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Reclaiming Yourself with Lewellyn Melnyk: Choosing Yourself When Life Gets Hard

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This week on the Trailblazher Podcast, we are diving in deep about burnout, boundaries, and self-care with Lewellyn Melnyck. Lewellyn was featured in our Fall 2023 Issue of the magazine and today, we are taking a closer look at her article, Reclaiming Yourself. In this conversation, we are going to look at all the things that women do, how we feel about it, our timing, our productivity, and sometimes just our tiredness.

Women today are busy and we need some tools in our tool belt to take care of ourselves. Because how often do we hear the words? “You need to take care of yourself.” “You need to put yourself first.” “You need self-care in your life.”

We all hear that and we all know it, but what does it actually look and feel like? 

Lewellyn joins us today to discuss that very topic. Every woman needs to hear this conversation, so make sure to share it and let us know your favorite takeaway!

Mental Health in Agriculture

Lewellyn starts by giving us and our listeners a little more background on herself and how she became so passionate about mental health and self-care. She shares that in addition to being a grain farmer, she also has two kids. Having grown up on the farm, Lewellyn is no stranger to the long days and little reprieve. In a moment of complete transparency, she shares her feelings about the farm, describing it as “an unspoken family member that always comes first.” 

She goes on to say that there’s little flexibility when it comes to farm life, the crops need to get in the ground, the cows need to be milked, and the garden harvested…farm life waits for no one. This led Lewellyn to feel like she was always sacrificing because the workload felt imposed and there was no negotiation with it. She recalls memories of growing up and shares that she “was taught work ethic but not taking the time to rest.”  

The mentality of all work and no rest was a recipe for burnout that Lewellyn didn’t see coming. It eventually led her to write her first book, “Rooted: How I Stay Small Town Strong When Life Gets Hard and How You Can Too”. The book and article were written in hopes that other people would see that the rural lifestyle is great, but there are some big challenges that need to be talked about. “Rooted” is not only a self-help book, but it’s also a memoir, sharing Lewellyn’s story and then giving readers tips about what they can do if they’re struggling with mental health.

The True Meaning of Self-Care

In this next part of the conversation, we ask Lewellyn to dive a bit deeper into the true meaning of self-care what that has looked like for her over the years, and what our listeners can take away from her experiences. The very first thing that she shares about self-care is that it is such an individual thing. It can be going for a massage, or getting your nails done. But that isn’t what it looks like for everyone. Depending on the stage of life you’re in, it might look like going to the grocery store by yourself and someone watching the kids or just taking a walk outside. She stresses that self-care looks and feels different for everyone, so the best thing you can do is dig deep and figure out what you need most in the present moment. 

When wrapping up this self-care chat, Jan asks Lewellyn what advice she would give to someone who isn’t sure where to start with practicing self-care. Lewellyn Melnyck shares that one of the first steps to self-care is saying ‘no’. 

She reminds us that a lot of us are mothers and that our maternal instinct is to look after our kids, so we’re conditioned to be on call when they need something. So we get used to saying ‘yes’ to our kids, and then that trickles into us getting used to saying yes to our husbands, family members, or community. Then we find that our plates get full and we don’t know how to take those things off our plate. She shares that anyone and everyone needs to know that ‘no’ is a full sentence and you’re allowed to say no to things that don’t serve you. Below are a few more steps that Lewellyn outlines for women who are ready to put themselves first. 

  1. Make some time and do not fill that time with anything. Just make some time. Even if it’s once a day, or once a week to start. Take the time to just rest, do some self-reflection, or journal.  
  2. After making time, the goal is to figure out who you are. Lewellyn shares that a lot of times our identity takes on all of the roles that we have. But that’s not who we are, so she encourages us to take what we need and listen to ourselves.
  3. Over time you will find the things that light up your soul again. Focus on those things because that is where self-care becomes powerful. 

Putting Yourself First After Burnout

One of the first things she started doing after her burnout experience was exercising. Lewellyn Melnyck explains that taking a walk every day was her first form of self-care. Then nutrition was another one. She explains that when you don’t eat well, you won’t feel well. So powering your body with nutritious foods is another simple form of self-care that is often overlooked. Of major importance is getting your hormones checked. Because as women, we are driven by our hormones and sometimes something might be out of whack and we would never know.  Lewellyn wraps up this part of the conversation by saying that if we’re doing all those things, it is just like a trickle that eventually turns into a waterfall. So if we prioritize them, they are going to help us feel better.

At this point, we’ve heard Lewellyn’s story and how her body was telling her she could no longer sustain the workload she had. Make sure to tune in to this episode to catch her full account and some of the habits that helped her recover from burnout.

Make sure to tune in and follow Lewellyn on your favorite social media platforms listed below. 

Connect with Lewellyn Melnyck

OTHER KEY POINTS TO LISTEN FOR IN THIS CONVERSATION WITH LEWELLYN MELNYCK

  • Strategies that a woman could utilize to start putting herself first and not losing herself to everything
  • Excerpts from Lewellyn Melnyck’s article in the Fall 2023 Issue of Trailblazher Magazine
  • How to navigate the mental workload and avoid burnout

Our Favorite Quotes From This Episode

“Our culture is to achieve, work hard, to produce or, make a certain amount of money and so there’s value on all of those things, but so often we lose the value in ourselves.” – Lewellyn Melnyck

“We compare ourselves to someone or something but they’re not doing what you’re doing, so don’t compare it. Let’s just look at your own situation. That’s all that matters.” – Lewellyn Melnyck

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November 23, 2023

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