My motor has been a little too revved lately. My stress level has left me feeling that I have been running on overdrive. Stress is so unhealthy. Everyone experiences levels of stress everyday. You really can’t live life without it. However, if your body is healthy and your mind is focused and calm, stress can be dealt with in ways that are simple and quick. The real problem comes along when stress and anxiety reach levels that begins leaving real obvious side effects in your life.
For me, outwardly, I am usually a pretty calm person. I get that from my mom. When I was in 8th grade, I fell off my bed in a hotel room, breaking my jaw in four places, mangling my teeth, and cutting my chin and lip deeply. My mom’s reaction to me running into her room covered in blood was, “Yup... you broke your jaw.” I have no doubt I would react the same way. Despite my calm disposition, I get seriously stressed. I tend to turn my anxiety inward. It shows up in nail bitting, over eating, depression, and a list of physical conditions that have plagued me for too long.
About 5-6 years ago, I was at my peak of stress. My health fell apart. I developed 2 auto immune diseases, hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue syndrome, my scalp broke out into a horrible case of itchy dermatitis, my weight skyrocketed, my energy plummeted, and I felt like I could never sleep. I was miserable.
There were several factors that aided in my recovery. Finding good supplements, fixing my diet, and getting active were the biggest factors. These things, especially the supplements, helped my body get healthy enough that allowed me to get pregnant and keep the pregnancy. (I had experienced bouts of infertility and 3 miscarriages during this time) It was this pregnancy that brought new life to my old body. Several things reset. My dermatitis went away, my sleep returned, and I lost a ton of weight (while pregnant). Since then, I have enjoyed a wonderful journey working on returning my body to better health. Even though I have not found all the answers to my health questions, I know I’m on the right track.
As for stress, it’s been nicely under control. Sure, I get stressed but I’ve been able to keep it check. Despite having a daughter get married and another one have a baby, I’ve held up well. However, lately, I’ve been losing my grip.
Our move and all the details that go along with that is driving me crazy and making me sick. I have stopped sleeping, which is my first sign that something is wrong. I have gained a good amount of weight regardless of the fact that I have eaten well. When I look in the mirror, I see that unhealthy version of myself looking back and I get afraid. I don’t want to go back to that miserable state.
So... something had to change.
Since I am a methodical person, I needed a game plan. I have found that there are 5 things that I re-instituted into my life that has aided in calming the revving motor. Since I added these 5 components, I have seen an improvement in my stress levels. Even though the causes of the stress have not alleviated (in fact they have gotten worse), I feel myself handling them better.
If you are experiencing a sense of an over revved stress level, maybe a few of these will help you too.
1. Exercise: Winter in the north is difficult for staying active. I tried very hard to keep moving. I desperately craved my bike. Now with the return of warmer weather and a snow-free trail, time spent on my bike will do wonders at completing my de-stressing. However, even before the snow completely left and the weather improved, I trudged on walking the mushy trails or the hilly neighborhood street because I NEEDED time in nature to calm me. Everyone has heard of the research stating that exercise produces endorphins and makes you feel better. I believe the key to getting those “feel good” hormones is to exercise on a regular basis. If you are not usually active and you hit the trail for a 5 mile walk or 2 mile run, you will feel pretty miserable. I suggest you find a moderate exercise that you really enjoy and keep doing it. Don’t throw yourself all in on the first try. Find the level of activity that you enjoy, while giving you a heart thumbing, blood moving, workout. After several weeks, you will find that your overall stress level will decrease and you will have a more positive outlook.
2. Sleep: Sure... easier said than done. Like I said, when I am stressed and over revved, sleep becomes a major issue. I have a difficult time going to sleep and staying asleep. However, I have to try to get as much sleep as possible. I avoid getting out of bed when I wake up in the middle of the night. I refuse to turn on any electronics because they produce a blue light which stimulates your body. But once I’m actually sleeping, I avoid getting up early unless I have too. Way back when my body fell apart, I know for sure that one thing that led up to that low point was not getting enough sleep. I had become super ambitious and started waking up an hour before everyone else so I could work out. But the problem was that my husband is a night owl and if I want to spent time with him, I must stay up too. I was burning the candle at both ends. So basically, you need to go to bed earlier and sleep in. Morning workouts, long showers, even quiet times, can wait till you have passed this stressful time. SLEEP... your body and nerves will thank you.
3. To-Do lists: Often times our poor brains are over stressed trying to remember all the important things we need to remember. We are afraid that we will forget an appointment or a priority that we must keep. I say... WRITE IT DOWN! I have daily lists and master lists. The things that I know I can’t complete immediately, but are important enough to need remembering, go on the master list. On a day that I have little to do, I check that list. It does my stress level great benefit when I mark off the items I have completed. I usually write my daily to-do list right before I go to bed. I have my note pad and pen in my bedside drawer and I fill it with the activities I need to do the next day. It feels like I am unloading my brain for the night, putting the stresses of the next day onto a list. I know that some of those items will not get completed, but somehow, having them on paper makes me feel better. Another list I would recommend is a prayer list. Write down all of the concerns you hold in your heart. Again, the writing down of these concerns does amazing things for bringing peace. Once they are written down, hand it over to God in prayer. Let him work on marking them off.
4. Vitamin D: This vitamin, which is really more like a hormone, has become the hot topic as of late. Every doctor has been writing prescriptions for daily doses of vitamin D. In the summer, I get a plethora of it. I have read that 20 minutes in the sun provides 10,000 IU of vitamin D which can be stored for later. 10,000 IU... seriously... my measly 2000 IU I take through supplementation can’t even compare to that. However, I have found that my positive mindset and ability to handle stress has greatly improved when I started remembering to take my vitamins. The lack of sunlight in the winter makes supplementing a necessity. I am not a fan of tanning beds. The negatives far outweighs the benefits of them. Therefore, find a good quality vitamin and keep popping them.
5. Cortisol Suppressors: Okay... this is NOT a paid advertisement. Yet, I must be honest to tell you what I really think works. I love Shaklee products. I feel like I can trust them completely. So when a friend recommended that I try their Stress Relief Complex to help with my sleeplessness and anxiety, I did. This little supplement has almost single handedly transformed my stress levels. When you get stressed, your body starts over producing the stress hormone called cortisol. This little hormone reeks havoc on your health. It is very likely that most middle aged women’s sleeping problems are connected to the over production of cortisol. I take one of these tablets right before I go to bed. It doesn’t put me to sleep. It’s not a sleeping pill. But it helps me in the middle of the night so if I wake up, I can go back to sleep easier. This addition to my daily stress protocol was the first one I remembered. Once I realized that my stress levels were out of control, I knew I needed to add this back in. I am amazed at how much better I sleep and how much better I handle stress during the day. Like I said, I am not getting paid to say these things about this product and I am sure I have not fully communicated the processes of cortisol in the body, but I would be happy to explain further if you like. Just send me a private message.
De-stressing is not an over night process. For me, I hope the scenarios that are causing the most stress in my life will eventually go away. But I can’t continue getting sicker and sicker waiting for that to happen. I had to take steps toward health.
Nothing I can offer will remove all the triggers of stress in your life. But any combination of these 5 suggestions can help you deal with it better.
**Feel free to leave your comments.
April 7, 2015