Understanding stress & anxiety, plus some great tips & remedies for managing stress effectively, and finding relief, but also getting to the root cause and addressing it holistically.
Back in my days practicing as a naturopath, just about EVERY new person I met who was dealing with a chronic illness would say that they went through a particularly stressful period just before they got sick.
Maybe they took on extra load at work, became a first-time mum, went through a separation, a trauma of some kind or something that just pushed them into that realm of overwhelm, where we are stretched to our limit either physically, mentally emotionally or all 3.
I know what that feels like. I’m prompted to write about this, as we are going through a particularly stressful time right now having taken on too much, pushing & being busy for just too long.
It takes its toll!
Have you ever thought about what’s really going on?
We all know that stress feels terrible, and is bad for us, but there’s a reason why – it actually creates acidity and inflammation in our bodies.
Sometimes stress is fear based (anxiety, niggling little fears that drive our actions) and sometimes it’s anger based (feelings of frustration, agitation).
So when we are ‘stressed’, we are literally living in a fearful or angry state (often both) without really dealing with the fear or anger.
Under pressure, our unresolved ‘stuff’ comes bubbling up to the surface. Our normal systems of control start to crumble.
Some would say our ‘true colours’ show. But they are not really our true colours, just unhealed emotions. It is actually only when those emotions are released that our real true colours can begin to show.
Unresolved fear actually creates acidity and unresolved anger creates inflammation in the body, which is why stress can cause so many health problems long-term, AND then actually makes us even less resilient and more sensitive to stress, creating a vicious cycle.
What can we do to change this?
So getting to the bottom of these emotional patterns is really important, BUT here are some things you can do to feel better NOW, and create a more loving and supportive way of life.
Declutter your environment and your mind!
- Clear your physical space of anything that you don’t need, or that doesn’t nourish you somehow. Keep it simple and go minimalistic. You’ll be surprised at how much better it feels and how much more you are able to get accomplished when your environment is decluttered.
- Turn off the TV
- Stop over-booking yourself and compulsively filling up your time. Schedule in some non-negotiable downtime regularly.
- Talk it out &/or start a journal. We need to express and experience ourselves rather than let it all sit & swim around in our head, and holding onto it in our bodies.
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Let yourself do NOTHING.
I’m terrible at this but trying to change 🙂 I remind myself ‘it’s ok just to BE. I will still be loved & worthy if I don’t achieve as much today, and the world won’t end’.
Feeling stressed is a signal that we need to STOP, take time out for reconnecting, resting & integrating. If we don’t stop, our body’s will eventually make us stop.
The art of being really present. We feel so much calmer and more peaceful when we’re grounded in the body, rather than buzzing around up in your head all the time.
Cultivate self-compassion & being kind to yourself.
Treat yourself as you would a cherished friend. You wouldn’t crack the proverbial whip on a friends back, push them when they are tired, or give them a hard time when they are already overwhelmed. But this is how we often treat ourselves 🙁
When we are stressed and/or busy, many of us will just eat on the run, and whatever’s convenient, but this is exactly the time we need to stop and be conscious of what we are putting in our bodies and make a choice that nourishes and supports rather than gives our bodies more work to do.
I can’t emphasize enough, how important clean quality drinking water is. When we are dehydrated long-term (which many people actually are) we become acidic and inflamed, which actually sensitizes us to stress even more.
Do something beautiful for yourself like a bubble bath with some pure essential oils or put your feet up with a book.
For more self-care ideas, go here
Stretch or do a yoga class.
When we are stressed our bodies are contracted, both physically and energetically. Doing a few slow deep stretches, even just for a minute or two can change the way you feel – decompressed, more open, softer, calmer and more grounded/connected to the body, not just the head.
Practice some deep breathing.
Notice how you are breathing, how shallow and whether there’s restriction somewhere, and start to soften and allow the breath to drop all the way down into your diaphragm and belly.
Feels better doesn’t it?
Set realistic expectations.
Let go of perfectionism – this is easier said than done because we pick up these patterns in early childhood through somehow learning that this is how we earn approval and love, by striving to achieve some ridiculously high standard.
We need to learn how to parent ourselves with unconditional love, so that we don’t feel like we need this ‘love’ and approval from others to feel okay about ourselves.
Dress for comfort
Challenge yourself when you find that you’re making choices out of concern about what others think, rather than what will make you feel most comfortable.
These days as long as I like what I’m wearing, and it’s comfortable and it feels like ‘me’, that’s all that matters 🙂
Go for a walk on the beach or through a forest.
No explanation necessary! 😀
13. Pursue a passion project.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in what we (think we) should be doing that we can forget about the things we actually really want to be doing!
14. Nutritional and Hormonal
Some additional factors to consider are to prime yourself nutritionally to manage stress.
Personally, I manage stress so much better when my magnesium and B vitamin levels are optimum.
CBD Oil, a good magnesium formula and a vitamin B complex are my 3 personal choices for optimal stress support.
It’s a good idea to speak to your integrative practitioner/naturopath about the best nutritional support for you, as an individual.
However here are a couple of good ones I can recommend:
This is a nice simple formula which contains B vitamins in their easy to absorb forms, and the active form of vitamin B5 (Pyridoxal-5-phosphate) which is essential for good nervous system & brain function, and hormone production.
It’s free of dairy, gluten, lactose & soy fillers and suitable for vegans.
As women age, and our hormones change, we become more sensitized to stress.
Consider a hormone check. I recommend this is done every year, particularly for women over 40.
Request a salivary test, rather than a blood test, for steroid (sex) hormones as this is far more accurate, giving you the level of bio-available (free, unbound) hormones.
DUTCH testing is the latest & greatest, giving you the most information, but is a fair bit more expensive & may not be necessary.
I recommend testing for Estradiol, Testosterone, DHEA and cortisol levels.
Essential oils & CBD oil are my favourite ways to rebalance hormones.
Go here for more about addressing hormonal imbalance.
15. Getting to the root cause
And finally … Ask yourself ‘how am I really feeling’ right now (when you’re stressed).
Am I frustrated and if so how can I express it in a healthy way? Am I anxious, and if so what am I afraid of?
Sometimes just getting back in touch with our feelings and honouring how we feel can do wonders!
If you’d like to explore about working with emotional healing, go here.
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I’d love to hear from you! What helps you when you feel stressed and overwhelmed? What has been your experience with taking time out to honor how you feel when you’re stressed?
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