Take Care of YOU first. Being a mom, is extremely hard for me because my life is centered around helping and taking care of others, which I love! However, it can be draining when I am caring for everyone else and become hard for me to keep going when I am draining all my energy out. When I take the time to focus on myself and take care of myself for short periods and allow myself to rest, I can come back with a lot more resilience and strength. Resting, meditating, exercise, sleep and nutrition can all help me get back to being the best version of myself that I can be.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Santiago.
Megan Santiago is a blogger, natural health expert and mental health counselor student. She writes about natural ways to cope with your mental health and she has dealt with her own mental health concerns naturally. She is a mother and graduate student, who plans to continue her education in other aspects of health in the future.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I have worked in the Natural Health Industry for many years alongside Naturopathic Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. I have suffered from anxiety and decided I wanted to find natural ways to cope with it, I have been able to do so, and now I share it on my blog Holistic-Momma.com. I studied psychology for my undergraduate degree, and I am currently in the middle of my graduate program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The most exciting thing about my career is that I have had so many people come to me and say they are tired of the costs of their medications and the number of side effects they have from their medications. This is not to say that people should not take their medications, but it just shows that there is a gap and a need for information to be shared with the public about their options.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company stands out because I write about natural ways to deal with your mental health, which hardly anyone is talking about. You can find natural remedies for a canker sore or a headache but research-backed articles showing readers how supplements, therapy, and lifestyle changes can help them manage their everyday anxiety is unheard of. I have implemented many things that I write about myself, and it has personally given me more freedom from my anxiety and has increased my joy.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I can’t say there is one person who has helped me get to where I am, but I will say there is one person who definitely motivated me to never give up on this desire to learn and teach others. A naturopathic doctor who does not practice but has helped formulate supplement brands, including his own, and he truly knows the human body like the back of his hand. He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever met to know about natural medicine and health. He is so passionate and can go on and on about the subject he is talking about because he genuinely knows his stuff. This has inspired me to learn how to help others deal with their health naturally before medication.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I would define resilience as an individual’s ability to endure hardships and keep on. Resilient people do their best to acknowledge a problem and look to resolve it instead of letting it be a weakness or a reason to stop them. This does not mean they do not rest when needed, but more so they see the bigger picture and can stay focused on that.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion, how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I think courage is the bravery to take the first step; resilience is like the ability to keep at it even as things get complicated. Both cause people to silence their inner critic, telling them, “don’t even try because you might fail”.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
This may sound a little funny, but honestly, I think of myself. So often, we are hesitant to give ourselves credit for our accomplishments, and we self-talk a lot more negatively about ourselves than others. I chose myself because despite many setbacks, I haven’t given up, and I plan to continue my education after my Master’s. Being a parent is challenging, and going to school while being a parent or working while being a parent is hard.
I plan to keep learning and going to school despite the difficulties so I can help individuals improve their mental and physical health to the best of their ability. I don’t take credit for all of my resilience; my parents are definitely a major part of that. They have shown me that we can and will get through it no matter what happens. Also that we should not make a long-term decision off of a temporary feeling or situation.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I think the statistics have told me that my journey would not be easy or even possible. I was a single mother, working and going to college. I will say I had a great support system from my family, but the number of single mothers who graduate college, let alone graduate, is very low.
Did you have a time when you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Yes, I have had many. Unfortunately, it took me seven years to complete my bachelor’s because I had two children within that time and changed degrees. At first, being a young mom, I had a tough time with it. I was upset that my life had changed, and I could not have any more “fun.” I was wrong. I learned that having my children gave me a reason to live, a purpose of getting up in the morning, and wanting to be a better version of myself. My children became my “why,” and I will forever be grateful for them allowing me to become their mommy and learn the lessons I needed to know.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I have cultivated resilience throughout my life by learning that things we are afraid of and often anticipate as being scary or intimidating frequently don’t turn out to be as bad as we thought. Being able to talk myself off of a ledge when it came to this it has helped me ask myself questions when I am nervous, like “what is the worst that can happen?” and often, my answer is not something super serious. Then I can encourage myself to go ahead and try it because if I succeed, I could be really happy with my choice to go for it.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Understanding Cognitive Distortions. I think this is very important because we typically believe that what we think is true is often not a fact. Negative predictions can cause us to think that we should not bother trying because it will not work out anyways.
Another is minimizing your accomplishments, “yeah, I got a promotion, but I didn’t become the CEO.” There are many more cognitive distortions like this that can lead us to focus very negatively on life.
2. Getting Extensive Blood Work. This may sound confusing, but understanding the chemical imbalances in your mind and body can help you fix them. For example, when your body and mind are tired, your serotonin is low, and you feel off, but you don’t know why or how to fix it. Blood work can help you get an insight into why you don’t have the desire to do what you used to love doing or why you feel like you are “lazy” when you are just deficient in different nutrients.
Poor adrenal function or thyroid function can cause you to feel extra stressed, less energy, struggle with insomnia and food cravings. Therefore blood work can help you get a better understanding of your starting point. You may also be anxious because you are vitamin deficient and you find out that you can take magnesium for anxiety!
3. Take Care of YOU first. Being a mom, is extremely hard for me because my life is centered around helping and taking care of others, which I love! However, it can be draining when I am caring for everyone else and become hard for me to keep going when I am draining all my energy out. When I take the time to focus on myself and take care of myself for short periods and allow myself to rest, I can come back with a lot more resilience and strength. Resting, meditating, exercise, sleep and nutrition can all help me get back to being the best version of myself that I can be.
4. Go to Therapy. Unfortunately, we are not taught how to deal with emotions, and even if we are, we need reminders. As a therapist in training who has had many of her own therapy sessions, I can say they can be life-changing. However, this is only the case if you are truly honest about your struggles and fully open up. If you don’t admit that there is a problem, it won’t be easy to address it.
Imagine being able to silence that voice in your head that says you are not good enough or being able to snap, and your anxiety is gone. I’m not saying therapy is going to do all that 100%. BUT I will say that it can help you change your perspective to where things that once bothered you do not bother you anymore. You see that they are there, but they don’t trigger you. They exist, and you move on.
That is only one of the many powerful benefits of therapy is that you have a teacher and a coach cheering you on to find what works best for you. Their job is to help you come up with what works best for you, and you are involved in the whole process, rather than being left out of the decision-making for your health.
5. Have a Community Around You. Research shows that social isolation has negative effects on your health including increased feelings of aggression.
One of the many reasons that Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is successful is because those groups have individuals sharing their experiences and struggles and what worked for them. It helps individuals feel like they are not alone and that other people can relate to what they are going through, and they succeeded. It may not have been the first time, but they have living examples that things can get better.
This is helpful with grief; there are groups you can join to talk about your feelings and vent to others about how you feel. Instead of bottling everything up, sharing how you feel with others can actually give you relief even if they aren’t giving you advice.
Also, having friends or family around you that are there to hear you out and lift you can be very helpful to keep you going.
Combining these things is very powerful and more impactful in our overall lives than we realize.
We make decisions every day based on how we feel, and if we can improve how we feel, then we can improve our thoughts and behaviors.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would encourage health care providers to always resort to the least amount of side effects when it comes to helping individuals with their health. I get that in some cases, you have to do what you have to do, but many lifestyle changes can be made in many health conditions that help address the root cause rather than putting a bandaid on an issue and causing other problems from that treatment.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Dr. Josh & Chelsea Axe. Josh’s brother Jordan has an office in Tampa, but I would love to meet the rest of the Dr.Axe Family. I have been following Dr. Axe for a long time, and when I met his business partner Jordan Rubin, I felt like I had met a major celebrity. Even if he wasn’t as mega-famous to some people, he was famous in the industry I absolutely love.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I have a blog Https://holistic-momma.com, where I write about natural ways to cope with your mental health. You can also follow me on Facebook @Holistic Momma
My most recent article covers the differences between Serotonin Vs. Dopamine and how to know which one you need if you are feeling low or unhappy: https://holistic-momma.com/serotonin-vs-dopamine
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!