Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking The Stress Cycle with Amelia Nagoski

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia and Emily Nagoski is a book for every woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she has to do, and yet is still worried that she’s not doing enough (which basically describes every woman I know). 

As an ex-red wine girl, the first story of a woman experiencing burnout felt all too familiar. 

Amelia and Emily describe Julie, a middle school teacher whose “burnout had reached an intensity where merely the anticipation of the start of the first semester had activated a level of dread that left her reaching for the box of Chardonnay by 2pm”.

They note, “Nobody likes to think of their kids’ middle school teacher as burned out, embittered, and day-drinking, but she’s not alone.”

And Julie is not alone. If you’re reading this you know that so many women drink as a way to cope with overwhelm, stress or just not having enough time and energy to do things that relax us and bring us joy.  The irony is that instead of soothing stress and burnout, alcohol makes it all worse. 

The good news is that Amelia Nagoski, co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, came on this podcast to talk about how burnout presents in women and give us tools, strategies and practices we can use to overcome the stress cycle causing burnout. 

Amelia and Emily describe women as being conditioned to become “human givers” rather than “human beings”. 

They write…

Human givers must, at all times, be pretty, happy, calm, generous, and attentive to the needs of others, which means they must never be ugly, angry, upset, ambitious, or attentive to their own needs.

Human Giver Syndrome is the contagious belief that you have a moral obligation to give every drop of your humanity in support of others, no matter the cost to you. It thrives in the patriarchy, the way mold thrives in damp basements.

This book is not a “Girl, Wash Your Face” compilation of motivational tips and advice to prep your meals on the weekend, put out your exercise clothes the night before and get up an hour early.

Instead Burnout digs into the fact that “The problem is not that women don’t try. On the contrary, we’re trying all the time, to do and be all the things everyone demands from us”.

So tune into this episode to stop trying harder and instead learn how to take better care of yourself. 

Casey and Amelia dig into:

  • The causes of burnout and how to recognize a stress response
  • Causes of external stress (work, money, family, time, cultural norms, expectations, discrimination)
  • Causes of internal stress (self criticism, identity, body image, memories, the future)
  • How to move through emotional exhaustion
  • Why women suffer from Human Giver Syndrome (spoiler: it’s the patriarchy)
  • Ways to regulate your emotions
  • Why hugging for 30 seconds a day or kissing for 6 seconds can reduce your stress response
  • Why it’s important to soothe your body’s “stress response” even if the specific “stressor” causing the stress response has been handled

    Here are 3 ways I can help you drink less + live more

    Links Mentioned In this Episode

    Episode 76: Burnout – Signs, Symptoms and How To Recover

    Episode 116: Perimenopause, Burnout and Alcohol

    More About Amelia Nagoski

    Amelia Nagoski, D.M.A. (it stands for Doctorate of Musical Arts) is the co-author, with her sister Emily, of the New York Times bestselling book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience.

    She lives in New England with her husband, one cat, and two rescue dogs.

    Looking for information Amelia and Emily, head over to https://emilynagoski.bulletin.com/ 

    Purchase her book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle https://www.burnoutbook.net/ 

    Brené Brown’s interview with Emily and Amelia Nagoski on The Unlocking Us Podcast

    Connect with Casey

    Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

    Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


    The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

    Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.

    In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more. 

    Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life. 

    Be sure to grab the Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.

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    Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking The Stress Cycle with Amelia Nagoski


    women, burnout, stress, drinking, people, feel, stress response, cycle, numbing, book, life, body, human, patriarchy, happen, sleep, hippo, listening, givers, alcohol

    SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Amelia Nagoski


    Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

    In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

    Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

    I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

    Hi there. If you’re listening to this podcast, I’m betting you’ve been going back and forth for a while now on whether or not you should stop drinking. And I want you to raise your hand. If you’ve had any one of these thoughts.

    You might have been thinking, I’m not that bad. I actually don’t want to stop drinking completely. I just want to drink like a normal person. Or maybe you come home after work. And you think I know I shouldn’t drink tonight. But I literally can’t relax or have fun without it. It’s really common to say I’ve tried to take a break from drinking before. But it’s just too hard. I always give up anyway. So what’s the point in trying again? Or here’s one I hear all the time from women. Everyone I know drinks. If I stopped drinking, I will be bored. Or I’ll be boring. I’ll have no fun. I’ll never be invited anywhere. I’ll just sit home and be miserable. Or maybe you can insert whatever your reason is there.

    So is your hand up? If it is that is totally okay. And that’s because taking a break from drinking and changing your relationship with alcohol. This shit is hard.

    And that’s why I’m really pumped to invite you to my completely free 60 minute masterclass the five secrets to successfully take a break from drinking, even if you’ve tried and you failed in the past.

    After you take this free class, you’ll realize why what you’ve been doing up until now hasn’t been working, and what to do.

    Instead, we’re going to cover all the juicy topics, including what questions you need to stop asking yourself, because they’re setting you up for self sabotage, not for success. We’re going to talk about exactly what you need to do differently. So you can stop the exhausting cycle of stopping drinking and then saying screw it, and starting again.

    And we’re going to talk about the real reasons you haven’t been successful. And I’m betting they’re not what you think they are. And this isn’t surface level stuff. I am handing over the strategies and the mindset shifts I go through every day with my private coaching clients. If you’re listening to this podcast, I really encourage you to take a moment and sign up for this completely free masterclass. It will help you on your journey to drink class and live more to feeling better. So if you want to save your spot, go to hellosomedaycoaching.com/class while the class is still available, and I really hope to see you there.

    Hi there. I am so excited about this episode, because we are talking about burnout and specifically burnout among women. 


    My guest is Amelia Nagoski DMA. It stands for Doctorate of Musical Arts. And she’s the co-author with her sister, Emily of The New York Times best selling book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. 


    Her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience. She lives in New England with her husband, one cat, and two rescue dogs. And when I reached out to Amelia to ask if she would be willing to be on this podcast, I was thrilled when she said yes, because as I read this book, I was like, Oh my God, everything she and her sister is saying is exactly what I know I experienced and what so many women listening to this podcast experience. So Amelia, thank you so much for being here. It’s my pleasure. So can you tell me a little bit about why you and your sister wrote this book, or were interested in it in the first place?



    Sure. It started with my sister’s first book, which is called Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life. It’s a book about the science of women’s sexuality. And after that book was published, she was touring the world talking to women all over the place, about the science of women’s sexuality. And they’d come up to her after the talks. And they kept saying over and over again, Oh, yeah, well, that sex science is great. Thanks for that. But you know, the, the one part of the chapter that really stuck with me was the stuff about emotions and feelings and processing your stress, which Emily put in there, because it turns out the number one best predictor of a woman’s sexual well being is her overall well being. So but it was just this tiny portion that she put in there. And she was so surprised. 


    So she came back from talking to all these women and she told me they really liked just that one chapter about feelings and stress. And I reminded her of the time I was in my doctoral program, because I was getting a Doctor of Musical Arts, and had already gotten a master’s in music at a conservatory. And that meant that for the purposes of being on stage, I was learning that stuff, how to process and feel my feelings in order to perform those feelings for an audience. But I did not learn how to process my stress and feel my feelings all day, every day, I had never learned to apply that to my real life. And when I did learn the same skills that I learned for stage, the skills that Emily had put in her book, it saved my life, twice. And Emily said, we should write a book about that. So we did, we wrote the book that I needed when I was at the most stressed point of my life.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  07:27

    That’s amazing. And in the first sentence of the book you write, this book is for any woman who has felt overwhelmed and exhausted by everything she has to do, and yet is still worried that she’s not doing enough. And that literally is every woman I know.



    Yeah, yeah, that’s actually our complete definition of burnout. Also, people wonder, what is burnout? Am I burned out? Do I qualify? That feeling of being overwhelmed and exhausted? And yet, you know, thinking I still have to do more. That that is, that’s a telltale sign of burnout, especially among women. And yeah, it is. Every woman we know has felt that way at some point in their life. And a lot of us are feeling it out. Because you know, the big old panini.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  08:16

    Yes. And I know I felt that way, especially when I was working in corporate, because you have so many different things pulling on you. And you know, you get the pressure to climb up the corporate ladder, your boss needs things for you, your colleagues need things from you. There are deadlines and business trips. And yet a lot of women who listen to this are also parents of younger kids, have teenage kids, and have spouses in homes and mortgages, and it just feels overwhelming. And a lot of them are like, shouldn’t I be happier than I am now? 


    Yeah, the root cause of all burnout, whether it’s professional burnout, parental burnout, social justice burnout, caregiver burnout, teacher burnout, all kinds of burnout happened from one single kind of friction. And that is, the difference between who you are, and who that situation needs you to be or expects you to be. So as a parent, you’re always you know, the calm in control, ready and prepared one, you’re always the one who’s sacrificing your own well being for those of others at work, you’re somebody’s assistant, and then you’re somebody else’s boss. So you’re protecting some people and giving orders to some people but at the same time, you’re you know, helping give to someone else along the way and you’re always in this middle and you can’t be all those things all the time. You need to be you sometimes. 


    We also have another definition besides burnout is what is the opposite, which is wellness. And a lot of people think I just want to be well as if it’s like a state that you achieve a final, you know, success point No. Wellness isn’t Not a state of being or a state of mind. Wellness is a state of action. Wellness is the freedom to oscillate through all the cycles of being human. So if you are stuck always being what someone else needs you to be, that stuckness is where burnout starts.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  10:18

    Well in for so many women, you don’t even know what the other person wants you to be. A lot of it is what we have been conditioned to believe that they might want.



    Yes, a lot of us have not had the opportunity or the luxury of being able to question the default instructions we’ve been given about how to specifically be a woman in the world. Because the instructions on how to be a woman in the world are unachievable goals, self contradictory, and unceasing, unstopping demands that you can, no matter how constantly you work, you will never ever fulfill them. That set of goals is laid before us from the moment we enter middle school just about, and very few of us have the luxury or the resources to escape from it. 




    Casey McGuire Davidson  11:13

    I loved your description in the book, and I hadn’t heard this before. But once I heard it, I couldn’t forget it. You talked about human giver syndrome. And you described it as human givers must at all times, be pretty happy, calm, generous and attentive to the needs of others. Which means they must never be ugly, angry, upset, ambitious, or attentive to their own needs.



    Right? Yeah, they, they’re not even allowed to believe that they deserve to have their own needs cared for. Yeah, they have a moral obligation to give of themselves, always. And it’s not inherently dangerous to be a giver. A lot of us will recognize that yes, we give to our families we give to our coworkers, we want to be people who are there for others we want to provide. And that is the normal natural human state that is wonderful. That’s how you build a society where nobody slips through the cracks because everyone feels a moral obligation to care for each other. Yeah, being a human giver only becomes a syndrome in a system, where there are not just givers. 


    But also, we adapted this language from a book called down girl the logic of misogyny by a moral philosopher named caveman. And in this book, she posits a world where there are the human givers, just like we know that we aspire to be giving to everyone. But then there are also a group she calls human beings who have a moral obligation not to give, but an obligation to be their humanity to live it and express it, and acquire whatever resources are necessary in order to achieve what the society is telling them to achieve. And that is also dangerous for them because we’re relegated, oh, by the way, just want to make clear that in the dynamic of human beings versus human givers in a book called Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, we can probably guess which one the women are.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  13:15

    Yeah, well, and you say that the human giver syndrome thrives in the patriarchy. Tell me about that.



    When approximately half the population is being told that they have a moral entitlement to the time lives and bodies of the other half of the population, and that other half of the population is being told they have a moral obligation to give their time, their lives, their bodies, that they owe it to the human beings to support their progress and go and growth. That’s, that’s a perfect recipe for how to burn out half the population. Now, this doesn’t just happen along the intersection of gender dynamics, although in a patriarchy that’s where it’s, that’s what they’re talking about in that particular book, too. But this also happens in dynamics according to race. So even a white woman who is oppressed by the patriarchy is going to find herself feeling entitled to the timelines and bodies of the people of color around her, not because she’s, you know, a member of the KKK. She’s not intentionally being, you know, a racist bitch. She has been told suggested all her life that this is her entitlement, and she may not even have questioned it, and when would she have time to question it right while she’s busy fighting off the oppressive maleness and so she’s stuck in the middle and so then she becomes the human being relative to people around her and this happens at all intersections the cis folks do it to trans folks, straight folks do it to gay folks, in America Christians do it to non Christians, able bodied people do it to non able bodied people, mentally healthy people and mentally ill people, like it happens at every intersection. 


    And there are so many of those that literally zero people on the planet conform to the absolute peak ideal, where they’re in a position of power all the time. And nobody really exists at the peak, bottom of that pool would not nobody has all oppressive traits all of us have some kind of power, even if it’s just that we’re, you know, Christian and cisgender. No matter how many other intersections you’re sitting at, you’ve got some form of power in those things. For example, poverty is also an anyway, my point is that we can all be givers, sometimes we can all be human beings sometimes. And it’s, it can feel hurtful to recognize when you have done a thing that’s, you know, expresses that you feel a sense of entitlement over someone else. But that’s where self compassion comes in. And


    Casey McGuire Davidson  14:57

    Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, the sobriety starter kit.

    The sobriety starter kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.

    This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

    You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 


    No, I love it. I love it. No. And I noticed. I mean, all of this a lot of times is even unconscious. Because I live in Seattle, which is a very progressive city, and where in the community I live in a lot of them are dual income families, meaning most of the women work. And yet, I noticed you know, I actually prided myself on well, people may judge me and we’ll talk later about women judging other women but I, my son’s 14 and I literally had never volunteered for a school field trip or our dose in or whatever. And I kind of prided myself on that, which sounds terrible. But I was just like, I can’t like, I work. I support my kids. I do all the things like I can’t take off work once a week to be an art docent, but I did feel very guilty about it. And I finally did more out and guilty at the same time right now. That’s the patriarchy. 


    Casey McGuire Davidson  19:04

    Yeah, totally. And I finally actually did with my daughter, she’s eight, do my very first field trip. And it was mostly because I adore her teacher. We’re like friends, we text her on Instagram together. She asked me once, I couldn’t do it. She asked me twice. So I went through the whole like, you know, background check and COVID Check. And I was just like, wow, this is a first. Other women do it constantly and have done it for years. But I went on the field trip. And there were four volunteers, all women, all working women. And I was just like, why are the men here? Why didn’t you know? And I actually asked the teacher because we’re friends and I love her and I said, Did you ask any men to be field trip volunteers and she’s like, You know what, actually, I didn’t because women are most of the ones who answer my emails, who are always there for the conferences, and the men come in a little bit late, you know what I mean? I wanted to chat in the beginning.



    Yeah, this is an unfortunate expectation of the patriarchy and of like, being a human being and this obligation to express and live and be your humanity, that definition of your humanity is very limited. So while women are encouraged to be givers to be caretakers to attend to the needs of others, a masculine ideal has nothing to do with tenderness or care. And it denies men who are fully human, who fully are capable, and need connection and love. It denies them access to that part of their life to, you know, the kind of connection with their kids that men sometimes find awkward just because the world thinks it’s awkward for men to be nurturing. It’s really, it’s really unfortunate. Although they also kind of believe that it’s a power that they have, like, I don’t have to do that, because I’m man. And so I get out and look, this is like a black and white cartoon version. And exaggeration. Of course, we all know men, who are, you know, listeners who give, who attend to the needs of others. So and, and we all ourselves, women, we also sometimes can be, you know, feel entitled. So um, this is not yet as much more nuanced. You


    Casey McGuire Davidson  21:28

    had men who are the primary caregiver and do do more. I mean, this is, I think this is looking at society as a whole and the majority of the way, the vast majority, one broadly Yeah, and really, yeah. And one thing you talked about that I thought was interesting, too, is the way that women reinforced this for each other. And you said something about, like, the feeling, and I might get this wrong. So please, correct me. The feeling from other women who are if someone doesn’t do that, they’re like, follow the rules, behave yourself. Why did she get to not do all the shit that I’m doing?



    Yeah, how dare she? How dare she advocate for herself, and believe that she deserves resources in time when I am apparently required to give of myself always. How dare she?


    Casey McGuire Davidson  22:27

    Why does she not volunteer for the ice cream? Social and the PTA? What the fuck, right?



    Yeah. How dare she choose what her priorities are? When the world is completely ready to tell her what priorities she should have? How dare she choose her own? I wanted to choose my own and I wasn’t allowed to. So how dare she? That’s when human giver syndrome becomes a syndrome. It’s because you believe that not only is this your moral obligation, that it’s everyone else’s moral obligation, and that anyone who violates this moral expectation to be at all times, pretty happy, calm, generous and attentive to the needs of others, deserves to be punished. And if there’s no one around if we seem to violate our obligation as human givers, if there’s no one around to punish us, we’ll do it ourselves. 


    Yeah, a lot of times, other human givers and human giver syndrome will punish us. We give an example in the book, I think of a conversation between two coworkers. One says to the other. Wow, I got nine hours of sleep last night and I feel amazing. And the other one says, I’ll give you two choices. Here’s the first choice. She says nine hours that’s amazing. I only spent four hours sleeping because I stayed up so late making cupcakes for Becky’s birthday party but, man, I’m so exhausted now. But good for you. I’m so glad you got nine hours. That’s option one. Here’s option 2: 9 hours. Hmm, good for you. Self care is so important. I mean, I was up till four baking cookies for Becky’s birthday party. But self care is so important. So, so good for you. Yeah, it must be nice. Like, it must be nice. 


    And it’s just like competition, as though being overwhelmed and exhausted is a competition where a winner is the one who, I mean, dies at the finish line. I don’t know what the winner is going to be. Or, obviously it doesn’t make any sense. Because that’s not how human beings thrive. Yeah, thrive in a cooperative. 


    So we’ve been talking about the problems over and over again, I do just want to insert real quick to make sure that people know that there are solutions. Yes, there’s a cure for this human giver syndrome and burnout in general. And


    Casey McGuire Davidson  24:41

    Let’s talk about that. Right. I think every woman feels this and is like yep, that’s how I feel. So talk to us about the solutions.



    Yeah. Big picture. TLDR is the cure for burnout is not self care. We’re going to talk about some self care things. We are, it’s true. But the cure for burnout cannot be self care for all the reasons we just talked about that nine hours asleep will definitely help you manage your stress. Until you know, Jane at work is all snarky to you about it. And now it’s initiated more stress for you. So unless we live in a community where we all support each other’s ability to access the care and time and resources, and sleep that we need, we’re always going to live in a world that burns each other out. 


    So the cure for burnout is all of us caring for each other. That day is not here, we do not have that world. In the meantime, the first thing you want to do, if you’re feeling stressed out, is remember that stress is a cycle that happens in your body. It’s not in your imagination, you’re not like emotions aren’t some thing that exists sort of as, as platonic ideals or anything like emotions are cycles that happen in your body. They are the release of neuro chemicals, neurotransmitters, hormones, that change the systems in your body, like digestion and respiration and circulation. These literal changes that happen in your body are controlled subconsciously by an ancient system that evolved way in the beginning before humans even began to exist, way in our ancient mammalian history, in the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness. 


    The stress response evolved so that when some little proto person is going about their daily business, and here comes a big scary hippo, oh, my God, it’s running at me that’s like, weighs two tons. And it’s adorable, but it’s Oh, my God, how can something so big be so fast, and it’s coming right at me, what happens in that moment is that your brain knows you need to survive, and that there are only two choices, fight or flight. That’s a lie, there are more than two choices, and your body will choose some of the other choices. But let’s just keep it simple right now, okay? Fight or flight, these are things that are going to be choices that will save your life. And for both of them, you need more oxygen to your muscles, so that your muscles can function to either fight or flee. 


    Let’s assume in this case, you’re going to flee. So one of the systems that’s affected is your respiratory system, you will notice probably consciously, your breathing getting deeper to get more oxygen in there, you’ll notice your circulatory system changing where your heart is pumping harder to get that oxygen to all the muscles in your body. Right now it all works together, you might notice your digestive system being affected, it might evacuate some things, it’ll definitely slow down and shut down things from happening the way they’re supposed to happen. But also, systems below the level of your conscious awareness are also doing things. There’s a certain hormone that’s in, among other things, response to your skin, your hair follicles, your oil glands. So you may well feel that the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. And that same hormone is participating in, you know, releasing oil from your plans. And has anybody get acne when they’re stressed out? Because your body’s doing this in response to stress. It’s one of the things Oh, also your immune system takes a backseat. It goes, who cares about malaria when we’re about to be shocked by this hippo? Right? Like and your reproductive system who cares about babies when hippo right urgent primary priorities. 


    So this is the state you’re in with all your bodily systems functioning, not the way they’re ordinarily supposed to. And so that gets you ready just to do one thing, which is you run, you leap, you jump, you climb, you crawl to the crevice in the rock, and you look out and you made it. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, the hippo, the hippo decided at one and it walked away and it’s doing its proud march away from you and you believe you escaped. All that running and jumping and climbing and now you feel powerful and ready for anything. You want to go home and jump up and down in a hug your loved ones, the sky shines brighter. You want to make up the story for this and set it to music and sing a song about it around the campfire. That is the complete stress response cycle. You used up all of the electrochemical electrical signals and neuro chemicals that your body



    acts, you know, released into your whole systems, all of your systems, and you use that in order to deal with the thing that caused or initiated that stress response cycle. You went through the whole chemical thing, and that is the stress response cycle. 


    When we say a lot in the book, it’s even in the subtitle about the stress cycle. It is that initiation of a stress response in your body. and using those neural transmitters using those electrical signals up because if you don’t like let’s say, Here comes that hippo. And then it gets struck by lightning. Hippo’s down, hippo is not a threat anymore. Do you see all of a sudden instantly go like, Okay, I’m safe now? Or do you like stay tense? And you’re like, What just happened is the how do I, and you’ll feel left hanging. And that sense of like, incomplete thing is how that might happen in natural circumstances. 


    But how it happens today is that we notice a threat to our well being, like, say, there’s legislation that will make it so that women don’t have legal bodily autonomy. It’s a law that’s threatening you, not something with, you know, teeth and claws that can run 30 miles an hour. It’s a law, but your body doesn’t speak that language. So in order to make you safe, you need to have law change. And what does that require? It requires, you know, being active in politics in your neighborhood, and getting people elected and passing votes and staging protests. And your body doesn’t know about paperwork, and voting, your body doesn’t know that that is helping make you safe. All I knows is fight and flight, and freeze and fawn, but I’m not talking about those. 


    And so because you might, I’m using this, I’m imagining in this example, actually, in Ireland, just a few years ago, there was, they put it to referendum. So the population of the country was allowed to vote whether to make abortion legal, whether to create safety for women’s bodies or not, whether to give them access to health care or not, was presented as a referendum on the populace so that everyone in the country got to decide what women were allowed to do. I’m sorry, this makes me really angry, because like they put it to a referendum who has human rights, and oh, my god, so the law passed. But there’s a strong majority of people in Ireland said, Yes, women deserve access to healthcare. Yes, women deserve bodily autonomy. And activists who were in charge of, you know, making that movement happen, thought that they would feel elated and excited. And like, so happy when it was over. Nope, nope, each one of them got cold, got a cold, like, came down with the flu, or just like, laid in bed and cried for three days, because they had dealt with the stress or the thing that was making them unsafe, they dealt with it by knocking on doors, and doing TV interviews and talking on the radio, and, you know, writing articles, and those are not fight or flight, they never got to use up all those, you know, neurotransmitters in their body that had been released due to the stress response, because their bodies were under threat. So what they needed to do was, you know, all the things that you do to complete the stress response cycle, oh, which I haven’t even started talking about yet. 


    Okay. So what do you do, we need to separate dealing with the stress in our bodies, from dealing with the thing that caused our stress. So dealing with a thing that caused your stress probably involves paperwork, and being polite to people and standing in line and waiting your turn. And that is correct. That is how society needs you to be, that’s fine. It just means that the actual physical stuff in your body that gets released as part of the stress response, has nowhere to go. So you need to deal with the stress in your body. And the number one most efficient way to do that, for most people, is physical activity. Because when the hippo was coming in, what do you do? You run when your bodily autonomy is at risk? What do you do? You run and your body knows, is reminded in its ancient evolutionary heritage, that Oh, yes, this, I am capable of moving my body from danger to safety.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  33:59

    And that like releases that physiological, physical build up of the fight or flight.



    Yeah, where these chemicals, if you don’t use them, and you get stuck in the middle of that cycle, and you never complete that cycle. They get stuck in your body, cross chronic pain, chronic inflammation, chronic tightness. Other things happen too like, say you know how your heart was beating really hard to get that blood to your muscles. Your blood vessels are intended to handle a gently flowing stream. And once in a while when the hippo is coming, it gets a fire hose in order to get all that oxygen to those muscles. And if that’s fine once in a while, assuming that you get a chance to complete that cycle and go back to your normal state with your, you know, blood pressure back to normal. But if you keep having stressors over and over and over again, even if they’re just little mild ones, your heart’s still getting that jolt and pushing that blood a little bit harder. And that’s how your blood vessels get damaged. And those places of damage are where the plaques build up. And that is how stress can lead to a heart attack. 


    Yeah, same thing, if you are chronically stressed, and you’re trying to get pregnant, if you are under chronic stress, the stress response includes getting your reproductive system out of the wick, is your reproductive system takes a lot of energy. So when it is not the priority, it shuts down and gets out of the way. So when you come back to a place where your body knows that it’s safe, your reproductive systems, like all right back online, here we go. But if your feet facing chronic stress, it can be really hard for women facing chronic chronic stress to get pregnant,


    Casey McGuire Davidson  35:43

    when a lot of us sort of live in that chronic state of anxiety, flooding, just, you know, hypervigilance, like we never let it go. And I know for a lot of the women who listened to it, what they do is they live that way, with their nervous system on high alert. And then they come home, and they drink a bottle of wine to shut down they, and then they wake up with that anxiety again, and they do it all over again.



    Yeah, so let’s talk about numbing for a second. Because that’s really what drinking accomplishes. What alcohol does, and a lot of kinds of drugs, is they numb. Sodas, ice cream, potato chips, and you know, Netflix. So numbing is a part of the healing process. If you cut your big gash in your leg, right, you go to the emergency room, there are things they have to do, like clean it out, sew it up, cover it, you know, make sure it’s answered. But the first thing they’re gonna do, they’re gonna numb that pain, to make it easier for you to tolerate it. And also, because the pain itself causes stress, and will slow the healing. So numbing is a necessary part of the healing process. But if all they did was, you know, give you some lidocaine and send you home, you’d still have a big bleeding gash in your leg, right? So numbing is a step that has to be taken along with all of the other ones. Emily and I are not anti numbing, we’re not going to shame people for numbing. Like if you need to, you know, sit in front of the TV and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s using a potato chip as a scoop, in order to get by your day. You do what you got to do. But then also do the rest of the things like completing the stress response cycle in any of the ways that are effective for you. Does that make sense?


    Casey McGuire Davidson  37:34

    It totally makes sense. And exercise I know and getting your heart rate up can be the best way. It’s the most effective; it is the most precise way to describe it.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  37:48

    Yeah, I mean, one of my challenges, I used to always do that. And then a year and a half ago, I had a ton of pain and realized I have a torn and detached hip labrum. And so for the past year and a half, I haven’t been able to run, jump, bike, any of that, and it’s so hard, right? Not everyone, quote unquote, can give. Not everyone can, not everyone has access. And not everyone responds as efficiently as the majority. Look, most people are exercisers and they’re already there. Listen to this. And they already know. They already know. Yeah, go for that run. I come back. I just feel ready for anything. And I take over the world and the sun shines so bright, like those people already know who they are. If you are someone who has exercised in your life, and you never felt that Hello, welcome to my world. My identical twin sister who was raised in the same house with me, she’s a natural exerciser, she had those stories about feeling one with the clouds and stuff when she was going for a bike ride. And I had never experienced that I thought she was making it up. I didn’t think it was real. But apparently it is real for other people, not for me. I’ve always been on that. Yes, didn’t know it has never, it has never done it for me. 


    But the good news is there are so many other ways to complete the stress response cycle. So whether you are physically incapable of some kinds of exercise, or there are logistical reasons why you can’t go outside and go for a walk because then some dudes gonna can’t call you and then the source of stress management has now become a source of the initiation or know their stress response cycle, right? So if you’re trans and you dare to go to a gym and use the locker room, you could be taking your life in your hands. So there are lots of reasons why exercise can help manage your stress. It’s just not that simple. Not even close. 


    Let’s talk about some other things that complete the stress response cycle. The next is sleep. When you are in REM sleep, your dreams practice things from the past, either specific tasks you did that day, or things you’ve learned or emotions you’ve got stuck and remember that emotions or cycles that happen in your body. Those cameras littles get process through and you feel those feelings and your heart races and you sweat and all those things happen. And that can complete old leftover stress response cycles that you didn’t even remember experiencing, right? Your eighth grade bullies and you’re dreaming about that, you know, in your 50s, because that’s still in there and needs to get processed. And your dreams can do that, in addition to all the other many reasons why sleep is the best thing for you. And let me just say right here that if you take none of the advice from this podcast, let it just be one thing and let it be getting more sleep, higher quality sleep, if you’re sleeping less than nine hours of sleep, and you are tired, you need more sleep. If you’re sleeping less than nine hours a night, and you’re tired. Probably the problem is you need more


    Casey McGuire Davidson  40:47

    sleep. Yeah. And one thing I wanted to jump in here is because a lot of the women who listened to this, either drunk or sober, curious or trying to stop drinking, we think drinking lets us relax and puts us to sleep. It literally is the worst possible thing you can do for your sleep. And I actually, before this episode comes out, I did an entire episode on sleep, insomnia, and, you know, alcohol and how that impacts it. So I’ll link that in the show notes.



    Yeah, it’s deceptive because you feel tired and sleepy. And you might like pass out and go to sleep kind of fast. But you’re just going to wake up in the middle of night, right? Yeah. Alcohol is not going to help with your sleep.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  41:34

    No, and we think we think it will. And most women if you’ve been drinking, often or nightly, like I did, you probably have not had a good night of sleep in years and years and years. 


    Yeah, that’s true. So you talked about exercise, getting your heart rate up. You talked about sleep, anything else that can help?



    Oh, yes, oh, my God, so many things. One is imagination, which I do want to talk about specifically in the context of comparing it to numbing. Because if you read a book that makes you feel like so excited, and the hero accomplishes it, and you’re, you can’t get enough of it, you just want to read another one or you play a video game that has you standing up and sharing with your friends and you’re, you know, you’re screaming and your heart is racing. Or you watch a movie with like a crowd of other fans, and you’re all, you all walk out of there like talking too loud about how amazing that was. Those kinds of entertainment stories, they’re leading your imagination through a series probably of stress response cycles, where you know, there’s tension, and then there’s, you know, resolution and there’s, there’s work, and then there’s relaxation, that’s your body’s actually experiencing those things. They happen in the entertainment, but your body experiences them. I mean, we call it vicariously but it’s actually happening. Because of empathy, our bodies actually go through the same thing that the hero goes through. 


    So if you can engage your imagination and stuff like that, that can also move you through stress response cycles, without you even thinking about what your stressors were, it doesn’t matter because your body just needs to move through the emotional cycle. This is as opposed to watching TV for numbing. So like, exciting adventure show, potentially moving you through the stress response cycle. Great British Bake Off, not moving us through the stress response cycle just numbing? No, I’m saying do it.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  43:37

    My husband uses the Great British Bake Off after everyone else goes to sleep as his leg lalala which cracks me up I come down and I’m like, What do you watch? And he’s like, It calms. 


    Yeah, absolutely.



    Great British Bake Off is basically equivalent to a glass of wine as far as I’m concerned.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  43:55

    Yeah. But it doesn’t complete this cycle.



    No, exactly. It is a coping strategy that numbs; it is not completing the stress response cycle. So we’ve got physical activity, which honestly physical activity could just be dancing out to Beyonce in your kitchen. Yeah. Or jumping up and down in your driveway. Or, you know, laying in bed and tensing all of your muscles from your head to shoulders down your torso, your arms, your fingers, your thighs, your shin, your abs and your feet and your toes. You tighten every muscle as you are and you imagine like squeezing all of your rage out just like salad dressing on to the patriarchy. Yeah, take this patriarchy and then you want to let it go but then you release it. Even just that will remind your body that it is capable of moving you from danger to safety.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  44:50

    So you don’t just get frozen in that heightened nervous system place and there that’s when you get the chronic pain implant. mayshen physical breakdown, is that right?



    Yeah, because stress and all other motions are physiological cycles that happen in your body. Burnout happens when we get stuck. Burnout is the opposite of wellness, where wellness is the freedom to oscillate through all the cycles of being human, or not as being stuck. Any number of tunnels or middlemen said that stress is not necessarily negative, it is getting stuck in stress that is so harmful.



    There is no such thing as achieving a life with no stress that to experience no stress would be or wouldn’t be a human life. We are designed to experience stress and to experience relaxation. We are designed to wake and then to sleep, we are designed to work and then to play we are designed to oscillate from all the extremes of one state to another. We’re not meant to be in any one state from connection to autonomy, we’re not supposed to be stuck in any one state. Yeah, do you want more things like complete destruction, please, okay. 


    There’s a creative self expression, which is like an extension of the imagination, where even if you’re not intentionally consciously, like, you know, if you’re gonna go out and chop wood, for example, you don’t have to be thinking about like chopping the heads off the patriarchy in order to like, benefit from that, you know, physical activity as a source of stress management, if you just go through the action, even that is good enough. But if you engage your imagination, also, that’s like a second level that can help you if that’s the kind of thing that helps you. None of these strategies will work for everyone. But all of these strategies will work for someone. 


    Okay, so creative self expression, like I was saying is an extension of imagination, where you take whatever is stressing you out and you do a thing, you make a thing. It might be cooking, or carving, or whittling or woodworking of any other kind, or knitting or sewing or baking, or sculpting or painting or singing or doing theater, anything that has to do with taking something the energy that’s inside you, and focusing it outward into a thing so that you make that thing out of your own energy, that thing that you made is made of you. And it takes the stuff that was causing you pain, and it puts it outside of you someplace safe.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  47:29

    When I’ve heard of clients who I’ve worked with, I mean, some of them get really into running and some of them get really into yoga, but also painting but also joining a singing group when they sing in high school and having done it in 25 years. Can I advocate for group singing? 


    Yes, very excellent. Okay. There’s a specific reason though. I’ll tell you real quick though that another thing that completes his response cycle is affection. Even just a friendly interaction with your barista, hi, I like a vanilla chai latte. I like your earrings. Oh, hey, here’s your vanilla chai latte. Thank you very much, have a good day. Even just that is enough to remind your body that it’s safe. But we all know that like having a really stress reducing conversation, or just somebody who’s going to be there or hug us when things are hard. We all know already. That that is something that will soothe us and make us feel better. 


    So here’s, I’m gonna go back to singing now. Because there is a magic trick. All these things I’ve been talking about that complete the stress response cycle, and how even hinting that maybe you can combine them or layer them. The magic trick is the combination of movement, in connection with others, toward a shared goal movement, in connection with others toward a shared goal. So in singing, it’s very physical, it’s very kinesthetic, it involves your breathing and your, you know, all your mouth does, it involves your imagination too, but you do it. I mean, the most effective way to use it as stress management is to do it in the same room with other people. And you do it toward a shared cause. Let’s make this sound, how we want it to sound, let’s make it express what we want to make it express and that is singing. 


    Also things like horseback riding. It’s also, you know, physical activity. It’s also mindfulness. It’s also connection with an animal, and connection with an animal or nature or the divine or your own inner child are always to connect that will serve you the same kind of warmth and comfort and reassurance as some people might have with humans. Not everybody is going to, is going to get the same benefit from humans because you know, always have a different history with humans, or like cuddling your dog or walking with your dog 100% or cats. I have cats. I know. I mean, I am not a good singer. But I play guitar every once in a while. And I know that for some reason every time I play guitar and sing, especially two I hear them all from Old Crow Medicine Show. I’m in tears like it’s just amazing. It opens a tap to let the feelings out. 


    Yeah, that’s the process of using creative self expression to like, move through old emotions that haven’t completed their cycle. That’s exactly, that’s a perfect illustration. That’s exactly right. And it is important that you not be good at it. That’s well, really. Yeah. I mean, probably, I think that if you as, as a professional musician myself, I know that all my friends were musicians bought into music, because that it made us feel that way that you just described where it just like, touched something in us and made us feel a new way. When the thing that feeds your soul starts to put food on your table, your relationship with it changes. So when you get good at it, or you turn it into a side hustle, and now you’re doing it for someone else’s standards for someone else’s reasons or just to pay the bills, it’s not going to be as effective. So I recommend doing anything that you can’t turn into another side hustle. 


    Yeah, I keep referring to horseback riding, because that’s my thing. Because I’m terrible at it. I’m so bad at it. Last time I wrote, I literally just fell off and had to cut the lesson short, because I was so impressed. But do something you can turn into a side hustle, do something where you only do it for the joy of the process of making, or the product, or the end result is not really the goal, or the doing is the pleasurable part.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  51:24

    All right, I want to tell my clients that when they’re like, I couldn’t do this, but I’ll be terrible. I’ll be like, that’s even perfect. That’s even better. You said something about releasing stuck or old emotions. And I know when I was quitting drinking after that, and also for other women, I know EMDR in therapy has been really helpful. And that sounds very similar, right? Going back and processing those old emotions from childhood or previous trauma, and bringing them out in a safe space with someone else.



    Um, yeah, there are other therapies that like go between mental and physical and connection with others. I mean, even CBT normal talk therapy is, I mean, you’re talking to another person, and you’re, you know, getting out all of these thoughts and feelings that can sometimes just be all you need. But yeah, one of the reasons we numb through drinking or whatever else, is not because of external stressors, but stress can also come from the inside, can come from a trauma history, it can come from difficult memories, can come from our own sense of insecurity. And rather than feeling those feelings or thinking of those memories, we do what we have to to shut them off. Yeah, and to shut them up. And the problem with that, of course, is that they don’t go away like that eighth grade bully. gonna still be in there. Yeah, so you need to like, let it, let it go. Let it go. But it’s not as easy as just let it go. You need to like, find a way to let it out that your body recognizes either from singing or dancing or writing or sleeping or whatever works for you hugging, you know, there’s all these different ways. Also a big old laugh. So if you and a friend just totally, like lose it, like at an inappropriate time, where you just can’t stop laughing. That’s my favorite. I’ve gotten kicked out of a quiet meditation and a spa room because I cannot sit with my best friend for what I was 15 without being unable to stop giggling. It takes over when you’re not supposed to. 





    yes. But that can be. I mean, it’s physically exhausting, right? You, you get out of it. You’re painting it out of breath and kind of crying a little, and your abdomen is sore from all those contractions. Like that’s, that can move you through a stress response cycle. Same with a big old cry. Yeah, I used to believe that crying doesn’t solve everything. That’s what I thought. So there was no point in crying. You know, it’s true. There’s very little actual problems, the things that cause our stress can’t be solved with crying, but boy will crying move you through the stress response cycle.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  54:04

    Yeah. And one thing in the book because I’m a huge fan of the Gottman Research Institute, it talks about a six second kiss and a 20 second hug and I actually told my husband about it. And I was like, Alright, we gotta try this before my interview. So we’ve been doing it for like a week. I like it a lot. The question was six second kiss. Are you allowed to like Smoocher? Does it have to be like totally unique?



    Oh, like, do you just do it? Like old school? We’re just like,


    Casey McGuire Davidson  54:39

    yeah. Are you allowed to link multiple voices within six seconds or doesn’t matter?



    I think the idea is to do whatever comes naturally. Alright, that kiss that feels like we are kissing.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  54:51

    Okay, cuz you’re not supposed to break it. No, don’t overthink this dude.



    Yeah, it’s not about the choreography, like kissing so much as it is about the connection that happens between you and your partner, when you like, instead of doing the mindless, I love you like, which is I guess and a true statement, but you don’t like, feel it deep down. I think the feeling that should go into the second kiss is one of I love you. Here’s six seconds of loving you.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  55:24

    Yeah, yes. And for 20 seconds of hugging, where you’re not sort of leaning in and leaning, leaning out, we started trying that. And I actually do think it’s better based on like how busy we are, even in a short period of time. And you know, if you feel pressure to, like, have sex, and by the way, I totally want to interview your sister. So we’ll see if I can ask her to talk about Come as You Are. But, you know, I know a lot of women are like, Oh, if I’m affectionate, you know, then my partner’s gonna think this has to lead to something. I don’t feel like that right now. If you sort of set it up as, hey, we’re going to do this 20 second hug or the six second kiss every day. It’s not necessarily a signal to like, let’s get it on.



    Yeah. And that can be solved. I hope in a conversation like, yeah, if your husband feels entitled to sex, just because you kissed him. That’s a whole separate conversation.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  56:18

    Yeah. And you have to turn them down and then feel guilty that you hurt their feelings. And all right, like that’s a separate conversation Emily has. So Emily’s new book is called Come Together. And it’s about those kinds of conversations. So look forward to that. In 2023.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  56:34

    I’m excited about that. 


    Yeah. So I’m not really qualified to talk to you. But I know that she’ll say, you know, talk about it openly and honestly. Just you know, here’s this thing I read about stress and six second kissing and hugging, let’s kiss for six seconds, because I think it might help. And no, this is not going to lead to sex. Yeah, probably. I mean, it might. But like, that’s not my intention. And I’m sure sex also helps deal with the stress response.



    I mean, depends on the stress on the sex. Yeah. Yeah. So and again, that’s in her book, too, is like nice, the kind of sex that’s like extraordinary sex, which is where you’re both in it for each other, and to pay attention to the moment. These are things that make like truly magnificent sex. So she’s gonna talk about that in the book. And again, I’m not really qualified to talk about all the details. But yeah, romantic connection, friendly connection, passing acquaintance connection, all of it is valid and contributes to your body’s awareness that the world is a safe place.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  57:36

    Yeah, I know, I always feel better when I’m like, talking, you mentioned the barista and being like, oh, gosh, I love your earrings, or, you know, just the little, you know, conversations that go day to day.



    Some of us hate that stuff. Some of us, I mean, me, hate that. I’m also autistic. So like, I do not like social interaction. It’s incredibly hard for me. But there is research that shows that if we go out of our way, even to do the thing, even if we’re uncomfortable with it, it’s still going to make our day better. Because sometimes you do things that in the moment, you’re like me one, but then it makes your day better. So you’re like, Alright, I’m glad I did that.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  58:18

    One thing I had to bring up and I want you to talk us through is in the very first chapter of this book, in chapter one, you talk about Julie, who’s a middle school teacher, and it jumped out at me because this was me. This is the women I work with, this as the women who listened to this podcast you wrote, her burnout had reached an intensity, where merely the anticipation of the start of the first semester had activated a level of dread that led to her reaching for a box of Chardonnay by 2pm. And nobody likes to think about their kids’ middle school teacher, as a burned out, embittered and de-drinking. But she’s not alone. I mean, that’s pretty common, especially if you’re in your heightened stress all the time to reach for as you said, the box of Chardonnay.



    Yeah, it’s numbing and you’re like, I am in so much pain. I cannot tolerate any more pain, please help me get rid of this pain. And if and if wine does that, then you learn that really fast. And you come to depend on that. You know, somebody please turn off this fountain of pain for me. And you know, your good friend kept SAVs there for you.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  59:37

    Yeah, but it doesn’t mean that it keeps you stuck.



    Yeah, it keeps you stuck. It means that you’re never completing. Okay, so, we’re gonna go all the way from chapter one, which is completing the stress response cycle. We’re gonna whoosh all the way to the end. All right, good, which is self compassion, which is where the difference between numbing and moving forward comes in. The way to bear the pain that you cannot bear is to experience it. And to forgive yourself for being in so much pain to not believe that it’s your fault, that the bad things happened and that you may have failed in certain ways, or that someone else failed you. And that means that you’re not worthy of their care, or that you’re inherently not worthy of love and time and sleep because it, look at all the things that are wrong with you. This is the voice, this is the voice of Chardonnay. 


    So what to do instead is self compassion, which is turning toward that voice inside your head, and listening to it, not taking its advice, not believing it or understanding that it’s true, but knowing that this voice is there to help you fit in with everybody else, to make sure that no one notices the differences between who you are and who they expect you to be. That voice is scared. It sounds angry or bitter. But it is deep down scared and trying to protect you. And the way to deal with it is to make friends with it. To turn toward it with neutrality, at least. And because you might be really uncomfortable with it, because it has hurt you. It makes you uncomfortable, it makes you want to run away. But if you can turn toward and be like, Alright, what do you have to say? And you just like let it yell for a while. And you can say back to it. Okay, what I’m hearing you say is that you think that I should be x or y or z. And I’m not those things. And I hear that you want that. But that’s not good for me. And I’m a grown up and I can take care of it. So you don’t have to worry about it. 


    But you’ve listened to that part of you. Which I mean, it would be a relief. If somebody said that to you, right. Like I hear you. I know what you want. But the good news is that you don’t have to worry about that, because I’m going to take care of it. That feels so much better than just drowning it in alcohol. Yeah. I want to add one thing that it might not feel better than drowning in alcohol. Because healing hurts. And let’s acknowledge that when people give up numbing. I mean, when you stop taking the pain medication, the pain happens. Yeah, and that is real. And that is hard. But it does go away as you heal, you just have to tolerate the discomfort of healing. So let’s not pretend that it’s not hard; it is. But it’s so worth it. 


    And we are not intended to do big things alone. Humans are, there’s a social psychologist, Jonathan Haidts, and he describes humans as 90% chimp 10% bee, we’re a hive species, we need each other. So this turning toward your own pain, with neutrality at first, and kindness, if you can, and with compassion, if that’s possible. That’s gonna help but it’s not going to be easy on its own either. Almost all of us have trouble with it. For all the self compassion research and how to do that I’m going to direct you to all of the research of Kristin Neff. For me, the difference between like, I need to numb right now. And ignoring whatever’s happening that made me get to that point. And, you know, actually doing something productive to help myself that’s not just numbing, but actually moving forward with the healing, that that moment is the moment where I decide, am I going to turn toward this pain? Or am I going to turn away from this pain? And turning toward it is hard. And, and not, not a quick solution. But it adds up. And once you start learning how to do it, it gets easier and easier and easier and becomes more of a habit and you get better at it and your whole brain starts to rewire. And now you can tolerate. You’ve learned how to own suffering and pain and shame and like move toward them and listen to them and learn that you don’t have to believe them and have a much better relationship with your own internal experience.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:04:31

    So much came up for me when you were talking about that. But the thing that I thought of immediately was Glennon Doyle, in her first book Carry On, Warrior has a section of to my friend on her day one right the day she decides to stop drinking. And she says something to the effect of, I’m paraphrasing, you’ve been numb for so long. And at first the process of getting sober feels a lot like difference. Osteen, where suddenly the emotions come like daggers, shame, loneliness, regret, fear. But she says defrosting is painful, but you have to go through it to go through stopping being numb to become fully human. Yeah.



    Yeah, that’s completely true. What I would add to that is don’t expect to do it alone because we are not to do big things alone. We are. I mean, yeah, healing hurts when you break your leg, from the time you break your leg to the time the cast comes off, and the doctor says, Yay, go along with your life. There was no period in between. You’re like stop hurting.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:05:39

    Yeah. So and that’s why I think like talk, listening to podcasts, talking to other people who are quitting drinking, knowing that you’re not alone, that you’re not a terrible person, that what you’re going through is normal. Or a therapist or a coach. Someone you said he can’t do it alone. And that’s true.



    Yeah. Yeah. That’s the cure for burnout. The cure for alcoholism? Yeah, all of us caring for each other. Yeah, having each other and ourselves to turn toward our own difficult feelings with kindness and compassion. I know, kindness and compassion don’t sound evidence-based. But I I’m, I’m a real science nerd, like I need, I need evidence to prove that I should do anything. I need to have hundreds of studies to demonstrate that this is true. And it just turns out the answer is love it just as science says. So.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:06:32

    Yeah, I love that. And one of the reasons that I see this is because I know a lot of women describe themselves as perfectionists, and a lot of times that’s that inner critic voice. But you say, the most common reason we hear when people resist self compassion is that they’re worried if they stop beating themselves up, they’ll lose all motivation. They’ll just sit around watching Real Housewives, and eating Lucky Charms.



    Yeah, we think we need that, that we’ve been whipping ourselves, you know, being mad at ourselves in order to drive us toward the thing that we should be, but like, think about you and yourself as like a little puppy. If you want to teach that puppy to pee outside, does beating it make it learn faster or slower? Yeah, and you’re just an animal, you’ve got a nervous system and muscles. And that’s, you know, you’re you’re made of meat just like everybody else. And your, your actual system is only designed to function at a certain speed at a certain level, and to respond to pain and pleasure in certain ways. And if you violate the, the way we’re supposed to be operating, if you inflict stress on yourself, by telling yourself that you have to be or do whatever someone else thinks you should be or do, then you’re just gonna make it harder on yourself. 


    Yeah. So when you think about the things you do, do the things that you’re proud of the things that you accomplish, do you only do them because you hurt and you needed to be, you know, driven like cattle towards that goal? Almost never Is that true for people, most of the time people achieve the things they’re most proud of, through passion through moving toward the goal they desire, rather than running away from the punishment they experience when they fail.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:08:35

    Yeah. And what you’re saying, which I love about self compassion, it’s like, the opposite of those self help books that are like Girl, Wash Your Face, which I am not a fan of. Meaning like, if you only woke up at 4am, if you only, you know, forced yourself to exercise more, if you only were better, then you would be happier. And I’m not a fan of that book. But it’s different. Your message is science based and very different than yes. Yeah, sorry.



    Sorry. I’ll go so passionately, because our recommendations are science based. Yes. And Rachel Hollis his recommendations are patriarchy based and they are 100% to the narrative that the strong support themselves and they’re there, you know, you can do it and pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And you know, like, yeah, yeah, oh, God, don’t don’t do that. Don’t do any of that.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:09:39

    And it’s your fault. If you don’t succeed. It’s not the system and the society we’re raised in.



    And the most troubling part of that perspective, is that it suggests we’re not already trying our best. Like we are not working harder than we shouldn’t be. Like, we’re not trying everything. And we all are all the time doing everything we can to take care of ourselves and our families and our jobs and to be everything that everyone expects us to be, and also to have, like, you know, a political bath. And that should do it for me, right? It’s based on that fundamental lie, that women are the problem, because they’re not, they just don’t know enough. They’re not working hard enough. And I find that so deeply insulting, because all the women I know are doing the best they can with the resources they have available. And to suggest that they just aren’t strong enough, or that they don’t have enough grit or persistence. 


    Here’s the thing. Okay. When you think you need to persist, what you actually need is kindness. Yeah. And when you think you’re supposed to have more grit, all I need is grit. And I can get through this. No, no, when you think you need more grit, what you actually need is help you see somebody else who you think well, they just need to persist and then they’ll No, nope, that person does not need persistence. They need kindness. Yeah, you see somebody else you think they need grit? No, they need


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:11:09

    help. And I think some of the messages that we get from sort of big alcohol and each other about why we need wine is the patriarchy right it’s like I’m exhausted my you know I work in this you know, bro work culture. I don’t have enough help. And the answer is here, have some wine to like, shut us up from AF.



    Yes. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Yes. Exactly. The whole like wine o’clock mom culture Chardonnay sort of life. Yeah. Is like kind of teased and joked about. And yet it’s true. The patriarchy doesn’t like it, because it shuts women up. It does not hear it. Let it let me get your razor wire. You can cope on your own. Yeah, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get you, you know, a bottle of red. There’s a bottle of whiskey. You know what, like, if you can take care of your own feelings right here, right now and just shut up, then that will be real convenient. For the status quo. Yeah, exactly.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:12:11

    Yeah, it’s like here, have a glass of wine. Shut the fuck up. So dedicate yourself to get through your day.



    Because if you don’t numb yourself, you’re gonna have feelings, and you’re gonna want to feel and express those feelings you might have demands. You might be like, I need resources in order to care for myself. And that would be resources that you are using. How dare you?


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:12:39

    Yeah. Or like, this deadline is completely ridiculous. I’m not going to work, work, work. And then have a bottle of wine is my only reward and do it again tomorrow for months on end. Fuck you. I need more time. I need more resources.



    Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you know what will be easier for us? It would be if you just would like, drink your stress away. And didn’t like acknowledge how bad you feel. And you know, even blame how you feel on your drinking. So you can’t blame it on us. So that you don’t actually, you know, we have lots of excuses not to listen to your needs.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:13:15

    Yeah. And you also I know, we’ve been talking, I could talk to you forever. But one thing that jumped out at me that I loved was you wrote, relax your belly, it’s supposed to be round. The bikini industrial complex has been gaslighting you and I have to tell you the reason that I was like, oh my god, it’s I am very anti diet culture, but also my seven year old daughter who is so beautiful and awesome and badass came to me a couple of weeks ago, and was like touching my belly and asking and you know, and then she said, Mom, my belly is round. Isn’t it supposed to go in? And I was like, Oh, my fucking God. Nightmare. She’s seven. And I was like, Honey, that’s where your organs are. Literally. They’re, they’re your organs, you know, eating disorders, starting in elementary school. Yeah.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:14:11

    Yeah. And it’s all part of the patriarchy and what we’re told and why we’re exhausted, from like, not measuring up to, like you said with human givers, pretty and skinny and doing all the things and caregiving.



    Yeah, yeah. And this like, fundamental misunderstanding of like, women’s anatomy, that like your stomach is somehow supposed to be hollow or concave or something. And like, I mean, there are members of Congress who don’t know how the menstrual cycle works, for example. So like we’re living in this world that has a fundamental misunderstanding of what and how women’s bodies work, and, and therefore how they should look. And we’ve also been taught that how women look indicates their health and also men this is unfortunately spreading across the whole gender spectrum, that well, I mean, the gender spectrum if you’re not cis, there’s all problems with like, we oh, I can’t get into that I can’t get in. It’s so complicated and so awful. 


    Anyway, the idea that we look at our body, and if we conform to the socially constructed beauty ideal, that means we’re healthy. Nope, that’s not true. That’s a lie. If we conform to the socially constructed ideal, it means that we conform to that ideal, and nothing about our health. Someone who is 150 pounds is equally statistically as likely to have heart disease as someone who’s 250 pounds. There is no relationship between weight and this is a whole separate conversation. 


    Yeah, but yeah, it began with when I was teaching my choirs to sing, I had to fight the bikini industrial complex, because I needed them to breathe in order to sing well. And they were holding their stomachs and seven year olds, like you’re saying, Hold their stomachs in because they believe that their abdomen is supposed to be contracted and flat and tight and hard. Guess what your abdomen is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be free to set, to oscillate through all the cycles of being human. It’s supposed to be free to expand, and then contract. And then I go, it’s interesting.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:16:06

    My husband is a high school girls basketball coach, and I went to a tournament with them and they’re all eating salads. And it somehow came up my husband was like, they need to gain 15 pounds each and they would be so much more powerful athletes.



    Yeah. Yeah, women having power is very scary and dangerous. And the world has been telling these teenagers that if they had power, it would be scary and dangerous. So why would they want to have power? When what they could have? Is acceptance by the wire ideal because they conform to a beauty standard? Yeah, almost every teenage girl I know would choose conforming to a beauty standard over accessing her power. Yeah, power is scary.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:16:55

    Yeah. Oh, my God, I could talk to you all day long. Thank you so much for coming on.



    I just want to prove it. No power seems scary. Once you acquire it, though. Once you’ve gone through all the steps of like becoming your power, then you’re like, Oh, my God, I should have done this ages ago. So it seems scary. But you can, you should go ahead and do it. Okay. Okay. No, no, no.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:17:16

    Well, as we’re wrapping up anything else you want to say? How can people contact you? I want to encourage everyone listening to this to read the book. It’s called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. It’s amazing. So I’ll turn it over to you to wrap it up.



    Most important things are that the cure for burnout is not self care. It’s all of us caring for each other. And that everybody listening is worthy of love and resources, just as they are right now. You don’t have to wait to experience joy until you finish your degree or lose 15 pounds or come out of the closet or get a divorce or have kids like you don’t have to wait for anything. You just as you are now deserve joy and comfort and safety. Even if it takes resources away from other people. It’s okay, you deserve it. And lastly, if you don’t change anything else, please do get more sleep.


    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:18:15

    Perfect. Thank you so much for being on here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. 


    Thank you. 



    Casey McGuire Davidson  1:18:49


    Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


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