Practical tips on how to calm your anxious thoughts and overactive stress response with Angela Rocchio, who has gone through adrenal fatigue herself and recovered from it.
2:30 - How stress affects the nervous system and how it relates to mental and emotional patterns
6:37 - How to improve vagal and parasympathetic response
12:00 - Learn to do calming exercises
17:30 - How to deal with crashes from Therapy
21:52 - Hormone Imbalance
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Hi, I'm Dr. Carrie Lam. Welcome to the Dr. Lam show. I have Angela Rocchio here with me and today we're going to talk about how to get out of the high stress mode and activate your parasympathetic nervous system, whether it's hormonally to balance out your body. Angela is a health coach, yoga teacher, and energy healer, and she has helped many clients with lifestyle shifts to recover from adrenal fatigue and find their own body's innate healing capacity. Welcome Angela, to talk with us on this show today. I like to just ask most of our guests how they got into integrative medicine and what your journey has been like?Angela Rocchio:
Great question. My own path in finding integrative medicine probably began like many others, it's my personal struggle with adrenal and hormonal imbalances. The road to recovery was definitely not an easy one for me and this was actually when I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue stage three, more than 10 years ago. So a little bit different space back then. Modern medicine, essentially wasn't giving me any answers. And you know, I've really made it my mission, since I've been able to recover and fairly easily, to show that there's an easy way to recover, which is a sustainable one. So it's a big passion of mine. I'm so grateful for functional integrative medicine, it's changed my life. And it's been finally a place where people can find the answers.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Your journey is very similar to what my dad went through, 15-20 years ago, with adrenal fatigue. No one knows what Adrenal Fatigue is, right? When you go to the doctor, and they don't know how to help you, and put you on different types of medications, and it doesn't get better. So you have to go out and do your own digging. Integrative medicine, therefore works on people, when conventional medicine hasn't helped them. So they're trying to find their own way. It's good to have them, find you or find us and learn about adrenal. Tell us a little more about, how stress affects the nervous system, and how it also relates to the mental and emotional patterns. So any stress that we have in the body, physical, mental, emotional, is putting our body in a state of threat and stress. So you think what a lot of us know this already, but it's so it's just being able to, coming to this when you have this condition. When I was first diagnosed, it was a wake up call for me to assess and what I do with my clients is really assessing the various stressors in the body, physical, mental and emotional. When they're happening chronically, our adrenals can't keep up creating a cascade of issues. We end up having all of these symptoms including unknown symptoms. I had symptoms of hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, poor digestion, poor detox pathways, which often go hand in hand. I had no answers until I found functional medicine, and somebody who could finally confirm exactly what's going on. So those stressful patterns over time, exhausts the adrenals and they can't keep up. How does it affect your mental and emotional pattern? And how do you get out of this nervous system alertness? It's really about tapping into our parasympathetic nervous system. That's the only place that healing can occur, ou rest and digest state. Wh t happens is that oftentimes So what you're saying is a lot of these symptoms have underly e might be starting to addr ss the physical stressors, with he doctor like yourself or your ntegrative team, but ften we're not looking at s me of the more emotional mental tressors that are going on. So lot of times for people it's ast trauma, and that could be we say big t little t trau a. It could be abuse, divorce, health issue at a very young a e, maybe you just grew up wit really anxious parents, whatev r that may be that got you in a ighly alert, high stress state, specially at a young age. Th t carries on and builds and bu lds and perpetuates the cycle Then it's really hard to get ou of that. On top of that, and e're judging ourselves for ll of those things, k nd of going deeper, because it' what I'm passionate about. We judge ourselves upon that, and that's stressful in itself. You start having, anxiety, or de ression along with underlining ssues, it could be chemical. B t it could also just be a sym tom of other stuff going on and being malnourished, or havi g other imbalances in the bod . So again, it could be a symptom, which I don't think lot of people realize. ng root causes, right? Whether i 's the gut that is causing br in fog, or whether it's, he neurotransmitters not produ ed well, because your gut is ot well, or you can't detox v ry well, or your adrenals. And y ur hormones are off, and theref re you feel fatigued, even if you're on thyroid medication. So trying to get to the root ca se is important. But then on he other hand, how do you deal w th the stress is to get he parasympathetic response. So ow would you recommend for some ne to improve their vagal respo se, the rest and the digest the calmingness if they are f ll of stress, if they have p st traumas, if they have t is emotional baggage that they re dealing wi It all starts with having an awareness of what it actually is for you. We can start to dissect this a little bit. So first thing I would do would be to have my client do a personal inventory. This would be an assignment with me, starting with creating some time in their life, to create some quiet and do some self reflection. What are the key stressors in your life, the mental emotional ones, and get clear on that. And in making a list, don't just do a couple because sometimes the first ones that come up aren't really, what's going on. Sometimes you have to get a little bit deeper. So I would say, I want you to write down, 20 of mental emotional stressors that you have right now in your life. That can bring a lot of awareness, just doing that simple exercise can bring the awareness, then you really know sort of what path you might need to go down first. Again, starts with awareness. Like listing out, like going into their past and seeing what could have been affecting their stress, whether it's emotional, what significant life events should they be aware of, that is causing them the stress now even though maybe it happened 30 years ago.Angela Rocchio:
A couple things can definitely happen there where they think of it, or it's triggered just has that a responDr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Okay. awareness. And then what's the e or because of that trauma y u have beliefs and thoughts arou d yourself. The way that you car y yourself and all these differ nt things, the abuse is at the core. There it's showing up in next step? other ways in your life, if that makes sense to where certain b haviors are causing the stress r, again, the way that you thin about yourself. If you're con tantly in a state of guilt or hame, you're going to be a co stant stress on your body. If t at makes sense. So yeah, I beli ve the first step is really awa eness listing out the those hings and understanding where it came from, that's a real y great start. I would say from that list, because that could be pretty big for most people. It could be the first time in their life where they finally been quiet enough to, really be honest with themselves and allow it to come forward. And so it's about staying in judgment of yourself with that exercise. And knowing that is the first step and finding one of those things that you're actually willing to start to shift because it really does take you know, having a commitment or committing yourself to that. For that purpose of moving through that process of healing, for that particular trauma and then from there, it's really about a daily practice. Or a couple of times a week, of allowing yourself the time to process. So that could be through talk therapy, it could be through a coach like myself, who supports people with the stress and in changing their patterns of thought. And so, it could look a lot of different ways. And deciding what is the right path, because, getting quiet with yourself and having the time to really process that trauma is going to look different for everybody. There are different ways that you can do this depending on who you want to work with, and what type of things do you want to learn to calm yourself. So I'm talking about two different things here, there's a part of processing the trauma, which is probably got to do with a therapist, but also be working on how to calm your body. And in the moment, learning how to to make your body feel safe again. Yeah. So one part is calming the parasympathetic response more mentally? And then the other part is, physically. What are some more concrete examples to explain about that person? I can dive a little bit deeper. For some, and it's the processing that happens, with a therapist talking about the different traumas, might have to be pretty involved. So that's a separate thing. We're also the big part of that is the other side of being able to be calm, learning how to do things that are calming, and making the body feel safe. It can be through meditation, calming, the body by just taking baths in silence, or, yoga practice, more of a yin, restorative type of yoga, journaling. That's great. And abdominal breathing. And that's what we bring in when we're working with people in meditation, and yoga is the power of the breath, to heal, and to make your body feel safe sending messages to brain that you are safe. So we like to talk about, bottom down approaches versus so we can talk, and work with clients on changing their thought patterns and their beliefs, their core beliefs that are out of alignment. And that sort of a bottom down, starting with the brain and rewiring, and then there's that bottom up, where it's really working on putting the body even just in a certain position, sitting in a meditative pose, there is something to that. When you sit in that place, and you ground through your sitting bones and you relax your shoulders. That's a bottom up approach, and you're sending signals to your body, that you are safe, and grounded. How powerful and healing that can be necessarily dropping into that parasympathetic. You're activating and creating more like you're toning your vagal nerve, you're dropping into your parasympathetic, and you're allowing your body to rest and digest. And that's when healing can actually take place. Those are good tools, breathing, meditation, even in your busy day, maybe stopping for a second, and taking five deep breaths. Instead of getting so caught up in your busy day. When you put that time for yourself, and give it a safe space, then y u'll be able to bring the sympa hetics down to being more c lm. So I love that. I think often we can complicate it. And think that we have to So scheduling It is a good thing. You said put an alarm on sit in meditation for 20 minutes, which is a beautiful thing and a beautiful practice. But like you said, taking a few deep breaths, setting a couple of reminders on your phone, your phone or actually schedule it, so that you have to do it, where you're doing some box breathing for a few minutes every day. Our bodies are pretty resilient actually. And if you're not doing those things, you know then imagine just what creating those breaks in your day can do for your body, your adrenal, your hormones. Our life is stressful if you think about it, like a survival state, right? A tiger, chasing its prey or else you're just gonna breeze by it and not remember right. So and, killing, that's a pretty stressful intense event. But then the animal comes down, maybe eats its meal and might spend the next day just resting. But we don't often do that. We don't allow for that space and time to allow our hormones to come back into balance. And there's a lot of reasons for that. But so I think it's important for us just know that it doesn't have to be complicated. You just need to start somewhere. And this is often left out of the conversation, because it is something that it's harder for people because it is hard to slow down in our busy world. give yourself reminders to do that. Exactly how to make it fun to write. So part of this is what I love to do with my clients is what is actually going to be fun for you. It doesn't have to be serious. Often what turns people off with meditation too, is that it has to be this serious thing. Well, and the best gift that my meditation teacher gave me years ago is what if meditation could be fun. And that to me, changed my world because then it was less of a to do. And it was more of, well, this is just me being with myself and, how many answers. A little motivational plug for yoga is like, or meditation is when you are sitting still with yourself, you get whisper as you get answers. That intuition is powerful. And oftentimes, it's hard for us to sit still because we don't often, that's sometimes when the guilt or the shame or the all the things, you know those things that we believe about ourselves come up. And that's why it's hard for a lot of us to sit still. The things that we don't want to look at our process. So make it fun for yourself, that's a good point and personalize it as each person can ground in different ways and find that safe space differently, by just switching gears. I do have a question because this has come up with some of my patients where they have gone to therapy, or they try to talk about this trauma in the past. But somehow it actually brings up so much that it crashes them. How do you deal with that. There's some people who really are so sensitive, they maybe they can't deal with it. It kind of overflows, and affects their whole body when they do bring those memories up. So not being a therapist, it's not really my area of complete expertise, but I understand that those can be more detrimental than they're worth. I agree with what you're saying. And I understand that many people, that go down that road, it's more harmful than good. So you have to be willing to try different approaches, if what you're doing right now, and you're working with a therapist and what you're doing isn't working, then it would be a good idea to find somebody else or find a different type of coach, a spiritual coach, just looking at other modalities that you could tap into, because there's so many different healing modalities that do things a little bit differently. A lot of times, I find that there's a lot of shame and blame and a lot of judgment that keeps people in those cycles, too. So one of the biggest practices I like to work with people on is to actually learn what it is to be in a non judgmental space, and have an interesting point of view. But that's an interesting perspective to have. What if I didn't feel that way about that anymore? There's definitely a place for talk therapy and it also isn't for everybody. And there are other modalities which are powerful, like EFT. Emotional Freedom Technique has been powerful for me and my clients. There's also energy work and body healing that doesn't. People don't even have to talk. When we have trauma, our bodies grip and hold on to a lot of that stress and those memories, in our bodies and ourselves and I think sometimes just having some type of energy healing and bodywork can be very powerful. People that just don't necessarily want to talk about it anymore, it might be a place to start, it doesn't mean that you might not be able to talk about it eventually. But there might be some other ways to slowly peel the onion that could be a little bit more supportive for that particular client said helpful. Yeah, it's very good advice to go step by step, maybe find someone else or if something's not working. So there's so many people who are able to help you. So don't feel hopeless, don't go down that path of shame. There's always someone who would be able to help you.Angela Rocchio:
Just like there's a place for mainstream medicine, there's also a place in the world for integrative medicine and functional medicine. There's also a place for all these different people in the world who don't necessarily have different all these titles and yet they're powerful healers and power and coaches that are supporting people with healing from trauma in different spiritual ways.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
I know you are focusing a lot on the adrenal recovery collective or ARC. What would you say are your top tools for someone suffering from adrenal issues? I know that's like another podcast in itself but something easy for people to remember or main points for helping their hormone imbalance.Angela Rocchio:
I could go to a lot of different directions with this but I think the most important thing is having wareness and clarity about what our stressors are, and what are he top stressors. So again, oing personal inventory with ourself and with an integrative octor to really understand what ould be stressing my body on a hysical level, emotional, ental, working with someone ike yourself or, with our ollective where we have doctors ho are willing to go through he list and assess whether it s hormonal, what is the root ause. Is it detox pathways or a arasite, or gut issues? Or is t a collaboration of all of hem. Again, my other tip would e not to ignore the emotional ide of the puzzle and I would ay start with the foundations f lifestyle like what are you utting in your body? What are ou thinking about every day, ave the awareness by making a ist of what are your emotional ental stressors. Then you can o a little bit further and rite down a few of the thoughts hat go through your head every ay. I know that sounds silly, ut when you start to see that hese thoughts are on repeat all ay then you realize that you ave more anxiety than you hought about health or more nxiety about your child. That rings more awareness where some f this is going from or my elationship with my partner sn't really working for me ight now I need to switch omething up. And so lifestyle s a big one. And finally, ocusing on your sleep. We know lot of people suffer from poor leep, insomnia. And it's so nfortunate because we need leep for healing. And besides eing in the parasympathetic tate, and activating that when ou're awake, but so I just say ake sleep a priority. Take the ime to get some support with leep. I know you probably have sleep protocol we do to like ake sure that you're working ith someone if you need that xtra support to get your sleep ialed.Dr. Carrie Lam, MD:
Yeah, that's a good tip, helping your sleep, helping be aware of your baggage or your traumas or physical triggers that could be causing stress. I like the tip about writing things down, the thoughts that are coming in, because you are dwelling on those and that can just compound your stress even more. So, great tips. Angela, we are so grateful to have you here on the Dr. Lam show. Talking about how to reduce your parasympathetic response. So how do people get hold of you? Where can they find you? You can find me at the adrenalrecoverycollective.com or the adrenal recovery collective on Instagram. If you're a mom, I also have a momlifedonedifferent which is my Instagram momlifedonedifferent. And lots of great tips there to support moms who are going through adrenal issues burnout and the like. Yes, lots of moms out there. So I'm glad you're helping people. And we're so happy to have you here on the Dr. Lam show. If you've liked this episode, make sure you give it a thumbs up and subscribe and hit the bell button and we'll tell you about the next episode next week.Speaker 3:
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