I’m so excited to bring you the expansive knowledge of Rebecca Lucas, a naturopath who has been in the industry for 21 years and counting. If you’ve ever wanted to see behind the curtain of a naturopathy clinic, then this interview is for you. Rebecca is so generous with her knowledge and full of advice, from how to combat pre performance jitters, to getting those illusive hours of restful sleep. Happy reading everyone!
Disclaimer* all of Rebecca’s amazing insights could not be put into a blog post word for word. Hence, some of her answers have been slightly condensed with her approval.
What has your career path been so far?
I kind of fell into naturopathy by default, it wasn’t my original career plan. I had wanted to study osteopathy, however, my year 12 score didn’t allow that. After working with a naturopath when the stress of year 12 was getting to me, I decided to ask how she began naturopathy and from there I approached the private university and began the application process. I have now been a naturopath for 21 years and counting! After obtaining my naturopathy qualification I got a job at a health food store, as I was very drawn to the holistic side of living, but actually didn’t like that as much as I enjoyed pharmacy work. I liked the science and the exactness of what pharmacy could offer, and I enjoyed the knowledge of understanding how pharmaceuticals affected natural therapies. I remained in pharmacy for quite a few years, but always harboured a dream to open my own naturopathy clinic. I opened my home clinic 16 years ago, and after some soul searching 3 years ago, I decided to focus most of my clinic work on fertility… with saying that, I still see clients for a range of things.
What are some ways that art intertwines with your life?
I danced a lot as a child, and even started my student teaching journey when I was 13. Though I don’t dance anymore, both my daughters do, so I’m very involved with the dance world. I loved teaching, in some ways more than performing, and it was something I did a lot of whilst studying. It helped keep me active and bring a bit of balance to my routine, instead of just being glued to my desk. Learning how the body works through the lens of a dance teacher has really positively impacted the way I approach naturopathy.
What was the thought process behind opening your own clinic?
One of the biggest things I like about working for myself is not having to restrict my treatment options. When I was in pharmacy, and even in the health food shop, I had a lot of rules and regulations, which meant I didn’t have the authority to help someone that couldn’t afford my services or just try something new. Within my own clinic I have the flexibility to help clients experiencing financial hardship, along with working to find the right support for more complex cases. I have always promised myself that where possible, I would not deny anyone help due to their financial situation. Opening my own clinic has allowed me to be the person and practitioner I want to be.
For those who are unfamiliar with naturopathy, could you summarise the amazing work you do?
Naturopathy helps the body to find its own balance. If you read something on naturopathy it will most likely talk about not putting a ‘bandaid’ on the problem, but rather investigating the root of the issue. A naturopath investigates and tries to find anything that’s dysregulated or disfunctional in the body, and then help support the body back to balance so it can heal rather than simply alleviating symptoms. The hard thing with natural therapists is that it’s not exactly a regulated field; not everyone has to do the years of study and gain qualifications, like I did, in order to call themselves a natural therapist… It’s worth doing your research before deciding to see a clinician, as there are amazing naturopaths who garner great results, but there are also those who don’t have the education you would want.
Do you have a morning routine?
My morning routine has certainly changed over the years. I used to be a night owl, I think in part thanks to dancing, but now I love starting my days at 5am. I have two beautiful daughters, so getting up and starting work at 5am means I get some time for the business before I need to get them off to school. I find those few hours of morning work so quiet and peaceful! Once I’m back from school dropoff it’s straight into work again, whether that be seeing clients or getting through the admin side of things etc. The other part of my morning routine is taking my supplements; I take Vit B for stress and iron, and sometimes take Vit D when I feel it’s needed. Vit D works super well for me and can alter my mood so quickly. Doing what I do has taught me so much about myself and so I also use a product to support my general nervous system and my adrenals in order to adapt to stress, so that instead of being overactive, I sit in a nice balanced way… most of the time.
Which of your values did pursuing naturopathy speak to?
As much as I fell into naturopathy, there is so much of the job that resonates with the person I strive to be. I like caring, nurturing, and supporting people. I also like educating people. I want clients to know why they’re doing something and not just accept what I say at face value. My values, in both my personal life and business, are honesty, nurture, care, and education, and I expect these values from clients in return.
Though a herb has certain properties, they can react so differently with different people. How do you go about finding the right herbs for a client?
I always ask new clients an array of questions, and their answers along with how they react to things in their life, and even some of their physical characteristics, help me work out what to give and how much to give. Overtime I’ve continued to learn what herbs can do and different ways to use them in different people. I work alot with a brand called metagenics and I always say that the products have personalities, understanding those personalities help me tweak doses etc for the desired result in different individuals. I honestly think time and experience have been my best teachers though.
Has COVID seen a change or spike in what you’ve been treating in the clinic?
I have definitely been working with a number of clients on anxiety and depression since the pandemic began, I have noticed the rise in these symptoms pretty evenly across all genders. I will say the mental health support I was giving teenagers in my clinic spiked around 5 years ago… There is just so much stress around study these days. Whenever I’m working with a client on mood related issues I talk about the three pillars: food, sleep and exercise. I also find mediation and mindfulness is so important. I think something to keep in mind, especially when we are going through all these hard lockdowns, is don’t try and change everything at once. I always give my clients one thing to focus on at a time, and let them work on that thing for a few weeks and form a habit before we add something else in.
In what ways do you feel naturopathy can help performers?
I’ve seen naturopathy help performers, time and time again. Not only is it helpful for the anxiety and stress that often coincides with performing, but it is also such a great way to support your body and help prevent injury. Self confidence can be quite low in the performance industry, the constant correction from teachers and peers can sometimes affect someone’s self belief. It’s definitely also about health and stamina, and what your body can give; so it comes down to nutrition, and your ability to support your body through all the stressors a performer’s life entails.
Do you have any recommendations for pre-performance jitters?
I love using homeopathics for pre performance jitters, because if your body doesn’t need homeopathics it will just get rid of them, that way it’s just there in case your body needs it. Homeopathics are also extremely fast acting, so you will feel the effect almost instantly. There are a combination of different herbal formulations that I use for performers, but as every person is different, the success of each herbal combination can differ from person to person. I use these herbal formulations as tools to get you in the right frame of mind to be able to sit and meditate and breathe, that’s where the real calming and strength comes from.
We all know sleep is a vital pillar of health, but it’s something I feel many artists struggle with. Do you have any recommendations to assist in getting adequate and restful sleep?
Poor sleep is likely stemming from raised cortisol levels, which is likely a result of increased stress response within the body. This cortisol increase can inhibit the body’s natural release of melatonin, hence, affecting sleep pattern and quality. Dancers tend to be active late at night which can alter the circadian rhythm and this can also affect melatonin production and release. Night time routines are really important from such a young age. Not only is it important to get 7-8 hours a night for your body to repair and heal from what you’ve been doing, but you also need to get into bed before midnight. Any sleep quality that you can get before midnight is worth double of what you can get after, so you’re going to repair a lot faster before midnight than what you would after. Static stretching after a performance is really important, because that will help the muscle to expand and then relax in order to sleep. If a sleep aid is needed, I may use magnesium. Magnesium encourages the muscles to relax, therefore, aiding sleep; if that’s not enough, seek out advice from a professional. I recommend going back to the basics of your B vitamins and your adrenal health, to help support a healthy stress response in the body, especially if you are a person that has not been sleeping for a long time. It is also important to dream. We tend to get into this pattern where we don’t dream, but dreams are very good because they’re telling you you’re getting repetitive and you’re getting a healing sleep. When you go to bed at night and then wake up in the morning feeling unrested and as though your sleep didn’t provide your body with healing, that’s when your adrenals are fatigued, and it could be a sign that your adrenal health is changing and you may be requiring support. To sleep is so important. Nowadays most people turn to melatonin, but you need to be so careful with this. Giving your body a physical dose of melatonin can confuse the body, and in some cases, may interfere with the body’s innate ability to regulate melatonin levels and production. Repeatedly taking melatonin will cause your body to forget how to produce it. If you really want to take it, take homeopathic melatonin because it actually encourages the body to continue making its own.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword, so if you could scribe one word to use as your weapon in life what would it be?
I actually have a tendency towards low self belief, which is probably why I value it so much. I don’t feel self belief requires you to be loud and obnoxious, it can be quiet yet present. In the dance industry in particular, you’re always comparing yourself to somebody else, and you always find somebody that is better than you. You’re always being told that you need to better yourself and once you reach one goal it’s straight onto the next. I think stopping to celebrate each achievement is so important, and something I’m working on for myself.
What perceived ‘failure’ has turned into your most helpful lesson on your journey thus far?
When I first opened my clinic I would be there for clients at the drop of a hat. I was always there to listen, clients had my personal number, and if anyone was struggling I’d message to check in, no matter if it was office hours or not. Around 10 years ago I had an experience that made me re-evaluate these practices. It took a long time for me to rebuild my confidence after that experience. Whilst it took a few years to feel comfortable with setting my boundaries, learning how to hold those boundaries has been such an important lesson. I will now give my clients 100% of what they need but no more than that.
In what ways would you like to see readers’ minds expand with this interview?
I want people to understand that naturopathy and natural therapists are out there. Do your research and don’t just take a qualification at face value, take the time to find a good practitioner who will be the right one for you. Your lifestyle plays a major role in your mental health, and whilst there are definitely places for medications such as advil or panadol, they are not always the only option. If you take the time to support your body, it will be there to support you.
You can reach Rebecca via email email@example.com
Or via her website https://rebeccasnaturalhealthcare.com/
Featured Image Credit: Suzanne Martin