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Episode Focus: The Road Ahead
Mindfulness: Understanding distractions and knowing the time of day you’re most creative
Podcast chat: Reflexologist and wellbeing practitioner Yossarian Fay
Productivity: defining my own project goals and intentions
Episode notes: In the Mindfulness part of the episode I mentioned the book Indistractable by Nir Eyal and the article Manage Your Attention, Not Your Time by Jeremy Hunter
My podcast chat for this episode is Yossarian Fay, who was also a guest speaker in my studio in 2021. Yossarian offers Reflexology, Bach Flower Remedies, Infant Massage courses, Baby reflexology courses and Life Coaching along with teaching short courses at The Kāpiti Women’s Centre. Yossarian has so much incredible knowledge to share – in this episode tells us how she came to be a wellbeing practitioner and gives us her top five tips to help you stay well and manage the highs and lows of creative life.
Here’s the transcript of my chat with Yossarian:
Jordan: How did you come to be a wellbeing practitioner living on New Zealand’s Kāpiti Coast?
Yossarian: We’ve been on the Kāpiti Coast for about 10 years now and I’ve been practicing as a naturopath, reflexologist and teaching at the Women’s Centre for that time. But I guess my journey to get here and to be a wellbeing practitioner started probably a couple of decades ago when I was teaching and I got really unwell. And that was just … it was a low decile school and I didn’t have kids yet.
And I think I was just taking on a lot of what was happening to them and really feeling it rather than sort of moving through it as maybe some of the more experienced teachers had been. And I got really unwell to the point I couldn’t work. I had to take time off work and it was to do with my digestive tract. And so I began really looking at what I was eating and how that was affecting my body. And just tracking my thoughts, my moods, actions; just really noticing my body, I guess.
But as I was going through that process, I remembered 10 years before that, someone that I worked with had mentioned about Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life. So I thought, “Right, OK, I remembered this for a reason obviously”.
I went down to the book shop, got a copy and was reading through the start of it. And it said talked about looking at all your ailments and see what the emotional causes were. And I did that – I went through the whole book. And then I was like, ‘Whoa, everything’s the same cause.’
And it was all related to fear and not letting things flow. And and I said, ‘OK, maybe there’s something in this’.
I didn’t really take it on board at that time, but I was mindful and I guess it wasn’t until when we were in Ireland and I was having my first child and a few of those issues rose again that I thought, maybe I need to do a bit more work here. And that’s when I first tried homoeopathy and Rescue Remedy.
And I’d never heard of them before. Never tried it. Homoeopathy didn’t work for me. I had a really adverse reaction. Rescue Remedy, on the other hand, just had such an amazing effect. And that became my journey into investigating that. I started studying it. And then when we moved back to New Zealand, I thought, “OK, I’m going to start doing this. Instead of going back to teaching, I’m actually going to follow this because I can see the benefits it’s giving me and when I talk to other people, the benefits it’s giving them.
Jordan: How would you describe the work that you do and the approach that you take to health, healing and wellness?
Yossarian: I really love helping people to help themselves. And the two core things that drive me is one, I’ve seen and I really believe that emotions and thoughts dictate our health and wellbeing. And the other thing is that we actually have the answers that we need inside us. So my motto is helping busy people whose lives aren’t quite what they want or their health is not what they want, to find the answers for themselves to improve and become healthy and become happier.
And so a lot of my practice is… while I do, reflexology, Bach flowers and life coaching; a lot of it is listening and questioning and getting people to kind of search within themselves. The reflexology is great because it just helps them get into a space of balance, I guess, just providing better head space. And I think that’s what I see my role is. Just providing that space that people can actually start finding the answers themselves because it’s more meaningful when it’s your solution. Advice is great, but it’s not always taken on board.
Jordan: 168 Days of Magic is a podcast focusing on the three components; creativity, wellness and getting things done. What are five easy things that creative people can do to manage their own wellbeing, and navigate the highs and lows, while they’re doing their creative work?
Yossarian: So I have got five tips that are quite ‘back to basics’ and I guess it is another aspect of my business. I really don’t think you need to get hooked into lots of financial difficulties to improve your health. So I’ve picked five that take no money and it’s just up to you how you use them.
The first one would be to use your breath. I know it seems obvious, but our mood influences how we breathe. When we’re in fight, flight or freeze mode (I like to think S is for sympathetic nervous system and S is for stress) – then we tend to do the shallow breathing, up in our chest. Whereas when we’re in a parasympathetic nervous system (that’s P for Parasympathetic nervous system and P for peace), we’re in ‘rest and digest’ mode and we tend to have a deeper breath more from our belly.
So I’d really suggest, when you’re feeling those highs and lows, try and think, ‘OK, actually take a deeper breath’. Sometimes just putting your hand on your belly can be a really good nudge or a cue so that you can feel it inflate, deflate and you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m getting the full benefits’. And the other thing with the breath – and, there’s been a bit of science behind this – is that even just sighing can actually reset your system. So you have to find your time to be appropriate, but a good sigh can really reset the whole system.
2. Understand the Stress Cycle
The second step is to understand how the stress cycle works. Our thoughts are very quickly matched by our emotions, which very quickly trigger chemical reactions in the body, which then creates physical symptoms.
It really helped me and I’ve seen it help clients; understanding that these highs and lows don’t just come out of nowhere and they’re not even necessarily related to an incident that’s happened. But it’s our thoughts about the incident that’s happened.
Hans Selye, who basically brought the word stress into our medical system rather than just being a scientific term, was famous for saying that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent, how we react to it.
And more moderate reference that I just read the other day in the book was from Pirates of the Caribbean, and it was Captain Jack Sparrow saying the problem isn’t the problem. The problem is our attitude towards the problem. So it’s our thoughts that starts triggering things and you can experience that now, if you like.
Close your eyes and think of something negative that’s happened to you. Bear in mind your own well-being, so don’t go too serious, but something that frustrated you; made your angry in the last week and really bring it to mind quite vividly, like a movie. People, the sights, the sounds, the smells, make it really vivid, bring it into full colour. And really run that movie through a couple of times about the whole incident, about your reaction, the other people’s use. Really feel it.
And now, I’d like you to think of something really positive that’s happened in the last week or so. Something that’s made you feel light or happy or joyful and the same thing – make it as vivid as possible, in your head. All the sights and sounds and the colours, people around you, what they were saying, what you were hearing, run that movie through a couple of times. And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.
And…you know, you can feel when you think about those negative feelings very quickly, the body starts tensing up, you can feel the reactions. And when you’re thinking about nice sensations, then it’s a lighter feeling.
And I think when we’re going through the highs and lows of life, sometimes we forget the trail that was before, because it’s so quick, our mind is so amazing and just going, ‘oh, I know that thought, I know an emotion to match that – oh let’s react’. So understanding that cycle can really help take the power out of it.
3. Get out into nature
The third tip I have is to get out in nature; as much as possible. If you’re exercising, all the better, but scientific studies show us that just being in nature helps to balance those moods, makes you healthier, feel better. It’s an awesome tool for well being. We’re really lucky on the Kāpiti Coast because we’ve got the sea, the river, even the hills, mountains.
But if you haven’t got that, even just getting out and putting your bare feet on some grass and really just connecting going, ‘Yeah, I’m here. I’m just feeling it’. And if you haven’t got the grass, just feeling the wind and the sun, even a bit of that misty rain on your face can really help reset and make you feel a bit calmer and balanced – just connecting with nature.
Accept the Highs and Lows
Accept or acknowledge the highs and lows. Just take them and go with them.
When I was little, my mum was always like “You’re an irritable, grumpy little girl.” And it wasn’t until recently that I thought, actually, you know, it’s not who I am. It’s just something I’m experiencing. I’m not like that all the time.
And I think that quite often we get hooked and thinking that our emotions are us. But they’re not. They’re just something that’s happening to us. And it’s usually quite a limited amount of time, although when you’re in it, it feels like forever. There usually is a light at the end of the tunnel that comes up, that we can move through.
So I think in accepting it rather than getting bogged down in that and going, ‘OK, I’m feeling upset, I’m feeling angry. I don’t understand why they said that about my art work when I’ve put so much in it. Just accept it and go, ‘OK, I’m feeling this. In another week it will be gone’.
Rub your Hands
And the last one, which I had to add in, being a reflexologist, was rub your hands. So reflexology works on two principles; that energy flows through your body in a connected way and that by touching one part of your body you can affect another. So if you sort of put your hands together with the thumbs connected, your whole body is mapped out and the spine runs down between the thumbs and around the base of the palm.
So if you think of your thumbs, it’s that the big pad on there is you head, the neck of your thumb and your fingers are your neck. So by rubbing, kind of just in a circular motion on the fingertips and pads of your thumb, you can really can you calm your head a lot, and then then down the fingers, you know, they might feel tense and you can kind of wiggle around, give them a rub, and it does help to relax.
And it’s great because you can do that anywhere, any time no one’s going to see or think anything odd of it. And the other part is just the top of your palm, which is that the metacarpal heads -that relates to the chest area. So just kind of rubbing across there can be quite good because that’s our emotional centre and quite often that’s quite tight feeling. So, yeah, rubbing those main points and these other ones, but those ones will be really beneficial.
Jordan: I think that those were five incredible things anyone can no to take good, kind, nourishing care of ourselves. And what are you doing, as well as these things, to take care of yourself?
Yossarian: Well, I am a bit of a creature of habit, I’ve got to say. I find I feel happier and healthier if I have a bit of routine. So every morning I go for a walk with my dog down the river, which I really need. I like that space just to myself because I home school my children. So it’s a good break with no one interrupting – the dog doesn’t talk much.
I walk in nature, I do use Bach flowers and EFT which is like tapping. Reflexology. I use the hand reflexology on myself and I do actually go for regular appointments because I just think it’s such a great method and you don’t have to get all undressed for reflexology, you can just sit in the chair!
And I am a bit of a perpetual student as well. I like to study, whether it’s learning a new song on the guitar or reading a new book on a new topic and learning a language. I’m a enrolled in the course about the mind and how you can change your mindset to change your life. I just find I’m a lot more content if I’m got something to kind of drive. And yeah, I always find I’m a better parent when I’m reading a parenting book, you know, a more enthusiastic reflexologist, what I’m reading reflexology book. So I find that it does kind of give me that higher boost. Yeah, and I meditate as well.