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Season 4 Episode 8:

Nervous System Support: Using Somatic Practices to Manage Stress and Build Resilience with Christine Coen

Episode Summary

Feeling stuck in fight or flight? Do you struggle with managing stress in your daily life? Can somatic practices really transform your mental health? Christine Coen, movement coach and holistic dietitian, joins Michelle to discuss how learning to connect with your body not only helps in coping with immediate stress but also enhances long-term emotional resilience.

  • Christine's transition from a conventional dietitian to a holistic practitioner focusing on stress management and mental health [4:09]
  • The pivotal role of movement in overcoming mental health struggles and its profound impact on Christine's life [7:24]
  • The importance of self-advocacy and intuition in healing [9:24]
  • The significance of recognizing stress as a tangible factor in health rather than just an ambiguous concept [10:11]
  • Exploring the nervous system's response to our environment and the foundational role of feeling safe in our health [14:44]
  • What embodiment means and how it can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in the longterm [25:26]
  • Common misconceptions about cortisol and what high and low cortisol can look like [31:10]
  • The connection between cortisol and our nervous system [28:02]
  • How cortisol interfaces with other hormones like insulin, thyroid, and sex hormones [39:54]
  • How leaning into our stress responses such as fight, flight, freeze and shut down can help us move through them [43:15]
  • Practical somatic practices that can be integrated into daily life to help manage stress and anxiety. [47:20]
  • Christine's insights on shifting from external validations to trusting one‚Äôs intuition and inner guidance in life decisions. [56:15]
  • Strategies for nurturing a positive mental state and the importance of embodying feelings of safety and joy. [1:00:02]
  • Michelle‚Äôs favorite somatic tool [1:07:35]

 

Christine’s Resources:
Instagram: @christine.coen
Join the Somatic Serenity Reset

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Transcript 

 

Nervous System Support: Using Somatic Practices to Manage Stress and Build Resilience with Christine Coen

Michelle Shapiro [00:01:29]:

On today's episode of Quiet the Diet, we are joyously sitting down with Christine Coen, who is a dietitian and movement coach, really focused on helping her own clients in her online programs to overcome burnout, anxiety and depression through a variety of holistic methods that she now teaches today. Her work fuses simple but powerful somatic practices, nervous system healing out of the chronic fight, flight, or freeze state, and really tuning into the wisdom of your own body. She is so passionate about helping chronically stressed men and women learn to stop living in survival state and reconnect to a vibrant enjoyment in their life and work. Christine and I have known each other for, I think it's maybe close to ten years, and Christine was one of the first functional dietitians I knew in New York City. And we were both working in what I would call a real classic functional nutrition way at that point. And both of us have evolved our work to really center around how stress feels in our clients lives, how we can help clients with stress in a tangible way that's not just go do some breath work and meditation, but real solutions for real people. And this episode, we talk about just that. So I'm so excited for you to hear this episode.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:02:53]:

And I just have a quick reminder that if you are looking for additional nervous system support and you're living in a highly sensitive body, we do have an amazing offering for you. And you can check out the link to join the highly sensitive body hub below. We will have loads of tools for the nervous system specifically because, as we'll talk about in this episode, and as I talk about in almost every episode, the way that our nervous system interacts with our environment, what makes us feel safe is what makes us healthy. So a lot of the basis of our health is going to be finding pockets of safety within our lives and making our lives feel bigger and grander, even when things don't feel really safe. I'm so excited for you to listen to this episode. You will not want to miss this one. So we are very interesting how we've crossed paths, doing different jobs, meeting the same people in New York, and we both landed as dietitians in what I would call, like, the stress nutrition space. I want to hear how you landed yourself into this stress nutrition dietitian space.

 

Share your journey into the stress nutrition dietitian space.

Christine Coen [00:04:09]:

Yeah. Well, like most of us, my professional career has evolved into this because of my own personal experience, my own personal struggle, which began, ironically, maybe not so much the year I started practicing as a registered dietitian, like, out of school. And, you know, I was no longer kind of held by the training wheels of just, like, school and rules, just, which was very easy for me to just, like, go along with, abide by study for a test, pass it, you're going to be successful in life. Like, that was kind of what I was taught to do and was comfortable with. And so jumping into a job, which I would have called my dream job at the time, which was working for a big, beautiful health club, I was their head dietitian at like, 22 years old. I was on the personal training team. And it was just a lot all at once, talk about just what stress is in general. And I also had a lot of, like, imposter syndrome and just expecting myself to know things and do things that I never learned before.

 

Christine Coen [00:05:18]:

And so I just put a lot of pressure on myself. So it was a combination of coming into a new job, being a lot over my head, not really asking for help, and then coinciding. I was really going through a tough time with my family at the time, just with some mental health struggles and just, like, parental crisis stuff that was happening at home. So, like, in hindsight, I really didn't feel safe anywhere. Like, work was extraordinarily stressful, home life did not give me a reprieve from that. And so, like, six months into this job, anything that I'd historically kind of taken for granted in terms of my health, eating food, you know, the food that I was eating, the workouts I was doing, I just. Everything just totally fell apart. I found myself, like, 30 pounds heavier in just a few short months.

 

Christine Coen [00:06:10]:

But even more so than that, like, my mental health just totally. I became a shell of myself. I experienced anxiety. I was experiencing, you know, what I figured out was depression. But I would just say, like, I felt gray at the time. Like, I didn't care about anything. Everything felt overwhelming. I would sleep and sleep and sleep and never feel rested.

 

Christine Coen [00:06:34]:

I just, like, wasn't excited about anything. I just, like, was not myself. And I think I really blamed myself. Like, I had all this shame and guilt. Like, why can't I just get my shit together? And so I would go into dieting harder, which lasted literally, like, two days, because you would just do extreme things, and then you would feel guilty about not being able to keep those things up. So this cycle really continued for, like, up and down probably ten years. Like, there were many times in between this where I was figuring things out, but I would really say, like, it was a solid, like, seven to ten years before I really understood what was going on. And I'll just say the thing that was the catalyst for me was movement.

 

Christine Coen [00:07:24]:

And at the time, it was exercise, meaning I would go to the gym or I would do a class or something. But it was one specific moment I can remember where I felt really different. I felt like myself again after moving my body, and that was the first time that I had ever made that connection. And it was really powerful because I felt like I'm still in here. Kind of a feeling like, she's still in here. This person I've known my whole life, she's, like, not gone. And that moment really spurred my curiosity, my passion, my obsession with why does movement help my mental health? What is it about this concept that? Is it just, like, a one off thing? Is this something that can apply to other people? Why haven't I heard anything about this? Why have all I heard about anxiety, depression, or just mental health struggles revolve around therapy and medication? And so I just started to, like, do research and experiment with things in my own life. And that's kind of led me on an evolution where I am today.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:08:36]:

There's so many practitioners and clients and listeners who can identify with your story. Christine, did you go through what I would call, like, the medical pipeline first. So that would be first you went to allopathic medicine doctors and they said, hey, you have anxiety and depression. You should medicate it. And then you went to functional medicine doctors and they said, oh, you have hpa axis dysregulation. Let's get you a dutch test. Let's get you adrenal supplements. I see this trend a lot with clients where they are going to every single place and every single time they go, they're getting further and further away from that answer, which is that it has to be them who's going to save them.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:09:14]:

It has to be them who's going to create those solutions. Did you have that experience too, where you were hunting or seeking for answers for a while too?

 

Christine Coen [00:09:24]:

I was definitely hunting and seeking for answers. But when I started going through this, which was probably like 15 years ago at this point, this was like, it was impossible to find. Doctors, holistic practitioners, functional practitioners. They like, weren't a thing back then. Or if they were like, it was not hard to find, easy to find them. The Internet was not at all. Social media didn't exist. So the answer is no.

 

Christine Coen [00:09:46]:

I didn't do the ping pong route that a lot of my clients have gone through, and I'm sort of grateful that I didn't.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:09:56]:

I want to hear your clients experience with that too. Have you seen that a lot where finding the answer for mysterious illnesses, people are leaning on testing a lot more when really the intuition's there, that it's these stress and lifestyle mediated conditions.

 

Do you find that people are leaning on testing for mysterious illnesses, rather than following their intuition?

Christine Coen [00:10:11]:

Oh, yeah. And it's because when you're feeling like that, you are just desperate to find something. Like you just want to find something that's diagnosable, wrong with you, because then you'll have an answer and the answer will have a plan, and the plan will have a solution. And it's unfortunately never that simple. I will say the people that I know personally and professionally that have recovered from things that traditional doctors would say, you're going to be struggling with this. They're incurable, but they do recover, are people that continue to just pursue and be guided by their own intuition. They don't outsource their power, their power away. They continue to search and get answers and put the puzzle pieces together, but they do have to, like, figure it out themselves.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:11:02]:

Thank you for saying that in your story. It's particularly interesting because you had the dietician degree already. You had dipping your toe, I'm sure, into what looked like holistic medicine at the time. But even you, and this is the same for myself. And I still struggle with this, as we all do. We can't understand that stress is really a root cause of a lot of the health conditions we see. Why do you think it's so hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that stress is driving these conditions?

 

Why do you think it's so hard for us to wrap our heads around the fact that stress is driving these conditions?

Christine Coen [00:11:32]:

I think it's because stress has always been this just, like, ambiguous term that just describes, like, a feeling. It's just been this word that we just kind of throw around. And it hasn't had the actual, like, weight in terms of what it does internally to ourselves as we know now, or at least have a better understanding of now, like, as practitioners, but still, like, for how many years? My entire life, you know, people would say, oh, you know, it's something. You have an issue going, oh, it's just stress. Right. But it said with not the weights that it really deserves. So I just think we've just kind of been indoctrinated to not take it as seriously as we're actually seeing it is like, I'm so surprised when I am like, oh, my God. Stress is actually the root cause of what this person's crazy web of illnesses was for this many years.

 

Christine Coen [00:12:28]:

And I think also it's our job and our responsibility to define what stress is and what that means internally, because there are so many different root causes of stress. It's not just I feel stressed because I have two full time jobs, I have a family, I sit in traffic for 3 hours a day, and then I have to drive my kids here and there. And then my mom is sick and I might have been bitten by a tick when I was a kid. I don't know, like, you know what I mean? So it's really our job to help people, I think, understand what that is.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:13:05]:

I think that's the meat and the potatoes of this episode that we're going to get into because you are so masterful at helping put the tangibility behind stress. I think that's the issue, is that we use stress to write things off, but we don't use it as an actual accountability piece.

 

Christine Coen [00:13:21]:

Right?

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:13:21]:

So we'll say, oh, you know what? It's just stress. And that's almost like how healthcare professionals, gaslight people actually, they say it's just stress. It's just anxiety. Get over it. If we put it on its head, we would be saying, stress is. It's not just stress. It's all stress. It's stress.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:13:39]:

We have to focus on this. I think people don't have the tools. And like you said, stress is this ambiguous concept for so many people, even the word cortisol has become ambiguous. Everyone's kind of co opted these terms. Somatic trauma. We just hear them all over the place. So let's really define what these terms are and really talk about how they work cellularly, spiritually, and in those ways. So when it comes to just the word stress, Christine, what would your definition of stress be?

 

How would you define stress?

Christine Coen [00:14:07]:

Overwhelm. Just too much, too soon, too much at once, too much all the time for extended period of time.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:14:16]:

So you're one of the practitioners who really, I'm assuming, would allude to kind of that stress bucket piece where it's like, if it's a physiological stressor or a mental stressor, it all accumulates to a point of basically too muchness. Essentially, yeah.

 

Christine Coen [00:14:32]:

Yeah, you could definitely say that. Yeah. It's the accumulation and the compounding, you know, over time.

 

Would you define anxiety the same or differently as stress?

Michelle Shapiro [00:14:40]:

And then how would you define anxiety? Would that be the same definition, or would that be different for you?

 

Christine Coen [00:14:44]:

No, that would be different for me, because when I look at the term anxiety through a nervous system lens, anxiety, to me, is your nervous system responding to one way your nervous system can respond to stress, and it can present as anxiousness, which can look like racing mental thoughts. It can look like heart palpitations. It can look like sweating. It can look like just constantly feeling like you need to be going, going, going, like running from something and can't stop because it's not safe to stop. So I think that that's like, a manifestation of stress. Yeah, absolutely.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:15:27]:

I think of anxiety as being maybe acute stress, and I think of panic as being extreme acute stress, almost like, I almost think of them on levels. Like, it's like stress, and then you hit a point, and it's anxiety, and then you hit a point. It's panic. I had a post that was very controversial recently from a podcast that I was on, Liz Moody's podcast, amazing podcast host. And I basically said, I think of anxiety kind of like this alarm system. And I've spoken about on this podcast about this, and in my program, anxiety proof, for the past five years, it has now become controversial to view anxiety as a symptom as opposed to a diagnosis. How do you view anxiety in that context, by the way? It's not one or the other. It's end.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:16:08]:

It's both end. Do you view anxiety as a symptom from the body, or do you view anxiety as this kind of more genetic piece that if you're born with anxiety, you have anxiety, you are an anxious person.

 

Do you view anxiety as a symptom from the body, or do you view anxiety as this kind of more genetic piece that if you're born with anxiety?

Christine Coen [00:16:18]:

Yeah, that's a great question. I tend to view anxiety as a symptom of something. Like, it's a message, one of maybe many messages that your body is sending you through the symptom of anxiety that something is off, that something is stressed, that something is inflamed, and whether that has a genetic component. For some cases, it absolutely does, and then for some people, it doesn't. So I think that if we just. I don't know. For me personally, anytime I identify myself as something, I really am careful about it. And even though diagnosis can be so freeing and actually, like, really helpful for people, and I absolutely empathize with that experience, I also caution people that it can also be limiting and put you into a box where then you only see your life through the identity of, I am an anxious person, and therefore I always will be.

 

Christine Coen [00:17:28]:

And I was really kind of grateful, in my experience, that I didn't get diagnosed with anxiety or depression by a professional because I never wore them, like, personalities or identities. And I think that also played a role in me overcoming them in the way that I did. Absolutely.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:17:48]:

Yeah. So I was the classic, like, diagnosed panic disorder. Colleagues and friends and I wrote a post recently about how this. When I was 17, I was, like, at a party in a basement and was talking to this dude, and he was like, you have panic disorder. And that kind of was for me.

 

Christine Coen [00:18:04]:

I read that post.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:18:05]:

Yeah, exactly. And for me, that was a turning point, because I then started identifying with panic disorder, and because the language around panic disorder in 2008, or whatever it was, was very, this is incurable. This is genetic. There's nothing you can do about it. I did feel like it trapped me into that box where a baseline, sure. You know, we have our traumas, we have our family traumas. I have a. I'm a Jewish New Yorker.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:18:30]:

The personality is a little bit more, you know, intense and anxious kind of personality. I love that about my family and myself. But when I. It became a different beast for me, like you said, when I started identifying as that person with panic disorder, however, to know what the heck was going on with me was a panic attack was helpful. Like you said, when you have all these symptoms happening and you're like, what is going on? Because it could have a panic attack can look like a heart attack. It can feel like all these different conditions. So to know that it was something that was mental, spiritual, physical, was a release for me and a relief for me in some ways. So there's a couple different things that play into all of this.

 

How do you define depression?

Michelle Shapiro [00:19:09]:

When you mentioned before that you said when I had realized and put the pieces together that I was experiencing depression. Does your definition of depression also differ from what people may think depression is? Tell us how you would define depression.

 

Christine Coen [00:19:22]:

I define it as that feeling of emotional, mental, physical fatigue. I experienced just, like, very low mood, and my thoughts were always just very hopeless feeling, like nothing I even do will ever help me. It's a vortex. It pulls you in. It's a vacuum, and it is a powerful one at that. I experience disassociation. I experienced physical symptoms, mental symptoms, and, you know, there were days, weeks at a time where it would just be pulling me down and pulling me in, but I would notice that it would come in waves. Like, there would be episodes of it, and there would be.

 

Christine Coen [00:20:02]:

And then I got curious, like, oh, there are things that maybe bring this on, or are there things that bring this on? Like, can I make connections? Can I connect some patterns to this? So that was part of my healing journey, too. Use binge eating as a coping mechanism for a long time, which really brought the depression as a trigger in, for sure. But then that was, like, also the thing that I would use to just grasp, like, any dopamine hit, to, like, feel a glimpse, a little off of feeling. Yeah. A little peak. Yeah. Which lasted, you know, for the 5 seconds I was chewing a piece of chocolate.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:20:39]:

And then the shame cycle kicks in, which perpetuates the cycle for 100%. Yeah. So you believe people can experience, which I think everyone believes people can experience, both episodes of anxiety and depression, and maybe they come in what you would call a peak. I might use the term a flare or something like that. I think there's something so important about this because we view these conditions as being this block of, like, ten years of your life without gaps. Feeling like that, or feeling like it's going to be another ten years before I receive relief, is a really, I think, scary way of looking at it. So I want people to understand that any chronic illness, any chronic mental flow, I would say, comes in episodes or flares. It is more in that there are people who are experiencing, let's say, depression, where they feel like a two out of ten every day, and then sometimes they feel like a four out of ten every day, but every minute is not identical to the next.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:21:38]:

And I think that the temporary nature of the flares can be relaxing for some people to know that it is going to ebb and flow, probably even without intervention. Now, not to say that people can't be in very long episodes that could last years, but there's usually some days that might be a little better. And I think when those days are better is the time to kind of spring into action, when you feel like it's a little bit better.

 

Christine Coen [00:22:01]:

Yeah, I wouldn't use the term spring into action, but, yeah, I know that's a little. There's, like, no springing happening.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:22:06]:

So, you know, I've had more experience with anxiety, so I'm like, yeah, we're springing. It's a little too much springing. Exactly. Yeah.

 

Christine Coen [00:22:14]:

It's the tigger versus the eeyore in Winnie the pooh situation.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:22:17]:

I love that.

 

Christine Coen [00:22:18]:

But, yeah, there are waves. There are moments, days, hours that you do have some relief. And so I guide people to track the rhythms of their nervous system, and basically, that means you are tuning in and understanding how does my body experience what I'm experiencing right now? If you would define what you're experiencing as depression or anxiety or just anger or shutdown, I use the language of nervous system states nowadays, which would be like, fight, flight, freeze, and shut down, and then safety, rest, and recovery. But what does it feel like to be here? I feel numb. I feel disconnected. My mind is racing. My heart rate is elevated. My heart rate is really low.

 

Christine Coen [00:23:14]:

I can't feel my legs. My limbs are tingling. Literally anything, whether it's a color, it's a shape, it's a sensation, a mental, a physical and emotional sensation. All of these are really important way to start to track, like, how you experience your nervous system interacting with the world, how you experience how your body's manifesting stress. And even if you have something else that your stress is manifesting as some other kind of chronic illness, there's still ways that you can start to track this. And then when you get to know what it actually feels like in the experience of it, then we can, like, move on to the next piece, which is practicing, not forcing or trying to shift yourself out of that immediately. Once you identify, like, oh, my God, I'm in the thing, like, it's happening, what do we do? It's actually not about trying to force, force yourself to shift out. It's actually kind of being with the experience of it, even if it's for, like, a minute at first before you go, and you need to, like, distract yourself or disassociate away from it or numb away from it.

 

Christine Coen [00:24:27]:

But it's expanding that window of tolerance to experience that discomfort and that stress and then the shifting into and guiding yourself into that state of safety where it does feel a bit of relief comes you know, in that process.

 

Please explain the Fight, Flight, Freeze or Shut Down model that you use.

Michelle Shapiro [00:24:44]:

Absolutely. And I want to go into during this episode, obviously, the fight, flight, freeze or shut down model that you use? Of course. And I also want to talk about the elephant in the room on social media about all of this. I think is that people really don't want to experience anxiety and they really don't want to experience unpleasant things. And I am of the truest belief, like you are. The only way out is through on some level. Now, that doesn't mean you sit in it until you're tortured. It doesn't mean that you go past your threshold of tolerance.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:25:15]:

But I don't see if people's goal is to heal in any capacity, if there's any way to do that without being embodied, I guess. Would you agree with that?

 

Christine Coen [00:25:25]:

I would agree with that.

 

From a nervous system perspective why being embodied, or being inside of your body and experiencing symptoms can help to ultimately reduce these symptoms in the long term?

Michelle Shapiro [00:25:26]:

Can you tell us from a nervous system perspective why being embodied, or being inside of your body and experiencing symptoms can help to ultimately reduce these symptoms in the long term? How does it help? What is it doing? What's that communication between your body?

 

Christine Coen [00:25:41]:

Great question. For me, being embodied means being in the present. Like fully experiencing the moment through my senses, your five senses, your emotional senses, whatever. And when you're doing that, your body feels safe. Like your nervous system is not in, let's just say, like an alert mode or a chronic alert mode, because you're connecting to something here. So in my personal experience, and I've seen this play out professionally now for like the last five years, I've been practicing this, is that there's a lot of answers that your body is trying to communicate to you through these alert messages, these fight flight, freeze symptoms that are unpleasant. And really, they're unpleasant also because it feels like torture at some point. Like, how long is this going to continue for? And then you just, like, want to disconnect from it as long as possible.

 

Christine Coen [00:26:45]:

But when you do have the courage and the compassion and the empathy to treat what you're experiencing, like you would treat a child who's having a breakdown, having, you know, who's upset, who's crying, who's scared, and you give them your ear, and you open yourself to listening to what, you know, just almost like, give them the presence to say, it's okay that you're feeling this way. And I know it sucks, it's not going to last forever, but I'm here with you through it. The things that come through to help, you know, what to do to help. Not just like in the moment. I'm talking, like, on a deeper level, your body's wisdom is incredible. The way that it speaks to you itself is really different than using words like the mind uses most of the time. And so even if you have, like, a knowing, but you've been avoiding that knowing, or there's a conversation that you know you should be having, but you've been avoiding it. Like, these messages come through and I think, help you take small actions to make these improvements, to help the healing that needs to be had on, you know, a deeper level, whether that's something from your childhood, your experience growing up.

 

Christine Coen [00:28:16]:

And I just think it allows these things to come to the surface for us to then take action on when we are ready. And that can be really fucking scary because that could mean, like, I need to quit my job. I am in a relationship that is extraordinarily unhealthy. Where I'm living right now is actually, like, destroying my health, you know, or it's just. It can feel overwhelming to know those answers, so to speak. So I have a lot of compassion for people who don't want to feel those things because they're like, okay, now I don't even know what to do once I know this thing. And sometimes it can make you feel like I'm just going to be more lost the more I know. But I truly think that it actually helps you find yourself and find the path and find the next.

 

Christine Coen [00:29:06]:

Right.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:29:07]:

I completely agree with you. I have this example also. I know you brought up, like, treating kind of yourself like that child who's feeling sick or scared. When I would go to my parents, my mom's a very tough person, in a good way. She's hyper resilient. And I would go to my dad or my mom when I was sick and go to my dad, and he'd be like, oh, my God, is everything okay? What's going on with you? And he's like, let me get you a blanket. Let me get you something. And actually, that would rile me up a little more.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:29:32]:

Versus my mom, who's like, you're fine. Go sit on the couch. It's not a big deal. I think when we react to ourselves, we have anxiety by being curious or being almost like, all right, I'm having a little anxiety. It's just anxiety. So what? You know, that kind of personality, I think that supports us more than sometimes when we hyper react, or we're like, oh, God, we have to find a way to fix this right now. So I think that our nervous system hears us also. And so if our nervous system says, oh, my gosh, you know, Michelle's, dad's freaking out.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:30:03]:

It must mean that something is really wrong. We kind of react back and forth to those messages, I'm sure, too. So the language, like you said we use with ourselves, is actually an instruction manual for our nervous system.

 

Christine Coen [00:30:13]:

Yeah, I would totally agree to. Just with your example of, like, when you react with, like, an element of panic or fear about what you're experiencing, it's going to just continue to put your body into a state of flight or fights or shut down.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:30:32]:

Absolutely.

 

Christine Coen [00:30:33]:

Because it's just like, oh, my gosh. Like something's wrong. Alarm bells are going off about the alarm bells that we're reacting to the.

 

How are cortisol levels affected by stress?

Michelle Shapiro [00:30:39]:

Alarm bells with other alarm bells. Exactly. And also there's then, of course, an adrenaline and cortisol reaction to that. Can we go to the basic of basics? Tell us a little bit about cortisol. What does high cortisol look like? Low cortisol, maybe some misconceptions about cortisol. I know this is one of your favorite hormones to talk about, so I want to hear about it from you.

 

Christine Coen [00:31:00]:

Yeah, it's the ongoing joke with my friends and I. Anytime they see me, they're like, so how's your cortisol?

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:31:05]:

Oh, my gosh. It's hilarious. That's awesome.

 

Christine Coen [00:31:10]:

So cortisol is our stress hormone. One of them. It's released when we experience short term stress. Like, you know, you're driving, all of a sudden you need to slam on your brakes, right? You feel the rush of adrenaline, and a short while later, cortisol will also increase. And then it all kind of comes down like a little hill with a peak and a gradual decline. But when you experience chronic stress of any sort, which we do just because of modern life, your adrenal glands, which are the glands that produce cortisol through your brain, telling them to produce the cortisol will pump this out on a consistent basis, basically. And so what was helpful evolutionarily is now actually working against us, because too much of anything is just not a good thing. And so when we have chronically high cortisol levels, it's going to keep our body in that state of stress and alert at all times, even if this is low grade.

 

Christine Coen [00:32:17]:

And so in a high cortisol state, people will find themselves more jittery. They'll find themselves more anxious, more restless. They have trouble kind of like sitting still for even a short period of time sometimes. They always kind of need to be going on the move on some way or another. So whether that's, like, aggressively moving towards something. And even, like, I can think back to me being just like, this type a, like, need to have seven side hustles going on at all times. And just like, sitting, saying yes to a million things was a version of how I was experiencing having high cortisol in like, a fight kind of go go, go state. Sleep becomes an issue.

 

Christine Coen [00:33:00]:

Falling asleep, staying asleep. With the impact of blood sugar and cortisol, your weight can start to change. The way that your body holds onto body fat is going to change. It's going to hold it more around your midsection. And this is all because your body's evolutionarily preparing you for a long, stressful something, a long, stressful winter. Right. And so it's saving all this extra fat for you to survive on, essentially. So it's all the brilliant mechanism of the body's survival.

 

Christine Coen [00:33:36]:

Yeah. Design low cortisol, which can tend to happen once, let's just say, like, you've had a lot of high cortisol for an extended period of time, and then the body, the way it's designed it actually, like, under produces cortisol. And so this would feel more like fatigue, exhaustion, kind of more like that shut down state where you just don't have energy. You're more lethargic mentally and physically, and you might be able to see for a ton of time, you know, hours and hours, 810 hours a night, still never feel rested. So, yeah, just as, like a little 101. Some of the misconceptions about cortisol are that when you get saliva tests, which is the best way to test your cortisol over a 24 hours period, that if the levels come back normal, that that means you don't have a cortisol issue. Some of the other conceptions are, if you are lethargic, that doesn't mean you don't have some experience of high cortisol. Like, this is a hormone that is going to change on a daily basis.

 

Christine Coen [00:34:40]:

And then I think the third one is that you can't do anything about it, and you absolutely can do something about it.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:34:46]:

Oh, I love that last one. Absolutely.   And then also cortisol is a hormone. Like we said, it's a really good. It's our rising hormone. It's the hormone that wakes us up in the morning, in addition to it being unfortunately, like fat storage hormone. Like you said, we so I just love this little tidbit that you mentioned about how we gain weight, potentially in our abdomen, specifically because our bodies are so smart that it wants fat near our liver so that we can convert that into fuel in times of an emergency.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:37:45]:

It'll influence blood flow direction where if your heart's pounding, it'll influence that. And really, what's the interface between cortisol and our nervous system? Is it that our nervous system gets triggered and then our brain will trigger the release of cortisol? Tell us a little bit about the interface between cortisol and our nervous system.

 

Explain the interface between cortisol and our nervous system.

Christine Coen [00:38:02]:

Well, they're directly connected. They're like one's feeding into the other. Your nervous system is always reading the environment externally and internally to detect stress, to detect threats. And when it's constantly picking up on them, your brain is receiving those messages, and then it's going to go through the stress response, which is going to tell your adrenals, produce some cortisol, because life threat, you know. But then the more we produce cortisol, the more the body thinks it's in a stressed state. And so then the nervous system stays in that fight, flight, or freeze, and then it just constantly, like, feeds back into itself, which is why when you do things that regulate your nervous system or that you might hear, oh, this helps lower your cortisol. You're going to see so much overlap because it really does support both.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:38:50]:

And our HPA axis, our hypothalamic, pituitary, adrenal axis, which also is, I mean, literally the signal system for how cortisol is produced and sent out through the body, is so responsive and so frustrating because our HPA axis is a self limiting system, aka, the more stressed you are, the less resilient you are to handle more stress. So I think a little bit of stress in life is very good, and then a lot of stress can be quite challenging, I would say. I wouldn't say anything's bad, but it can be quite challenging. And I think when it comes to our HPI access, too, we also utilize a tremendous amount of nutrients for building those hormones for those interactions, so we deplete them as time goes on. An entire episode on that in season one called the anxiety episode, with our mineral master, Amanda Montalvo. Christine, also take us through a little bit how cortisol interfaces with other hormones, actually, because cortisol causes weight gain for a couple different reasons. It's not only that cortisol influences fat storage, which it does tell us also how cortisol is involved with other hormones.

 

And how does cortisol interface with other hormones?

Christine Coen [00:39:54]:

Yeah, so the first one that it's really involved with is insulin. There's a big correlation between our blood sugar and cortisol. Basically, like, when blood sugar dips, our body needs to produce more, purely because we need to survive. And if our blood sugar goes too low, we actually could die. So the body's mechanism for that is to release a little bit of cortisol to help your liver bring, you know, release some cortisol in your glycogen and bring that blood sugar back up.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:40:25]:

That's great.

 

Christine Coen [00:40:26]:

But if that happens overnight, then you're going to wake up at two or 03:00 a.m. So it's one main reason why people experience that 03:00 a.m. Wake up without.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:40:34]:

Even low blood sugar. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's a really important point and something that I've been posting about for five years, and people still are really confused about when your blood sugar drops. I'm just reiterating the beautiful thing you said, when your blood sugar drops, your body needs to get sugar from somewhere. And cortisol has this amazing deal, essentially, with the liver and muscle for us to get glucose that exists within our body. So our body's like, where are we going to get that sugar from? We'll use our own stores and convert it into sugar from non sugar entities, essentially. So, in that you then kick off this whole cortisol insulin cycle, which then can lead to long term weight loss resistance and other issues as well. So it's like cortisol up, insulin up, and then tell us about cortisol and our thyroid, like other markers and measures of our metabolic capacity.

 

Christine Coen [00:41:26]:

So if cortisol has been high for a while, it's going to start this cascade or domino effect into our other hormone systems, because everything is connected. And so our thyroid, our t four and our t three, which are the main forms that keep our thyroid doing its thing with metabolism and body temperature and a number of other important tasks, is going to start to slow down the mechanism of our thyroid. So it's really common for people to have symptoms that align with hypothyroidism when they have been under chronic stress for a decent amount of time. This is also going to pull more minerals and more reserves out of your body, which is just going to put more stress on your body again, something that just continues to feed into the stress cycle. And then the HPO access, which is all about estrogen and progesterone and testosterone are also going to be affected eventually, which is why stress can impact your PM's experience, how bad your periods are, fertility, putting you into early onset menopause, even in your, like, late thirties or early forties. And so these things are all can be connected back to what is causing the stress, what's causing the cortisol imbalances in your body.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:42:51]:

And would you say cortisol is responsive to physiological stressors as well as mental stressors? So if you have, like, a lot of autoimmunity happening or you have a lot of gut issues, would you say cortisol is also responsive to those.

 

Would you say cortisol is responsive to physiological stressors as well as mental stressors?

Christine Coen [00:43:03]:

Yeah, yeah. It's our cells. If our cells are experiencing stress, it doesn't really matter where the stress is coming from, because at the end of the day, the stress in the cell looks exactly the same.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:43:15]:

Exactly. So that's a crazy concept, by the way, that our body experiences mental stress the same way it experiences physiological stress. So that'll leeway us also into this fight, flight, freeze, or shutdown piece of the conversation. Give us, like, one sentence definitions of each of those reaction states to trauma or stress.

 

Explain the fight, flight, freeze, or shutdown reaction states to trauma or stress.

Christine Coen [00:43:34]:

So, for example, with the flight state in response to stress, it's like wanting to run as far away from what you're experiencing, which is why anxiety is probably under the term flight. With fight, it's, you want to fight, get your way to safety and survival. With freeze and shutdown, it's interesting because it's like two sides of the same coin. So with shutdown, it's more the response where, like, you become limp. Okay. And the freeze part would be like frozen panic.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:44:16]:

Are you explaining that these are experienced physically or these are mind experiences? Like, if it's flight, are you having racing thoughts? You're like, I gotta go, I gotta go. Or are you literally running? Like, tell us, tell us about that.

 

Christine Coen [00:44:27]:

So it can be in both. You can actually manifest them as your thoughts racing, or, like, you physically cannot sit down and stop moving. It's, like, uncomfortable to just, like, rest. Many people say meditation's impossible for me. I don't like to sit down and do nothing. They're either on their phone all the time or shopping or doing something to distract themselves. So it can happen both ways. What's really interesting is when you do somatic practices to help guide yourself back to safety.

 

Christine Coen [00:44:59]:

In the flight state, you would do things that actually move your body in a way that helps release that stimulated energy. Because in the sympathetic response of our body, which is the fight or flight state, your body is primed to move. Your body is getting all of these messages and chemicals released. You get a burst of energy, and your body is like, this is for you to use to get the hell out of whatever dangerous situation you're in. But in our modern life, or if we can't identify the, you know, the threat around us, we're going to just have that as an internal experience, as anxiety, or as this internal restlessness, or external restlessness, but doing things to help release that restlessness, that could literally be going for a run, or it could be shaking your body, or it could be doing something around your house where you're, like, physically moving, like dancing, going for a walk at the very basic level as well, like these things where you're actually giving your body this thing that it needs.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:46:03]:

So it's really important to lean into the stress response as opposed to trying to fight the way that your body's going at the time. So it's like, almost like if you're in a fight response and you feel yourself being energized, it might not even be helpful to sit in that and just try to meditate through that. Because you're energized during that time.

 

Christine Coen [00:46:24]:

Yeah. If you understand it through, like, the sympathetic nervous system lens, if you were out in nature 10,000 years ago and you were in a fight or flight state because you saw an animal rushing at you, do you think sitting and meditating would be the thing that you'd need to do?

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:46:43]:

No.

 

Christine Coen [00:46:43]:

You'd either fight or flight your way.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:46:45]:

Out of it, or you would freeze.

 

Christine Coen [00:46:47]:

Like, you know, you see some animals do when they're, when they get frightened, I think, like, opossums do that, right? And they just literally are frozen and play dead. And that's a survival mechanism, and that's what we also do.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:46:58]:

I like that visual, by the way. Yeah, the possums. Additionally, when I'm thinking about all of this, I'm thinking about that client who's going to listen to this and say, well, Michelle, I have an office job. I can't just jump up and start running around the office. Are there, like, tiny somatic activities people can do even at their desk, to release some of the energy if it's pent up?

 

Are there somatic activities people can do to release some of the pent up energy?

Christine Coen [00:47:20]:

Yes, of course. And these are things that's the beauty of somatic practices, is they're so foundational, they're so basic that you're like, I used to do that when I was a kid, or I just do that anyway. And I never knew that there was, like, an actual scientific reason why this helped to soothe me or calm me or, you know, bring me back to the present moment. So doing things like breath work is the thing that people hear the most about. So breath work, like an extended exhale, is going to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your rest and recovery state. I call it the safety state. But just that mechanism alone, long exhales. Like, I think the best way to describe it is just like, if you were to inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds.

 

Christine Coen [00:48:12]:

And that's one very basic thing. Another thing is the physiological sigh. So literally, just taking a really deep breath in and then just sighing it out and doing that on purpose. Your body naturally does this through throughout the day, and it's a way to help bring you back into parasympathetic nervous system state. Humming, singing, doing something to orient you physiologically or sensorially to the present moment. So looking around and doing, like, the 54321 thing, like, five things I can see, four things I can hear, three things I can touch, two things I can smell, and one thing I can taste. Even though it sounds so basic, it's bringing your body into a state of the present. I just posted something on my instagram that basically was like, when you're humming or singing, your mind can't think.

 

Christine Coen [00:49:06]:

It leaves no room for your mind to go do its thing, where it's racing through all the things that you're worried about, but even more so, it actually activates your vagus nerve, which is directly connected to calming your nervous system into that state of safety.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:49:24]:

Yeah, it's incredible. Those are amazingly helpful tips, and I think these are all really good short term strategies, too, for when you're actually in a pinch. I even have clients under their desk. I'll have them kicking their feet or doing things to shake the bottom of their feet, even if they're in a meeting. We see people in meetings. Yeah, exactly. Moving their hands, moving their bodies a little bit out of, like, it's uncomfortable for us to even sit in that same position for so long. It's uncomfortable to sit like that for so long.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:49:56]:

And if we have energy built up, but we don't historically move probably as much as we have in our past or need to, we have to flow with that. So I think a lot of times we try to almost betray our bodies in times of stress, and we try to do the opposite of what's asking of us. Right. Like, it's like, I want you to run, and it's like, that's interesting. I'm going to play dead, you know, I'm going to lay down, and I think we need to enhance or roll with what our body's asking us for. So I love that you brought that piece into it. Also, we talked a little bit about fight or flight. Tell us about shutdown and freeze and what those mechanisms are like and what the experience is like of having so.

 

Tell us about shutdown and freeze and what those mechanisms are like and what the experience is like of each.

Christine Coen [00:50:35]:

Shut down and freeze are a little. Are different. It's a different expression of how your body is experiencing that survival threat. And so in fight or flight, where you would do something that's more stimulating in freeze or shutdown, you actually want to do something that's almost like melting the ice. If you were to take that visual, and I like to look at it as doing something that's helping, like a turtle come back out of its shell. So if you can look at, you know, that throat, that freeze or that shutdown is just like you are hiding within, that's like that disassociation feeling, that numb feeling. But you can do things that help gently and slowly, calmly reminds that internal, subconscious version, nervous system version of you, that it is a safe environment to calm back out of the shell. That's the approach for that, which makes so much sense, because when you're in that state of depression, getting up and, like, doing jumping jacks, going for a walk, shaking your body can feel, actually, one, impossible to get to.

 

Christine Coen [00:51:49]:

Absolutely, which is why I love somatic practices. But two, it actually can, like, over stimulate your nervous system to create more stress. So we don't want to do that. We want to do things like gentle hugs. I love the process of havening, which is just like dragging your fingers down your arms or down your legs. You can do things just to bring you sensorially back to the moment. So you can, like, gently tap on your body up and down or even hold it and squeeze it like that. Just give yourself a little squeeze.

 

Christine Coen [00:52:21]:

And through your senses, you're helping reconnect yourself to, like, feeling your. Feeling your body, and take you out of that numb state. I also love the orienting practice for. For this, because even if you're frozen, like, literally just on the couch or in bed, you can look around with your eyes and just see what. Where you are, what, that you're in your room or whatever, somewhere that you are safe. And you don't have to think these things. You don't have to force or tell yourself these things by just practicing these physiological, basic things. It's communicating that to your nervous system through sensation and through feeling, which is why somatics is different than like, talk therapy.

 

Christine Coen [00:53:12]:

Talk therapy and how it helps to bring you back. Yeah. Into the moment and feel safe.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:53:19]:

Well, if the body is experiencing something and it's being translated to the brain, then it would make sense that things that we do to our body can help our brain. I think that the traditional approach to anxiety and depression has historically been what I would call a top down approach, is we target the brain to target the rest of the body. What, Christine, you so beautifully spoke into and what you do with clients is you start from kind of a bottom up approach where it's like, let's experience the body, and then it'll send a message to the brain saying, we're safe, and letting things, letting everyone know, I love the turtle coming out of its shell for shutdown. I think that is so powerful. And I think it also lets the body know that there's, like, someone there who's going to take them at their own pace. Like you said before, children know this already. Like, children know how to handle stress and what to do when they're stressed. They might even kick and scream.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:54:17]:

They might do things to really express themselves. And then society, and over time, infringes on us and tells us we have to stop experiencing our own bodies, disassociate and do things in a way that's very hustle, that's very ignore yourself. That's really the culture of at least this country is. How do we kind. And Canada, how do we stop experiencing what we're experiencing? And what you're asking for and inviting us to do is to come back home into those moments, and that'll introduce. It sounds like that presence. And as we know, anxiety can't exist in the present. Anxiety is a what if anxiety exists in the past and in the future.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:54:52]:

So I love that kind of coming home and bringing you back into the body, which is really just an unlearning we have to do because we knew how to do this at some point.

 

Christine Coen [00:55:02]:

It is an unlearning, because I didn't do this my whole life. I was typically a person who was very much in their head, worried about a lot of things, like, even thinking back to being a kid. I worried about things all the time, was always thinking of worst case scenarios. I love a good personality test, and they usually nail me pretty well. But I feel like I have really changed the way that I experience my life, and it's no longer through my mind, in a way. Sounds so weird to say that. Yeah. But I really feel like I've moved my connection to how I experience the world, where my, you know, I'm way more in touch with my intuition, with my internal gut knowings, even, like, how I make decisions, with my work, even how I make decisions.

 

Christine Coen [00:55:51]:

I trust my feelings way more than I have ever done in my life. Whereas I kind of grew up and was conditioned to believe that, like, your feelings are just inconvenience and, like, in the way, and to just, like, especially. Cause I grew up in, like, the bodybuilding culture in my twenties, and so.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:56:13]:

It was like, oh, my gosh, it.

 

Christine Coen [00:56:15]:

Doesn'T matter how you feel, just go to work out in and go and hit it hard and blah, blah, blah, like excuses and discipline and willpower. And I actually think that none of what I do relies on the energy of willpower or discipline anymore. But I am more consistent, more connected, more successful, more happy than I've ever been because I've unlearned so much of what I was doing because I was scared to stop doing it. Because, one, I didn't know there was another way. And when I saw that maybe there's another way of doing this, it took me a while to get brave enough to actually start to practice that and, like, open myself up to that because I was just so afraid of letting what I had known my whole life go, even though I knew it wasn't working for me. So that was another part of my growth.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:57:09]:

We have to grieve so much when we let go of what we have lived like, and I think we don't want to let go of it because it's scarier to do something totally new. Thank you for sharing that part of your story. A huge piece of anxiety for many people comes from a lack of self, self trust, and a lack of not knowing self and not feeling like you're being true to self. And it really sounds like on your journey, that's a lot of the experience you've had, is you're like, I'm going to take out these external ideas about who I am, these external ideas of how I should live, and I'm going to listen to Christine and what Christine needs. And it sounds like that was huge for you and your journey, too.

 

Christine Coen [00:57:44]:

It was. I made that intention probably, like, three years ago now, where I said, I want to be in touch with my intuition. Like, I want to feel confident making decisions by going inward and not going outward. And I had done that, I think, like, with overcoming binge eating and anxiety and depression, like, in my everyday life. But there were still times where it really did. It still came in, like, more of a whisper of it, but it still debilitated me. Like, it still. Still prevented me from growing in my career, with relationships, with even just, like, how I show up as a friend with, like, so many small things.

 

Christine Coen [00:58:27]:

But I have changed the way that I view it. I've changed the way that I identify as that person, like, as basic as with my social media growth, which has exploded over the last, like, year or two. And it was a conscious choice for me to recognize, okay, I do want to grow my business online, but I also have this fear of being seen, I don't think that I am interesting enough to listen to. What if people just start attacking me for what I'm saying? And so I had to look at all of these internal limiting beliefs that I had that were coming into a duplicity with something that I also wanted and basically disprove them to myself by believing it could be different. And I totally attribute a lot of what has happened since then because of that.

 

Michelle Shapiro [00:59:19]:

Yeah, there's a, we had an episode about trauma on the podcast with Doctor Robert Kochko, who everyone's heard me say my name 100 name 100 times. And he always says, the nervous system learns by example, which means there's no way that you would be able to disprove any of this to your nervous system or your body without actually experiencing it, which is really the same for anxiety. We won't know what it's like to not have anxiety, and we won't ever believe that we'll have less anxiety unless we take those actions to go towards it. Because then when we have less anxiety, our body can say, oh, I believe you now, you have less anxiety now. But we don't know unless we know, because our body doesn't do things by us saying, you are going to have less anxiety. Our body needs to experience it first.

 

Christine Coen [01:00:02]:

And this is a whole other, like, conversation we could really have, because this whole whole somatic practice thing has a whole other side to it that takes you into like flow state and just really taking your internal concept and self confidence to a whole other level. So once you heal from anxiety and depression or whatever you're going through, that's stopping you from taking action, how do you then use these practices to just expand and create everything that you want in your life? And it's really incredible, like, because how powerful, when your body experiences a sensation, whether, you know, it's anxiety and there's actually not a threat, but you believe there's a threat. Well, you can do that on the flip side where you can have your body go through like an embodied experience of complete peace or happiness, or, I don't know, having one of the things that you dream about come to fruition and put your nervous system through that experience through visualization, or like, I use eft tapping a lot for this stuff. But either way, you're having an embodied sensorial experience of this incredible thing that you, you know, lights you up and excites the shit out of you. And I think that that's actually preparing your nervous system for that to happen in reality. And you actually start to recognize what that thing feels like. So even if you're still battling anxiety, you can have experiences of a life that does not have anxiety. That's more.

 

Christine Coen [01:01:38]:

That has more peace, that has more excitement, that has more freedom, that has more relief, because you're actually just, like, helping your nervous system feel that, even if it hasn't actually happened.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:01:51]:

If we can learn anxiety, we can learn happiness, we can learn safety, we can learn joy, just because we think we can only go in one direction, which is being more anxious. And then if we have an anxious experience, our HPA axis reacts that way. But like you said, we can also learn the other side of the coin, too, and just in the same way. And there's been studies that show that feeling safer, embodied or experiencing joy might be even more of a powerful experience in some ways. Again, conflicting studies on that, but there are some that say that actually having those positive experiences has a higher kind of chemical flow and hormone flow from our brains than having those negative experiences. But we don't believe what we haven't experienced, and I think that's really hard for people. So you have to try a bunch of different things. There are days where I might feel like a turtle, and there's days where I might feel like the lion.

 

Do you think that your anxiety or depression symptoms influence your personality?

Michelle Shapiro [01:02:45]:

You know, it depends on who you are and where you're at. The last question I have for you, too, is you mentioned personality tests, and I love that you mentioned that. Do you think that if you would have taken a personality test ten years ago, that your anxiety or depression symptoms would have influenced your personality and how it would show up versus now? Oh, yeah.

 

Christine Coen [01:03:05]:

I mean, they definitely did. They influenced my personality. I had taken a personality test. We did it in high school. So I always go to that one, the enneagram. And it's been, like, my guide for personality tests going forward. But even in that, my personality runs on needing to feel safe in every single thing of my life. Like, that's my motivation, is feeling safe and secure.

 

Christine Coen [01:03:32]:

Other people's are, like, I don't know, feeling heard or whatever, feeling unique. Mine is feeling safe and secure. And fear is a main driver for me. And that always really intrigued me, because when it comes to everything and anything in my life, I realized all I need is to figure out how I can create safety in this moment, and then what I'm experiencing goes away. So, like, what do I need to feel safe in this moment? So it actually helped me when I made that connection. But that being said, anxiety and depression absolutely affected my personality. I became a smaller version of myself, afraid to speak, afraid to stand out. Didn't see that, like, my voice was useful, didn't think my presence was valuable.

 

Christine Coen [01:04:21]:

So, yeah, I just became, like I said, a shell of myself. I didn't laugh anymore. I wasn't vibrant. I didn't want to do the things that I love to do, even though I didn't even care about them anymore, just, like, totally disintegrated. But it was really beautiful to see myself come back to life, and I just feel like I'm continuing to come back to life just more and more and more.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:04:46]:

And you came back as an adult, so it's like you had to learn, and you have this. Clients go through the same experience, I'm sure, like the new Christine, I go through this experience with clients all the time where I'm like, when's the last time you felt, like, really, really yourself? And chronic illness, not only anxiety and depression, but physical illness, can deprive us of our us ness so much and of what we feel like ourselves. It's really funny, I think I do a bait and switch with clients where I'm like, yeah, we're going to do meal planning and supplements. And then I'm like, you're going to return home to your body and feel like yourself. And they're like, I'm not buying that. That's not what. That's not what I signed up for. I feel like that's usually where it goes, which is that health really comes from self knowing, self acceptance, and then, of course, challenging yourself to new frontiers.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:05:31]:

But I will also say, with my anxiety, I knew it was not good because I was either hyper socializing or not socializing. And that's usually a good barometer for me, where I needed to be around people all the time or I couldn't be around people. That's how I know when I just feel neutral. And I love being around people. That's when I know my anxiety's in a really good spot. And if I ever feel like I must be around people or I can't be around people, that's usually, like, my thing. And I think a lot of our health is just knowing our things, like you said, like, you're like, oh, this is my warning sign. This is my trigger, what's going on with me? Right? Like, Christine's and Michelle's warning signs are totally different from each other, but they're important to acknowledge.

 

Christine Coen [01:06:10]:

All that matters is, you know your signs. And just to start observing yourself like you probably didn't recognize that was a sign. Until you started to take, like, an objective look at everything.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:06:22]:

Yeah. Also to not care as much about it first and then be like, oh, I cared a lot about that before. You know, it's like you almost have to experience some moment of reprieve from your symptoms before you can acknowledge it. And that's why, like you said, the flare, tracking, the journaling, the reflections and the timelines are so essential, because you have to establish what your baseline is. At my baseline, I'm an extremely extroverted person, but I'm not dependent on anyone. You know, I'm really very severely independent person to a fault sometimes. But I think that when I'm not my best and I'm not feeling my best, that's when I am, again more likely to need other people more than I would normally need them or them to need me more. That's more.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:07:09]:

My thing is I need to be helping everyone all the time. That's how I know. It's like, all right, you're fulfilling something inside of you. It's a little too much, but I have to know. My baseline is that I'm extremely extroverted. Like, for you, christine, I find you to be very extroverted as well. But you'll know my baseline of extrovert is I need to be around people, or I love being around people 8 hours out of the day, but then I need a couple hours, you know, whatever it is. That's why it's so important to track these things and understand these things and also write down, you know what.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:07:35]:

This somatic tool really worked for me. Shaking was fantastic for me, or I didn't. It wasn't a shell day. It wasn't a hug day. I was like, get off of me. When I hugged myself, you know, you have to know how you're going to react to those things and listen to those reactions. This was so incredibly helpful, christine, for people, there's so much meat and juice.

 

Christine Coen [01:07:57]:

Everything.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:07:58]:

I don't know what am I, a carnivore today? But I'm very lying today. So very meaty and juicy for people.

 

Christine Coen [01:08:05]:

Juicy and juicy.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:08:06]:

I know.

 

Christine Coen [01:08:07]:

All right.

 

How can people find you and work with you further?

Michelle Shapiro [01:08:07]:

Are you hungry, Michelle? Get over it. Christine, how do people find you now? You're so exposed on social media after your mission. How do people find you? Work with you? Please. They're going to need more, Christine, after this, tell them how they can.

 

Christine Coen [01:08:20]:

I love to hang out the most on Instagram. So come say hi. Send me a DM. It's just my name at Christine, and.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:08:28]:

I'll put the link below. Yeah.

 

Christine Coen [01:08:30]:

Amazing. Thank you. And then I have a lot of free resources. I think I sent you the one that's about just like, somatic serenity practices. So understanding somatics a little bit more. And then I give you a bunch of examples and then, like, link to a bunch that I show you how to do them. And then I have ones on just, like, cortisol, I have ones on, like, hormones and stress. So you can find all of them, you know, in the usual places.

 

Christine Coen [01:08:55]:

But, yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I love talking to you. I think you're refreshing.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:09:00]:

I think you're extremely refreshing as well. And even more so now than eight years ago when I. So we first got introduced by our friend Linda. She was like, michelle, it's the year is. We're talk. I'm talking 2016. I'm talking 2016. She's like, michelle, I met another functional dietitian in New York.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:09:17]:

Like, that's how not a thing it was that I was like, oh, my God, that's so cool. Like, that we were both functional dietitians and you were.

 

Christine Coen [01:09:24]:

I know. And we totally hit it off right away.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:09:26]:

Oh, my God, we totally hit it off. And, like, you were much more on the fitness end also at the time, like you said back then, you were totally on the fitness end then, too. But I was like, oh, my God, like the coolest person and also another functional dietitian that we all work together. It was like the coolest thing, but even more so now you're like, I don't know, at full throttle, Christine. So I'm just so happy to see it. By the way, we probably the same trajectory of our selfness. So it's not yay to both of us. But I really do feel your vibrant energy and I just have to reemphasize it, too, that it's incredible to be around and witness so everyone will find you have amazing resources.

 

Michelle Shapiro [01:10:02]:

You'll have all the links in the show notes. Christina, I can never thank you enough. Thank you so much for this beautiful conversation.

 

Christine Coen [01:10:06]:

Thanks, Michelle.

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