ERP 363: How to Master Your Stress & Reset Your Health — An Interview with Dr. Doni Wilson

By Posted in - Podcast March 14th, 2023 0 Comments

Are you feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? Do you find yourself struggling to manage the demands of everyday life? If so, you’re not alone.

Stress is a common experience for many people, and it can have a significant impact on your health and well-being. But what if you could learn how to master your stress and reset your health?

In this episode, we explore how to do just that with Dr. Doni Wilson, a leading expert in stress and health optimization. She shares insights from her book, “Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health,” as well as practical tips and strategies for recovering from stress and building resilience.

Dr. Doni Wilson is a Naturopathic Doctor, certified professional midwife, certified nutrition specialist, and bestselling author of Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health. Dr. Doni suffered from migraines, and in the process of solving them, she developed her Stress Recovery Protocol. Dr. Doni brings awareness to the impact of stress and trauma on our health and how it is possible to recover and become resilient to stress.

In this Episode

6:50 Naturopathic doctor shares insights on root causes of health issues and the power of addressing stress.

12:08 Understanding cortisol and managing stress: Finding the right herbs for optimal cortisol levels.

17:18 The importance of cortisol: Understanding the benefits of regulating this powerful hormone.

23:00 Navigating the limitations of health insurance and investing in preventive care.

25:18 Identifying and understanding the five common stress types.

29:47 A case study of a couple’s journey to optimum cortisol and adrenaline levels.

35:29 A guide to resetting your health.

40:21 The care approach and the role of relationships in stress recovery.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Identify your stress type and cortisol levels through a stress assessment test.
  • Optimize your neurotransmitter levels through proper nutrition and supplements.
  • Implement self-care strategies such as exercise, meditation, and sleep hygiene.
  • Address any underlying health issues or imbalances caused by stress.
  • Read “Master Your Stress Reset Your Health” for a comprehensive guide to stress recovery and resilience.
  • Consider one-on-one coaching or online programs for additional support.
  • Start small and make incremental changes to avoid overwhelming yourself.

Mentioned

Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health: The Personalized Program to Calm Anxiety, Boost Energy, and Beat Burnout (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Dr. Doni’s Stress Type Quiz

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Connect with Dr. Doni Wilson

Websites: doctordoni.com

Facebook: facebook.com/drdoniwilson

Twitter: twitter.com/glutenfreedoc

YouTube: youtube.com/user/DoniWilsonND

Instagram: instagram.com/drdoniwilson

Pinterest: pinterest.com/DoctorDoni

Podcast: podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ho-humans-heal/id1509561919

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Dr. Doni Wilson, thank you for joining us today.

Thank you for having me here.

Yes. I think it’s a really beautiful perspective that you bring to this conversation, as I do believe so much of our way of living and being and relating is interconnected, mind-body connection. You’re coming from more of the body lens, but also helping people understand the impact and the importance of stress, and stress’s impact on day-to-day living, as well as relationship. So we’re going to dive into that a little bit here today. For people who are just getting to know you or don’t know you, is there anything you want to share with people here today about where you’re coming from?

Oh, thank you. I am a naturopathic doctor. Originally trained as a clinical nutritionist, and then naturopathic doctor. I went to Bastyr University in the Seattle area, and I graduated in the year 2000. So I’ve been up to this for, this year will be 23 years. I mean, I am trained in primary care as a naturopathic doctor. But really, because I’ve been most of my time on the East Coast in the New York and Connecticut area, I really am more of a specialist as a naturopathic doctor. 

I specialize in, sometimes I like to say, I help people who aren’t getting helped. My mind is really good at being a detective and saying: “Okay, what are we missing here? How do we really understand, for example, why someone might have unresolved anxiety, or depression, or digestive issues, or infections, menstrual issues, autoimmunity.” Cases where it’s like, what is happening here, and why can’t I resolve this? So that’s where my passion is, to help in those situations. I am also trained as a midwife. So I have not been attending birth since my daughter was born. But I help with fertility, and I help with, during pregnancy, postpartum, from a perspective, again, of how can we help you through this so that you can feel your best and feel as good as you can feel? 

A lot of times, the people who contact me are saying: “Hey, I understand that medications are sometimes necessary, sometimes procedures are necessary. Of course, we acknowledge that and appreciate that. At the same time, how can I really take a perspective of looking at what’s really going on in my body? What’s the real cause for my symptoms, whatever the symptoms or the health issue? What’s really the underlying issue, and how do I address that?” People who are saying: “Hey, I’m willing to change my diet, I’m willing to take herbs and nutrients if it’s going to address it, I’m willing to do whatever I have to do. But I just need to know what to do.” So it puts me in that position of saying: “Okay, let me understand really the root causes of what most people are dealing with.” That’s when I really started researching stress, because I don’t know, I even had an interest in stress way back from when I was in college. Even when I was in Bastyr, I was researching how stress affects women in labor. 

Then I was in Manhattan right after 9/11. So I’m researching how does stress affect adults, and humans in general? So I was always asking this question of, we know we’re exposed to stress and trauma and major events. How does that affect our bodies in a way that then leads us to develop different health issues, and what can we do about that? Instead of just feeling like we’re stuck with whatever develops, I like to see how can we feel empowered about implementing evidence-based, effective approaches to prevent health issues. That’s what I do. That’s what I think about all day. That’s what I write about and talk about

I love it. Well, we’re going to dive in. I know you have a bit of a typology around our stress types, which I think will be really helpful for us. Before we even turn to that, as I introduce the topic here, one of the thoughts that I was having was how our physiological state and our levels of stress impacts our relating and being in the world. But also, what I’m hearing you speak to, which I really believe, is how the world and our environment impacts our state of being. Am I hearing that right?

Well, this is the thing. For so long, we were thinking that our health was determined by mostly our genetics. Of course, genetics comes into play. There are things we’re going to have a tendency toward because of what we inherited in our genes. But the research over the past couple decades is really showing us that that’s not the whole story. We can’t blame it all on our genes. Actually, the real influence on what happens with our health and our human bodies is the various stresses we’re exposed to, whether that’s psycho-emotional stress, or a physical stress, like an injury or an infection, or a toxin as a stress. Like, what are the things that we’re exposed to in our environment, that influences, and that even is what turns on the genetic expression. That’s what determines what we’re going to experience. The cool thing about that is, we can do something about all that. We can make different choices. We can navigate toxin exposure, or toxic relationship exposure, for that matter, and we can help ourselves recover.

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“It makes us realize that the destiny of our health is not set in stone. You have so much power in your hands to influence your health, and sometimes, that alone is overwhelming.”

That’s why I really like to try to break it down and make it less overwhelming.

Yes. I mean, part of what I was experiencing, just now as you were describing, was how comprehensive it is. If one had an upbringing where trauma or abuse or some circumstances existed, that it was a hardship, and the imprint of that or the shaping of that lives in our body, and how as you’re talking about the environmental toxins, or perhaps even our choices that we make, and then also our relational environment. That’s a lot, and it sounds like you have a real gift to have some discernment around how to assess and guide people into pinpointing, which is really helpful. Like I said, it feels like almost this, not a feedback loop, but they’re interconnected. So one perhaps can show some signal and signs and pointing to something. So if we’re really attuned and skilled as you are, then that might assist in the overwhelm of all these interacting variables.

Absolutely. This is the thing is that I think I see the more and more people are aware of stress and how it affects us, and trauma and how it affects us. So what I often see is that people often think of it as something that’s just in our mind, and certainly, that’s an important piece. I mean, I’m an advocate for all different kinds of therapy; we need to choose the type of therapy that’s going to work for you. Also, meditation, mindfulness, these different techniques that have been developed to help the nervous system heal. Biofeedback, I’ve been studying for also over 20 years. Yes, we can. But to know that our nerves can heal, we can create new neural pathways, we can process emotional traumas, and there’s a lot of support out there and a lot of research and practitioners who are offering that. So definitely, that’s there. And where I put a lot of my focus was also on understanding, I like how you use the word imprint. It is like that, what we’re exposed to is an imprint on our nervous system, but also on our hormone levels and our stress hormone levels. 

So what happens is — this is, again, just from researching this and testing patients and myself and analyzing those results over the past couple of decades — when we are exposed to whatever stresses we’re exposed to, of course our stress hormones are going to respond. We have a built-in human stress response system. That includes our cortisol, which is our main stress hormone, and adrenaline, which we think of as a fight-or-flight. The stress happens, and our bodies are going to try to get us out of danger, one way or another. 

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“We’re familiar with that immediate stress response in the moment. But sometimes what we aren’t, I think, paying enough attention to is how it leaves our cortisol and adrenaline in a stress state. So now, even if you’re out of this stressful situation, your cortisol and adrenaline are still thinking you’re in a stressful situation.”

So your cortisol and adrenaline, I call it get stuck in stress mode. This being stuck in stress mode is different for each person, because it’s based on somewhat your genetics, and it’s also based on your history of stress exposure. So we can’t assume that we’re all the same. This is another mistake I often see is we understand, my cortisol and adrenaline is important, and so then everybody just goes to the same, let’s say, supplement for cortisol or the same supplement for adrenal glands. I’m saying the supplement is not the same for all of us, because we respond differently. So what happens is, some of us, the cortisol gets stuck too high, maybe part of the day or all day; some of us, the cortisol gets stuck too low. Now we can easily look in the research, because they’ve done research on this. We know this herb is better at dropping cortisol that’s too high, and this other herb is better at raising cortisol that’s too low. So if you don’t know where your cortisol is, you might be taking the wrong herbs. These herbs are usually called adaptogens, which I love that there’s more awareness about adaptogens. Because adaptogens, the concept is it’s helping us adapt to stress. These are herbs or substances, plants from nature, that help us humans recover from stress. So beautiful, let’s use them. But let’s make sure we’re using the right one for you. 

So we need to know where’s your cortisol, so that we can recommend the right herbs to help you bring it back. Because it is possible to correct it. You can actually correct your cortisol. I see my patients do it every day; we get the cortisol back to optimal. Because it’s not that we want zero cortisol, we want an optimal amount day in and day out. We can get that cortisol back to optimal, and then your body can maintain it there. It’s just that the body, when we’re under stress, it gets stuck, and it can’t get back. It’s like it’s just stuck in that stress imprint. But when we can get it back, now you’ve got optimal cortisol. Optimal cortisol, first of all, it’s associated with living longer. I mean, that alone is a good motivation to get your cortisol optimal.

Aging.

Yeah, and it helps us decrease every different health issue: from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, to headaches, to joint pain, to digestive issues, to infections, to hormone imbalances. I mean, you name it. If your cortisol is off track, you’re vulnerable to a whole long list of health issues. So to me, I’m like, if we can get your cortisol back on track, we’re having one strategy that has such a positive ripple effect. Because a lot of times, I think sometimes people feel overwhelmed. They’re like: “Okay, I want to get to the root cause. But now I’m trying to take them a multi and a probiotic, and they’ve got this big, long list of supplements. Oh, maybe I need to take some different mitochondria, maybe I need to take some antioxidants. and now I heard about mushrooms.” So now they’ve got this big long list, and they’re like, how am I supposed to do all this? I would say, yes, there’s research on all those good things, and I talk about them in my book. But to me, the first thing to do is to know your cortisol and get your cortisol optimal, because that could take care of a lot of the other things, then you may not need all those other things. 

Okay, great. I love this perspective. It sounds as though helping the cortisol levels get back into optimum range allows for an assist to have the healing, and really targeting such a powerful hormone that really helps the body get back into balance, or assist that balance and the homeostasis of that.

Yes. Cortisol influences our digestion, it influences our hormones, it influences our immune system and our nervous system. So I think of it as the best way to multitask with your health. It’s like, let’s do one thing that has this positive influence on everything else. That’s a positive way to use multitasking.

Oh, my goodness. I would bargain that the average Westerner, living in Western culture modern day living, is more stressed than they even know. I’ll raise my hand with this. I’ve been practicing impeccable self-care for a long time, and it’s still noticing the more that I become sensitive to my signals, I am still so surprised at how quickly and easily. I do have background where there was a lot of stress, and probably have had exposure due to chronic stress in different circumstances. But my point is, I would bargain that most people are more stressed than they know that they are.

It is. Part of it is, first of all, we just normalize it. I mean, it makes sense. We’re open to the pandemic, let alone all the other stresses of life. In some ways, it’s a healthy, I think protective response to go: “Okay, this is how it is. I’m going to have to figure out how to survive this situation.” But then we get so used to being stressed, all of a sudden, you realize: “Oh my gosh, I’ve been squished in this little box, and became so used to being squished in a box, it started to feel normal.” Then all of a sudden, you have more room to move, and you’re like: “Oh my gosh, I was living in that little box thinking that was my only option, and it’s not my only option. I can have a whole big space to move around in.” It’s little into that, to me. It’s equivalent to being like, wow! 

Sometimes it is hard to imagine, when we’re going through our busy lives. It’s hard to imagine how can I do one more possible thing. So that means that a lot of times, by the time people contact me, they’re feeling really awful. Because it’s usually only when we’re so anxious, or not sleeping, or severe bloating. Or a lot of times, I’m helping women who have been tested positive for abnormal cells on their Pap smear. We go in for the Pap smear, it’s a good thing that women are doing. But sometimes, that’s how it shows up. That abnormal Pap says to us, now I’ve got to do something about this. Sometimes we just get through our day to day just dealing with a lot of discomfort, and it’s only when it really hits a certain threshold that we go: “Wait a minute, what’s really happening here?”

I know. Ah, Doni, I’m aware there’s so many things that we could be talking about. I’m thinking about that, largely the person that is working a lot or feeling the demands of life has a certain level of monetary financial resources to be able to even hire you, and most insurance companies may or may not, but I would say a large amount don’t necessarily; they’re more still allopathic doctors. Then we add, like you mentioned, pandemic, or cultural oppression, or racism, or homophobia, or family systems. There’s so many things that people are confronting, that they aren’t in a safe space, or they don’t have the buoyancy to have the actual space. Because what we’re talking about is people who maybe have a level of safety, but their body and their nervous system is still habituated to stress, even maybe though that that stress response isn’t necessary. But there are a lot of stressors that people are counteracting, and it sounds like one of the things that you’re aware of is how to make this more accessible. Is that right?

You’re making such a good point. Sometimes we’re just having the realization that we could be paying for health insurance. But to realize that the health insurance is really not about preventive care, it’s about access to the standard prescriptions or procedures. Again, sometimes we need those things, and so we’re glad to have insurance. I have insurance too, and if we need to get a Pap smear, we need to get a bloodwork done, if we need a procedure, we want that health insurance there. But we have to realize that, for the most part, health insurance is not covering more preventive care. Now, depending on the state you live in, some states do offer naturopathic doctors under their primary. So you could choose a naturopathic doctor as your primary care practitioner in certain states, and not in other states. I love that, because you can go to a naturopathic doctor as your primary doctor to order your lab work and help you with prevention, and have it covered by insurance. But not everybody has that, depending on where you live. 

Yeah, you might be in a situation where you’re like: “Hey, I’ve already been to the doctor under my insurance, I’ve already done the bloodwork that insurance covers. Yet, I still don’t feel good. I’m still dealing with a health issue that I want to be able to prevent or reverse, and I’ve already hit a dead end in the conventional medical system.” That’s when people are like: “Okay, I’m going to have to relook at my budget and my priorities and my values and say, do I need to shift my priorities here to make it possible for me to invest in steps to help myself? 

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“It really comes down to prioritizing health and quality of life, quantity of life, ability to do what you’re passionate about. If you’re running a business, or you want to be able to travel, or you want to spend more time with your family, then your health comes higher up on your list and you start to go, I need to find a way to take care of this, so then I can do the things I want to do.”

Yes, health is everything. What do we have if we don’t have our health? There are choices that we can make even with dysfunctional systems. So as we turn towards your unique stress types, what would you like us to know around how these manifests or what it looks like in people?

So the stress types are what I identified as the five most common imbalances of cortisol and adrenaline in humans after stress exposure. So if you’re wondering, as I mentioned before, do I have high or low cortisol? Same is true with adrenaline by the way; some people it gets stuck high, and some people it gets stuck low. So we can measure these things, there’s tests that measure cortisol at different times a day. So yes, you could do a blood test, but then it’s only at one time a day. So what I do, usually in my practice, and this is, again, over the past couple of decades, I measure cortisol from the morning, the midday, the evening, and the bedtime, so we can see. Because cortisol is a hormone that naturally changes during the day, it should be higher in the morning and gradually decreasing. So we need to see your levels at different times a day. Adrenaline, we can also measure in urine. So these can be done with urine and saliva, a test that you could do at home. I hope in the future, it’s going to be even easier to get these tests done. But for a few $100, you can get this information. You have to order the tests through a practitioner like me who’s using these tests in their practice. This is what I do when I work with people one-on-one, is we do the testing and we can then see, is their cortisol too high or too low, is their adrenaline too high or too low? So I can really see which pattern they fall into. Because I then do retroactive studies on my patients, I could see the most common ones. 

So those most common patterns, I named as the five stress types. The first most-common pattern is what I call the Stress Magnet; they tend to have high cortisol and high adrenaline at some point during the day. Then the Night Owl tends to have high cortisol and or adrenaline, but at night. Then the Sluggish and Stressed type has high cortisol, but low adrenaline. Then the Blue type has both low cortisol and low adrenaline, and the Tired and Wired type has low cortisol with high adrenaline. 

You see, these are very different scenarios, and all five of those scenarios have a different treatment plan. Because this is where it’s key. It’s not just something fun to know. It’s interesting to know. A lot of times it’s validating for people to be like: “Oh yeah, no wonder I have a second wind at night and I’m up late working. I’m a night owl. Okay, makes sense.” But where it really comes down to, to me, is that I think everyone should have this information about their stress type is because the treatment is different. So you’re going to use different herbs, you’re going to use different nutrients, even your self-care. You were mentioning self-care before. 

Even the way you implement things like what I call stress recovery activities, like meditation, exercise, even your diet and food choices, these are different based on your stress type. In this way, we can really fine-tune and individualize your stress recovery, because you’re learning your body, your system that you’re living in, and knowing here’s what I need to do to take best care for my body and system to keep it constantly recovering from stress. Not only recovering from stress from years ago, but recovering from stress in the moment each day. How do we constantly become a stress recovery system? 

Intelligently.

Yeah, exactly. You know exactly what I’m saying. Just automatically doing our stress recovery. Because we know we’re going to have stress every day.

Right. The intelligence that it’s specific, and targeting our system and working with our system, so that we’re allowing for that recovery process to take place. Now, out of these types, I know we don’t have a chance to go through and break down each one. But I’m curious, what would you say is the most common, and could you give us an example around what that looks like? Also, if possible, what it also looks like in relationship? Or maybe one or two types? I don’t know, whatever feels easier.

Yeah, for sure. There’s an interesting one where I was working with a husband and wife, and one of them was a Sluggish and Stressed. She had high cortisol in the middle of the day. Literally, where the cortisol curve should start high and gradually go down, her cortisol curve was going up in the middle of the day and then finally going down. Then she had also this low adrenaline level. She’s feeling very stressed during the day, feeling anxious. So I could help her navigate, not only help her with addressing. This is another thing I do is help with the neurotransmitters, like serotonin and GABA, to calm her nervous system. But when she first came to see me, she was actually taking a supplement that raised her cortisol more, the complete opposite. So I’m like, we have to stop this supplement because it’s making things worse, and now we need to actually help calm down your cortisol level. So she was that scenario. Now I’ve been working with her for about a year. My patients see gradual improvement even month by month. But now she and I could look back over a year and be like, wow! We just saw her results, and that high cortisol is now right where it should be. It’s so clear. It was like, yes, this is where we want to keep it! Now she can really feel empowered around it. 

Now, her husband is more like a Stress Magnet, high adrenaline with high cortisol also, but his high cortisol was at a different time of day as hers. So where her cortisol was going high into the evening, his high cortisol was in the morning. So he was waking up early with all this energy, and he’s like, why is she still tired in bed sleeping in? He’s got all this high cortisol in the morning. He’s like, let’s go, go, go. So in their relationship, it was difficult. Because they had high energy at different times of day because of where their cortisol levels were high at different times a day. So his cortisol, when cortisol is high in the morning, we want to dose it night before you go to bed, so it prevents it from going up so high in the morning. We want it to go up in the morning, but not that high. So now his is not going as high in the morning, and his adrenaline is calming down. Because we can use nutrients to also help the body metabolize adrenaline. So now they both have optimum cortisol and adrenaline, and now it makes it so much better. They can actually enjoy each other, they understand each other. It’s been cool to see the effect it’s had on their relationship.

How do you have both of them? I think that’s perhaps maybe unusual for both of them to see the same practitioner. But is that not unusual for you?

For this kind of scenario, we tend to do it. Because in therapy, usually, two people would have different therapists, unless they were doing group therapy. But when we’re working with cortisol and adrenaline, some cases, I can keep it like that. I work with families; sometimes I have the husband and wife, and the children as patients as well. Because then we have the whole family system saying: “Hey, we’re on the same goal of everyone wanting to be having optimal levels and preventing health issues.” So it’s really beautiful to be able to help families like that. 

I love that. Is there anything else you want to say, in regards to the unique stress types and how it manifests to day-to-day life or relationship? I mean, you’ve given us a really great example. Is there anything else you want to say about how this can look?

Because it can influence a lot of different symptoms, what I would say is to know that the focus is not as much on the symptom. I mean, I know the symptom is what gets our attention. I had migraines for many years, and the migraines would constantly get my attention. It’s when I started to realize that the migraine is just trying to tell me something. So whatever the symptom is for you, if it’s menstrual cramps, if it’s joint pain, whatever it is, turn it in and say, what is this symptom really trying to tell me? This is how the stress is coming out as a symptom. Because a lot of times, we can be very angry with our bodies for having, especially pain can feel like we’re in a battle with our own bodies. 

So if you feel like: “Oh my gosh, I’ve been in a battle with why my body feels this way, and how am I going to do this?” Even if it’s anxiety and depression, we can be like, it feels uncomfortable just to be in your own body and mind. That’s when I would say it’s worth it to look at this. I want people to know that yes, we can use medications when necessary, and even I work with patients who are on different medications too. But we can do this alongside the medications, and we can say, let’s start helping to balance these hormone levels, neurotransmitter levels. Then, not only do the symptoms start going away, but then maybe you’re not going to need as many of the medications anymore because we’re actually getting at what was causing the symptoms to begin with.

I can imagine what a relief this is for people, as they start getting support and feel their body responding and feeling improvement. That so often I think there’s a message around mind over matter, or it’s easy to even judge our significant other. Like, why are you being lazy, or what’s wrong with you, why are you so anxious? That there’s a lot of choice or ways in which people adjust their mindset, and when there’s a physiological system that’s out of balance, to address that, what a relief that is to not think that it’s just a mindset thing.

Exactly. Oh my gosh, I am glad you mentioned that. Yeah, a lot of times, stress gets dismissed and symptoms get dismissed, and then people end up feeling like, is this all in my head? You feel really lost and disconnected from yourself. To know that the standard bloodwork doesn’t pick up on these things, they’re not going to pick up on it. So if you have unresolved health issues that you’re struggling with, and you’ve already done all the conventional care, and you’re like, “I’m still stuck, I’m not feeling good,” then to me, it’s really worth it. But I think everyone should try to do this. 

Which is why I wanted to say, in the Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health, I have a stress type quiz I developed. This is based on my research in my work with my patients. I figured out what are the symptoms in our bodies that can tell us likely what your stress type is. This quiz is also available on my website for free. So people can go to DrDoni.com and do this stress type quiz. It should take less than two minutes. It’s asking about your mood, your sleep, your energy levels, how you feel in your body, your experience in your day. By looking at that, I have a high degree of accuracy of predicting your cortisol and adrenaline imbalance. Then from there, you might decide, you could start to use. I teach you: “If you’re a Stress Magnet, here’s the herbs and nutrients that makes sense for your case.” You could start there. Or you might decide: “Hey, you know what, I want to invest in actually measuring my cortisol and adrenaline and neurotransmitters, and then have the actual data to specifically.” I guide you in the book how to, because it’s not like you just take one pill and you’re done. It’s we need to go through a systematic process of helping your body to get these levels back on track. It’s doable, possible. Again, I see patients do it, and I’ve done it for myself over the years. But I can guide you through that systematic process of getting them back to optimum.

Lovely. Well, I’ll make sure to have that link on today’s show notes. I think it’s a real gift that you’ve been able to distill this and offer some guidance in helping people understand their cortisol and all the ways in which their hormones and neurotransmitters are impacting them. You also spoke a few times about, and I think you have an acronym CARE. When you were talking earlier, and we were both talking about the interconnectedness of our environment and the body, that one of the things I was getting was, it’s perhaps that your care and the self-care is giving some support to reset the setpoint of the nervous system, and giving support to that if one hasn’t had the optimal environment. I wonder, do you want to share with us a little bit about the acronym and what you would have to say around that? 

Even just thinking of it as like, we’re humans living on earth, and the reason we’re even here and survive here is because our human bodies are responding to our environment all the time; light and darkness, temperature, the foods we eat, the people we’re around. Our human bodies are constantly responsive, and I think we forget that. We’re so busy racing through life running to an office, and sometimes we might be in an office all day, every day, and then just going to bed and waking up the next day. Or we’re in front of computers and devices, and we lose touch with it. “Oh my gosh, my human body needs some exposure to nature and earth, and earth signals.” So that alone helps us to say, our environment makes a huge difference. 

I love how you’re bringing it back to the self-care. Because it’s, in each day, how do we choose? Because sometimes, it feels like, I don’t have hours of time to do this. But the cool thing is, even just implementing one minute, five minutes, in small increments, we can usually fit that into our day. 

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“We know we’re going to need to eat every day. We know we’re going to need to sleep every day. So how do we do those things in a way that helps our bodies recover from stress?”

So it becomes part of our daily self-care routine of this attention to how do we create a sense of safety for our nervous system? How do we create consistency? How do we create the messages that are anti-stress messages? Because there’s already enough unpredictability out there. How do we create some predictability for our nervous system, so our bodies know it’s safe? Hopefully, you have a space, a shelter you can go to. You have, hopefully, some access to food and somewhere safe to sleep. So you start starting there, and then you go, how do I even fine-tune this more? 

I use CARE as acronym for: C for Clean eating, A for Adequate sleep, R for Recovery activities, and E for Exercise. So it’s a way to just have a little checklist in your mind. Am I taking care of myself? Am I giving myself access to it? Clean eating can be different for each person, depending on where you’re starting from. But maybe it’s like, how can I reduce my sugar intake, how can I make sure I have protein at each meal? So just starting simple. 

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“We don’t want to stress you in the process of helping you recover from stress. We have to make it doable. It’s like, how can I take little steps, and these little steps add up over time.”

Little by little, you’ll be like, oh my gosh, and in a couple months already, you’re like, “I’ve already made these changes in my eating plan, so that I know I’m improving my health and getting closer to clean eating.” Or adequate sleep, what do we need to do about your bedtime routine so that you can get to bed and get enough sleep? Even recovery activities, how do we integrate that into your day? Is it just taking a five-minute break, putting that into your schedule so you get breaks between meetings? How do we actually integrate in this time for your self-care and recovery?

I love it. I can’t echo enough just how critical these things are, and how they’ve been in my life, for sure. The outside time. That there are days that if I don’t get outside, and I’ve just got a heavy work schedule, it’s such a different feeling than if even I get to be outside for 20 minutes or an hour. I mean, I feel that optimally, an hour minimum would be ideal for me. But just all of the different variables. It’s so key, and I feel the impact of it on so many levels. I know you also speak, and I know we’re winding down our time here, but you also speak about how couples or partners in relationship can assist in some of the stress recovery. Is there anything you want to say about that?

Oh, I love that. Definitely. 

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“I think of it as, in a relationship, you want to have two individuals who are taking good care of themselves, and then coming together with enough energy and compassion to be able to support each other in taking care of themselves.”

Because at some point, if it’s imbalanced, if one person is not able to take care of themselves, then the other person becomes a caretaker. In some relationships, that is the case. But it then becomes more stress on the caretaker role. So just to be able to look at your relationships and say, especially if you’re intentionally choosing into a new relationship, or even if you’re in a relationship and if you’re trying to find a better balance. To just say: “Hey, how can I be taking better care of myself, and communicating about my self-care routine, and prioritizing my self-care routine?” Because the more we do that for ourselves, the other people in our lives will pick up on that and then do it for themselves, and maybe you can do it together. Maybe you end up going: “Oh, we want to both make some diet changes, let’s study this and do it together. Or we both want to shift our bedtime routine, let’s figure out how to do it together.” So then actually, the self-care and help prevention becomes an activity that you do together. What’s better than that?

I know, and it provides so many great rewards. I know it’s not always easy, or it can even feel difficult or hard to do. It’s not the fun, comfortable, pleasurable thing sometimes, to go exercise or go to bed early or eat unprocessed whole foods or something. It takes more time, it’s not as convenient. But the payoff and the reward; how I’m going to feel when I eat whole foods, or how I’m going to feel when I wake up in the morning rested, or how I’m going to feel after a workout. That these things are what we’re in service of, and if we can do that in partnership, how we might even motivate each other or inspire each other or feel that sense of connection, not so alone like you’re on the bandwagon alone. So I think there’s a lot of benefits. Just even in the restorative recovery, how we might be able to. 

I said this in the past that some of the really sweet evenings I have with my husband, I think my husband watches more TV than I do. But I would say, at a maximum, I try to keep it to a nature show or a documentary or something like an hour a day at most. Oftentimes, there’s many days where we don’t watch TV. But the sweetest times are when there’s no technology, we dim the lights, we’re on the couch, we’re resting, and we’re just talking. There’s times where he’ll read out loud if we’re reading a book together. It’s just a very sweet time that we can share together. But it also is so restorative when we both need that. So I love that you’re bringing voice to that. 

Well, you’ve shared a lot here today, and you have mentioned the stress typology, that people can take that assessment on your website at DrDoni.com. Is that right? You’ve also mentioned your book. Do you want to say a little bit more about the book and read the title to us again, or share the title with us?

Sure. It’s Master Your Stress, Reset Your Health. It’s purposely not called Manage Your Stress. Because I think a lot of times, we’re used to hearing that, “I need to manage my stress.” I’m saying, why should we stop there? Why stop at just managing your stress? Why don’t we actually help you to learn how stress is affecting you, and transform it into being able to be doing what you love, feeling as good as possible? So that’s why I purposely used the word Master Your Stress. That by doing that, as we’ve talked about today, when we can know your cortisol and adrenaline levels, know your stress type, address it, optimize your neurotransmitter levels, as well as anything else that was disrupted by stress, which is what I teach in the book, I teach you, I guide you about how do you know your stress type, and then we implement care, in the book, implement each step of care chapter by chapter based on your stress type, and I guide you through my stress recovery protocol. 

So there’s a lot in the book to guide you all through, including recipes, some clean eating recipes. That’s a great place to start. The book is also available on Audible. So if you’re not as likely to read the print book, you can get it by Audible. It’s me reading the book. Then from there, you can say, what maybe do I want? I try to really make it so you can implement a lot on your own. But then if you feel like you need more help, then I do see patients one-on-one. I help people around the world because I can help people by phone and video, from wherever you are. So if you need more help, definitely you can find that at DrDoni.com. I also have online programs. One of the online programmes is called The Stress Warrior Program, where I’m guiding you through how do you address your stress type, how do you get your levels optimized? That’s available for instant access at DrDoni.com also.

Lovely, I love that! My mom was visiting this last weekend, and I don’t know what she was looking at online, probably some social media feed. It was this beautiful background, and it was like: “Be a warrior, not a worrier.” It feels relevant because what I hear you inviting people to do is to be intentional, be a little bit more in the driver’s seat, rather than reacting to whatever stimuli or stressors are coming and worrying and reacting in worry. So I love that you have that program, I love that you are making this book and the process more accessible to people so that they can start getting into that driver’s seat. Then if they need a little more support, working with you one-on-one, and also, obviously getting your worksheet or your assessment on your website to get started. Thank you, I’ll make sure to have all of that on today’s show notes. Is there anything else you want to say before we sign off here?

Well, I’m also happy to offer, I have a seven-day self-care reset. So if you’re feeling like, after what we talked about, if you’re like, I need to get my self-care on track, then I have a seven-day self-care reset. I can give you the link so your audience can access that for free. So you can go through, and I guide you each day: how do we start making small incremental steps? Again, my whole thing is, I want to help you recover from stress without stressing you out more. It doesn’t make sense to overwhelm you and trigger your stress response, now we’re right back where we started from. So how do we do this in a way that helps you to recover, learn about your body, and integrate in activities that you can do and supplements you can take, to then also become resilient to stress? So once you recover, it’s about resiliency. How do we do that ongoing? So that you now just know your body, and if stress comes along, you know what to choose. So this is like the instruction manual for your body that you never got when you were born.

Yeah, so powerful. Again, I’ll make sure to have that link, as well as the other links on today’s show. Thank you so much for joining us here today.

Thank you, Jessica.

Signing Off

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching