This topic is very near and dear to my heart.
For those of you who don't know me I'm a health nut. I love anything and everything that's related to health and wellness. You know that magazine called Wellbeing? Well, I literally have to pull myself away from that thing when I start reading it. It's full of well-researched articles about anything from yoga to mental illness, to chia seeds! So yeah. I love that kind of thing.
Once discovering healthy foods and supplements I was ALL-IN. You should have seen the list of things I was on when I was 20... my goodness! It was long. You know, I've always thought that if I sew into my physical health I will reap wonderful benefits for many years to come. Sure, eating an abundance of wholesome fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and spices is wonderful for health and boosting vitality. Though it's not all one must do for a healthy, happy energy-full life!
For years I never really understood the term stress. My nutritionist asked me many years ago; "are you stressed Heidi?". Knowing that "stress" wasn't something good, I naturally said no. Ha! Right answer?! Wrong! Understanding and identifying how we truly feel at any given point is so vital to health and happiness.
Stress was something I used to associate with fast-paced people, maybe even loud people (yelling), outwardly panicking. I didn't really realise that I could be stressed and look perfectly calm and peaceful on the outside. No, stress was not something I fully came to terms with, until I crashed mentally.
Let's re-cap on what happens physiologically when we're stressed. Various "stress" chemicals are released from our adrenal glands and nervous system. These chemicals prepare our body for immediate action. Ensuring our brain and muscles have adequate oxygen and energy to think clearly and act. Such as completing an exam, studying for an exam, running late for an important appointment or for something more dramatic - like saving a drowning child!!!
These chemicals were only ever meant for emergencies. NOT ongoing daily life. Our face-paced world so easily leads to stress in our lives and bodies.
Being a sensitive soul like myself, stress can so easily be switched on. Busyness, not enough downtime, lack of sleep, too much people-time, emotional overload, perfectionism, bottling emotions.. and the list goes on! You know, stress triggers are different for every person.
A few years ago, I had a ton, and when I say a ton, I mean A TON of emotions and feelings that had been repressed and temporarily suppressed. It's no wonder I was epically stressed.
Finally, thanks to my amazing husband, my awesome all-powerful God and life-changing psychology, stress is becoming something of the past. How is life now? Full of resting, relaxing, sleeping, mindfulness, yoga, down-time, reading, self-care, accepting all my feelings, communicating, being assertive, confident and productive!
Stress suppresses immune function. Given that the majority of our immune system lies in our digestive tract, my poor gut was quite damaged. To an extent, still is. While short term stress can actually be of benefit to immune function, long term stress most definitely ramps up inflammation and makes one more susceptible to infection.
Here's a crazy long list of what happens when we're stressed...
- Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
- Gritting, grinding teeth
- Stuttering or stammering
- Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
- Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
- Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
- Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds
- Frequent blushing, sweating
- Cold or sweaty hands, feet
- Dry mouth, problems swallowing
- Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
- Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps”
- Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
- Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
- Excess belching, flatulence
- Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control
- Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing
- Sudden attacks of life threatening panic
- Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse
- Frequent urination
- Diminished sexual desire or performance
- Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
- Increased anger, frustration, hostility
- Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
- Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
- Trouble learning new information
- Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
- Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
- Little interest in appearance, punctuality
- Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
- Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
- Overreaction to petty annoyances
- Increased number of minor accidents
- Obsessive or compulsive behavior
- Reduced work efficiency or productivity
- Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
- Rapid or mumbled speech
- Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
- Problems in communication, sharing
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
- Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
- Weight gain or loss without diet
- Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
- Excessive gambling or impulse buying
Scary huh?! Do you identify with some or many of the symptoms of stress? This list is by no means conclusive. It doesn't include relationships that are affected. Lifestyle choices. The chronic diseases that can develop like heart disease as a result of stress.
Wondering what the cause of your health condition is? Ever thought it could be as "simple" as stress?
It's a hard journey to take sometimes, nourishing and caring for our God-given bodies. Especially when our society is so instant and fast-paced. The opposite to calm and chill. At this present point in time, my social life is virtually non-existent. It won't stay this way forever. There's a time and a season for everything.
This part of our lives, the part where we completely identify and live in reality is so needed. If you've recently lost someone, lost a job, destroyed a relationship, been diagnosed with a chronic illness, or facing any kind of trauma or difficulty... stop. Accept whatever feelings are coming up for you. Embrace them and take whatever necessary steps you need to take to look after YOU.
Nourish your body by eating healthy. Take herbal and nutritional medicines. My recovery would simply not be where it is today without things like Withania, Rhodiola, Licorice, L-glutamine, SAMe, chromium and magnesium. These powerful clinically-proven nutritionals help nourish and support the endocrine (glands like the pancreas) and nervous systems.
Would you join me and listen to your body and put your spirituality, your mental and emotional health and physical health first? xxx