How to Keep Chronic Stress From Ruining Your Health. It CAN Be Done, Trust Me!
If you are looking for a solution for chronic stress, or the best treatment for chronic stress, this post will give you many options to implement right away. And I’m speaking from experience. I’ve gone through some majorly stressful times in my life in recent years- in fact, probably some of the most stressful years of my entire life, and I have learned a LOT about how to weather the storms that come our way. Don’t get me wrong: by no means have I always been perfect at doing this. In fact, the very reason I’m writing this blog post is that I’ve realized I’ve recently “backslidden” (is this a word??) in my stress management and self-care and IT SHOWS. Where does it show? In my health. That’s the point of this blog….when we don’t manage our stress response- how we respond to stressful situations– our health will suffer. I’ve seen it happen time and again and we must recognize that this is a given- and choose to be proactive about it. So– please, heed my advice and read on to learn what I have learned about the best treatments for chronic stress. And don’t just READ them, put them into ACTION!
It's Not What HAPPENS TO YOU.
The first thing you need to know about treating and managing your stress is this: it’s not what happens to you — it’s how you react to it. Read that again. I have learned in life this is crux of stress management and the more you UNDERSTAND THIS and that all stress management practices and new habits revolve around this- you will be so much more successful and healthy and happy in the future, trust me! I read a quote recently that said– for everything that happens to us, we can either REACT to it or RESPOND. One option is EMOTIONAL and filled with possible stress responses and one is CALM and filled with INTENTION. Hmm Think about which one is better for us. A RESPONSE requires us to STOP AND DO SOME THINKING first……whereas when we REACT immediately it’s just emotion— anger, crying, blurting out accusations, fighting, you name it……our heart rate goes up, our breath gets faster, our blood pressure goes up– it’s bad. Here is the deal. BAD STUFF IS GONNA HAPPEN. That’s life. If I can tell you to do something– BUY THIS BOOK– IT is such a simple book but reading it changed my life. ZEN AND THE ART OF HAPPINESS. In the book he talks about how we react to EVERYTHING that happens in our lives. And just this week I was observing how “wound tight” I’ve been…..I had a response from a lawyer about something I’m dealing with that I did not want to hear and I got so overwhelmingly upset about it– it was ridiculous!! I see that now! But at the time I was full of anger that was so disproportionate….and it was that very situation that made me stop and see….I’d lost my way…I’d lost my Zen….I’d lost my high vibe. (More about high vibe living in a future post) But– the key about stress management is ACCEPTANCE. Whatever happens– first things first- ACCEPT IT. Be calm about accepting it. Don’t REACT. Give yourself time to take DEEP BREATHS (THIS IS KEY (YOU’LL SEE SOME STRESS PRACTICES YOU CAN DO ANYWHERE DOWN BELOW– BUT DEEP BREATHING IS THE #1 practice!!!) and just think to yourself– why did this happen? I wonder why this is happening for me? Use that phrase FOR ME not “why is this happening TO ME”– to me makes you a victim whereas “for me” helps you start looking at things through a more positive lens.
MAKE A PLAN.
This next step was a big game-changer for me and I picked it up from Grant Cardone of all people. Too many people spend far too much time COMPLAINING ABOUT THEIR PROBLEMS and DOING NOTHING ABOUT THEM. Once you accept your problem– whatever is stressing you out– get into ACTION. I’m not suggesting it’s always going to be easy– to fix it. But, getting into activity toward doing something will get your mind off looking backward and feeling regret and feeling sad, down, angry, hurt, bitter etc. You get busy. I have spent FAR TOO MUCH TIME on the phone talking about my problems to my parents, to my friends, and then to my parents again, to my therapist, to my boyfriend, now husband…..-the thing is– talking about your problems- we all need to vent sometimes, but venting 10x is a WASTE OF TIME and you are just re-living the pain!! Often, you get your heart rate up and your blood pressure up- how often do you talk about something and get so upset about it that you cry? I’ve often had almost a panic attack talking about some of the things that happened to me…I have PTSD now– and my PTSD causes debilitating migraines– trust me when I say I want to avoid that pain at all costs! People– avoid RE-FEEDING YOURSELF YOUR PROBLEMS as much as possible. I’m as guilty as this as the next gal and I’m working on eliminating this! It’s a horrible practice. Maybe if we call it what it really is- “eating shit”– we’d stop doing it! ;-0
Start Living a GENUINELY POSITIVE Life.
Dealing with stress proactively is part one of your first step toward better health. The next step is taking ownership of your life and living it on YOUR terms and leading a GENUINELY positive life. For many of us, this will be a work in progress. Some of us are not naturally optimistic– and when I say lead a positive life, this is about leading a life where we see the world we live in as wonderful and we choose to see ourselves as amazing and incredible and choose to love ourselves FIERCELY. I really encourage you to stop, pause and think about this. There is a BIG difference between “having a positive attitude” and intentionally choosing to live your life, live every day, make conscious choices every hour of every day to move your life in the direction of HAPPINESS AND JOY AND POSITIVITY. When you try to do this, your health will improve. Your stress and anxiety level will decrease. Your life will change direction. The things you want to manifest WILL come to fruition. This has indeed happened in my life. Please don’t mistake what I am saying for a Disney movie. I’m not saying “don’t worry be happy” and POOF– all your problems go away and suddenly you have no bills, you are a millionaire married to your version of Superman and you have the perfect body that never gains weight and life is grand. Nope. I’m not saying decide to be positive and lead with happiness as much as you can every day in every way and you’ll never encounter stress or deal with tough times. Nope. Not saying that. What I am saying is this: when you begin to make CONSCIOUS CHOICES across the board to respond to every situation differently– as described above– accepting things, not fighting them, asking yourself “What could be GOOD about this?”, getting into a plan of action to get to a better place and overall, living your days FOCUSED on gratitude and being happy and positive and believing for the best possible outcomes……(and I’d encourage you to read some books on these topics, I’ll link some of my favorites below. If you are new to this, like anything…..learning to think a new way is a skill and you want to be taught by those who have mastered it themselves right?)….you do this…..you will notice how each day YOU FEEL BETTER. You look forward to the next day even more than the day prior. Things will happen in your life– doors will open, opportunities will come your way, just watch. You just keep on BELIEVING and being happy and positive and grateful vs. worrying and dreading and focusing on what’s gone wrong or COULD GO WRONG or might go wrong. What you FOCUS ON grows. Spend your time and ENERGY focusing on a high vibe sunshine life- and no, I don’t care how cheesy that sounds. Try it out my friends and see if it makes you feel awful and brings bad results. I bet you $1000 it doesn’t.
A Little More About Stress and Your HORMONES.
In closing, I must bring in the topic of HORMONES! If you have been reading my blog or following me for a while you know I talk about the importance of hormonal balance after the age of 40 (for some of us it’s earlier than that)– and stress can affect our hormones in a big way– NEGATIVELY. I’ve interviewed my last functional medicine doctor on the subject of cortisol, (you can listen to that interview by CLICKING HERE). Cortisol is a hormone that is made from the mother of all hormones, pregnenolone. In her book, “The Hormone Fix“, Dr. Anna Cabeca says, “Under stress, though, the body preferentially calls on pregnenolone to make cortisol in order to handle the pressure you are experiencing. But when the pregnenolone is pressed into service to produce cortisol, very little estrogen, DHEA, and testosterone are made. Daily, unresolved stress therefore jeopardizes your normal hormone production.” (I interviewed Dr. Cabeca on the podcast– CLICK HERE to listen) Furthermore- Dr. Cabeca says (in the same book) ….”Persistent stress can also turn the natural circadian rhythm upside down causing a restless energy at night and a low during the day (wired and tired)…..low cortisol all day creates a devastating condition ….otherwise known as adrenal fatigue.” UGH. I’ve had adrenal fatigue and it’s NO FUN. I’ve had adrenal burnout. You do not want to go there trust me!
Everything we are talking about in this post is SO IMPORTANT. We really (and I am preaching to myself here ladies just as much as I am “teaching” you, trust me) need to make our HEALTH and SELF-CARE a priority. We have to stop running ourselves into the ground with workaholism and/or working out too hard to try to achieve the impossible body ideal. (I’ve been there done that for too many years!!!) We have to step outside of our overtaxed minds and start treating ourselves like we are our own “patient” in our own special healthcare or spa treatment center.
Don’t laugh– just use that as an analogy- think about if your best best best friend showed up at your house on death’s door– TOTALLY burned out, fried, dehydrated, looking like they hadn’t slept a good night in months, looking underweight, weak, almost emaciated– sickly etc. You’d be WORRIED right? You’d want to help them GET WELL! You’d want to rush them in to your house and take care of them, nourish them, nurse them back to better health. You wouldn’t yell at them for how or why they got into that state of disrepair– you’d simply focus on being kind and gracious and HELPING THEM.
This is what I’m talking about what we need to do with ourselves– treat ourselves like we are our own PATIENT. We must HEAL OURSELVES, TREAT ourselves, and get ourselves back to a better place. You know– I was telling my assistant just this morning– I felt like I had my own intervention this week- on this very topic. Because I had the awareness of how much I’d backslidden in my mindset. How much I’d been focused on the negatives in my life. How much venting I’d been doing. How much I’d been distracted, angry, upset, unable to be as productive at my work as is typical……how over-reactive I’d been when I’d been upset about things…..I’d been MARINATING in the negative vs. FOCUSING on where I wanted to be. This was the polar opposite of who I normally am.
Truth is, I have “excuses” for some of this. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and I’m dealing with some heavy stuff in my personal world but I stand by what I just wrote…..the day to day choices I started to make—it can happen to anyone- it just starts to snowball and one negative gripe becomes another and soon you are noticing all the negative in your life vs. the positive and soon you are stressed and wound tight vs. happy and full of belief and unstoppable energy and balance…..what you feed, grows. I’m so grateful for the awareness/epiphany I had this week and the breakthrough of seeing this because now I have the opportunity once again to lead by example. I can show you what happens in my life when I bring back the right way of living– with daily intentional joy and belief and gratitude. Stay tuned, because you’re going to be blown away by what you witness!!
Just as I am getting ready to hit publish on this blog, I get a notification from one of my favorite people Michelle Cunningham, I’ve only bought like 70 of her online courses– and she sent out a newsletter saying watch this video about getting unstuck……so I click on it and am listening while I’m putting the final touches to this post. Do you know what she says at the beginning of the video??? OMG– SIGN FROM GOD!! “We must focus on ourselves FIRST. If we don’t put ourselves first, we are operating from an empty cup”– LADIES, WE’VE ALL HEARD THAT SAYING, YOU CAN’T POUR FROM AN EMPTY GLASS. You can’t serve others if you are depleted! She says you must start you day doing something that makes you feel crazy powerful and filled up and excited and and amped and happy– YOUR CUP IS FULL. YOU ARE HAPPY. YOU ARE FULL OF JOY– see a theme here? It’s a sign. 😉
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