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Slowing Down and Overcoming Overwhelm: Maria Macsay’s Survival Guide

Updated: 2 days ago

3 Things We Dive Into In This Episode:

  1. How slowing down and incorporating more rest without guilt creates a more abundant life.

  2. How to stop fragmenting your energy to cultivate a greater sense of meaning and productivity.

  3. Specific steps for setting boundaries with social media to prevent overwhelm.


📌Episode Highlights

[05:32] Get to Know Maria

  • I first encountered Maria in a barre class where Maria was the instructor. We met again in a 305 Fitness Class and have stayed in contact since then.

  • The four things that Maria values the most are growth, evolution, connection, and sharing.

  • She is most passionate about embodiment guidance, empowerment coaching, and, most significantly, mind-body connection.

  • Maria believes the mind-body connection is one of the keys to creating the lives we want in integrity with who we are.

[09:00] Let People Mirror Back to You

  • People will perceive you differently than you perceive yourself.

  • Appreciate the moments when you get to hear people tell you how they see you.

  • Allow yourself to let people mirror back.

  • Let people tell you why you’re amazing, why they love you, and what kind of energy you bring into the room.

Caitie: “If we gave ourselves the opportunity to see ourselves through other people's eyes more often, we would be able to kind of soften the blow of our own inner critic a little bit.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[09:07] Honoring Yourself in a Fast-Paced World

  • It is not our natural tendency to go slow.

  • The world we live in is fast-paced. How we consume energy has sped up, and it's easy to get overwhelmed by life as it is today.

  • Even social media makes us feel like we're falling behind everyone else's achievements, and it's a big challenge to leave this narrative.

  • In these times, the best thing to do is to honor and get to know yourself.

  • A good starting point for honoring yourself would be to ask yourself two questions: What are you focusing on? How is your breathing?

[18:36] Why ‘Speedy Living’ is Dangerous

  • People tend to be hypervigilant, especially when dealing with events and traumas they haven't processed.

  • Doing more things faster numbs the feelings. Most people prefer to do that than slow down and deal with their emotions.

  • It might not feel like it, but speedy living can quickly lead to getting overwhelmed by life.

[20:41] Setting Intentional Social Media Boundaries

  • You don’t have to eliminate social media from your life.

  • All you need to do is slow down and be intentional about using social media.

  • Maria has two main boundaries for responsible social media use:

  1. No social media before and after sleep.

  2. Allot and stick to a set time for social media use per day.

  • The state you are in and the impressions you have before you sleep and once you wake up will set the tone of your day.

  • Do not let it be social media.

[24:52] Avoid Getting Overwhelmed by Life: Do One Thing

  • We live in a world constantly trying to pull us into five things at once, creating the illusion that it's possible to do them all. Your body isn’t designed for that.

  • Trying to do too many things fragments your energy, and you won’t have as much potency.

  • Your phone makes you think you can do many things at once, like take a picture and post it on social media while on a call and checking your email.

  • Learn to take presencing exercises. Draw your energy to one thing at a time.

Maria: “That's part of the conversation on slowing down. It doesn't actually mean like moving like a turtle, like, I have to go super slow. But it's the act of engaging present and then learning how to do one thing at a time.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[27:52] The Irony of Being Present

Maria: “It's fascinating how there's such a propensity and like an inclination to draw out of the very thing that we want, and how almost uncomfortable it is to start to sit in the opportunity to have what we want.” - Click Here To Tweet This
  • People want love, connection, presence, fulfillment, and inspiration.

  • The problem is we try to do everything all at once. We end up blocking ourselves from getting what we want.

  • Imagine yourself aiming for peace, yet your mind and body are trying to take you in the opposite direction.

  • A part of you always reaches the future in every moment and pulls you away from the present. Another part wants you to be here, in the present.

  • Be aware of and embrace all your parts. Ask yourself: what part of you aren't you feeding?

[36:44] Maria’s Advice to Help Yourself Slow Down

  • We live in a society that constantly presses a scarcity mentality.

  • It can make you think you need to work harder and faster because you do not match up with a specific person.

  • Do not let yourself be busy for no actual outcome. Be intentionally present.

  • Being present makes you feel safer. You'll also sleep, digest, and feel better. All these things help you rise above being overwhelmed by life.

  • You will also be able to generate more creative possibilities and help you live a life that matches your vision.

Maria: “We sort of have to just meet ourselves where we're at, [and] start to notice the lies that we tell ourselves or the lie that we've taken on from our parents and society.” - Click Here To Tweet This

[42:16] Intentional Shifts to Avoid Being Overwhelmed by Life

  • No more client calls before 9 AM. Maria uses her morning to connect with herself, set intentions, and be more present.

  • Prioritize movement every day. It can be a full workout or as simple as walking to the beach.

  • Be willing to buckle down and do some intense work when needed.

  • Stay connected with people. Check in with your friends and family.

[44:37] The Power of Doing Nothing

  • When you feel like you have to do something, do nothing instead — even just for 15 seconds.

  • By doing this, you can make sure that the action you take will be in a place that feels aligned.

  • Learn the difference between forcing yourself to complete a task out of obligation versus being present and doing something with effort and dedication.

  • Listen to the way you speak to yourself. Understand the purpose behind why you have to do things. Don't just say, "I have to," without knowing the why behind it.

[49:23] Maria’s Survival Bag

  • Maria listens to guided meditations and has several books she reads to keep herself from being overwhelmed by life.

  • Embodied movements can help you anchor the body and connect to breathing.

  • Music that makes you feel good and inspired.

[52:56] The Slow-Down Diet

  • Do not focus on what you eat. Focus on how you're eating.

  • The issue is not about control. It is about being present with your food.

  • Portion control is bullshit. Your body will tell you when it's done, but you have to tune in to the experience to hear it.

  • How you eat is a mirror of the way that you live.

  • If you want to change the way you live, start by changing the way you eat.

Caitie: “Do you have to erase social media from your life? Do you have to erase Netflix from your life? Or do you have to just do these things more consciously and differently?” - Click Here To Tweet This

About Maria

Maria Macsay is a certified holistic life coach, movement facilitator, somatic breathwork practitioner, and yoga teacher. Maria has been on a mission for the past nine years - to help her clients find their way back to themselves. Through the power of movement, meditation, breathwork, and mindset alignment, she has provided her clients with the clarity, joy, freedom, and confidence they've been longing for in their lives.

Learn more about Maria’s work through her website, or you can visit her Instagram or Facebook.

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Whole, Full, and Alive is a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are — underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed by life, take a step back and breathe. Honor yourself and give yourself that moment to slow down.

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Caitie Corradino: When I feel like I have to do something, when it feels like this full body tension of, like, “if I don't do this thing right now, I'm not going to find a sense of relief ever,” to just drop and do nothing, even if it's for 15 seconds, even if I gotta do the thing 15 seconds later, can I do nothing for 15 seconds? Take a deep breath for 15 seconds, so that I'm doing the action from a place that feels aligned.

Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition.

But underneath my titles and resume, I’m a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling, and serendipity. I'm here to share no-bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive. Right here. Right now. Let's get into it.

Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full & Alive. Wherever you are in the world right now, I invite you to take the absolute deepest breath you have taken all day. Can you take a nice deep breath in? Let it fill your body. Feel it expand the muscles of your back, and hold it for a moment. Then exhale to release. Let it go all the way. If you didn't actually take the deep breath, take it.

Give yourself this time this moment. To release a little bit of tension. Drop into a little bit more presence. Just notice and get into your body without judging your body. Then let's dive into today's episode. I have an incredible guest on today's episode. And this episode is actually the first interview that I'm doing in a new format. I shared in last episode, Episode 30, that I'm changing the structure of my show a little bit more. And all of my guests' interviews are going to be based on this quote by Brene Brown that says “One day you will tell the story of what you went through and it will become someone else's survival guide.”

All of my guest interviews moving forward are going to be survival guides, so to speak. They're going to be the guest survival guide, about a specific topic. And today's survival guide comes from Maria Macsay, who is a holistic life coach. A somatic breathwork practitioner and embodiment coach. Meditation teacher and incredible yoga teacher. A mentor of mine that I've known for many years.

I'll talk about it a little bit more in the episode. And she is going to be telling you about her survival guide for dropping into more ease. Living a life that feels more easeful. That incorporates more rest without guilt. And that cultivates a greater sense of meaning and productivity by doing less.

Maria is also going to talk a little bit about setting specific boundaries with social media. Which I think is one of the things that prevents a lot of us from living a life that feels more relaxed and easeful. Grounded. Present. She's also going to be talking about embodiment practices and different strategies that she uses to notice when she's starting to step out of ease and into force.

She's going to tell the story of how 2022, for her, was one of the most spacious and kind of like easy years that she's had. Yet she's still made the same amount of money that she made in 202. Still had more, if not greater productivity. 'm so excited for you to hear Maria's guide to stepping into a sense of ease. I find it so, so, so personally helpful.

Maria has been one of my greatest mentors. One of my greatest teachers in dropping into a sense of ease. So if you are feeling ready to find a bit more ease a bit more flow in your life. If you are feeling ready to start to set boundaries with the noise and the chaos that is social media. You're looking to feel inspired to nourish yourself today. Stick around for this interview. It's so beautiful. Maria is an incredible person. Without much else to say, let's get into it.

Maria, thank you so much for being here today.

Maria Macsay: Thank you for having me, Caitie.

Caitie: Very nice, cozy snowstorm in Denver right now. And it's just like a nice vibe to be having this conversation with you over coffee.

Maria: That's cool. It's very sunny here. I don't imagine that it would be snowy with so much sun there. But yeah, do you have some snow?

Caitie: Two feet of snow here [inaudible]? It's actually insane. But anyways, Maria, please tell everyone, who are you, and what do you do? I love to kind of emphasize both because I feel that who you are, you know, your energy, what's important to you, what do you value, who do you want to be in the world, is different from what you do often. Even though they're connected.

Maria: That's such a beautiful distinction. I appreciate that. And as soon as you asked, “who are you?” I was like, oh my gosh, that ever-ongoing spiritual quest of like, “who am I?” It's a great– I love that you frame it that way. I mean, who I am, a human just like you and just like everyone else. And what's important to me is growth and evolution and connection and sharing. Especially sharing.

You know what I'm fascinated by and what brings me greater love and connection and joy. In general, I feel like what embodies a lot of who I am is the evolution of freedom and what that means inside of us all. Whether that's accessing our highest potential, following and dream, being who we really want to be, and usually a combination of that.

And as far as what I do, currently, where I'm at is I really understood that my main thing and what I'm so passionate about is embodiment guidance and empowerment coaching. Which really has to do with another way of saying that is the mind-body connection. And how we can access that to show up in the world and create the lives that we want to live that really are in integrity with who we are.

Caitie: So beautiful. I just want to be like a mirror for you for a second and reflecting that, you know, that really is who you are. I've known you for a long time now I met you in like 2014 or 2015 or something like that. And the first time I met you was so intimidating because I was going to be taking over your barre class. You were teaching a barre class that you could no longer fill the time slot in for and they were like “okay, you're taking over Maria's class next week, go take her class today just to see like, what her vibe is like and try to, you know, be like her.”

I was like, “okay, cool, I’m going to take her class.” And you just had the most present energy I've ever witnessed in a bar instructor up to that point in my entire life. Because barre was something that I saw as a very like, kitschy, like pure bar kind of vibe and you brought this very, like, present embodied sensual vibe into barre class and I was, “oh gosh, how the hell am I going to emulate this?”

It was so inspiring to meet you, and then I reconnected with you a few years later to work at 305 fitness and saw you doing something totally different. 305 was this very hype high energy, Miami-themed class. And yet you still brought that same sort of embodied and present energy to that too, and you've just inspired me in so many capacities. And then I went on a retreat with you in 2021, and that became what that is. It's been so cool to see you evolve into different careers and do different things and to also somehow be a part of all of it in my own way. To see that you're bringing that mission of embodiment, in like, grounded presence to all of it, no matter what it is.

Maria: Hmm, just going to take that in. It's so nice to have these mirrors. Like, I think about how rare it is that that happens for so many people. I just think that we find ourselves in spaces where we give each other that feedback, and it’s really special because they think it’s like I evolved. There is this constant awareness that I still don't see myself the way that others see me. And instead of, like, being hard on myself for that, it's actually appreciating those moments where I get to hear it and then remembering.

There's a part of me, it's like, “oh, yeah, that is what I'm here for and what I'm about,” which adds a lot of energy, and I feel super grateful for. I think it's really cool how we've woven in all these ways. I remember our first connection too, and if I were to say one word about, like, what stood out right away and all these moments I've had with you is warmth. It’s the first word that comes up.

Caitie: That's so beautiful. I really appreciate that sentiment. You know, I often don't see myself the way others see me, too. That's something that I'm still working on, and I think that that's something so many people never give themselves the opportunity to sit with. It’s that other people probably are perceiving you entirely differently than you perceive yourself. We are our own worst critic, classic quote, but so true.

You know, can you give yourself the opportunity, as much as possible, to let people mirror back to you what they see in you? Let people tell you why you're amazing. Can you ask your friends, “why do you love me? What kind of energy do I bring into a room?”

I wasn't expecting to hear that from you today, and that just made my whole day. I think if we gave ourselves the opportunity to see ourselves through other people's eyes more often, we would be able to kind of soften the blow of our own inner critic a little bit. And I think that that's probably the first tool in, maybe, your survival guide that you're sharing with us today.

Maria: It might be. It just spontaneously arose, I’ll take it.

Caitie: Yes, this is very cool. I love that. And also, staying along with this theme of embodiment, embodied presence, you have been such an amazing guide for me in becoming more embodied, feeling more present, and slowing down into, like, more feminine energy. Throughout the years that I've known you but especially in the last year. When I did a little bit more one on one work with you, after moving to Denver.

As I have your amazing brain on the show here today, I would love for you to share with other people, with my wider audience, some of the things that you shared with me about slowing down and feeling more embodied. In particular, something I want to talk to you about today to you is the way you have, kind of, simplified your life and your business.

I can really see that change in you. It happened over the last like five years, simplifying your life in terms of the amount of time you spend on social media. Similar, I guess like virtual, digital things and the way you've kind of simplified your business, as well. And, I think, the way that you live your life in general. What comes up for you when I say all that, immediately?

Maria: Yeah, you know what comes up first is, like, it's so cool to be having a conversation around slowing down and for you to feel like that was what came into your inspiration for us to have a conversation about. Because it's not been my natural tendency at all to go slow. And still, in some ways, I’m like, “is there more room to slow down and to be?”

I think that when we do work with something, that somehow, it does follow us throughout our life, you know? But I guess what comes up is the fast-paced energy that I was so a part of, I think is something that many of us can relate to. If anything, the world has sped up and the way that we're consuming energy has sped up because we have so much access. And to talk about social media, I think that one thing that it can do is cause us to feel like we're behind or like we need to accelerate to get to the thing that someone else is doing, because everything is so visible to us, right?

What everyone is achieving, is presented. And if we have big desires, it can often feel like, “I'm behind, I'm never gonna get there.” And to be fair, I do have those narratives come up too, and so I'll go with this conversation exactly how it's coming up for me. Which is that was one reason why I did start pulling back from social media is like, we really do get to honor ourselves. And the first way to be able to honor ourselves is to know ourselves.

When I can see that when I'm spending more time on social media in a way that's not present and conscious, then it takes me into a narrative that is very hard to get out of about myself. Speaking of like, being our own worst critic. That's one element of why I did start to draw back, and I think it's like, we can have a conversation of like, “social media is awful, it’s this and that,” and I will come into it with “well, it depends on how you use it, and how you're engaging with it, and what your intention is with it,” right? And to know yourself, if it's not working, shift it, what would work for you?

I have found too that, for example, in my relationship, it was starting to become a thing where he was asking me for more presence, and that's such a beautiful thing. Thank goodness, right? Some people are like fighting for their partners to be present with them. And I have one being like, “Hey, could you spend less time on that thing so we can be together when we're together?”

It really opened up my mind to that, to say like, “How can I be more present in each moment? And do I absolutely need to be on this app right now? Or communicating in this way right now?” And I haven't perfected it. So what it is, is the question: “Am I present right now? And do I need to be engaging with this right now? Is it intentional?”

Those are two things. And I think intentionality is what allows us to slow down, meaning we're going to get busy at some points. And then the way to get present is notice. “What am I focusing on? What am I paying attention to?” And another thing that you and I share is the connection to breath work, right? Just dropping into breath, “Am I even breathing?”

Part of my journey, in the many last– at least five years was noticing the tension that I had held in my body from going so fast, which was breathing that was above my stomach, like in my chest and collarbones. And honestly, an inability to breathe low. I remember beginning again yoga training, and that’s so much about slowing down and unpinning fascia. Fascia, being what covers our muscles and our tissues and really binds our body together.

I remember how aware I became of the amount of tension that was in my diaphragm, meaning I couldn't take a deep breath below my stomach, and I couldn't even yawn. So, to imagine how much tension was in my body to not even be able to yawn, it was like I was numb to it at first. And that is something that happens when we speed up from a state of fight or flight. So, a lot of my speedy living was, yes, due to being in cities like New York and all that. But it was also hypervigilance, which was like a way of responding to intense stressful or traumatic events throughout my life that I hadn't yet processed.

It was like if I can just do more, achieve more, go fast. Go so fast that I numb it out and I can't feel my feelings. Then that feels better than slowing down and tuning into all that discomfort in my body, which is also really just another way of saying all of the uncomfortable emotions I'm not willing to feel.

The circle that I'm going in is to say that, by even getting into that place where I noticed this tension, my breath, it started to unlock for me like a real desire to be able to take a full breath. And through that process, there was the evolution of my relationship to food behind that and how I was using that to not feel, and then slowly weaving that into deeper levels of being in my body, and then noticing my tendency to escape through working really hard or just moving super fast. Right?

Then at the end of that, I think what awakened the slowing down was this conversation internally around, “where am I going? Like, what am I rushing to?” And if we all start to ask that question, it’s like, “what am I rushing towards?” I don't know, something opens up.

Caitie: I totally feel that. I totally feel that. I can't even tell you how many coaches and mentors I've had, therapists, and I haven't had that many therapists, I have one therapist. But coaches, mentors, and my therapist say to me, “what's the rush? Like, why do you have to do this right now?” That comes up for me a lot in my life when I feel like I'm behind on something with my business or trying to figure out if a certain relationship is going to work or not work. And it's just like, I have “what's the rush” reflected to me all the time. Where are you rushing to? What is the reason for actually, like, trying to, like go at high speed towards this thing? Where's that going to get you?

If you actually ask that question, I think most of the time, what comes up is it's gonna get you an escape from feeling what you actually are trying to avoid feeling. And I also love the sentiment that like, another really simple question to ask yourself too is, “am I breathing right now?”

That's how you can tell if you're doing something that you don't actually need to be doing or if you're doing something with more frequency than you need to be doing. It’s like if you're not breathing while you're doing it. And I would say 99% of us are not breathing while we're using social media. Like 99% of us are not taking full deep belly breaths while we're watching reels, while we're writing captions, while we're DMing people. That's definitely not happening.

Maria: I love that as an opportunity, though. Like when we get on the app, can we use that as a reminding factor to stay with the breath? And what that might even do, like, if we go into it with breath, or remember the breath, would we change what we're doing on there? Or would we just have a different experience of it? Like I actually think it's a beautiful invitation. I'll take it on for sure.

Caitie: Yeah, no, that's super cool because it's not that you can't use social media. I think you took a break from it for a long time in order to be able to reintegrate mindfully. But a conversation I'm always so fascinated by is how can we use social media in a way that's conscious like you're saying before in a way that still allows us to be present for our lives and in a way that allows us to be intentional, every step along the way.

We don't have to completely eliminate, also, we don't have to eliminate like striving for a certain career goal. We don't have to eliminate putting work into our relationships. We don't have to eliminate putting social events and fun things on our schedule. And we don't have to eliminate the use of social media in order to live more slowly and more simply and more embodied. We can still use all of these things. They all have a place.

It's just like, how? How do you use them? And I'm curious at this point for you, what is your current social media, sort of like, guideline?

Maria: One that I've held pretty true to for almost as long as it's been around is not being on it in the morning. I personally believe that the impressions that we receive in the morning and the state that we put ourselves in, in the morning, shapes our day. So you know, if I wake up, and the first thing that I do is open the app and invest myself into someone else's world, and then potentially, if I have this tendency to then start to compare myself to that, that sets up a tone for the day.

My preference, because this is what I've at least seen and what I believe, is that the way that we start our day is really important. And so I just don't go on it until like my meditations done, until I'm really awake and kind of up and about. And same for the evening. I don't do any like scrolling in bed incessantly. Like, yes, has there been times when I do it? Yes. But the minute I've caught myself, it's like, “Okay, we're done.” And so generally, it's like, the phone goes down.

Those are two really sacred times because we're also imprinting on our subconscious before sleep. And then there's a conversation about blue light and using tech before bed and how that can like, start to wake us up. And so we want to really have like sleep rituals, or we minimize the tech before sleep. So that's one way, and then the other thing is like I don't have strong guidelines around it throughout the day. I did set the timer of like, only 15 minutes of use a day. You can like, set a timer on your phone.

I'll be honest, I've been overriding that so I'm probably like 30 minutes a day. But even that is actually creating consciousness around how much I'm using it. And I think that is helpful because it’s this weird thing that we can fall into and be like, “Whoa, where did like 30 minutes go?” So that's what I'll say ab