Regulate & Rewire: An Anxiety & Depression Podcast

The Gut Check & Pep Talk You Might Need

August 15, 2023 Amanda Armstrong Episode 26
Regulate & Rewire: An Anxiety & Depression Podcast
The Gut Check & Pep Talk You Might Need
Show Notes Transcript

Today you get another more candid conversation where I share with you some fundamental pieces that need to be in place on your healing journey. You will never be able to talk therapy, vagal tone, or meditate your way to healing anxiety or depression if you're sleeping 5 hours a night, eating crappy food, sitting too much, or hanging out with toxic people. Certain people who benefitted from the unhealed version of you will be frustrated by your efforts to heal, heal anyways. True healing takes a whole human, whole life approach; nothing changes if nothing changes. The sobering reality is that healing feels hard because it is and we often can't do it alone. Join me for an exploratory conversation where I lay out out some uncomfortable things, call you into action, and give you the pep talk your healing might need. I share ways I'd love to support you, as well as the 3 things to start with if you're trying to heal on your own right now. Hit play to hear more!

CLICK HERE for full show notes + 3 takeaways!

We have just a handful of 1:1 coaching spots left for 2023, CLICK HERE to book a pressure free discovery call.

For those with more limited financial resources or who want to take a community support approach to healing, door are open to my RISE Membership on a sliding scale to make it as accessible as possible.





Welcome to regulate, and rewire and anxiety and depression podcast where we discuss the things I wish someone would have taught me earlier in my healing journey. I'm your host, Amanda Armstrong. And I'll be sharing my steps, my missteps, client experiences and tangible research based tools to help you regulate your nervous system, rewire your mind and reclaim your life. Thanks for being here. Now let's dive in. 

Hey, everyone, I am finally home after six weeks away, and I am recording this again, a Monday night before it launches Tuesday. So this is a live update, I've only been home for a few days, there is lots to share lots to do lots to get caught up on. And actually, before I continue into this message, I want to talk about this phrase. Lots to get caught up on for just a second. So as much as I harp on this idea that our physiology drives our psychology, right, the state of our body creates the stories we tell ourselves in our brain, the way that we interpret our situations. There is also a bi directional relationship here, which means the thoughts that we think also inform our nervous system. And so something that I have tried to be much more conscious of, especially with this stinkin phrase "get caught up" on because this implies that I'm somehow behind. Which for someone that someone being me who is really trying to wind my way out of debilitating productivity based self worth, I spent decades of my life feeling like I was always behind, there was always things to do. No matter how much I did the To Do lists just grew. It is not helpful for me to use a phrase, even if I'm using it casually, like yep, gotta get caught up on a lot of things. It's not helpful to imply that I'm behind. 

The reality is here. Like I said, we've been gone six weeks the grass, I don't even want to talk about it. It was so long. I am so sorry to my neighbors, that grass did not look that long on our security camera, otherwise, we would have sent somebody to mow it. But there is five loads of laundry to be done. The kitchen is so empty, it's in dire need of a grocery store haul and I have just not been able to muster up the Eat that first grocery store back if you are the person in your home responsible for groceries, you know, when the kitchen has gotten to that state that first grocery store haul, it feels like a monumental task. It also feels so satisfying to fill your kitchen backup but I just haven't gotten to it yet. 

We've been home just a few days. Like I said, I'm back to recording Tuesday's podcast on a Monday night, I have a handful of new member packages to put together and ship out. There's a lot to do. Absolutely. But that doesn't have to mean that I am behind on some arbitrary timeline. To Do list, it simply means that life got busy my family played, I spent the last couple days prioritizing other tasks or rest over the ones I just listed, and yada yada, yada. So, instead of saying I'm getting caught up, I have been trying to tell myself that I am just simply getting back into the swing of things I'm resetting my house, we're settling into and figuring out our routine again. And so for those of you who often feel like you are always behind, always behind never caught up. This might be just a small shift that you can make. Because when you tell yourself, I need to get caught up, caught up, cut up, what you are communicating to your nervous system is a is activation, you need to go go go go go you're behind, you're behind, you're behind. And I think this is so often what fuels getting so activated that we shut down, right getting into that freeze response of feeling like I'm so overwhelmed. I can't even do one thing. So hopefully that was helpful to at least one of you. Because that is not what today's podcast is about. But that came out of my mouth and I figured I would just have a little tangent conversation about it. 

So today's podcast was supposed to be I had planned a awesome conversation on the difference between nervous system regulating practices versus having a regulated nervous system overall. I got about halfway through recording that episode, started pouring rain outside the power went out. So I will try that episode again for next week. But since I knew I was re recording something, I just kind of felt compelled to switch gears and instead today to give you a bit of a healing pep talk. So for some of you some of the things I'm going to share today is going to feel incredibly validating incredibly insightful gonna pump hope back into your healing. Some of it also might be a little bit confronting as I share some statistics that you may fall into some of those categories. 

But to set some context for this conversation, part of my story is at 25. I was battling, endless, overthinking chronic stress and this repetitive cycle of anxiety, that intense activation into complete shutdown. And it often felt like whiplash where I would be so so anxious and then so shut down, anxiety, depression, go, go, go, go, go. I can't get out of bed. And during my mid 20s, I was living a really good life, I had a job I absolutely loved for part of it. I was living beyond life, I had a dog, I had some friends, I did go through a really, really hard breakup, I did feel like my friend group kind of shifted, that left me feeling lonely, again, all things that are kind of normal to 20s. But I, I think a lot of times, we feel invalid in our anxiety or depression, because we live a good life, it just doesn't feel good. And why can't I just be happy, there's a lot of things to be grateful for. And this is where I think taking that nervous system approach can bring so much compassion into that, that you can be living a really good life, and still rarely feel good. And that was my 20s. 

Fast forward to 30. So by 30, I was balancing motherhood and growing a business things with much higher stakes than life. In my 20s, I had a tiny human who literally depended on me for life. And yet, my depression was gone. And my anxiety was pretty managed. And I have found in these last few years, ways to move through both the good and the unimaginably hard parts of life without letting my brain spiral out against me without getting stuck in this whiplash cycle of activation, shutdown, activation and shutdown. Have I had my moments in both states? Absolutely. But I've always relatively easily and naturally been able to find my way back to regulation. 

So what changed, like what changed in those five years. And the long and short of it is this, that I learned how to understand my symptoms, I learned how to understand anxiety and depression, through a nervous system lens. And that informed me of certain changes that I had to make in my lifestyle in my habits in the way that I was approaching my healing. It was in those five years that I decided to quit talk therapy and started to work somatically through my healing, finding tangible ways to regulate my nervous system, really approaching my healing in a way that worked with my body's physiology, to powerfully heal and change my psychology. Now, I always feel like when I say something like I quit talk therapy, that I need to add this asterik that I am not telling you to quit talk therapy, if it is working for you. If you have a therapist that feels safe, and supportive, and validating, that's amazing. Please, please, please keep it up. I always share my personal experience because for myself and for many people that we work with traditional talk therapy either didn't feel like a good fit, or it felt like it was only maybe a small piece of their healing equation. And I've worked with individuals on every end of the spectrum from talk therapy made my symptoms worse, to talk therapy saved my life. And I'd like more tangible tools, I want to learn to regulate my nervous system. I know there's more pieces to my healing journey. And heck, I've even supported a handful of actual therapists themselves on their journey to incorporate a nervous system approach alongside the work that they were already doing. 

But the bottom line here is that what we know from the last decade of neuroscience and even psychology research is that your physiology drives your psychology. All the talking in the world cannot help you if your body is trapped in survival mode. There are no amount there's there's no amount of mindset work of thought changing or behavior changing that you can do if we can't address the stored survival energy and start to create a felt sense of safety in your body. Something that I have been saying a lot to clients and we've been working a lot inside the membership and with our one among clients is that if you can't learn to feel safe in your body, you're not going to be able to feel safe anywhere. So it starts in and through Your body.

And for me and my experience, I felt like no matter how many times I talked about things, I never really felt any better. traditional talk therapy helped me to more clearly understand why I was struggling. But it wasn't supporting me in making the changes that I needed to make to get out of this endless stress cycle, or giving me those tangible tools for those moments when I was spiraling out. And that was what I desperately needed, was a little bit more of a tangible approach to my healing at the time. 

And so when it comes to healing, here is just kind of a sobering truth. Healing cannot happen. unless things change. Unless you make some changes in your life, you are going to continue to perpetuate this chronic stress, this cycling between maybe for you, it's the same as me, anxious, shut down, activated, shut down. Or maybe for you, it's just that you're stuck feeling anxious all the time or shut down all the time. And when you're struggling with anxiety, or depression, making tangible change can be so hard to do alone. And so that is where support can come in, in whatever way you decide, feels like the best fit for you. 

And so when we're talking about healing, I want to talk for a moment about symptoms, right? Symptoms are prompts from your body. And they are uncomfortable. They're uncomfortable for a reason, right? A symptom of a sprained ankle is pain. And the reason that you're feeling that pain is so that you can stay off your ankle and give it the space to heal. Right think about other prompts hunger, the need to use the bathroom exhaustion, right? Even looking at anxiety and depression through a nervous system lens, right? We've let go of this arbitrary belief that they're just these diagnoses that it's the way that we are and we have to manage it our whole life. No, we're looking at anxiety and depression as symptoms of some kind of nervous system dysregulation, unhealed trauma, chronic stress, etc. So anxiety, depression, these are prompts that are uncomfortable, but again, they're uncomfortable for a reason. These states are there to protect us and to prompt us into something different. If hunger felt awesome, we would all be dead. Think about it. Right? If being hungry, was something that felt really good to us, we would never seek out food, we would never get the thing that we need to survive, to thrive even. 

And I was reading somewhere. And they said, you know, a prompt is not a punishment. So if we look at anxiety and depression as symptoms as prompts, anxiety and depression, they're not punishment. They are simply communicating to you something that you need to survive to thrive. These are symptoms that are natural responses. They're natural results of unprocessed trauma of chronic stress, lack of boundaries, toxic environments. And so if you are somebody coming to this podcast because you're struggling with anxiety or depression, which I know most of you are, this invites us to get curious, what are the symptoms trying to prompt for me? Are they trying to communicate to me that life is too busy, that there's trauma to heal, that my relationships or my environment is toxic. 

So this is where this might get a little confronting. I'm going to share some statistics. And I want you to just take a mental note of how many of these categories you might fall into. And not from a place of shame, blame, guilt judgment. We're gonna go through this and we're going to open ourselves up from a place of curiosity from a place of trying to just put a couple more pieces together for your healing equation. So according to the CDC, one in three adults in the United States, one in three reported not getting enough rest or sleep every day. Nearly 40% Almost half of adults Support falling asleep during the day without meaning to, meaning they got so exhausted that their body put them to sleep without them trying to take a nap at least once a month. Okay, we are an incredibly under rested population and sleep is undeniably one of the most foundational things that we need for mental health and for to give our system the capacity to heal. So what is what are your sleep habits look like? 

American adults consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day, that's two to three times more than the recommended amount. So this adds up to 60 pounds 60 pounds of added sugar consumed annually. We know that that creates inflammation, it feeds disease, etc. In our body, okay. 

And less than 30% of adults are meeting the recommended minimum physical activity requirements, we know that the healthiest version of our brain lives inside a body in motion. We know that being too sedentary is not just harmful for our physiology, but our psychology as well. 

Almost half of the population is vitamin D deficient, which can be caused by nutritional and sunlight deficiencies. And we know that vitamin D deficiency is directly linked to mental health struggles. 

And because I'm a newish mom, like don't even get me started on the lack of postpartum maternity leave support community that we experienced, at least here in the US. 

So looking at some of these statistics, and then looking at all of the isolation that we experienced over the last couple years and the need for community engagement, like no wonder we are struggling. No wonder there is a mental health crisis. No wonder our body systems are prompting that something is going terribly wrong or that we are simply trying to do or to be too much. Again, anxiety and depression are perfectly natural responses to all of the above. If you're somebody who is not getting enough sleep, consuming a inflammatory diet, if you are sedentary, not getting outside, not getting sunlight or nutrients that you need, if you're feeling isolated, or alone in a different season of your life like this is hard, because it's hard. Anxiety and depression are not your fault. The states of being so activated or so shut down, are likely not your fault. That healing is your responsibility, and you are the only person who can do it. And a lot of that starts with simply getting more sleep moving more eating better connecting with humans who celebrate you and disconnecting from humans who don't, your trauma needs to be processed, your body needs to be befriended. And those crappy thoughts that you think about yourself, they can be re patterned. 

It's so essential on our healing journey that we make space for all parts of us at the table and knowing that in any given moment, even when we are not going to bed on time eating foods that we know make us sick, isolating, like there's there's good intention behind all of the actions that we're taking. And we can take a deep breath and acknowledge which ones might not be serving our higher good. When it comes to healing. I believe that healing comes with a bit of active rebellion against the status quo. And here's kind of what I mean by this one of my favorite quotes reads, It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. So I'm going to read that again. It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society, many of us and I would bargain to say that almost all of you who have made your way to a podcast like mine, live in a profoundly sick society where productivity is valued over partnership, pleasure, rest or connection. We're competition, consistently trump's community and this just as humans, this is not how we are evolutionarily are biologically made to live. And yet, that's the reality of a lot of the societies that we live in. 

And so with this context, I'm not saying that you listener right now that you Live a bad life. Many of you listening to this podcast actually would say you're living a really good life. Maybe you love your job, you are a parent to kids who often overwhelm you, but you love being a parent, you've likely been through some hard things, and you're trying to navigate the collateral of those hard things. 

For me, I think the most frustrating part, like I mentioned was that in my 20s, I was living a good life. So much of it I loved. But it was so rare that it really felt good. So much of my life felt exhausting. I felt like I was constantly running from one thing to the next, always doing so much. But constantly having more to do. I put everyone else's needs above my own, and it took its toll. I fell into almost every single one of those above statistics, I was regularly sleeping five, maybe six hours a night, it would not be unheard of. For me to get four hours of sleep, I worked in a gym, sometimes I had to be there at 5am I would oftentimes turn to sugary or highly processed foods as a way to give myself a quick burst of energy. I was not somebody who was ever under the recommended minimum dose of physical activity. Instead, I actually was a chronic over exerciser for a while. And that put a different level of stress on my nervous system. I did pretty good about getting outside. But other nutritional needs were definitely not being met. 

So again, going through some of those things was not to breed any shame, blame or guilt, but just to bring awareness to the fact that we have to make and be willing to make some tangible changes in our life to put ourselves on a path to healing. And a lot of those changes are going to be contrary to what society values, right productivity, self sacrifice, stepping into your healing is an act of rebellion. You are saying I can't, I won't keep doing the same thing. In the same way. Choosing to heal, especially through a nervous system lens means that you have to step into doing some new things. And to step away from some old things, you'll have to start saying no to certain habits that hurt and saying yes to habits that heal when you start to enforce boundaries, it'll likely frustrate people who have benefited from the unhealed version of yourself. And this is just my reminder to do it anyways. 

I am confident that you can heal even in a profoundly sick society, when you finally decide that you won't subscribe to that narrative anymore. And this is what it takes to create a regulated nervous system, a whole human whole life approach. And it's not easy. But it is the most worthwhile thing in my opinion that you can do. And I've built Rise As We, we I've built my mental health practice to support people in doing just this. And a compassionate promise that I make to all of our new members. And I've even shared it here on this podcast before. And I'll start by explaining to them how my healing and likely their healing often feels like a 1000 piece puzzle, one that you've lost the box to so you don't even have a picture to go off of. We hear from clients over and over and over again, who feel like they have tried everything to get the pieces to fit. And nothing is working. They're ready to quit. And I was there too. And my promise is this, that only you can put that puzzle together. You have to put each piece in place, but that you do not have to do it alone. And myself and my team of coaches at Rise As We, our promise is that we'll pull up a chair and sit next to you in your healing and putting these pieces together for as long as it takes. And every time you'd become frustrated that another piece didn't fit. We're there to remind you that there are 999 others and that given time and patience and some cuddle fashion trial and error, we will put this puzzle together. 

Oftentimes, we don't know exactly what your picture on your box looks like, I wish I did, I wish I could just give you some generic blueprint that worked for everybody. But what we have is the experience of working with hundreds and hundreds of other people, and knowing what their pictures have kind of looked like what their healing protocols and blueprints have looked like. And we know that we can use those to inform and help get you closer. Mental Health looks different for everyone. And so will the solution. I will not I cannot promise you an anxiety free life because you're not a robot. But I can promise you that every time. Every time with education, awareness, action and community support, that you can create a life that both looks and feels better for you. I have seen clients in the trenches, rise through our approach, you can create capacity in your nervous system to not just calm down in a moment where you're spiraling, but you can create the capacity so that you can be with the hard stuff that life will inevitably throw your way without it flooding you. 

Having a regulated nervous system isn't just about being calm all the time, it's about being able to be flexible. It's about being able to experience the depths of grief, the heat of anger, the heaviness of being lonely, and to still be able to find your center to find your way back home to your sense of self, and safety. This work is about creating a life that both looks and feels good in your unique way. 

So circling back to where I originally shared, what changed in those five years for me, and it was all of that I made some big and small changes in my life that added up over time to create something that felt better. And friends, I'm still on this journey, I'm still unlearning the demands of hustle culture, and the mentality that I should be able to do it all or do more. I am now in a phase of life with tiny humans who depend on me, which is my greatest joy, and also my quickest trigger. Any parent knows what I'm talking about. But in that I have learned how to make me a priority even when it upsets people. So that I have the capacity for what matters most. To me.

Choosing to heal is courageous. Parts of it will feel triumphant. And other parts of it are going to feel like one step forward. And 10 steps back. Keep stepping up and I think that's the point I want to make. I know some of your listening like there's a lot of pieces to your message today, Amanda there are. But this is the point I want to make. That even by being here right now, by simply listening to this podcast, you are taking a step you are being courageous, you are opening yourself up to the possibility to the hope that you can create a life that feels better for you. And like I said, I built Rise As We to support people in doing just this. And so for anyone listening who might feel the same, like you're ready to heal, but you don't know where to start. Like you've tried everything and nothing has quite fit or you feel like just something is missing. For anybody who is craving tangible tools to heal anxiety and depression for somebody who's going to shoot you straight. And tell you how it is that there are pieces of your lifestyle that you need to shift their habits you need to change their people you need to set some hard boundaries with and who's also going to tell you that it just takes time. But also somebody or a group, a community of people who will champion you every tiny step along the way. This is what we do. When you feel like you've regressed our approach in our coaching practice and in our community is to shine a flashlight on just how far you've come.

So for any of you who are looking to take a whole human whole life approach, giving mental and physical health an equal seat at the table, this is what we do inside our one on one anxiety and depression coaching program Restore and inside Rise, my group coaching membership. And I know many of you listening already have practitioners that you're doing a Amazing work with. And so my note with you today is to keep going to lean in, dare to disappoint people with the more healed version of yourself. Because the alternative is that you just continue to disappoint yourself. Instead, it is their job to go to therapy, and to work out why they're disappointed by you doing what's right for you. It is time to take yourself off the backburner and actively participate in your healing and nervous system regulation is at the heart of this work. And we'll talk a little bit more about that next week about how a regulated nervous system creates an increased capacity for both the happy and the hard, the grief and the gratitude. At some point, you'll likely be both deeply devastated by the things and relationships that change as a result of your healing. And also simultaneously so proud of the steps that you're taking and the authentic parts of you that you are reclaiming and stepping into. 

So like I said, today, was kind of a call to arms on your healing journey. And if you're looking for support on this journey, we're here, we do have just a handful of one on one coaching spots left through the end of this year. So I'll drop a link in the show notes. Or you can hop on a completely pressure free discovery call if that's something you'd like to learn more about. And for those of you who either have more limited financial resources, or want to take a more community supported approach to healing, my rise, membership doors are open on a sliding pricing scale to make it as accessible as possible. And inside that membership, we have incredible weekly coaching calls where you can get that one on one support in that community setting. With some incredible bonus workshops happening over the next few months that I'd love for you to be a part of. 

Our programs work because we take an integrative physiology first approach to healing. And not only do they work, but we know exactly why they work through our research based and community driven approach. It's healing that lasts because it focuses on helping you to build a strong foundation in your life, in your body and in your mind. And maybe you're not actively looking for support right now. 

Maybe you're somebody who is trying to walk this journey on your own. I believe that is the harder way but it can be done. And if you are looking for where to start and taking some of these steps on your own, here are three things to do when starting to heal through a nervous system lens. 

The first is education. And you're here you're doing it. You have to understand yourself, your physiology, and how it impacts your psychology, emotions, relationships, behaviors, and so on. It all stems from your physiology. If you do not understand that and how how to work with it, then you're going to constantly feel up against a wall in your healing. 

The second thing is community, create community where you can a community that is supportive of your healing community that encourages and demands that you show up fully and authentically as you there's a lot of healing that you can do on your own as long as you don't feel alone. And creating a safe community to support your healing also means setting some hard boundaries in relationships that are unsupportive of your healing. 

And the third thing is the work is in creating your reactive toolboxes. Stepping into the proactive lifestyle habits that support your mind and your body etc. 

Circling back to where we started, nothing changes if nothing changes. And the sobering truth is, we have to treat ourselves better. Get those foundational, physiological pieces in place to give us the capacity for that deeper mindset work, trauma, repatterning, and so on. And if you do find yourself stuck in trying to take some of those steps on your own. What you'll find in both our coaching programs are the support the community and the resources that I wish I would have had earlier in my healing journey. And that promise that we will be by your side in this work with you in a personalized way for as long as it takes. 

So the three tangible takeaways from our conversation today are number one, if healing feels hard, it is hard. It is hard but it is the most courageous and worthwhile hard of your life. 

Number two, the physiology matters, it matters a lot. You are never going to be able to find regulation. By doing mindset work alone, even by doing a million vagal toning exercises or meditating daily. If you are sleeping five hours a night in a toxic work environment, eating crappy food, have an overscheduled schedule. You cannot biohack your way to regulation and healing. So for this takeaway, just note that it is essential that you approach your healing through a physiology, lifestyle and community supported approach. And in my opinion, community matters just as much as any other part of this knowing that you're not alone. This power of CO regulation is essential, essential, essential, essential. 

And number three is my assurance to you that you can heal. I am sure of it. But healing will not happen on its own with time. Healing happens with intention, and oftentimes with support. And just know that we are always here for you if you need it. 

Thanks for listening to another episode of The regulate and rewire podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a five star review to help us get these powerful tools out to even more people who need them. 

And if you yourself are looking for more personalized support and applying what you've learned today, consider joining me inside Rhys, my monthly mental health membership and nervous system healing space or apply for our one on one anxiety and depression coaching program restore. I've shared a link for more information to both in the show notes. Again, thanks so much for being here. And I'll see you next time.

Transcribed by