top of page

Staying Nourished - Body and Mind


(I wrote this article with the approaching festive season and us mothers in mind.)


What must it feel like to live in a world where women are treated differently and mothers are expected only to be mothers – motherhood being their greatest achievement?

Mothering in the western world can be an overwhelming journey. Whether we stay at home, go to work or work from home, we end up with many roles in our daily lives.

It always is a juggling act – and gets especially tricky when our children are unwell, there are more demands at work, we are planning celebrations and family gatherings or even when the seasons are changing.

After any time when we need to reach deep for our reserves (physical, emotional, mental), we get depleted and should be replenishing ourselves. Our bodies are amazingly resilient and will do their best to keep on going – performing efficiently and without any complaints.

Yet, if we keep ‘running on empty’ for a long time (it may be a few months or a few years – that depends on our reserves to begin with), we are eventually forced to slow down, whether it suits us or not.

I used to be a perfectionist – I wanted it all. As a mother of two boys, I was juggling motherhood with my job four days a week, cooking most of our meals from scratch, even baking bread, working on my website and studying for a nutrition degree. Oh, and I also wanted some quiet me-time, so I used to stay up late at night knitting while the house was quiet.

I was always tired and irritable, felt overwhelmed, yet didn’t know how to step off the roller-coaster.

For years I used to stay up late and had a slightly underactive thyroid, however those 2 years of extreme busyness really took their toll. I ended up quite ill. It started as a head cold which lingered, then spread to my ears, throat and eventually lungs. It came to a point where I couldn’t even breathe…

An illness can be a great teacher – and my illness certainly was. I wasn’t irreplaceable – at work, at home, anywhere. Things were not running as smoothly, yet everybody managed without me somehow, while I was just sitting on the sofa for days, too ill to eat, read or even watch a movie. I had plenty of time to think, though.

I realised I had been too busy for the important things in life. I vowed to myself that if (yes, if, not when) I pull through I will live differently. I will slow down and focus more on being. I will find little moments of joy every day and consciously embrace a more feminine energy.

I am not talking about makeup, revealing or extremely fitted clothes and high heels. The feminine energy is a certain softness, fluidity, acceptance, allowing – known as ‘yin’ in the Chinese medicine and philosophy. Yin is more passive, quiet, dark.


So how can we women and mothers bring more yin into our lives to stay nourished?

By honouring our seasons.

A woman’s body is a reflection of Nature. And just like Nature, we go through four seasons. When our monthly cycle starts, we are tired and fragile, we are in our winter. Nature looks dead on the outside in winter, yet there is a lot going on on the inside. If we manage to rest (or at least have a slower, quieter time) on day 1 and 2, then we can emerge reenergised and full of inspiration in our spring.

The spring and summer of our cycle is the most active and productive time – perfect for some mental work, too. Ideally, you plan your busy activities, celebrations and trips around this time.

As we enter our autumn, we start sorting through things and slowing down. Just like Nature sheds leaves and branches, we get rid of what no longer serves us (engagements, habits, clutter…) so we can lighten our load and dive deeply into our winter hibernation.

If your cycle has not returned yet, you can choose two days – a full moon and a new moon. We tend to be more tense and stressed out around the full moon and even in the yoga tradition it is not recommended to exercise too much on this day. The new moon is like the dark womb from which life emerges – a perfect day to set new intentions.


By voicing our needs.

If we are not used to voicing our needs, saying empowered ‘no’ or taking time off, the autumn of our cycle can be tough. We can end up moody, frustrated or overly critical, experiencing cramping and body aches. It’s partly due to not expressing our needs throughout the month and partly to starting our spring season depleted (‘running on empty’) after not taking any time off during our winter.

Voicing our needs means setting boundaries but also listening to our own body/intuition when it says ‘time to rest’.


By self-care.

Self-care means activities and environment that deeply nourish the body (warm bath, early night, nourishing stew or soft candlelight before bed) and the mind/soul (screen-free after 8.30 pm, knitting, adult colouring, reading, journaling, star gazing or watching sunset).

The body doesn’t distinguish between stresses – it responds to physical as well as emotional or mental stress in the same way – by inflammation. Common signs of inflammation are aches and pains, frequent colds, tiredness, unbalanced hormones. Thyroid problems can be the next step. It is no wonder 9 in 10 people diagnosed with thyroidism are women. I call the thyroid our queen of balance – whenever something is off (like when we put too much pressure on ourselves), she will reduce her functionas a protective mechanism.

By feeding your body.

I believe in eating well – not counting quantities or calories. I eat till I am full, knowing that my food is healthy and nourishing. It sustains my body as well as my baby’s (when pregnant and breastfeeding). Generally speaking, women need more fats and a good serving of protein every day. I personally avoid sugar, processed foods, dairy and wheat.

It is not always possible to get all our nutrients from the diet alone, especially when going through a period of increased demand. We need to make sure we have enough magnesium, omega 3’s, B vitamins a vitamin C. Vitamin D3 (which in reality is a steroid hormone, not a vitamin) should be taken throughout the darker months.


By finding joy!

Notice small children – they are full of joy and wonder. Every little thing is precious to them – a leaf, flower, insect, cloud, colour, smell… They are simply ‘being’ in the moment, ready to notice every small detail.

Taking a few deep (belly) breaths, closing your eyes for a moment and just feeling the sun or breeze on your face can be a wonderfully nourishing experience. Inhaling the fragrance of your tea or truly tasting the flavour of your chocolate can nourish your whole self – and bring you joy, too. Many of the things we do for self-care can be joyful – it is all about being in the moment – even just a few minutes at a time.

bottom of page