Do you know the feeling when everything you do starts to feel reactive? Like everything is out of your control, nothing is going your way and you can't seem to get your thoughts or emotions in check, then it happens...
Your body starts to "turn on you" in some way or another and you feel betrayed!
How could you? All I ever did was love and accept you. I feed you good food, move you every day, and work on our personal development. But guess what, STRESS happens to all of us.
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I'm currently going through a "flare-up", as we call it in the autoimmune community. Where I've allowed myself to become overworked, run-down, mentally drained and forgotten to remind myself of what's most important; my health!
Not pretty.. believe me, I KNOW (try kissing your fiance with those lips). But this is the power our minds have over our bodies.
To clarify, I know my body and have experienced this before. It is not an allergic reaction, this is a "flare-up". My skin is particularly sensitive but my blood has inflammatory antibodies that react when my brains cortisol rises (the stress hormone), I'll explain more about how this affects us below.
So, I'm here to remind us (especially myself) how impactful our mind can be over our bodies and how to live a balanced life.
This isn't about people on Instagram telling us we need to get on their health plan or buy their supplements and our lives will be changed forever! No, this is about us taking control of our minds and being gentle with ourselves when we forget this.
But first I think it's important that we understand stress, how it works and how it affects us.
How Stress Works
Cortisol aka The Stress Hormone is something we start to feel when we haven't learnt the power of "No", so we've taken on too much at work or we've made too many commitments and we feel as though we could fall in a heap at any given moment.
According to premierhealth.com, "normal levels of cortisol are released when you wake up in the morning or exercise. These levels can help regulate your blood pressure and blood sugar levels and even strengthen your heart muscle. In small doses, the hormone can heighten memory, increase your immune system and lower sensitivity to pain.
The danger of a fast-paced culture, however, is that many of us are constantly in high-stress mode. If your body experiences chronic stress, you may begin to feel unpleasant and even dangerous effects, such as:
Intestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or diarrhea
Anxiety or depression
Increased blood pressure
Low libido, erectile dysfunction or problems with regular ovulation or menstrual periods
Difficulty recovering from exercise
The solution is obvious, manage your stress! But it's easier said than done.
However, I recommend you see your doctor if you are having symptoms of chronic stress.
How to manage stress
If your entire life is high-stress and always in high gear, your body may constantly pump out cortisol.
So how can we reduce stress and come back down to earth and live from a place of happiness and gratitude?
1. Remind yourself what you can vs what you can't control
There is always going to be things out of our control like losing a pet or family member, losing your job, splitting up from your partner.
But it's not always the negative that causes stress, sometimes we become overwhelmed and run down due to positive yet overwhelming change like falling pregnant, getting a promotion, moving home or simply too many social commitments.
The first step is something I ALWAYS talk about and that is getting to know yourself. Getting to know your triggers, your capabilities and recognising the signs your body is giving you.
2. Slow down
It's easy to get caught up in a fast-paced lifestyle but we need to remind ourselves to slow down and take stock.
Ask yourself, what can I fix and what do I need to accept?
If you're stressed because you're always late, you can fix that. You need to work on your time management and allow to time get ready before you need to be at a location. Set timers and be prepared ahead of time.
If it's something you can't change you need to come to terms with it. Take a break and just a minute to breathe and ask yourself if you're overreacting and how you could react differently to this situation for your own health.
Reframe negative self-talk
Our minds are powerful things, we know this for a fact. So when we have negative dialogue in our minds is create a feeling of unworthiness, catastrophizing and blaming others.
Our inner critic might sound like this "I'm not good at this, so I why bother" or "I can never do anything right, I don't deserve this". If you struggle with negative body image and confidence, your inner critic might tell you, "I'll never be like her" or "if only I could be someone else things would be different".
Negative self-talk can not only be stressful, but it can really stunt your success so we need to reframe our thoughts when they pop up.
Start to pick up and notice when you're being self-critical so you can take a minute to just be still, contain your negativity and back yourself with a compliment.
I can do this. I am worthy and this is not the end of the world.
Shift your perspective and if you wouldn't say it to a friend it's not ok to say to yourself.
Take care of and listen to your body
After seeing first hand the physical reaction my body has to stress, it's obvious to me how impactful our thoughts are over our physical wellbeing.
It's important that we are practising self-care and taking care of our bodies. Taking care of your body may look different to someone else but the things you could be working on are:
Eating nutritious foods that fuel your body (this is NOTHING to do with losing weight and everything to do with your mental health)
Getting enough sleep
Exercising and moving your body
Having downtime to write in your journal, meditate or just have "you" time doing something you love
These key factors will help you stay strong during stressful times. Leading a healthy lifestyle can assist in feeling energised and content in life.
Remind Yourself that You've Got This!
Give yourself a pat on the back because life is not always easy but you are doing so well!
Ultimately, we can't avoid stress. It’s a normal and natural part of life but we can manage how we respond to the signals our mind and body are giving us.
So remind yourself every day that our problems will test us but they're not the end your world, they're only going to make us stronger!
Your priority is your mental and physical health so take care of your mind and your body will thank you and vice versa.
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