see the magic and beauty around us. Living spiritually means living with purpose rather than on auto pilot and finding meaning in the things that we do.

As we say in yoga, spiritual awakening or enlightenment is realising that “we are the awareness in which everything is arising”. This means we are not our bodies, our thoughts, feelings or our life circumstances but we are the witness to all of that as we experience in deep meditation when we move beyond the ego mind. Those who have chosen a particular religious path might see signs of spiritual awakening as becoming close to God, Christ or another religious figure.

Everything that I have shared in this series so far is a step along the way to becoming more awakened and growing spiritually. I think this is a path we are all walking in life whether we realise it or not. Some might walk faster and others prefer to take their time. There are some slight detours we might choose to take that lead us along slightly different routes but at the end of the day, the destination is the same: realising who we are deep inside and becoming stronger, more content and of service to the world in the process.

Signs of spiritual awakening

In their personal wellness course which inspired this challenge, Well College Global shared some signs that you may be awakening or growing spiritually.

  • Experiencing a shift or deepening into your values
  • Feel like you are living your life with intention and purpose
  • The desire to support others in some way
  • Stronger connection to nature or a higher power
  • Noticing synchronicities and symbols
  • Listening and trusting your intuition
  • Being drawn towards nourishing practices and lifestyles
  • Expressing gratitude and curiosity
  • Dreaming more vividly
  • Cultivating nourishing healthy relationships

Remember though, these are just ideas. Spiritual growth can of course look different and depends entirely on your beliefs and the path you choose to take.

Final note

So that is the end of the Women’s Wellness Challenge 2022! What I had originally intended to be a 5 week challenge has ended up as 2 months but I am glad that I gave it the extra time it needed. I hope you have enjoyed following along with this journey. If you did please like and share your favourite posts with friends and family who might benefit from them.

If you got something out of this series and you are interested in going deeper, I would love to support you! I offer nutrition consultations and health coaching services, both online and face to face here in Athens, Greece. My passion is to guide women like you to nourish your body and take care of your self to find true health, abundant energy and balanced hormones which I believe is the root of feeling well in our female bodies.

I use a combination of western nutrition, coaching psychology, Ayurveda and yoga to support you in connecting to your self and becoming the best version of you. These are the tools I used to heal myself from chronic anxiety, digestive issues and missing periods and I believe whole heartedly in the power of a healthy lifestyle. You can also read testimonials from my lovely clients.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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Help! How do I find my purpose in life?

how do you find your purpose

We are coming to the end of the 2022 Women’s Wellness Challenge. I hope you have taken something helpful as you have followed along with this series. I have enjoyed writing it so much and it has been a learning experience for me too. Today’s topic is especially interesting as I too am on a journey to find my purpose in life.

Don’t forget to save the link to the posts in case you want to come back to something at a later date! Even though this was (supposed to be) a 5 week challenge, there is so much to integrate over the months to come so feel free to revisit each topic slowly to really absorb the information and put into practice to support your wellbeing.

Today’s post is all about following your passions and asking “how do I find my purpose in life?”

How does finding your purpose support your wellbeing?

I believe that we all have something that lights us up and energises us from within. Something we feel that we came here to do. By this I don’t necessarily mean your work or your career. I think there is almost a pressure these days to turn your passion into your job and I don’t think it always needs to be. Your purpose could be anything from a creative pursuit, volunteering for a charitable cause to being a community leader or activist.

Having a purpose in life helps you to give your life meaning and value. When we feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves or that we are contributing to society in a meaningful way, we naturally experience heightened self-worth and a sense of confidence in ourselves. Having meaningful goals gives our lives direction and gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning on difficult days.

There is a profound sense of wellbeing that arises when we feel we have a purpose and we are following it with all of our heart. When we are following our passions we can tap into a natural state or flow and draw energy from some invisible resource. This energy can then overflow into other areas of our lives including our relationships, family and communities. Our spirit is enlivened when we follow our passions and live our purpose and it shows giving us that vitality and spark from within.

Of course, this comes with practicing balance and self-care. It is also possible to burn out if we follow our passions with no regard for rest and recharge – a lesson that keeps showing up to be learned in my life!

How do you find your purpose?

Finding your purpose can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds. If it feels complicated to you, perhaps you are over thinking it. Often we believe our life purpose has to be a grand goal when it reality it can be anything that gives our lives meaning. Usually our purpose is the most obvious thing in our life. The thing that keeps popping up where ever we go. The thing we find any excuse to bring into conversation. Whatever we naturally gravitate towards when we have free time and no demands.

So how do you find your purpose? Greater Good Magazine shared six tips for finding your purpose:

  1. Read widely to connect with others
  2. Understand your life’s lessons
  3. Cultivate gratitude and awe
  4. Notice what you are remembered for
  5. Find or build community
  6. Tell your story

Very Well Mind have also offered similar tips to discover your life purpose:

  1. Volunteering time or money to help others
  2. Seek feedback about your strengths
  3. Spend time with positive and inspiring people
  4. Start conversations with strangers
  5. Explore your interests
  6. Go after injustices that trigger you
  7. Focus on what you love

Notice some similar themes? Finding your purpose is all about getting out into the world, spending time with others, going after whatever triggers strong emotions in you (especially joy!) and being generous with your time and energy. When we feel tired or stuck in a rut, these can be the last things we want to do. It becomes easy to stay in our routine and within our comfort zone. But to create a meaningful life that supports our wellbeing, sometimes we need to get a little uncomfortable!

A shift in perception towards meaning

Sometimes we are already following our passions and purpose but we fall into the trap of living in auto-pilot. Instead of giving true meaning and intention to our actions, we act out of habit and obligation. For example, I love teaching yoga and supporting women to improve their health and wellbeing. However, if I am feeling unmotivated or tired I can end up serving from a place of responsibility and duty rather than from a full heart space. Not only does this drain my energy but it does not support my students and clients fully either.

This could be the same for anyone in a healing or teaching profession, someone supporting a charitable cause or an artist creating a masterpiece. It can happen with mothers dedicating to nurturing a family or with sports women aiming for a world record. Falling into habitual action and forgetting our purpose and our values can impact our wellbeing as we lose the sense of meaning in our day to day lives. We might feel tired and stressed and wonder why we are doing what we do.

In this situation, simple shift in perception can often make all of the difference. A daily reminder of our purpose, why we are doing what we are doing, can be enough to take us from feeling lost, bored or overwhelmed to passionate and vital again. We can support our wellbeing by reigniting our passions and knowing that we are here with a purpose and loving what we do. This fills our heart space with prana or life life energy that radiates into the rest of our lives.

Today’s challenge: How do I find my purpose in life?

So for today’s challenge, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on your life so far. Ask yourself which life experiences have you had which have inspired you to share and express yourself or to help others in some way? This could be witnessing someone suffering and having the desire to help, being moved emotionally by art or literature, being taught a skill at a young age and diving into it or perhaps experiencing chronic illness and awakening the desire to help others to heal.

Then ask yourself what can you do to bring more of this into your life? Maybe you need to change your lifestyle to create space for something new. Or perhaps nothing needs to change but a shift in perception.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

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how do you find your purpose


How to use gratitude practice for ultimate wellbeing

Welcome back to the Women’s Wellness Challenge! I took a week break due to some personal challenges so we didn’t quite finish in January. But now we are back and ready to take on the fifth and final week of the challenge. Today’s post is about the importance of cultivating the a gratitude practice to experience transcendence to higher state of wellbeing.

It might sound a bit woo woo but transcendence is simply the quality of being able to go beyond normal limits or boundaries. When it comes to your wellbeing, I see transcendence as going beyond what is considered “normal” in society. It is the power of positive psychology which focuses on taking yourself from surviving to thriving rather than just aiming to relieve suffering. Gratitude practice is an important tool which can support you on this path without you having to make major changes in your life.

What does gratitude practice mean?

Gratitude is a positive feeling that we can experience ourselves or express to others. It is the state of feeling thankful for something or someone in your life or even for life itself! When we feel grateful, we focus on something good that we have and we allow those positive feelings to grow. Sometimes gratitude can be a powerful and overwhelming emotion which can even bring us to tears.

We can start a gratitude practice by priming ourselves to see and acknowledge the good things in our lives rather than only noticing the things we want to change. This can be easier said than done because as humans we naturally want to look for problems and find solutions! But there are some simple habits we can build which can help us to experience feelings of gratitude more often in our lives.

For example:

  • Being in the present moment during our daily tasks e.g. enjoying a cup of tea or the process of getting ready in the morning
  • Going out of our way to thank others in person or writing thank you notes when they do something for us (or just for being them!)
  • Visiting beautiful places in nature or in the area we live and truly soaking in the view
  • Taking a moment to connect with the food that we eat at every meal and appreciating how nature created it to sustain us
  • Showing gratitude for our physical bodies through self care routines, healthy eating and appropriate movement
  • Leaving positive reviews to support a company after a good experience with purchase or service
  • Writing a daily gratitude journal of the things we are thankful for
  • Practicing a gratitude meditation such as the one in today’s challenge

These are all small things we can start to build into our lives to help us to start to feel more grateful and appreciative of the good things we have. Shifting your attitude towards one of gratitude can create momentum and become an upward spiral of positive emotions. On the other hand, forgetting to be grateful can lead to feelings of lack, disappointment and dissatisfaction.

My recent experience with cultivating a gratitude practice

Recently I lost my way (as we all do from time to time) and found myself overly focusing on a couple of particular negative situations. Instead of appreciating the things I did have, I became overly attached to fixing what I thought was wrong with my life. I started to blame specific things for my negative mood and I felt like unless they changed, I could not feel well. I found myself justifying my feelings and indulging in my own pity party when in reality I needed some tough love!

My feelings of lack resulted in a decision which led me down a misaligned path. Only when it descended into chaos did I finally come full circle and realise how good things were to begin with. Nothing had changed except my perception. My experiences had changed my perspective and in the process I found a new sense of gratitude for my life situation. I didn’t even need to write a gratitude journal or gratitude practice mediation. Sometimes it is simply life that gives you the medicine you need.

Gratitude practice and positive emotions

Once I experienced this feeling of appreciation and gratitude, it was like a light came on inside of me. Where it had felt heavy and shadowy before was filed with a sense of lightness and ease. My physical and mental energy increased immediately, despite not having a good nights sleep, eating well or having time for my yoga practice over the last week. It really demonstrated to me the power of the emotional and mental bodies.

Research has showed gratitude is associated with improved mood, reduced stress, healthier relationships, more resilience, better sleep and lower inflammation – just to name a few! Cultivating feelings of gratitude for the beautiful things in our lives is therefore a natural medicine we can use to support our health and wellbeing at any time we choose. Sometimes it can feel difficult when our lives are not going the way that we wish they would. However, there is always something to hold on to and be grateful, no matter how small.

This little guy always gives me something to be happy about on challenging days!

Today’s challenge: Practice a gratitude meditation

Today’s simple task to immediately improve your wellbeing is to take 5-15 minutes to experience a gratitude practice meditation. Find a comfortable place to sit and listen to the guided meditation below. Observe your feelings before and after the practice then take a few moments to reflect and write down anything that came up for you. Listen to this guided mediation daily whenever you feel stuck in a rut and I guarantee you will at least feel a tiny bit better!

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

  • Please like this post and share to support my business
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