healing

Cyclical living to prevent and recover from burnout

I have been paying attention to the Moon cycle my whole life. When I was a child I often looked up to look for Her, and when I found Her I would marvel at Her brightness and Her shape. Sometimes She was full and round, sometimes barely visible, a small crescent. 

At a young age I learned what the waxing and waning Moon looked like (see RESOURCES for an explanatory e-book). It wasn't until my late twenties that I discovered that the Moon phases had their own energy and purpose. 

The Moon has been a guide for ages. Every year, a Farmer's Almanac is published, which lays out the Moon phases and the best days for planting, sowing, doing labor on the land, harvesting and more. When aligned with the Moon cycle, farmers have bigger crops, better harvests and less waste. People have lived with this wisdom since the birth of agriculture. 

Somewhere along the way we forgot. We run on a treadmill of achieving goals, always pushing, striving and making deadlines. New ideas, growth, and success are valued more than the stillness, where fertilization and incubation happens. This skipping of an important phase in any project, from a start-up business to writing a book to creating a successful product, seems efficient. It saves us time, and we can go on faster to the next thing in life. However, living in overdrive like this, and skipping rest and recovery, has a huge downward risk. At first, we don't notice. Until we collapse.

I had lived my life in this running, linear way for 38 years before I crashed. When I was in dire shape, in the midst of my burnout, I discovered something important. I noticed that my exhaustion was the worst at New Moon (and when I was menstruating). The depletion of cosmic and physical energy took so much that I wasn't able to move or sit up for days. 

Because I was following the Moon already, I found out quickly. I never thought this effect could be so profound, I was aware of the esoteric meaning of the Moon phases but I never really paid attention to the physical effects (or any bodily signal, to be honest). But when I started to connect the Moon energy to my own energy levels, everything clicked.

We are so used to living in 5th gear, never taking a break or allowing our body to rest. But we forget that we are cyclical beings. Especially women, because we have a menstrual cycle on top of it. 

Everything in the Universe consists of spirals, circles, and cycles. Galaxies, the solar system, the planetary movements, the Earth when spinning around its axis and thus creating the seasons, the Moon cycle, but also the cycle of life, growth, death, rebirth. Molecular structures move energy around in a cyclical motion. This is the basis of oxygen-dependent life, it's called the citric acid cycle (and it was a pain in the ass to memorize for my Med School exams, I tell you).

So, when everything is cyclical, why do we think we can just skip a phase? How can we systematically skip Winter? We need rest, recovery, contemplation, allowing new ideas to form, hibernating under the surface in order for the cycle to complete itself and start over again.

We can't skip the Winter, but we do it on a systematic basis. We have labels rest and recovery as 'laziness'. We think contemplation is 'unproductive'.

When we follow these voices, judgments, beliefs, and we continue to skip it, it leads to burnout. Burnout is nothing else than a very long Winter enforced on you by your body. When you are experiencing burnout, start with rest, not a weekend, not a vacation. What you need is real prolonged rest. This can be very scary, just have faith your nature. The cycle will start over again one day.

When you are planning a new adventure, start with rest, contemplation to be more successful. When you just finished a big project in your business or job, celebrate your success, then rest and evaluate. Learn from your experiences, and integrate them. 

Start paying attention to your energy and your cyclical nature today. Awareness prevents problems and it will help you to be more successful, and live a sustainable life. 

If you want to talk with me about this subject to find out what it can mean for you, feel free to book a complimentary discovery call with me. 

My initiation and rediscovery of Feminine Wisdom

The first time I read about Feminine Wisdom was well over a decade ago. At the time I just transferred from a clinical resident job to a research position in psychiatry. It was a very hierarchic and linear environment, which I didn't notice because I was so used to it. My background - my parents were elementary school teachers - had been infused with linearity. Work hard, study, achieve goals and you will gradually grow and climb the social ladder. 

Anyway, there I was, 26 years old, a young doctor, trying to do the best I could for my patients. What I didn't notice was that I totally forgot to care for myself. I was dedicated and meticulous, and I would never fail anyone, although sometimes, I was exhausted. That's why I got a research job, to take a break from the never-ending responsibility and pressure, the night shifts and the ongoing administrative burden of the hospital. 

A few months in, I was invited to go on an educational retreat program in epidemiology with my research mentor. She was a very ambitious woman and I looked up to her, although I could also feel her pain because she missed out on motherhood because of her demanding job. She always seemed to hide behind a mask of performing and being 'equal' to her male colleagues.

I traveled abroad for the program where we stayed for a week to dive into the subject of clinical research and study design with a promising group of researchers. I had some spare time in a railway station where I had to wait to change trains. I came across a bookshop. I wasn't really looking for something to read because I figured that it would be a busy week anyway. But there she was. This small book with a black cover and small calligraphed letters in burgundy... Although the cover could be easily overlooked, this book seemed to call me. I couldn't see anything else and I was so drawn to it that I bought it without reading the back cover.

This book, 'Book of Shadows' by Phyllis Currott, took me on a journey that forever changed my life. This autobiography described the discovery and initiation into the Divine Feminine of the author, an NYC lawyer, her initial hesitation and skepticism, and the wisdom and connections she found through ritual and women's circles. 

For me, it uncovered a world that I didn't know existed. With every word I read, I felt like I was coming home to myself. I was completely captivated by it and I used every break during the week-long program that I was attending, to go to my hotel room and read. 

I remember feeling torn between this totally new magical world of the Divine Feminine and the masculinity of the statistical theories and assignments I had to go over. 

I have felt torn between those energies many times after that, but I never had the courage to dive right into what felt more aligned, so I tried to mix some of the practices I learned from the book into my busy life. I read many more books on this subject; women's circles, the elements, energy, rituals, mystical practices, meditation, esoterics, the Moon and the cosmos, herbalism and so on. I performed small rituals in my bedroom, I drew oracle cards to gain more insight, I watched the Moon and recorded my own cycle for years. I began to feel that attuning to the Cycles was nurturing me. But I also felt that every piece of wisdom I gathered created a bigger schism in my Soul. 

Over the next 10 years, life happened. I changed careers trying to find a solution away from the overachieving, overpressuring world of hospitals and research. I became a mother and my time and energy were flowing towards my children and my job solely. I went through a divorce and became a single mom. There was no time to follow my own cycle, the Moon or the seasons. Life was overwhelming and everything I had worked so hard for, came crashing down on me. 

I was so exhausted, navigating burnout and depletion that I decided to quit my job as an MD, not knowing what would be next. One night, when I couldn't sleep, I scanned my books to see what I medical books I could let go of. Suddenly my eyes came across the 'Book of Shadows' again.

It was like a flash lightning struck me. I immediately realized that life would continue to happen to me in this devastating way if I didn't embrace the Divine Feminine. The only thing that I felt certain about on that night, was the presence of the Moon, the Sun, the Universe. I knew that They were my medicine. And indeed, over time, I healed by following the Moon, and my own Moon cycle. I started to connect with nature again, walking outside, feeling the breeze, touching the trees and the leaves, digging into the garden, smelling the flowers, looking at the sunset and listening to the birds. My Soul was so tired of living in a linear, masculine way. She yearned to be balanced with the Sacred Feminine energy of receiving, nurturing, loving, connecting to my body and the body of Earth.

Finally, I began to heal. 

Today, I am so acutely aware of the importance of our natural Cycles and how we can learn about ourselves through these cyclical motions. Our lives are seasonal, women cycle with the Moon, all hormonal processes in our bodies are flowing in a circular way. Like ebb and flow, rising, expanding, falling and diminishing. From Dark to Light to Dark. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Death and Rebirth.

We go through an array of cycles in so many ways. Personally, collectively, on a small level and on a cosmic scale. 

My mission now is to make people aware of these cycles, of the importance of cyclical living in order for them to feel supported and connected to Nature and to their own nature. 

 

7 natural remedies to have in your home

Last week I was down with the flu (or some heavy cold with fever and coughs and muscle pains) AND I burned my hand with hot oil AND I went to the dentist who left me with a bruised palate

Oh yes, it was a great week.... to use all the natural home remedies I love. :D

***Please make sure to read my disclaimer before reading the rest of the article, always ask for medical advice with your own healthcare professional, GP or pharmacist and always use medication and supplements (pharmaceutical or natural remedies like naturopathic or herbal medicine) as prescribed on the package insert.***

The 'common cold' (rhinitis) 

Echinacea 

Echinacea comes in drops or capsules or tea. I hate capsules so I always use drops and tea. When the R is in the month (September until April) I drink at least one cup of tea with Echinacea in it. It enhances your immune system and helps to fight off bugs before they get to you. When a virus enters our home, I start my drops too. Sometimes it helps me to prevent catching the bug myself, and if not, it sure helps because of the immune system boost. 

Chamomile 

I use this as a tea. Chamomile soothes the throat and has antiseptic qualities. You can use it just to drink and clear the throat, you can add some honey to it to enhance the antibacterial properties and to make swallowing easier. You can also gargle with it. 

Saltwater

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle with it (not so nice) or use it as nose spray or drops to dilute mucus in the nose. This really helps to keep the airway free and it prevents the sinuses from getting inflamed. It's important to keep the entry to the sinuses open, you don't want a sinusitis on top of your cold. It takes way longer to recover from that.

 

The flu (influenza)

Fluids

Drink a lot when you have a fever. It helps to clear out the toxins that are produced by fighting the influenza virus. It also helps regulate your temperature, due to fever the body loses much more fluids. Preferably drink water, herbal tea and broth, not just water. Broth will help to compensate for the loss of salts through transpiration when there is a fever.

Homemade chicken soup

I don't know why but this is one of the best remedies. Ask someone to bring you homemade chicken soup. Processed foods somehow don't have the same effect. 

Note: If your fevers don't break, or when there are other symptoms present like shortness of breath, extreme coughing, pain in the upper torso, muscle weakness, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and so on, always consult your doctor. Be aware that influenza can lead to pneumonia when severe, even in healthy young individuals.

 

Bruises

Arnica

For bruises, muscle aches from working out or straining the muscles too much, Arnica is a helpful natural remedy. You can find it as drops, or salve to apply locally. The salve works perfectly on bruises and bumps, also with your children. For severe muscle pain or tore muscles, I use the drops to ingest for a systemic approach. I also used them after childbirth, to heal the damaged tissues faster (it was recommended by my midwife). And I recently learned that it can also be helpful in emotional 'bruises' and growth pain, for example when you are in a difficult painful life event or transformational process. 

 

Burns

Aloë vera

The best home remedy for burns from a heat source like hot water, oil, fire or hot objects or sunburned skin is Aloë vera. It is a plant you probably have in your home already. It's a very easy, difficult to kill plant ;-) that you can put everywhere in your home. When there is a burn, always cool first, with lukewarm water. Cold water can lead to hypothermic shock and constricted blood vessels, which is not helping to remove the heat out of the tissues. After thorough cooling (15 minutes), apply some fresh Aloë vera gel. To get the gel, cut off a leave of the plant, and slice it in half lengthwise. You can use the inside of the leave as a bandage or just put on the gel/liquid from the inside to the burns. It takes out the heat and the pain. You can repeat this if needed.

In the following situations, ALWAYS seek IMMEDIATE medical care:

  • burns larger than 2 cm/1 inches in diameter
  • burns on the hands or the face (in children)
  • when the burn changed the color of the skin to completely black or white (possible 3rd-degree burns)
  •  presence of other symptoms
  • when the burn is caused by electric shock

You can also use Aloë vera with other skin conditions, like rashes or scratches, to help them heal and to soften the skin. 

Please share your personal favorites in the comments! Which natural remedies do you use often?

Remove these 4 energy leaks to decrease stress

To feel energized and to prevent stress-related illnesses like burnout, it's important to be critical of which energies you give access to in your life, and what of who you give your energy to. To feel radiant, strong and centered, it is important to be aware of energy leaks and to remove them. Here are 4 types of energy leaks to be aware of, and to take action on, to kickstart your healing process. 

#metoo - witnessing sexual harassment in the medical workplace

#metoo - witnessing sexual harassment in the medical workplace

The Truth must be uncovered to heal the wound. In this blog post, I recalled my experiences with sexual harassment in the medical workplace, inspired by a medical colleague who walked away from the healthcare system years ago (Dr. Lissa Rankin).