Chronically Living and how to make the most of it

What are Some Ways to Cultivate Resilience? with Lindsay Miller

November 22, 2021 Kelsey Harris, Lindsay Miller Season 2 Episode 22
Chronically Living and how to make the most of it
What are Some Ways to Cultivate Resilience? with Lindsay Miller
Show Notes Transcript

Merriam Webster defines resilience as: "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens." When you have a chronic illness, resilience is what helps you get through it so that you can actually live a fulfilling, values-based life. My guest this week is Lindsay Miller, a strength and resiliency coach who happens to have Hashimoto's.
In this episode we talk about:

  • Lindsay's health journey
  • what resilience is and ways to cultivate it
  • what we can learn from the resiliency of nature

Guest Bio
Lindsay Miller, is the host of the the Stress Nanny Podcast and founder of thestressnanny.com.  She has a degree in Child Development as well as Mindfulness, Yoga and Health Coaching Certifications.  Lindsay helps women and children recover from stressful experiences and build resilience for the future.  In her podcast and courses, she shares tools to help clients uncover their strengths, develop healthy habits, and improve their self-talk. By creating a safe space to work through stressful situations like family conflict, divorce, illness, infertility and loss, Lindsay supports clients as they unlock their potential to live meaningfully and intentionally in any situation.
Check out Lindsay's website: www.thestressnanny.com
Follow Lindsay on Instagram @thestressnanny

Follow the show on Instagram @chronically.living_

Support the show on Patreon and get access to bonus content (this week it is how Lindsay meal plans around the holidays). 

Kelsey Harris:

how resilient Do you think you are? On a scale of one to 10? Just go ahead and give yourself a rating, one being low and resilience and 10 being high. There's no wrong answer here. And you actually don't have to share this with anyone. In order to effectively deal with chronic illness, we need to be resilient. Some of us are more resilient than others because of our early childhood experiences and learning or personalities. How can we cultivate more resilience? Luckily, this week, I have Hashimotos warrior and stress and resiliency coach Lindsay Miller on to share some ways with us. Thanks for tuning in to chronically loving. I'm Kelsey Harris, chronic illness warrior and psychotherapist on chronically living and how to make the most of it, we're providing tangible ways to improve the well being of spoonies. So get ready to make the most out of your life, even with that pesky chronic illness.

Lindsay Miller:

My name is Lindsay Miller. And I host the stress nanny podcast and I founded the stress nanny brand. I'm in Salt Lake City, Utah. I've also lived in San Antonio, Texas. And I support people in stress reduction, and understanding the impact of stress and how they can take small measures every day to decrease stress.

Kelsey Harris:

Lindsay and I chatted a bit before this interview, which is what I do with all my guests. And we talked about her autoimmune disease and how she got to where she is today. I think this is a great story for everyone to hear.

Lindsay Miller:

You know, one of the things that really prompted this journey and you and I have chatted about this is my autoimmune condition. So back in 2014, I had a really long year, I was helping my sister with a startup we were working on, we got a puppy that year, I was still nursing my daughter, I weaned her. And then we did another round of in vitro. And after that my health just kind of started to turn, I ended up having a miscarriage. And then it really took a turn. And so when I was in the thick of all of that, I started to reflect and look back because my autoimmune condition Hashimotos had played a big role in it. And I hadn't really understood how to support my body through such a challenging year and how to mitigate some of the stress that I was kind of piling on to myself during that year. And once I got a little bit more aware of how stress impacted my autoimmune condition and how that landslide of health struggles that came after a stressful year, it was an accident, right? Like I had taken my body to the breaking point and then asked it to keep going. And it just didn't have what it needed in order to do that. And I hadn't built the resilience mentally or physically, in order to you know, manage that much stress. And so as I healed over the next couple of years, and really worked in understanding my body from the inside out and understanding my mental and emotional health, I realized that there were a lot of ways I could manage my daily stress load that would free me up to live more fully with my autoimmune condition. And as I studied more and more and got a handle on how to do that for myself, I had people start to notice that I was really living more fully than I had before, you know, even with my condition, and they were kind of shocked at the level of just resilience that I had cultivated. So I started kind of sharing some tools, I got some more training to try to understand more and more how I could manage stress in a way that allowed me to live fully and then share that with other people. And then naturally because my background educationally is in child development, and because I have children and you know, I have my daughter, and I love the children around me my nieces and nephews, I started to look at how teaching them those skills from a young age could really have a massive impact on their development, both from the standpoint of health and wellness, but also just from the standpoint of adult resilience. Because so often as adults, especially adults with autoimmune conditions or other chronic conditions, we're looking back right at some of those childhood factors that have really influenced where we sit today. So I thought if I could start to empower the younger generation with some of these tools, now, hopefully they can navigate some of those struggles that they face with a little bit more grace and a little more resilience and also build their developmental Foundation, like their understanding of stress in a way that allows them to move into their adulthood, you know, with the tools of resilience that they need to navigate whatever comes their way. So that's kind of where I landed after that stretch of time. And one of the things that was so helpful to me during the years when I was really just trying to dig myself out of a huge hole that I had created in terms of health and wellness was the thought that it's some point these things that I was learning and these experiences could support other people. And that's something that's hallmark for me whenever I'm facing a time of stress is like if I could use this awfulness to support someone else, then it helps me create meaning. And it gives me just a depth of compassion for myself and for other people. In moments when sometimes that's a little hard to come by.

Kelsey Harris:

There are so many things we can take away from Lindsay's health story, but I think Lindsay summed it up perfectly. As she talked about meaning and compassion. I want you to notice that Lindsay also has never said she's cured or anything like that. Rather, she has cultivated resilience to live her life more fully. So where does that leave her Hashimotos? Now,

Lindsay Miller:

so one of the things that I have to kind of, say, as I talked about, my condition is I still do a lot of food intervention, right, I have a lot of dietary intervention to keep myself at steady state, but it's in really good shape. You know, during the years that I was suffering with Hashimotos at its height, but when it was initially diagnosed, when I was about 25, my auto antibodies were in like the 1700 range. I mean, they were sky high. And after I went through the autoimmune protocol, I was down to like 16. I mean, it was a huge difference. And so it really helped me to get back to like a baseline. And that baseline now fluctuates. You know, I think the last time I went into the doctor, I was in like the 75 range. So they were starting to creep back up, and they were above what's normal for most people. But for me, they're still in a really manageable space. So I feel like where I'm at right now is manageable. But I do with that caveat, do a lot of dietary intervention to keep things that way. And to keep my body like energized and keep my health on point, I practice yoga and just do some other mindfulness and meditation practices that I feel like are those foundational things enable me to live with, like a fullness that I couldn't have even actually imagined before, you know, navigating that health crisis.

Kelsey Harris:

That's so funny, because like, I feel very, very much the same way with what I've done. So it shows that you can do it.

Lindsay Miller:

Yeah. And it's one of the reasons I love your work, because I think it can be so debilitating or demoralizing to be you know, get that label and get that autoimmune or that chronic condition slapped on you and say like, Okay, this is it for the rest of my life. This is it. And so I love the way you elevate people's perspective on what it can look like. And like that there can be just resilience that we can imbue our lives with that allow us to live with a fullness that maybe we didn't even think about before.

Kelsey Harris:

Many of the guests on the show have managed to cultivate resilience, which seems to be a huge part of the reasons they are living great lives. And I'm honestly going to include myself on that. But many of you might not be in that place. That might even be the reason you're listening to the show or this episode. In particular, before we get into how to cultivate resilience, I'm going to have Lindsay define it for us.

Lindsay Miller:

So resilience to me is the ability to moderate your levels of stress in a way that allows you to live the way you want. So if something comes our way that is really stressful knowing what we need to do to make it through. And that can be offloading responsibility that could be up leveling dietary intervention, that could be just getting more sleep, right. But it really means not crashing, every time something stressful comes our way. And the more we practice resilience and develop tools for resilience, the more struggles we can navigate with grace, because we're like, oh, I have this whole toolbox of things that helped me when things get stressful. And I know how to bring my stress levels from really high space, back to steady state, because a lot of times what can happen is when our stress levels Elevate, and with chronic conditions, that happens a lot anyway, just physiologically, right. But then the mental and emotional strain that comes with that as well takes our stress high. And so we need to know where the level is at which we can still bring it back down. And then where the level is where we, you know, like have kind of gotten out of control. And so resilience to me, it's keeping it within the level that we can bring it back down without huge you know, to your interventions, like what I had to do, and just knowing like, Okay, I might need to take a week and take it easy or I might need to take some time off and just, you know, be a nature or get myself back together mentally but I can keep going without having like this huge break or crash

Kelsey Harris:

great definition, cultivating resilience often sounds like it'd be really hard to do. So then how can we as spoonies with whatever condition we may have begin to cultivate some of this resilience.

Lindsay Miller:

I'm glad you asked. Because, you know I never ever, ever forget those moments when I thought it was impossible. And those are with me all the time because there were so many months and days and years even when I was working really hard To reverse or put in remission, something that I wasn't even sure that I could write. And so in those moments, I would just like the belief that I was doing something that I would eventually be proud of was a thought that I had, like someday I'm going to look back on this and really respect the work that I'm doing right now, knowing that I wasn't guaranteed any kind of outcome, right? It was just an effort that it was worth the time and energy for me to invest in the hope that it could get better. And so I think if that's where you're at, just investing in the hope, you know, taking stories like yours, taking stories like mine, and allowing yourself to believe that there's a different way of being in the world, I think is the first step.

Kelsey Harris:

Okay, so step number one is hope, which is the opposite of hopelessness. If you haven't listened to the episodes on creative hopelessness, contacting the present moment, and creating distance between yourself and your illness thoughts, I'm going to suggest that you check those out after you finish listening to this episode.

Lindsay Miller:

And then from there, taking one small action, and leaning on other people's stories to the extent that you need to is really important, because I know during those years, I would sometimes feel discouraged that my story didn't match or move as quickly as someone else's, you know, when they were trying to put their condition into remission, or just have the energy when I was trying to have the energy to like, get off the couch, or get out of bed, or take my daughter to school without feeling like I was gonna fall asleep driving, you know, I think that there are so many ways that we can just like exercise a tiny little seed of hope, and then water it as much as we can and care for it in the ways that we are able, even if they're small, and then lean on other people and ask how they've nourished their, you know, seed of hope. And then continue on until we start to see, you know, the the fruits of our labor, we see something sprouting, or we see a small change, and then we can, you know, take that momentum and move forward with that. And then again, like see some small difference, and I know during those years too, and even now I'll take, you know, one step forward, and then two steps back. And some days, you know, you hit a flare or something's just going a mist, or you're cultivating a level of resilience and the stress that you're facing, like a pandemic or other things you know, is so high that your resilience feels small in comparison, but the steady effort of planting in caring for that seed of hope and that resilience, it it does pay off. So give it a tiny shot, whatever you can do, just take one small step toward hope.

Kelsey Harris:

Number two is really about learning from others. If you're listening to this show, then you're already doing step number two, this is a good place to talk about coping statements, coping statements can help us remind us that we can cope and therefore build some resilience and give us some hope.

Lindsay Miller:

Yeah, I'm really glad you asked. Because I for years and years, like the statement I used earlier, I'm really going to look back on this and appreciate the work I'm doing right now that was one of my mantras. I also would use the phrase, I'm building tomorrow's body with how I care for it today. And so it helped me I had that on my fridge, I had it like in my menu planner, because it was hard for me to do that autoimmune protocol, I use Sarah Ballantine's paleo AIP. And that thing is rough. And I did it during the years when she hadn't put the 30 day cap on it. Now they say if you do this diet, do it for 30 days, I did it for two years. And the mental and emotional strain during that time was heavy, because that protocol is just not an easy walk. And so I would constantly be looking again for the people who were doing it and figuring out how they were making it easier for themselves. Because I think anytime we undertake a massive lifestyle change like that comes with any protocol, right? We're having to make these social and emotional changes as well. So I wanted tips on all of it, I needed to know how to cook the food. And I needed to know how to interact with people who understood zero about what I was trying to do, and who also thought I was crazy. Right? And so finding those communities of people was helpful. And one of the things that like your show does and what I tried to do in my work is connect people with other people who are trying to make a change, because it's so much easier to do that when you're around like minded people who believe it's possible for you, right? I mean, I'd have conversations where people be like lens, you are like this a lot. Are you seeing any kind of difference? You know, and I'm like, Well, my Synthroid is down half a tablet, you know, anyways, like a minor thing, but and I'm not saying anyone's goal should be to get off medication. I'm just saying like, for me and my body and my numbers, that's what it ended up looking like I had too much Synthroid at one point. And so we had to cut it. And so it was just an interesting thing, because those small wins are something that a lot of people who are participating in traditional Western models maybe don't understand, right? Because we have quick fixes and we have drugs that can fix things, you know, overnight, and so undertaking a lifestyle change and trying to get to the root of something. It takes time and energy and a lot of people can't understand. So connecting with like minded people finding a protocol or a paradigm that works for you. And believing that if you haven't found it, there's one out there. I know the one I did is not one that you know everyone wants to do. I think there are so many options. So many people telling that story right now, it's a matter of finding the one that you know resonates for you and what you want.

Kelsey Harris:

In this week's Patreon content, Lindsey shares with us how she meal plans around the holidays. And with American Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, that is some important information. To become a patron of chronically living, just follow the link in the show notes for just $5 a month, you get weekly bonus content, and much more. Another way to cultivate resilience and lessen stress is through pleasure. Here's what Lindsay has to say about it,

Lindsay Miller:

giving yourself those like small pleasures and finding other ways to cultivate pleasure. Because I think that's also key, one of the things that was really important to us during that time was to live in a way that made life more meaningful. And I think that, in my situation, specifically, where food and dietary modification had such a big impact on my condition, I started to feel like I had to fill my life with experiences and meaning because I wasn't filling it with food. And it was a really hard thing at first. But once I started to have a little more energy, and I could start to do some of the things that I was, you know, missing or that I had dreamed of doing, it put me in a place where I was like, Okay, I actually, I don't miss the food as much because I'm living like before, I would be bored and go make brownies. And now I'm bored and go for a hike, or you know, before I was bored, and I would like sit in front of the TV with some popcorn. And now we'll go rollerblade with my daughter. And so I'm creating life in the place of food. And I think that can be really, really important for people with the chronic condition especially like to just be present in whatever brings you joy that's accessible in that moment.

Kelsey Harris:

I 100% agree. This is so important for all people with chronic illnesses, and especially anyone who also struggles with depression or anxiety or chronic diseases of stress. There is so much scientific evidence that supports engaging in pleasurable activities actually improves your mental health. Even while you're making other lifestyle taint changes, it's important to start doing some things you enjoy, even if they're small. So something that goes along well with resilience is nature.

Lindsay Miller:

So I think nature is the ultimate in resilience. The other day I was on a hike and I came across these trees that were bent. And so it was walking along this, you know, trail and I just see a slew of trees that are just bent over. They're still growing. They're just going sideways. And it seemed like there was a point in their development when maybe it was the wind because they were in a canyon, right. And so the wind can kind of move through the canyon and patterns. And so in their development where they were on the trail there, their growth wasn't straight up, right. And so the the nature and the conditions they were in, caused them to grow in a different direction. But it was they were still beautiful, they were still thriving, they just grew in a different direction. And I think that can, you know, be in an invitation to all of us to just take the life that we have, and then to just grow with it in the way that we're invited to. It doesn't always look the way that we think it will, right and often means growing in a way that we weren't anticipating. But there's so much that can be like adapted to if we're willing to be a little more flexible. And then I think in terms of overall resilience, one of my favorite stories is hiking percaya, which is a volcano in Guatemala. So after I felt better, one of the things that we had said we always wanted to do is go to Guatemala, because my husband had spent some time there during college and you know, just loved the people. It was so gorgeous. And so we had this list of like, someday we will things. And after I got feeling better, I kind of felt like I didn't have a lot of time to waste in terms of putting these things off, you know, and that it was time for me to live. And the invitation was to do those things sooner rather than later. Because I wasn't going to bank on being healthy forever. And so we started planning some of those trips. So Guatemala was the first place we went. And we found ourselves, you know, hiking up this volcano. And as the guide was talking, you know, he's pointing out all these gorgeous flowers and the vegetation was just stunning. I mean trees and brush and you know, beautiful colors. And we're trudging up and he's talking about how five years ago there had been an eruption and all of the things we were seeing then, you know, were decimated, just covered in ash covered in lava. And it was it was something that had just really wiped out The whole mountainside, the villages, villagers had suffered animals plants, you know, it had just been completely wiped out. And I was so surprised, because I would have had no idea looking around, you know that there had been that level of devastation going on, you know, just five years previous. And if I look at my own life right now, I mean, I'm about five years out from when I was, you know, in a place where remission felt like, what I was living. And I would have, you know, never dreamed of the space that I'm at right now, five years ago, because it just didn't feel like that complete, you know, complete destruction, and nothing alive in me hardly. But, but now, like having that hope that beauty can come from ashes. It's something that I've believed in from like a religious perspective from my youth. And then it's something that I've seen happen in nature over and over again. And he was talking about how Ash is the perfect fertilizer, and how you know, when nature offers up a volcano, inherent in the volcano is what is needed for regeneration. And I think life is like that,

Kelsey Harris:

what a powerful story, we can view our illnesses or bodies is having the opportunity to grow out of ashes to see the health can change for the negative or positive over time. This is created through something we call psychological flexibility. As a therapist, one of the things I do is help my clients increase their psychological flexibility. When we have more a bit, we see life in different ways, just like Lindsey story. Lindsay believes the word and can be life changing. Here's why.

Lindsay Miller:

So I practice mindfulness. And one of the things I teach is meditation and mindfulness, right. And one of the huge, huge takeaways that most people get from the practice is the realization that two things can coexist, that you maybe didn't think could, where you can hold space for both at the same time. So on like an emotional level, I can be really, really sad, and laugh, right, or I can be really, really frustrated, and hopeful. And a lot of times we want to be one or the other. And we have this idea that it has to be that way. But in reality, we can be both. So I can have an autoimmune condition and live fully. You know, I can have these huge dietary restraints, and really enjoy making cupcakes with my daughter that I don't actually ever eat, you know. And I think as we take on a chronic condition and try to live with fullness, we're confronted with so many opportunities to learn this right to approach opportunities, experiences, and say like, and can I can I do both? Can I have this and be this? You know, can I live in this way? And experience joy? Can I walk around with this label that you know someone has given the current state of my body? And can I live in do the things I've dreamed of doing the things that I've had goals for, and sometimes it takes a little bit of creativity to fit them together, right, it may not look exactly like we thought it would be remember the tree that was growing sideways, it was still growing just in a different direction. And so in that moment, I can think of the tree and say I can withstand wind and adjust how I grow, to continue growth without being stunted by it. And so in our own lives, the ability to cultivate a sense of and around anything, you know, relationships, emotions, and experiences, it really gives us a springboard to creativity and a springboard into living the way that we want to live. And that maybe someone has told us or, you know, society or culture or our past experience has told us is impossible, or it's just not going to be in the realm for you, you know. And one of the things that you practice during mindfulness is this idea of holding space for whatever you're experiencing, right. And so as you do that, you start to realize, like we have those contrasts all the time. And usually in our minds, were just picking one. And we're putting our attention and our energy there, but like in my meditation, so last week, I was preparing for like a little social media spot with an influencer that approached me. And so I was, you know, getting ready and getting ready. And then I had the opportunity to go play soccer. And I had given up soccer a long time ago, because I thought it wasn't in the realm of possibility for me anymore. And lately, I've started to play again. And I've figured out ways to help my body, you know, adjust from the inflammation after I play. And it's been really fun. And so anyway, I had this social media spot coming up. And then I also had the chance to go play soccer and I was like, I can't do both. There's no way I could, you know, go play soccer the night before and be ready for this. And the way I thought about it, just kind of through the day when my mindfulness Practice is like Lindsay, you have a tendency to count out pleasurable things for yourself in order to work. Like that's your tendency. And you're learning that you can hold space for both. So you can work and you can do fun things. And so I was like, Okay, I've watched myself in meditation enough times, to know that that's my tendency. And so then in that moment, I could be like, actually, all I need to do is ask my husband for some help prep my living room before I leave for the game, and make sure that I'm caring for myself after the game. And I can do both. And it feels a little scary, right? Because you think minute, I know something's gonna go wrong, or, like, I can't I can't do both of these things. I can't feel happy. If I'm in the thick of something really hard. I can't feel you know, grief and, and laugh. And those moments are actually just the moments that are so human for us. Right. And in our practice of mindfulness and meditation, we come into contact with our humanity in really clear ways, because we're like, oh, that that's there. And, and that thoughts there. And I think both are really valid. And so I'm going to sit with it in a way that allows both to be there and try to live in a way that allows for like the full range of my human experience to be manifest.

Kelsey Harris:

I'm just gonna let you hold some space for a few seconds to let that sink in. Are you ready for our lightning round questions?

Lindsay Miller:

So ready? All right. So

Kelsey Harris:

what are the top five songs that describe your life?

Lindsay Miller:

Okay, All I Know So Far by P!nk, Brave by Sarah Barreilles, Ashes by Celine Dion. And I Hope You Dance by Leon Womack. Is that five? Oh, and Unconditionally by Katy Perry.

Kelsey Harris:

Oh, awesome, great songs. And that really does tell a story, which I like. Yeah, it's such a good question. What's one thing you can't go a day without doing?

Lindsay Miller:

drinking warm water right after I wake up?

Kelsey Harris:

Warm water. Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about the warm water.

Lindsay Miller:

So in Ayurveda, which is one of the practices that I hit on, as I was trying to figure out maintenance for my condition, they have this this habit of drinking warm water right when you wake up to help you a eliminate before you leave the house. So you're not carrying yesterday's garbage around with you. And be to clear any like mucus or you know, think about trying to clean a pan that's like greasy, right? You're gonna use warm water more than cold. So just getting things loosened up in the morning, I started doing it. I mean, it's yeah, it's been about five years. And I can't go a day without my glass of warm water in the morning.

Kelsey Harris:

All right, cool. What's one thing you plan on doing in your life that you haven't yet

Lindsay Miller:

publishing a book.

Kelsey Harris:

Nice. Me too. Do you know, what your books gonna be about?

Lindsay Miller:

You know, I have a manuscript right now that I'm working on. And it's a Beauty for Ashes story about a young man in San Antonio, who was kind of abandoned by his family and adopted into this other family who mentored him and helped him become a resilient soul today. It's a true story. So I'm working on getting that into publishers hands.

Kelsey Harris:

That's amazing. I will have to keep us posted on when that comes out.

Lindsay Miller:

Well, thanks so well, and I look forward to reading yours, too.

Kelsey Harris:

Absolutely. Describe your perfect day.

Lindsay Miller:

So waking up with a view of the beach, reading on that beach, having like a herbal tea, reading a book, like a night on a patio next to that beach, and maybe doing a little bit of writing. I like the idea of spending the day in the sand with my family.

Kelsey Harris:

Sounds lovely. And how do you inspire others to make the most of their lives?

Lindsay Miller:

By accepting them where they're at, and then offering them seeds of hope that they can change.

Kelsey Harris:

Beautiful. Lindsay, thanks so much for coming on. Where can we find you and follow you?

Lindsay Miller:

Yeah, thank you for having me. It's been such a fun conversation. You can find me at www.thestress nanny.com. You can find me on Instagram @thestressnanny, and I'm working on an app that will be released soon to support stress reduction in day to day lives for families.

Kelsey Harris:

Oh, that's amazing. Okay, well, we looking forward to that as well then. Thank you again, for coming on. This has been fantastic.

Lindsay Miller:

Thank you. It's been great Kelsey.

Kelsey Harris:

Lindsay mentioned something earlier in the episode that I wanted to bring up. It was about finding things to fill your toolbox with. This is a metaphor that I love and use all the time. There are many, many coping skills, strategies and healing techniques that we can put in our toolboxes and pull out when we need them. The idea is that we can have these things available to us to improve our lives. Hopefully, if you're a regular listener of the show, you've been asking adding to your toolbox as you go along with each episode, and not everything will go into it, we're all different, which is why I try to make sure there are a lot of different perspectives and healing processes that are shared here. If you're not a regular listener of the show, or maybe a bit curious as to what you can do to add to your toolbox, then definitely stick around, maybe poke through that back catalogue and start to see what you can put in your toolbox. Let's do our weekly reflection. What did you notice about your thoughts and feelings as you listen to Lindsay today? What are you noticing now about your noticing? Thank you all for tuning in. I know you can all find the resilience within you so keep making the most of it. Special thanks to Marty for the original music and charity Williams for their original artwork.