Not all stress is bad - its the way you respond that’s important. It’s not about learning how to push through or just grin and bear the difficult moments of life. Stress resilience is learning to become aware of what stress feels like in your physical & mental body, so you can develop the skills to mange it.
Short term stress can make it difficult for you to make healthy choices about what you eat/drink, the amount of sleep and mindful movement you get, or even your capacity to deal with daily small stressors. Prolonged exposure to high levels of stress (aka chronic stress) increases inflammation in your body and can cause long term health issues.
Over time, chronic stress can increase your baseline heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. This means your body has to work harder when its at rest to keep you functioning normally. This can trigger even more health problems like heart disease, hypertension and chronic pain.
The craziest part is that because American’s spend the majority of their time living in high stress, you might not even realize how stressed out you actually are.
Signs of living in a state of chronic stress:
Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or unfocused
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Racing thoughts or constant worry
Problems with memory or concentration
Overeating or under eating
Depression or anxiety
Becoming sick more often
Anger, irritability or restlessness
Chronic stress can lead to burnout. Can you relate to the constant feeling of overwhelm and stress and being so busy taking care of all your responsibilities that your own needs get shoved to the back burner? Our situations may be different but here is what is true…
We all MUST find ways to get out of this chronic stress filled hustle culture of overwhelm. We have to intentionally pursue peace: peace with others, ourselves and with God.
There have been times that I was intimately acquainted with chronic stress and NOT handling it very well resulting in a deterioration of my own health and a struggle with chronic inflammation symptoms.
In fact, I've faced a lot of circumstances outside my control that have created enormous stress in my own life and stood in the way of me being vibrant and healthy.
Maybe that's not what you expect to hear from a “holistic health & wellness expert”.
Here's the truth of the matter. I've gotten pretty good at eating a healthy diet, avoiding obvious toxins, keeping my gut healthy and moving my body. I am a firm believer in “everything in moderation” and I practice the “good, better, best” mentality with all the decisions that affect my health & wellness daily. I've made swaps and continue to transition to clean/cleaner products and I make every effort to nourish my body and care for it as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Paying attention to all these things are all wonderful goals and important for wellness!
But if I can't handle all the stressors that will continue to come my way and yours in life and my nervous system is stuck in fight or flight (or sympathetic overdrive), I will never be well.
The good news is that God designed our magnificent bodies to be resilient and, with proper support & training, we can increase our capacity to deal with stress - both mentally & physically - by implementing supportive self care practices.
Here’s what I am actively doing to find stress resilience and peace in my current season:
- Reading my Bible and praying to start my day. Without this foundation, I am nothing. My strength comes from the Lord. I am reading through the Bible chronologically for a second year using The Bible Recap podcast plan. I am learning so much from doing it this way. I love to wake up early and have what I call my "coffee & Jesus time".
- Detox baths &/or castor oil packs in the evenings. These rhythms force me to slow down and give me space to be still and reflect while caring for my body. The castor oil pack is a fairly new habit I am implementing. I got mine from Queen of Thrones and there is nothing easier than putting on a castor oil pack in the evening and letting it work to detox my liver while I just relax. I'm all about simplicity, and the design of these packs is mess-free and so easy to use.
- Spending time outside engaged in mindful movement. As the weather gets warmer, I'm working in my yard and noticing the little joys of God's creation (think hosta appearing through the mulch). I am hoping to create a raised bed garden with the help of my son as well as taking advantage of all the amazing nearby places we have to get outdoors in nature.
- Mindful reflection & breath work while using my Heart Math biofeedback device to measure the health of my autonomic nervous system. I try to set aside some time each day to sit and think …, process, reflect, and work through many emotions I have been ignoring for years. it's been incredibly difficult and equally restorative.
- Saying no. I've learned to be selective with what I commit to in the name of balance and maintaining a time margin and peace in my life.
- Unplug! In December of last year I made the decision to drastically reduce my time spent on social media. I still use it occasionally and I do still use it in my business but I have come to realize that, in addition to being a total time suck for me, it was contributing to the feeling of stress in my life. For some clients, the suggestion to unplug is often highly unpopular but the truth is that we as a society are becoming addicted to technology. This trend is physically and mentally harmful as it distracts from your real life. Depression, suicide, fear of missing out are current health issues among the youth of today based on overwhelming exposure to content online. Since I've gotten away from social media I now have so much more free time to do things like read books, cleaning & organizing my spaces (which I seriously get such joy from doing), spending more time actually connecting with people.
- Speaking of connection.... Connection with loved ones is the next thing I'm trying to do more of. Making time to be with the people I love and am so thankful for invokes such a peaceful feeling for me.
- Regular chiropractic adjustments. This is something I am having to be very intentional about. Would you believe that even I, a chiropractor who is married to chiropractor and has 2 additional chiropractors on my team, doesn’t always remember to get adjusted weekly. I know what it looks like to get so busy that self-care gets put last on the list. I am thankful that I don’t have any ongoing musculoskeletal pain that would be a painful reminder to get regular adjustments but I absolutely believe it’s important to make sure there is no interference in the communication pathways of my nervous system. This is what we refer to as “wellness or maintenance adjustments”...insurance doesn’t pay for this type of care but if you consider the alternative, the amount of money you will spend for this treatment pales in comparison to what you will spend trying to get your health back if you lose it.
There are many other little things that can help with stress resiliency, but this is what's working for me at this point. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and our health and it may be a long road ahead for some to undo the damage done by chronic stress and trauma so you, like me have to be willing to do the work.
Are you seeking peace or just living in chronic stress? Start seeking peace today!