Allowing yourself to feel your emotions. We have been fed this false belief that we should always be happy and if we are not then there’s something wrong with us. Being able to feel and experience the huge spectrum of emotions that we will have as being humans is what enables us to truly live. Also, feeling emotions keeps them from getting stuck and causing further health problems in the future.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Nancy Crowell.
Dr. Nancy Crowell, DOM, YTT, is a trained Doctor of Oriental Medicine, functional medicine practitioner, and transformational mindset coach. Through her signature whole body wellness programs, she focuses on customized diet and lifestyle choices, while uncovering the thoughts and emotions affecting wellness. She has been featured in Everyday Health, many health summits/podcasts, and hosted 5 seasons of the Conscious Eating Summit. Dr. Nancy helps her clients balance hormones, effectively treat adrenal fatigue, end gas and bloating, lose weight, clear acne, gain better sleep, and decrease stress and anxiety. Her mission is to help and inspire high achievers to radically transform their health so they can actually enjoy the freedom lifestyle they are creating. Dr. Nancy is passionate about sustainability practices and currently lives in Santa Fe, NM in a partially off-grid dwelling and a large garden with her beautiful son and adorable rescue Shih Tzu, Bodhi.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Born and raised in Texas. Grew up riding horses. My parents divorced when I was 1 years old. My dad struggled (and still does) with substance abuse and my mom worked really hard as the breadwinner to provide for financially the opportunities that she didn’t have as a child. My mom remarried when I was 5 and I have a younger brother from that marriage and a lovely step father. So I had a more or less “normal” middle class family upbringing with my mom. But I still spent time with my father, who was wild and unpredictable and claimed to be living an artist’s lifestyle as a way of downplaying his addiction to cocaine and alcohol. So I was exposed to many situations and things at a very early age that young children should not be exposed to. I also witnessed the complexity and intensity of emotions involved in family separation. My escape as a young child was gymnastics. I loved it. I would spend hours every day after school training. There was a sense of accomplishment, challenge and a high you get when master gravity defying skill. I think being an empath and codependent, gymnastics gave me an environment where I didn’t have to feel as intensely. However, when I realized I wouldn’t make it to the Olympics (the goal of most young gymnasts), I quit gymnastics at the beginning of highschool and pursued other interests…such as marijuana and psychedelics. Looking back on that time of my life, I definitely see how I was bored in public highschool education and didn’t have the training or resources to process a lot of my own emotions. So I decided to leave my reality in the way I knew how. I eventually grew out of that phase when I realized that it wasn’t creating the lasting results that I wanted and was negatively impacting my health and skin. And really my journey to clear up my cystic acne in my early 20s was the beginning of my personal transformation and health journey.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
I would say that my mom has always been one of my biggest supporters. She has always had my back and has never been one to hold me back from my pursuits. Without her support, I know that much of the success that I have created in my life wouldn’t be possible. She is also a nurse practitioner and her mom was a nurse and her dad was a heart surgeon. So I feel health and caring for others runs in my blood.
But with that being said, I think the person who really inspired me to pursue my career was a chiropractor named John Tanasse. He was my chiropractor while I was in university in Olympia WA (studying international politics and preparing to be a lawyer!). I had a severe neck injury in highschool at a swim meet and had a lot of pain and trauma in my neck. I had a long journey with Dr. Tanasse in helping to recover full range of motion in my neck and move out of chronic pain. I saw him every week for a very long time and really loved and admired him. One time after I had graduated from college and was visiting Washington, we were chatting and he told me that he thought I would be a really good chiropractor. And something in me lit up in a way that it never had. I had never considered a path like that and there was someone that I really respected telling me that he saw the potential in me to be like him. Immediately afterwards, I ended up applying for chiropractic school and starting the prerequisites that I needed to begin. I didn’t end up becoming a chiropractor because 6 months later I decided that East Asian medicine was more aligned with my belief systems and took a more body, mind and spirit approach. But had he not seen the potential in me to be a healer and support others in their journey to health, I don’t know that I would be where I am today.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
From an early age my mom taught me that if there’s something that I want to accomplish in my life, I will accomplish it if I put in the work and am dedicated. An example of this was in highschool. I got kicked out of cheerleading and because my parents made it a rule that I must always be in a sport, I chose swimming. I had never competitively swam in my life. So my mom hired a private trainer for me the entire summer before the school tryouts. Looking back, I see the huge financial commitments she made for me to make sure I would succeed. I, of course, made the team because of how much I had swam and been supported for the months leading up.
She, also, supported me in all my crazy decisions over the years. I have never really been normal. So when I wanted to have dreadlocks at the age of 19, she helped me do it. When I wanted to do a semester in Peru in college, she financially and emotionally supported me in that. When I was depressed after college and decided to go to India to study yoga, she let me borrow the money to make that trip possible. And when I became pregnant with my son in a very new relationship, she told me to make the decision that I wanted to make and that she would support me.
My mom is my biggest fan and advocate.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I don’t know that it’s funny but I feel the biggest mistake I made for a long time was devaluing my own experiences and expertise. No matter how much I learned and how many people I helped, it took me a long time to step into my power and authority within the online health industry. When I finally realized that no one was going to give me permission to step into my power and that I needed to claim my space, that was transformational for me. It was really a transformational experience of realizing that I was worthy on so many levels.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Wow, there have been so many books that have influenced me and my personal journey but I think one of the first ones I can think of that really shifted my perspective was Be Here Now by Ram Dass. A book written on spirituality, yoga and meditation. I read it when I was about 20 years old and it definitely started to plant the seeds of responsibility and seeing that I had more power in my life than I knew. I feel the principles shared in that book are still relevant for me today. When we heal ourselves, our beliefs, our traumas, we end up radically transforming our outer world….health, wealth, relationships, etc.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. — Lao Tzu
Much of my work revolves around the Taoist 5 elements and I am a huge fan Lao Tzu. I love this quote because it’s a reminder that we can get to the same outcome without the intense drive and hustle that we are led to believe is necessary in order to create our vision in life. I believe embodying more of the feminine energy or Yin energy is a radical thing in this day and age. To slow down, trust and be in flow in a world that tells us that our value is in how much we achieve or do in a day is truly transformational.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Depends on when this is being published. But in April I am hosting The Limitless Energy Summit where I have brought together leaders in the health industry as well as spiritual and thought leaders to discuss the topic of energy and burn out. This is a very important conversation as we are only as young as we are energetic and many people are feeling an extreme sense of fatigue and burn out after the sequence of events in 2020. We will be discussing our culture perpetuates burn out as well as the physiological and environmental factors.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
One thing that people don’t realize is that mental wellness is very connected to your physical wellness. The reason for that is that your brain chemistry is highly affected by your inflammation levels and gut health. So I’d say one decreasing overall inflammation and healing your gut is one of the biggest things you can do for your mental health.
Boundaries are also extremely important for mental health. When a person lacks boundaries they are unable to care for themselves psychologically which puts their wellbeing at risk.
Having a growth mindset and being able to shift out of a victim mindset is crucial. A victim mindset is one in which a person feel as if they have no power and are victim to life’s circumstances. People with this mindset are less likely to make the necessary changes to support their well being. A growth mindset sees obstacles and challenges as an opportunity for growth. A person with this mindset has been able to reframe setbacks as neutral feedback that can be used to make better decisions in the future.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I studied yoga to be a yoga teacher over 15 years in Southern India. Since that time, I have gone through phases of almost every style of yoga. Each has their time and place. But I feel like Yin yoga is extremely healing and powerful practice. Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga that incorporates principles of traditional Chinese medicine, with asanas (postures) that are held for longer periods of time. This gives the practitioner the ability to open up energetic channels in the body and enough time to really practice the art of embodiment to tap into deeper emotions that may have not been felt during the business of our modern life.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
I believe physical wellness to be individual. There is no cookie cutter approach to health.
That being said these 3 things are needed for a baseline of health for everyone.
- MOVE & SWEAT- We need to move our bodies every single day to keep our blood sugar in balance, keep our gut healthy and produce a sweat. If that is not possible then something like an infrared sauna can be used. But sweating ensures that your detox pathways are open and you are releasing toxins.
- Healing your gut and removing underlying infections- I think people often misinterpret healing the gut as taking probiotics but it’s far more complex than that. That being said, having healthy gut function and making sure that you don’t have a leaky gut is one of the most important things you can do for your health. When you have leaky gut aka intestinal permeability, you have inflammation and every chronic illness is associated with inflammation.
- Live a detox lifestyle: Our chemical and toxic burden is super high. Babies are now being born with mass amounts of toxins in their umbilical cord. It’s important to reduce your exposure to chemicals. This means looking at labels of all your household cleaners, beauty products, hair products and even looking to see if you’re purchasing stuff with fire retardants. All of these chemicals disrupt your hormones and wreck havoc in the body.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Food is powerful medicine but it’s important to not follow every fad that you see. Bio-individuality is important and making sure that what you are doing is supporting your long term vision for your health. The biggest block that I see is having a victim mindset. Many people go down a “poor me” story when they try to remove inflammatory foods. Instead of realizing that it’s an empowered choice that will help that create the life that they truly desire. Another issue I see is perfectionism. So often people will go off track and then use that as a reason to justify quitting. Like any long term commitment, you have to recommit daily.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Allowing yourself to feel your emotions. We have been fed this false belief that we should always be happy and if we are not then there’s something wrong with us. Being able to feel and experience the huge spectrum of emotions that we will have as being humans is what enables us to truly live. Also, feeling emotions keeps them from getting stuck and causing further health problems in the future.
- Asking for support. I think that we often think that we should be able to figure things out on our own or fear being vulnerable. We are communal creatures and thrive in community. We need each other. Asking for support is one of the best ways to support our emotional wellbeing.
- Being self righteous in our suffering and not letting stuff go. Sometimes we get so caught up in needing to justify our feelings that we fail to see how it’s keeping us emotionally stuck and we could simply let it go. Learning this skill is super important.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
No thoughts about it…but I do know that there is research out there proving it to release hormones that support happiness. I personally think that authenticity is important and getting to the root of emotions is better than faking it.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
Trust in something beyond yourself. If you feel like everything is fully under your control you miss the magic and will be exhausted.
Have a morning daily practice that allows you to tap into yourself and prime yourself for the day. You want to be in charge of your vibrational energy and not get sucked into the energy of your environment. LIfe is an enrollment game and you want to be the master of your own energy.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
Yes, nature shares the secrets of the universe. Through watching natures rhythms, we can see the natural rhythms of life. Each season and element has a spiritual teaching to it. For example, winter is the WATER element and it teaches us to slow down, turn inward and trust.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
For everyone to know their inherent worth and value. I feel like most self destructive behaviors stem from forgetting the worth that we were born with. Most of our lives we spend trying to validate and create that worth externally. If we all stood in our worth, we would be a more stable loving world.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to have breakfast with Oprah. Her personal story of success really inspires me. The mindset and beliefs that she had to work through both as a black woman and coming from a challenging childhood to create her life and results.
How can our readers further follow your work online?