Episode 96: Stress Management And Ancestral Connection with Kendall Kendrick

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Thanks for joining us for episode 96 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Today we are very happy to be interviewing Kendall Kendrick.

Kendall Kendrick is a motivational speaker and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in stress management through ancestral health.She uses her experience and education to teach others how to live a stress managed life through ancestral connection, nutrition, lifestyle, mindfulness, and empowerment. Kendall’s other passions include working with recovering addicts using a holistic approach to sobriety and bringing mindfulness programs into inner city schools with at risk youth in her community.

We know stress is a part of life, but neither powering though stress nor shying away from having a full life are effective ways to manage it. So then how can we manage stress in our modern lives?

Kendall Kendrick knows firsthand the effects of unmanaged stress after it nearly took her life. Today Kendall shares her story being given a second chance at life and her journey from self-medicating to self-care and sustainable stress management practices.

You won’t want to miss today’s discussion filled with motivation, practical tips, and insight into how to manage stress through ancestral connection, self-care, mindfulness.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Kendall:

  • How did you get into the field of stress management?
  • How do you view an ancestral lifestyle and diet fitting into your idea of stress management?
  • Are the chronic conditions that we face today mostly related to poorly managed stress and then the diet and lifestyle that’s not the same as our ancestors?
  • Are there other big problems that you see come up as a result of unmanaged stress?
  • What can somebody do to help control their stress level? What are your favorite techniques?
  • When you sit down to write up a self-care plan, how do you determine how much is necessary? What does that plan end up looking like?


Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Welcome to episode 96 of The Ancestral RDs Podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hi everybody.

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me at KelseyKinney.com and Laura at LauraSchoenfeldrd.com.

We have a great guest on our show today who is going to share her insight into how to manage stress through ancestral connection, mindfulness, and empowerment. We’re so glad she’s joining us and we think you’ll really enjoy this episode.

Laura: And if you’re enjoying the show, you can subscribe on iTunes so that way you never miss an episode. And while you’re in there leave us a positive review so that other people can discover the show as well. And remember we do want to answer your questions, so head on over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer or if you have a guest suggestion that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Kelsey: Welcome back everybody. We are so pleased to have with us today Kendall Kendrick. She is a motivational speaker and Nutritional Therapy Practitioner specializing in stress management through ancestral health. She uses her experience and education to teach others how to live a stress managed life through ancestral connection, nutrition, lifestyle, mindfulness, and empowerment. Kendall’s other passions include working with recovering addicts using a holistic approach to sobriety and brining mindfulness programs into inner city schools with at risk youth in her community.

Welcome to the show, Kendall.

Kendall: Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a pleasure to be here with you ladies today.

Kelsey: We are super excited. Since you are all about stress management, I think that’s sort of what we’ll focus on for today. Can you tell our audience a little bit about kind of how you got into the field of stress management and how you view an ancestral lifestyle and diet fitting into your idea of stress management?

Kendall: Absolutely.

Kelsey: Big story, right?

Kendall: Well first of all I’ll say I’ll try to keep it to the Cliffs Notes version here. But the Reader’s Digest, I was the opposite of stress managed. I was a hurricane, a tornado. What was that cartoon character that would spin really fast when we were little and we would watch? I can’t remember.

Laura: The Tasmanian devil?

Kendall: That’s it! Thank you. I was the Tasmanian devil. I do remember that. But I really did just live this intense always stressed, stressed life and it came from trauma in childhood where I just created these behaviors to get by, to survive. I didn’t learn until I was much older to change those behaviors, to heal that past, that I didn’t have to live like that. I didn’t have to live in the sympathetic fight, flight, freeze life. I just didn’t have to do it. I didn’t know any better.

I have experienced so many incredible health problems as a result of living in that perpetual stress. I really was a stress addict, a drama addict. I fed on it and had no ability to sit still, no ability to be mindful, no real ability to every just enjoy life’s experiences and the things that were right in front of me. I was always in yesterday or tomorrow and creating more problems for myself.

The short story is that the beginning of this journey that I’m in specifically now started almost seven years ago when I was in a hospital bed in the emergency room dying at 1 a.m. I had a miscarriage and it went wrong, very, very quickly. Unfortunately I was neglected in emergency room in the middle of that. While it didn’t need to go as bad as it did, I am able to have a lot of gratitude now that it went the way that it did because it is because of that experience that I have the beautiful life that I live today.

What is miscarriage and dying in a hospital bed have to do with now being a motivational speaker the stress management world? It has everything to do with it because I lost that pregnancy because of stress. I created that. I know that a lot of times when women go through miscarriage and go into doctors’ offices when you kind of get that dreadful ultrasound and they say the baby doesn’t have a heartbeat and this happens all the time, and honestly it does. Miscarriages are such a normal part of life. But I knew the stress that I was going through, I was in the middle of a child custody case, a battle with my three older daughters and their father and I knew the anger and the stress, and the inability to manage any of that was what created the loss of my baby.

When I did live and I came out of it knowing that I had been given a beautiful second chance, this was a wakeup call for me. I was about I think 32 or 33 years old and I knew that things had to change. I didn’t have a single clue where to begin. I had no idea how to start, how to be happier, how to figure out what a peaceful life just going with the flow would look like. I was so envious of people like that. I was married to one. I am married to a man who just doesn’t get all bent out of shape about anything. He just sits and waits for the facts and makes these mindful decisions. And I’m like what is wrong with you? Why don’t you get mad and crazy like me? I think that’s just why we are so great for each other because we balance each other out now.

About a year after my loss of my miscarriage I was sort of going down this bucket list of things that a lot of people I think do when they have a near death experience and they have this second chance at life. One of those was starting ballet again. I grew up dancing, had intended to be a professional ballerina and got injured at 16, and the injury of that is what led to my drug addiction that I had in my late teens and early 20s. I wanted to come back to that and find that part of me that’s just never gone away, that love of dancing, and being on stage, and the freedom of ballet.

As a woman who’s had four babies and is in this different stage in her life, it was just such an interesting experience. I think about three months before we were going to do a recital and I was going to be on stage, my daughters were going to be in the recital as well, and there was going to be all this family there. I was like I am not going on stage in this red leotard. I had that mama/baby weight. Now I’m in a totally different place. I would have absolutely owned how I looked and all that and been on stage. I had to heal a lot of my own body shaming issues that I had had. And that has happened now and I think that’s a big part of stress management as well.

But I met this girl and she started talking to me about this diet, this thing that she was doing where she wasn’t eating grains, and she wasn’t doing dairy, and she wasn’t doing beans. I was just like well how do you have corn chips with salsa every afternoon if you’re eating like this? Because that’s how I lived. I was like I don’t know. But the year before I had been vegan and I knew that that had done some serious damage for me. I ended up with pneumonia. Any of my forays into vegetarianism or veganism, they just never ever ended well. Our family was already gluten free at that point because we had some really huge miraculous shifts with our twins and their health and healing by cutting out gluten and diary, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to go to this next level.

It was just crazy how quickly we felt the shift. My husband and I, we did start losing fat right away, we did feel better. I had not been able to get my iron levels back to normal after my miscarriage. The thing is when you lose a lot of blood and they give you a transfusion, they only give you enough to keep you alive because there really is a shortage. I am Rh negative, so it’s a little more complicated. I could not get back to where I needed to be with my levels. All of a sudden honestly the first time in my life I wasn’t anemic, and that blew my mind. I went and had all my numbers checked and my cholesterol was perfect. I just keep seeing these incredible results happening.

At that point I did lose all the fat that I wanted to lose, but then at that point it was like that didn’t even matter to me anymore. I started to focus on my mental health which I always, always struggled with. I had always been manic depressed and dealt with imbalances in anxiety and all these things. It put the spotlight on those things. It’s what I realized started happening is that these neurotransmitters were getting healed and allowing me to work on what I really needed to work on, to see this focus for the first time in my life, start understating what mindfulness might actually mean and this holistic lifestyle that I had been trying to attain for years, and years, and years since my first daughter was born which now has been almost 16 years ago.

I want to say it’s kind of a journey and things has just evolved into what they are now. When I joined this community and I started my blog about 5 1/2 years ago, it wasn’t like I was thinking oh I’m going to go talk to everybody about stress. I was not stress managed at that point by any means. In fact it even got worse. Once I started feeling better, and feeling more balanced, and feeling healthier, and getting my hormones under control, I actually took on more than I could handle. I went to school for nutritional therapy, I was working locally in food policy, working in our school district to try to help bring food from the gardens into the cafeteria. I was just taking on more than I could handle. I was again dealing with child custody issues.

It was so much that I found myself going, wait a minute, perfectionism. That’s when it all started to click for me. I was like it’s perfectionism. That is what’s eating me up. That is what’s causing me to continue this cycle of unhealthy living and why I want to self-medicate.

At that point I found myself…like I said earlier, I quit doing drugs 19 years ago. I was clean off of drugs when I was 21. But eventually over the years I did start drinking again and I found myself self-medicating with wine at a level that I wasn’t comfortable with, at a level that I saw was causing problems in my marriage, with my children. It was keeping me from being present. I was sharing this information about perfectionism and stress management stuff at conferences and then I was feeling like I was self-medicating with wine or whatever to not feel I guess present.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: Then I went back into recovery almost three years ago and that really just gave me that next kind of push, it was that stepping stone to say okay now, now really pull it all together and not self-medicating any longer in my life, like learning that food is not appropriate for me to self-medicate with, that wine or anything that I ever used, even like binging Netflix.

I see if I’m doing it, I know now because of my mindful practice, if I’m binging Netflix and nothing on TV of any of my multiple internet TV options isn’t making me feel better, then I know I need to slow down. I need to go figure out what is going on with me. Why am I so uncomfortable? What does it all mean? And again, pulling that perfectionism piece to say well don’t be a perfectionist about it, don’t beat yourself up. If you end up face down in a pile of cookies, it’s not the end of the world. You’re not a horrible person.

It has just been a lot of work about balance and figuring out how to have peace. Overcoming all of these obstacles that I’ve experienced in my life and truly, truly knowing that today no matter what happens in my life, I don’t have to go self-medicate with something destructive for me like alcohol. Not everybody has that problem, but I am an alcoholic, and I am a drug addict, I am all those things if I’m using those things. Knowing that there are these other answers for me personally like spirituality, and meditation, and truly connecting to my ancestors which is something that I’ve been on this just incredible journey lately on really connecting with who my past is and what all of that means for my life.

And then to really just circle back to what you asked initially about stress management, why it’s so crucial. Well number one I think for women primarily, we are told from the very beginning of our lives that A.- we’re not good enough, and B.- the other flipside of that is that we can do everything. And neither of those things are true. They’re just not. The pressure that’s put on us that we should be able to balance it all, that we should be able to balance work and families, and we should be happy doing it, and we just should be. It’s a should machine. We should all over ourselves. We should be doing all this.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And it’s not appropriate. It’s not giving us the peace because we live in boxes, we drive boxes, we work in boxes. We are not a tribe, we are not a community.

I was fortunate enough that in my late 20s when I had my first daughter and then I had my twins a couple of years later, I did have this community of women who also we were just kind of these super crunchy granola moms, all home birthing and being hippies. But we had each other. We were there holding each other in our labors. And very few people get to experience that feminine connection, that sort of divine what that really feels like and looks like because we live so isolated.

I think about it often, I don’t even interact with the people on my street everyday and I think that’s crazy because I’m so isolated in my home with my children, and my husband, and our lives and we’re so busy. That’s that piece for me when it comes to this big part of stress management is it takes a tribe. We have to work on this perfectionism piece that we’re living in. I know men deal with these things, it’s just that my specialty tends to be with women because of that female connection that I feel really called to work with.

Also I think just looking back at our ancestors and what we know about their lives, we can go back to our hunter gatherer ancestors, we can go back a couple hundred years ago. We don’t even necessarily have to go that far back. I can go back to my farming grandparents. I can look at what community meant. And maybe in that time community was the church down the road and the couple of times a week that you connected there. Or we go back to our hunter gatherer ancestors and we look at the mindfulness component that it must have taken. They couldn’t have had ADD, it’s not even possible.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And here I am fighting my ADD everyday to not do 100 things at once and a mindful practice. We want to run off to ashrams, we want to go to do meditation weekends. Well our ancestors, that’s just how they lived, it’s just what they did.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: We know a lot about their mental health and their capacity, they’re physical health. The food piece is really important for this because like I said earlier in my own story that once I started to put the appropriate foods that were anti-inflammatory to my system, that’s when things started to heal for me and I could really focus on the things, the healing, the trauma. And all of us have trauma. It doesn’t matter how good our lives are. Somewhere in our lives something has happened that’s taught us some things about ourselves and it might not be so good.

Kelsey: Right. Would you say that the chronic conditions that we face today, are those mostly related to poorly managed stress and then the diet and lifestyle that’s not the same as our ancestors? Or are there other big problems that you kind of see come up as a result of unmanaged stress?

Kendall: Yeah, that’s such a good question. Yes to all of that. I think it’s so complicated, but then it’s also just super simple. When I’m working with women, and I’ve been doing some workshops and stuff lately to really deal with stress, and now I’m actually teaching mindfulness to very at risk youth in my local neighborhood elementary school, and so I’m seeing this variation of these vast differences in people. Women who have privilege in their lives, who have these jobs that they feel kind of married to, these jobs that are everything to them, and they are working 40-60 hours a week, and then they feel like they owe these things to family members, these relationships that might not be so healthy. There’s a huge stress right there.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: We know we can go on and on and say that we can be genetically wired, like a lot of us have done our 23andMe or whatever, and so we know that we can be genetically have the predisposition to cancer, to diabetes, to all these things. But we know that lifestyle, and stress, and diet can be the things that really bring those things on. I think it’s this holistic way of looking at it and saying…I mean we’re getting angry and people are getting killed in traffic over anger. I just look at that and I just go…like there was another police officer shooting here in Charlotte where I live a couple of weeks ago and it was a road rage incident, at least that’s what the media’s reporting. But even just thinking about that that we hear that all the time. If we’re a society who is so angry that just how someone is driving can send us over the edge, I think that just says a lot about how we’re living and we’re taught from a young age.

That’s a big part of why it was so important for me and I felt called to go work with youth who do have really stressful lives and live in really complicated situations. I had a fifth grader tell me last week that his stress is he’s got to make money, he’s got to work.

Kelsey: Wow.

Kendall: I just thought to myself, as I’m raising…I have a third grader, I have two seventh graders, and a tenth grader, and my tenth grader doesn’t have to have a job. She doesn’t have to work. And I’m thinking, what fifth grader has to figure out how to make money? Right?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Kendall: I grew up poor and I wasn’t figuring that out in fifth grade. I think that just gives me a lot of perspective as to this vast problem in modern day life, problems that we’re facing to figure out what managing our stress looks like and how it is so desperately affecting our existence, our lives. I mean just look at the state of politics, what we all just went through the last year too. The stress that that caused on us, the stress that it’s still causing on our nation, on the world. And then what do we do about it? What are we doing to take care of ourselves?

Self-care is always the foundation of everything for me. People get sick of talking to me because I’m a broken record because I say what did you do for yourself today? Or you’re going through a really hard time. Even my kids, my kids are just so over it.

Kelsey: I could see that, yeah. Like whatever, mom.

Kendall: Like I’m not going to practice self-care today. My 15 year old is going through some pretty tough stuff and everyday she’s like what’s the answer? And I’m like take a bath, go for a walk, take care of yourself, do something that nurtures you.

And honestly that’s been the number one thing. When I learned I couldn’t love myself at first, but I learned about self-care, I found that self-care is the road to self-love. If you practice self-care and enough, you’re going to learn how to love yourself.

Kelsey: Right. We all have these stressors that we deal with on a daily basis and I love the idea of doing self-care as a piece of our stress management. What are some other ways that people can deal with stress? I know you mentioned community being a big piece of that before too, so I’d love to touch a little bit on that and then anything else that you feel like can really help people manage their stress effectively.

Kendall: Why I think community is so important is because it’s so important to have that support. I live in a place where I don’t have much family. My dad, for the first time ever since I’ve had children, I have a parent who lives nearby. My dad lives in the same city that I live in, but he’s in Florida for the winter. So I’m like oh my gosh, I miss him, I need his help! I had forgotten what that was like because I didn’t have family nearby for all the early years of raising my children, I want to say for probably 13 years because he hasn’t been nearby for very long. And now I am so incredibly spoiled by him and his wife because they just take such good care of us. I can just be like, hey can the kids spend the night? And they just love it. We don’t all get to have that. We’re not all that fortunate to have family.

This community piece, we can find it in all sorts of places. A lot of people find it in their spiritual places. They find it in churches, they find it in temples. For me, I really find it in the rooms of recovery. I find it within the recovery community because for me and those of us who are recovering addicts and alcoholics, we have hit a bottom that brings us all together. Sometimes it takes knowing someone else has gone through what you’ve gone through, and they’ve done the things that you’ve done, and they remind you that you are no longer that person and you don’t have to feel shame about all the bad things that you did in your addiction, that you were sick, and here’s the path that you can do to be healed of that and to forgive yourself and just start asking other people to forgive you.

For me that’s a big part. That’s where I find most of my community, but now I’m expanding. In fact I’m inviting many, many women to come to my home in March to come join me for the full moon and just celebrate with fire and food in my backyard and let’s just be women together. Let’s just celebrate the feminine, and embrace who we are, and know that we are deserving and that we are good enough. It’s that simple stuff, or inviting your neighbors over for a potluck. We just had two new sets of neighbors move in on our block and so that’s my next step is like hey let’s have everybody over. There’s so many different ways to find this community.

I want to say that I know there’s a lot of people who are really, really stressed out and having a hard time with their stress and they do have great communities. I don’t want to have somebody listening and they say well I do have a community and I’m still having a really hard time. Maybe it’s just about tapping into that community for even more support.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: Maybe it’s going it’s going even deeper into that. But also know that that’s not the only thing that’s important. For me it’s this pie chart. It’s just saying here’s all these things, it’s nutrition, and it’s digestion, and it’s movement, and play, and it’s sleep. There’s nothing more important than sleep honestly because if you aren’t sleeping, you’re stress will not be managed.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: It’s just not even possible with those cortisol levels. And then understanding if there’s more going on with you, do you have autoimmune disease? Are your hormones completely imbalanced?

I have fought endometriosis and ovarian cysts since I was a teenager. I had another spell with it last summer. And you know why? Because I was in a huge amount of stress again with child custody stuff. For me, there’s always sort of an underlying thing that I’m always going through in my life that’s unavoidable. But I love this saying, I use it all the time. I heard I think it was the FSU coach in Florida who said it. I hate sports, I’ve never liked sports in my life, but I love empowering sports coach talks in those movies that they play where there’s good music, and the losers win, and all that. But this coach in Florida said “control the controllable” to his team. I was like, boom! Yes!

When we can get to that place where we can just let go of the things that we cannot control, that is where the freedom is, that is where the peace is. I know it’s really, really easy for me to sit here and say let go of what you can’t control. I know that everyone’s going right now, like are you kidding me? How do you do that? Through a lot of work, through acceptance, understanding that acceptance is not judgment. Acceptance is not something that you say someone is wrong or right, or a situation is wrong or right. It just means that you accept that this is where you are in this moment and then you start that process that comes after that of figuring out what is in my control? What do I just need to give over to the universe, or God, or whatever I believe in? Give it over to your light bulb, whatever to get some freedom and some peace, and also just knowing that we have this moment that we’re in right now.

Laura: I had written a post recently about something similar to that and I think it even can go beyond what can you and can’t you control to actually like what needs to be controlled. Because I think there are some things like in my own life where yeah, I have a lot of influence over it, and I can do more, and I can be very focused on making that the best that it can be. But then the question is first of all, what’s the benefit? Second of all, does it turn it into something that I’m not even enjoying it anymore because I’m trying to control it and manipulate it so much?

Kendall: Right!

Laura: And it’s just funny because I’m looking at this stuff, like in my post I mention my relationship with my fiancé and I’m like why am I making this so hard? My relationship is amazing and I’m turning it into something that’s stressful because I feel like it must be better and there’s got to be ways to make it better even though it’s great. It’s just kind of funny because it’s like it doesn’t even have to be something that you literally have no control over. Sometimes I think we, especially if you’re a perfectionist type, it’s almost like well it could be better so I better put more control into it because it’s not 100% perfect right now.

Kendall: Right, I agree. I’m ten years into my second marriage and we have just been on a roller coaster. There’s a lot of times where I struggle to accept where it is whether it’s in a tough place, whether it’s in an amazing place. I can tell you that for me personally, one of the things that comes from my childhood trauma is I’m always sort of waiting for the bottom to drop out. I’m waiting for people to leave me, to abandon me. So sometimes, oftentimes, in my adult life I have created those scenarios. I have pushed people to abandon me because that’s what feels normal to me.

I had to learn to stop pushing people away. I had to learn to stop creating the stress of that. A big part of my recovery and being this person that I choose to be today is being comfortable in the discomfort. That means that when I don’t feel so good and when thing are tough, not jumping in there to fix them, not jumping in there and taking action necessarily, just sitting with it and letting those feelings happen and not running from them, not drinking them away, not eating them away, not watching them away, just being there with them.

The other side of this is that I never knew that I was allowed to experience joy and happiness. I didn’t know that that was okay. I had to learn that being happy is okay, that it’s a good thing. They’re all emotions, we experience all of them, we should. None of them are better than the others. Sometimes we think that. We think something isn’t right. This isn’t right. Again, it should be something. It is exactly what it is. That’s given me a lot of peace now to even be okay with myself and not beat myself up, just sort of put the bat down and pick the feather up when things are really, really great and I’m stressed, I’m wondering when does this fall apart? I don’t deserve this. I’ve been a bad person, I’ve done bad things.

All that shame, it’s such a relationship with shame and understanding that relationship and then just telling shame okay, I hear you, get lost now, I don’t need you. I have a lot of peace now with whatever I’m feeling. Then understating that when I am trying to control, when I do want to make things better, that that’s not what I should be doing. It’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.

Kelsey: Right. If somebody’s got a lot of stress going on in their life, they’ve identified pieces of it that are uncontrollable, they’ve accepted it, let’s talk about the controlling side of things. What can somebody do to help control their stress level? What are your favorite techniques? What do you recommend to somebody?

Kendall: The self-care plan is my absolute go-to anytime I do a workshop, a class. I’ll be putting some of this out on my website actually soon in a free guide. But we create self-care plans and what that includes, and you can just make one yourself, what that includes is talking about how are you going to take care of yourself? What are your favorite things to do?

I actually surveyed 50 women recently and I said, what are your favorite self-care things to do? The list was pretty typical, it was like hiking, or taking baths, or getting massages. I do think that there are these different categories of self-care. I think that there is necessary self-care and then there’s indulgent self-care. For me necessary self-care looks like I need to meditate every day, I need to take my supplements, I need to eat well, what well means for me personally. I would never suggest what eating well looks like for anybody else if they’re not my client. Those are some important things. I need to walk. Then what I call indulgent is like an Epsom salt bath with essential oils, something that just feels really good. Or spending money, if you want to get a massage.

You do not have to spend money to perform really great self-care for yourself. I always make that really clear upfront. I get that kind of push back of well I don’t have any money. Well that’s not an excuse. There are too many things that we can do to take care of ourselves. Take an hour of your day that you wouldn’t normally have allowed yourself and go read a book, go knit, go color, go do something that you want to do and you think that you shouldn’t be doing it because you think that you should be doing things for other people.

Kelsey: Right. I feel like people have that idea that self-care has to be that indulgent type of self-care.

Kendall: That’s funny because of the women that I surveyed, my final question was if you could have any day of your ideal self-care, what would it look like? And 90% said a spa day.

Kelsey: Fair enough.

Kendall: But I have to look at that like why…and I’m the same way. We have this beautiful spa in the mountains in Asheville North Carolina called the Grove Park Inn and it really is my happy place. I try to go twice a year and it’s magical. When I leave I just feel like a brand new person. But I’m thinking like why in our society are we thinking that’s where we need to go? Are we that overwhelmed and exhausted that we need that getaway and that escape to feel better?

Laura: I wonder if part of it is that it’s actually someone else taking care of you in that situation?

Kendall: Absolutely.

Laura: We don’t know how to do it for ourselves, so we’re like let me go pay someone to put their hands all over me for two hours.

Kendall: Yeah, or not be needed. To not be needed, especially for moms. I am a mom of four and I have a daughter who has Asperger’s, so high functioning Autism. Life is pretty intense for us and I know what it’s like to just feel like you hit that wall. For me I start being really mean to everyone. I get really grouchy and that’s now my cue because I’m so in tune, that’s my cue to go, whoa, self-care time. What are you going to do for yourself? Get out of the house, get away. Go do something for just yourself.

Like you said, these women who also talked about wanting the spa, they talked about wanting someone to cook for them. It was a lot of women who were moms. We sacrifice so much for other people. We don’t have to be moms to experience that sacrifice, but moms definitely, definitely experience it in a way. And I think that because of that guilt that moms tend to feel, we just feel like oh this is our responsibility and to be a good mom I have to sacrifice myself and be a martyr. That is just not true. I want every mom who’s listening right now to recognize that you do not need to be a martyr to be a good mom.

Kelsey: Boom. That’s perfect, awesome. Jumping back for a second to the necessary self-care, I think that’s what you called it, and the indulgent self-care and creating this plan for yourself, what does that look like? When you sit down to write up a plan, how do you determine how much is necessary? What is the right amount of self-care for everybody? Or is it different for each person? What does that plan end up looking like?

Kendall: Typically I’ll just say, let’s say I’m working with a group of women or talking to someone and I’ll say just like write down all the things, don’t put barriers on it. Just write down the things you would love to do, the things that you know bring you pleasure. One of the things when I first went back into recovery, I was working with a therapist and he was like well what do you like to do? I was like, uh what? What do you mean? Like what do I like to do? He said Kendall, you are going to have to figure out what makes you happy and what you enjoy doing. That was that beginning of that self-care to self-love process for me. I started writing down the things like ballet and knitting, or going to a movie. I wrote this list of things that fit me and made me happy.

I’ll ask people to do that same thing. Write your list and we don’t have to figure out necessary or indulgent. Generally I’ll offer them some ideas if they’re struggling of what looks like self-care for them. Then we will go to what are the barriers? What are the things that are keep me from doing this? Then we’ll figure out well how are we going to overcome those barriers? How are we going to not allow those things…like how many of us said we’re going to meditate everyday? And then three days in for some reason it falls off, and then what happened?

What are those things that we’re going to do to do our very best, not be a perfectionist about it, but to do our very best to say I’m going to stay on top of this. I’m going to keep doing this because it’s important to me because I need to put myself first because I can’t be there for anybody else if I don’t, because I have to put my oxygen mask on first. That whole mentally just really kind of drilling that in to women that we absolutely have to put our self-care and our needs first and there’s not a single thing selfish about it. In fact it’s the opposite of selfishness.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: And so we do that, and then what I also insist on is an emergency kit self-care plan. We have these emergency kits for ourselves when we get hurt, we have Band-Aid’s and we have ointments and maybe we keep them in our cars, and maybe we keep them in our cabinets in our kitchen. But we don’t have emotional emergency kits when you’re at work and your boss drops a bomb on you, or you’re in traffic and you’re so stressed out and you’re late, or whatever millions of things that we all go through every single day that cause us great deals of stress.

In the emergency self-care plan, it might go something like, what’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten from somebody? And you write that down on there. What thing can you do right now in this moment of this intense stress to take care of yourself? We have to make this emergency care plan before we’re in stress because we need to just go to it.

There’s these typical questions that go in with that that you can kind of look at, that can just calm you down, bring you back to that parasympathetic, that rested state of calm, get those cortisol levels to chill out a little bit, let you get out of that panicky state, and to be able to be like okay, this isn’t the end of the world. You make this emergency kit.

And then what I often give advice about is have an actual little box of things that make you happy. Maybe you have some essential oils in there, like some lavender or something, or one of those little lavender sachets that’s nice to smell that you would put in your clothes or pillow. Have that in there. For my teenager, we use Rescue Remedy lozenges which is a Bach Flower Remedy if you’re not familiar with that. That calms her down immediately when she gets into that panicky place. I’ll say, keep some rescue Remedy. I’ve been using that in my life and with my children since they were babies. That’s really great.

Then just anything you know just makes you…maybe you put a picture of something. Like at a workshop recently, one of the attendees said seeing a picture of her dog makes her really happy. Not that you just have on your phone, but it’s in this little kit so you go to it and go oh, and you can stop and you can think about all the fun times you have with your pup, and it’s going to be great when you get home and you can snuggle. Anything that can really take you out of that cortisol induced moment that you’re in and get your nervous system calmed down enough. And we just sort of do need to turn our mind, even if it’s just momentarily to go to this place where we can calm down and then we can deal with whatever is going on in a more mindful state, which we know is going to have a more productive outcome than if you go and we react.

We want to respond to whatever we’re facing versus react. Reacting is typically something we do, it’s not mindful, we haven’t thought about it, it can be impulsive. Like shooting off that email to your boss that you really shouldn’t send off, or your coworker, or a boyfriend, or a spouse, or whatever that text message that you know is going to be hurtful. Taking a breather, doing your emergency self-care plan, and then being able to figure out what is the best response for this situation.

Kelsey: Yeah. I love that idea of a physical little box. There’s something about holding something, having a physical representation of something that calms you down, something that makes you happy that I feel like is so different from, for example you were talking about having a picture of your dog on your phone. It’s just different holding that picture of him or her. It feels different to your body and I think there’s a history too of our ancestors having objects that represent other things. I kind of feel like this is a piece of that, taking from that idea which is really useful.

Kendall: Yeah. I’ve done a lot of genealogy work over the years and I have an area on my mantle in my bedroom where I have pictures of my ancestors, like my relatives going back even like two to four generations back. Some of them are really, really old. But I have these things on there. When I had my miscarriage, I knitted this little tiny hat just kind of as a symbolism of the baby who I named Bright. I have Bright’s ultrasound, so I have those. You would think going and looking at that would be bring me sadness, but it doesn’t because of the experience, or the way that that experience changed my life.

For me simply going and sitting in front of my ancestors and this little ultrasound of the baby I had, and all of that, it makes me still. It makes me pause. It makes me connected to these people who came before me and thinking about what they might have faced in their lives and how they got through it. I like to think of their power inside of me. I like to think that they passed that on and so I think of this kind of ancestral fire that comes from every ancestor I’ve ever had and it’s just burning inside of me to help me through my life and help me manage whatever I’m facing.

Like you said, there is this connection. Our ancestors had so much ritual no matter whether they came from Africa, or Europe, or wherever, they had ritual. That’s not something that we practice every day.

Kelsey: Right.

Kendall: I have really started incorporated that into my life because it does make me feel more connected and that always comes back to that connectedness.

Kelsey: Amazing, I love that. Kendall, where can people find you and what you’re working on? Anything you want to share that is coming up for you to our audience?

Kendall: Yeah. I blog at primal-balance.com and you can basically find me anywhere on social media using Primal Balance or Kendal Kendrick. I am working on two projects right now that I’m so excited about. I have a book that I’m working on right now that is actually some transcripts of my podcast, Born Primal: Conversations With The Ancestral Health Community. I’ve taken some of my favorite conversations about this connection to our ancestors and the ancestral health community and compiled them and I’m compiling them into a story.

Kelsey: Cool.

Kendall: Hopefully that will be out within the next couple of months. Then I’m also writing my memoir. That will be out later in 2017. Those are two things that I’m just really excited to finally be able to share with our community. Those are two kind of big things.

Kelsey: Very big.

Kendall: I’m trying to keep my priorities in the right place. I do tend to have this bouncing all over the place, so I’ve just made this real commitment to get these things out there and then we’ll see where we go from there.

Kelsey: That’s awesome. Good luck with all that.

Kendall: Thank you.

Kelsey: It sounds like a lot of work, but worthwhile.

Kendall: It is, it is.  I’m heading out for a week vacation in Florida so I’m putting it all out of my mind and I am just going to soak up every second of sunshine that I can.

Kelsey: Perfect. Well you enjoy that and thank you so much for joining us today. This was really interesting and I hope our audience will love it.

Kendall: Thank you so much ladies. I really, really appreciate it. And I also wish you both he best in all of your endeavors, love following you.

Kelsey: Thank you.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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