Blog Post: Burnout & Living a Life on Purpose, with Purpose

Burnout is more than just a lack of self-care. It is the cumulative effects of all the times that we say “Yes”, when we mean “No”; and the collection of unprocessed stressors that live within our being. It is the neurophysiological expression of exhaustion. It is the physical manifestation of compromised beliefs and choices big or small made from outside of our centre.

Instead of reacting to situations; what if we prophylactically practiced discernment? And as such made decisions that align with our purpose and felt right within our own body.

What does a “Yes” feel like in your body? What does a “No” feel like in your body?

Start by tuning into what your body feels like during the day and when you have to make decisions.

How do we cut through the noise of obligation; the guilt of letting people down; and the fear of missed opportunities?

To find these answers, we need to come back to the “Why”. Why we do what we do? What is the ‘Why’ behind the doing?

We dilute our impact; we water down our effectiveness (visions, dreams, & purpose) every time we make a decision far from our centre. Decisions made from the periphery out of fear, obligation, or wanting to be liked, do not result in fulfillment, growth, or success. They result in burnout and every little compromise adds up. We need to remember that we do not need to be for everybody; wee need to be for somebody. In knowing this, we can then reach those we are designed to reach. The more specific and clear we are on what is true for us, the easier the decision making processes becomes. It’s no longer energy sucking and draining, but affirming and purpose fulfilling. It feeds us, rather than feeding on us.

Overtime the creative well stays full and making decisions big and small become easier. When we practice living from our centre, we become clear on who we ARE and what matters to us. Choosing what aligns with us in our work or personal lives becomes a natural process rather than a collection of difficult choices.

Of course burnout occurs, we all are or have been in a state of burnout in one form or another this past year. The demands on women specifically have been extremely intense. 

In the book Burnout: The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski, the twin sisters write about what we can do when burnout happens and how we can navigate the stress cycle. The contents of this book are very affirming, especially in the context of what I do as a Physiotherapist and Yoga therapist (Physio-Yoga Therapist) where the focus is on treating the whole person, not just a part of the person. Working with the complex interplay of physical, psychological, emotional and social factors inherent to the human experience. I’ll summarize some of the concepts discussed in the book, what I have witnessed working with clients, and some of the things we can do to navigate the stress cycle as we work through burnout.

First we cannot separate our body parts or systems from each other. What do I mean by that? 

When someone experiences stress or pain, the body systems coordinate and communicate with each other. Our nerve endings send messages to our hormonal system (endocrine system) which result in stress hormones moving through the body. Our stress response is designed to be effective short term. Some examples include helping our blood to clot so we don’t keep bleeding; blocking pain through shock; elevating our immune system response so we don’t get an infection immediately from an injury. You can thank your stress response for delaying that cold or flu until you’re on holidays. Our stress response was meant to be short term; fight, flight, or freeze. However, as we have experienced, we are often in a constant state of stress and in many cases pain: mental, emotional, and physical pain. The physical manifestations of emotional pain and stress are real. Chronic stress amplifies our pain response. In chronic states of stress, we start to see the physical manifestation of burnout including: immune system suppression, fatigue, physical pain, and even multi-system effects (these may include elevated blood pressure, altered insulin responses in the form of acquired diabetes, heart disease, digestive issues, reproductive issues, and more).

So why do we get stuck in the stress response? We may have moved beyond the stressor; but our body may still be stuck in the hormonal and neurophysiological experience of the stressor. In this case, the physical body and the emotional body need to process the experience of the stressor to be free of it. How do we do that?

This can be done with any injury or stressor big or small, acute or chronic.

Move your body: The release of endorphins with activity help to interrupt the messages of the nervous system, hormonal system (endocrine system), and immune system responses that are stuck in a state of chronic stress. Switch the channel through movement that is safe and healthy for you. Take the controls and turn off the auto pilot.

Breath deeply from your pelvic floor: The pelvic floor is the first muscle to tighten in the stress response. Deep belly and pelvic floor breathing stimulate the relaxation response or your parasympathetic response (a.k.a rest, digest and nurture response). I like to use the cues: breath easy, deep, and soft to nourish your nervous system. It is no wonder that many people can experience physical responses to chronic stress in the form of pelvic floor dysfunction, lowered sex drive, and digestive issues. However it just as amazing to see these symptoms improve through something as simple as breath work. The breath is the window into the nervous system and hormonal systems, but sometimes we need support to access the breath in this way.

Connect: Yes with self, but also with safe and nourishing social interactions with loved ones, friends, and those you can talk to without needing them to solve your problems. Those people you can be vulnerable with and have the deeper heart/soul conversations. This person may even be your counsellor.  

Create and Collaborate: I love to create through collaboration, but you don’t have to be creative to find an outlet of expression. You may express yourself through daydreaming, journalling, or writing. This is why so many have taken to baking and cooking during the pandemic! A very delicious form of creative expression :). 

Fresh air!: We’ve all been doing more of this and as it gets colder, let’s keep connecting outside and taking those mindful moments in nature to simply witness the beauty around us.

The goal is to interrupt the pain and stress pathway and allow the space for our mind and body to process through the experience of the stressor; whatever that stressor may be.

Activities or therapies that combine breath, movement, connection, and creative expression can help us move through the neurophysiological expressions of stress and pain.

If we can stay ahead of the stressors we can hopefully avoid burnout. If we cannot, then the reservoir runs dry.This is where the hard work of discernment comes in. We may need to quit somethings that aren’t serving us to create space for more of the things that do. We may need to let go of some relationships and add in others. We may need to do the brave work of looking inside, so we can do the things that feel right, but may not be easy. The result will be worth it. Having the energy to live a life on purpose and with purpose.

Moving through the stress cycle can be done independently, but sometimes we need help to move through stuck and ingrained patterns. At Vangool Wellness we offer a variety of wellness service to support you on this journey of healing and nourishing your nervous system through TCM Acupuncture, Physiotherapy, Physio-Yoga, Pelvic Health Physiotherapy, Yoga classes & Videos, Massage Therapy, & Reiki.

Accessibility is important to us. Visit Vangool Wellness Youtube Channel with Free tools to help you cope with COVID. See below for ways to connect with us and how to access our resources to help you navigate burnout and cope with the daily stressors of COVID. Let’s move away from burnout and into purpose and healing. 

-Authored by Adrianne Vangool Physiotherapist & Yoga Therapist

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Blog Post: Acupuncture and Immune function

Traditional Chinese Medicine is built on the belief that every part of the body is connected. When one aspect of the body is in disharmony Acupuncture can help stabilize and regain balance within the body. Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine sterile needles that target specific points of the body allowing the body to find its optimal free flow of energy. The stimulation of Acupuncture starts the healing process with the goal of restoring and maintaining health. Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the body as a whole and works to bring it back into balance and prevent future health problems.

Acupuncture is beneficial in balancing the immune system. It can help regulate immune function by reducing stress, regulating hormones, improving digestion, promoting ample sleep and essentially treating the underlying cause of your immune-suppression. Acupuncture is helpful at speeding up the healing process resulting in a balanced immune system. A study conducted at the Hubei University showed that Acupuncture can help stimulate the enhancement of Helper T cells which are vital for our immune systems and combating viruses (HealthCMi, November 2017).

– Authored by Erin Fraser, c.m.d.,

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Blog Post - What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when one or more of the functions of the pelvic floor are not working properly. This can be caused by the muscles being too tight or too weak, or dysfunction of the diaphragm/breath, core, or glutes.

Pelvic floor dysfunction can present in many ways. Specifically, it can cause leaking (of urine or stool), heaviness, or pain in the pelvic region. It can also cause hip pain, back pain, and can even be the reason that your lingering shoulder injury is not getting better. Our pelvis and pelvic floor is the foundation of our body. If we don’t have a stable, well working foundation, we are just creating dysfunction on top of dysfunction.

Often, when we think of rehab for our pelvic floor, we think of doing a “Kegel” or a contraction of the pelvic floor, however this is not always the answer! We need to have the ability to relax and lengthen our pelvic floor, as much as, we need to be able to contract it. Our pelvic floor is a group of muscles, just like any other muscle in our body, it is the most efficient when we can contract it throughout its full range of motion.

So who experiences pelvic floor dysfunction? It can happen at any age, to both males and females. Pelvic floor dysfunction does not just occur after you have a baby!  If you are experiencing any symptoms, or have anymore questions about the pelvic floor reach out and let us know!

-Authored by Amy Garnett Pelvic Health Physiotherapist

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Blog Post: What is the difference between therapeutic and relaxation massage?

A therapeutic massage is a treatment that focuses on pain management following an injury, surgery or as the result of an underlying dysfunction or disease. A typical session will focus on the affected area with deep tissue techniques such as myofasical, cupping and rapid massage. These techniques invoke some pain during treatment or in some cases, the couple of days following treatment. This type of therapy breaks down scar tissue, trigger points, adhesion (also called knots) and then realigns these fibers to their original orientation.

A relaxation massage is a treatment that focuses on stress management. Typically a full body massage is given with gentle and soothing techniques that are harmonized with deep breathing to invoke a deep state of relaxation. Studies show that stress is linked to 98% of all disease. Establishing a self-care routine that incorporates relaxation massage once or twice a month is a medically proven way to mitigate stress and encourage a strong immune system.

– Authored by Kelly Swan RMT

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Blog Post: The Magic of Reiki

Is Reiki magic? No, not really. But it sure feels good! Reiki is the conscious flow of Universal Energy. When Universal Energy is directed to one’s personal energy field there is a natural recalibration that happens. Our system is always looking to balance and heal but sometimes a little assistance is needed. I’ve been on the receiving end of reiki treatments for years and it’s done wonders for me. Let me elaborate.

Six years ago I thought I was functioning pretty well. I had good coping skills which included healthy positive outlets like yoga. I was learning about emotional intelligence. I was actively practicing expressing my feelings and learning to undo codependent tendencies. I felt like I was on track to have a happy life. Then I experienced the loss of three family members (Dad, Grandma and Uncle) within five months and I was knocked down a few pegs. I rested under the wet blanket of grief, letting the waves of emotions crash down and overpower me too many times to count. In between the waves there were breaks and breaths and I always found myself searching for what to do next: how to keep growing, evolving and moving forward. Then another wave would come and another break and on and on it went. I rode the waves for over a year and over time the breaks got longer and the waves were less intense. I took care of myself as best as I could, but when it was time to get out of the water and back on my path I needed help getting back to myself. So I looked to reiki women for their care, healing and guidance.

I received reiki every couple months in the initial grief period and realized that it helped me find clarity and insights in the deaths. It allowed me to accept the circumstances with love. It gave me the calm presence to carry on with the heavy work and trust the process. It felt like emotional first aid for my tender heart.  After each reiki treatment I received I felt better and more myself. I became really interested in what was going on, so I decided to learn it, hoping to keep healing myself and eventually hoping to heal others.

I kept on receiving reiki treatments as I integrated back into my working life and readjusted to my recently re-structured family. I found myself ungrounded a lot of the time and unsure of which way to go. I didn’t know how to approach certain situations and didn’t have the confidence to make decisions because I was afraid to make the wrong choice. This inertia gave me a high level of anxiety and I felt really stressed out about my direction in life: I wanted to be somewhere that I was not. The dissonance between my expectations of myself and the reality of what I was able to do at that time became a source of struggle in my life. This friction in my inner world had the potential to make me sick and let dis-ease settle in my body. But I worked with my anxiety in many sessions and learned to accept myself where I was at. I practiced my grounding and slowly regained my ability to be decisive and have confidence that even if I did make a mistake I could learn from it and recover. Every reiki treatment I received allowed my energy to move back into balance and harmony. Checking in on my energy set an amazing tone for self-care and gave me an opportunity to put words to some of the deeper feelings I had. Even though the energy of reiki is gentle, it is very effective. It became obvious to me what was divisive and out of sync with the direction my life was intended to move. Things and people who were not meant for me began to fall away. And it’s like my path opened up right under my feet as I was walking.

These days, when I get a reiki treatment it’s like an energetic tune up. It’s a time to clean house and get rid of the old cobwebs that make things dingy. I take every opportunity to dust myself off so that I can stay connected to that sparkle feeling I get when life is going right. When I feel off or down, I book in for a treatment. I use these times to practice letting go of old energies, emotions, patterns and people that I carry around with me. When I receive reiki I come back to myself and my true inner radiance. And I just keep coming back, over and over again.

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Here's to a Mindful 2021

Here’s to a Mindful 2021

The only thing I know for sure is that… hindsight truly is 2020. 2020 was a year none of us would have expected.

I would not go as far as to say 2020 was a gift… however, what it did do was force many of us to get clear on who and what matters, and lean into that. Many truths were revealed and we learned to have tough conversations with love and kindness.

Another thing I know for sure is that we couldn’t have made it through this year without all of YOU! It was a gift to be able to keep doing what we were meant to do; help all of you and contribute to your well being in some way.

I’m taking the learnings from 2020 and happily rocketing into 2021!! I know we aren’t out of the woods yet, but I am overwhelmed with hope and joy for what is in store for 2021. The simple and profound joys of in-person (and virtual) connection and community. The biggest thing I learned from 2020 was to be truly present in every moment and with every opportunity I get to spend with who is right in front of me. You and You and You!

I’ve really leaned into the mindfulness teachings to help me navigate this time.

Because as John Kabat Zinn stated, “Mindfulness is a gateway into the full dimensionality of being human”.

Mindfulness is a state of absolute well being, a state of freedom. Because true freedom is being free of yourself, not freedom for yourself.

Practicing Mindfulness can help us remain present in the moment we’re in; and take us out of the suffering of the past and potential future.

“Being in each moment as if we have chosen it”- Eckhart Tolle

When we practice letting go of and lean away from the crazy mind, we can start to sit in the seat of quiet, and once there, we can look into reality and know what to do. The hard decisions become clear and we can enjoy the gifts in front of us.

I wish you all a mindful and joyful 2021, right where you are and with what you have and always with the hope of more freedom and joy to come.


*Content inspired by Super Soul Sunday Podcast on Mindfulness.

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