Episode 25: A World of Grief – In Conversation with Dr. Aoife Earls

Many of us are in a state of grieving right now for: the life that we once knew; the loss of a loved one; the loss of a job; a lack of social connection; the end to a relationship; unrequited love… the list goes on and on. Today’s episode will open your eyes up to: the purpose of grieving; different types of grief; how to practice self-compassion; and how to embrace your own, individual grieving process. Dr. Aoife also shares some valuable tips on how to work through your grief using; rituals, physical movement, mementos, and by allowing yourself to find joy and new meaning during the process.

Dr. Toni talks all about grief with Dr. Aoife Earls, a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Oakville, Ontario. Dr. Aoife has gone through her own, personal grieving process and has extensive undergraduate training in psychology and biology and postgraduate training in psychoneuroimmunology. 

In this episode, we cover:

  • Why you grieve to help your brain feel safe when you lose someone or something you feel attached to
  • Different types of grief you might be experiencing right now
    • Bereavement – death of a loved one
    • Collective – understanding of how we think the world should work
    • Ambiguous – leaving without saying goodbye or closure, for example with divorce, natural disasters like pandemic, losing relationships with co-workers after being laid off
    • Anticipatory – when a loved one is seriously or terminally ill
  • How your mind processes emotions in a non-linear way and grief can show up in different ways years after a loss
  • The difference between people who get stuck in their grieving process and people who move on with health (hint: it’s self-compassion, which includes self-love and self-care)
  • Different ways people experience grief, including
    • Feeling numb, anger, rage, sorrow, fear, despair
    • Needing connection vs. needing space
  • Rituals you can use to integrate grief and loss to: release, say goodbye, honour yourself and create a new story about yourself. Some rituals include:
    • Journaling and destroying your writing by ripping it up and flushing it down the toilet or burning it with fire
    • Meditation
    • Washing your hands
    • Taking a shower
    • Connecting with others online or outside with physical distancing during the pandemic
  • How grief acts like a stressor or fearful problem in the amygdala of your brain that creates physical symptoms
    • During the first 6 months of grief, there is a rise in cortisol, the stress hormone, resulting in:
      • The need to pull back to nurture
      • An Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
      • A heightened risk of heart attacks or other cardiovascularproblems
      • A weakened immune system
      • Digestive issues such as nausea and IBS
      • Headaches and body pain
      • Changes to your sleep, energy, mood and memory
  • How suppressed emotions from trauma and grief can get stuck in your physical body and that you may need to process and release them, physically (see the work of Peter Levine)
  • How connecting to genuine joy and finding a new meaning after loss is a step in the right direction and not something you need to feel guilty about
  • How experiencing joy and laughter shuts down sadness and activates the nervous system to rest and rejuvenate, creating more resilience and opportunity for healing
  • Why using mementos can help to: heal your brain; integrate the old you with the new you; and support a continued connection to your loved one or past life
  • How cortisol can impact your other hormones resulting in:
    • Sudden hormonal changes, such as triggering perimenopause or menopause
    • Night sweats and hot flashes
    • Shorter menstrual cycles and wonky periods
    • Weight gain

“Grief is like a door. Once you go through it, you can’t go back”

Get in touch with Dr. Aoife on her website and on Instagram at @draoifend and Facebook @DrAoife ND 

You can find more about Dr. Aoife’s work with grief at http://www.adaptableu.life/

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni recommends Dr. Kristin Neff’s online self-compassion guided meditations and exercises.

Thank you for joining us today! 

Find the show notes at stephanies48.sg-host.com or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5-star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

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Stay safe everyone!

Episode 17: Keeping Your Relationship Strong – In Conversation with Allison Villa

In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa talks with Registered Psychotherapist and relationship expert Allison Villa about strengthening our relationships even as we’re raising kids during stressful times. They discuss: simple strategies on how to connect with and communicate effectively with your partner; why self-care is so important and how to fit it in daily; how to prepare for meltdowns; a simple challenge to shift your focus to more positivity; and how to fit in dates and romance even when you are exhausted and pressed for time.

In addition to being a mom of 2 young daughters, Allison is also the founder of House and Hook, an online platform specializing in keeping couples thriving throughout parenthood.

In today’s episode, we cover:

  • Finding time to check-in with your partner for preventive relationship care instead of being 2 ships passing in the night 
  • The benefit of connecting and checking in with your partner first before going through the logistics of everyone’s schedules or expressing and asking for what you need
  • If you and your partner are both working at home with kids, consider time blocking your day to support each other, work as a team and focus on one thing at a time successfully instead of feeling unsuccessful and guilty trying to work and parent at the same time
  • Choosing what you want this time to look and feel like 
  • Recognizing that there will be moments of challenge, difficulty and feeling depleted – stress impacts how well you can regulate your emotions
  • How to have a pre-meltdown conversation with your partner to discuss strategies to support each other when the meltdowns happen (and they will!)
  • That your body and brain is not designed to consume information constantly
  • The idea of challenging yourself and your partner to take a 24 hour break from consuming news
  • How whatever already exists in your relationships will be magnified right now
  • Being playful and making a game out of the frustrating or mundane things that can be draining every day
  • How self care is the foundation of every health relationship and how to re-define self care when you don’t have a lot of time on your own
  • Getting in self-care, as an intentional act of restoring yourself – it doesn’t happen by accident!
  • Scheduling day dates with your partner

Check out some free resources from Allison:

Self-care tool kit

Masterclass on How To Stay Connected During Times of Stress

Get in touch with Allison on Instagram @houseandhook and her websites: House and Hook and allisonvilla.com

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Lisa and Allison both love Joy McCarthy’s Joyous Health website for all of the healthier versions of foods like cookies and banana bread that you can make with your little ones. Find it here: https://www.joyoushealth.com/

Thank you for joining us today! 

Email us or connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. We’d love you to subscribe, leave us a review and a 5 star rating if you enjoyed this episode.

Please tell your perimenopausal mama friends about us, too!