Not sure what it feels like to 𝐍𝐎𝐓 be stressed these days…? Hard truth- your stress is killing you. Unpopular opinion- it 𝐂𝐀𝐍 be tamed. Keep reading if stress is an all too common feeling for you.
It’s important to first touch on the science behind stress. The hypothalamus at the base of the brain sends hormone signals to your adrenal glands when you sense danger. Those adrenal glands then release a bunch of different hormones. One is adrenaline which increases your heartbeat/breathing rate/makes it easier for your muscles to use glucose to act or move, which is great if you’re running from a bear. However, chronic stress hormone stimulation, specifically cortisol, can lead to depression, high blood sugar due to increased release of glucose in your blood stream, fatigue and that can lower your sex drive, digestive issues, anxiety, weakens your immune system, ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, and weight gain.
Potential signs of too much stress –
- Chronic pain
- Frequent sickness
- Insomnia / decreased energy
- Changes in libido
- Digestive issues
- Appetite changes
- Rapid heartbeat
What makes you feel weighed down? What makes your heart race in an overwhelming, negative way when you think about it? What thoughts stress you out so much that you completely shut down or dive into social media to numb your brain? We all have different things that stress us out so it’s important to get in tune with those stressors and befriend them and then kick their ass.
I don’t want to be a downer here but I need to address the seriousness of this topic. A lot of my clients joke about their stress. They are so used to being chronically stressed and feeling out of control of their life that it’s just their normal. I refuse to laugh with them. It’s not funny. My silence often creates confusion because it’s not expected. I need my clients and everyone listening to know that STRESS is A SILENT KILLER. It kills your mood, it kills productivity, it kills your ability to be present and enjoy your life, and if it’s a chronic thing that you keep ignoring, it can kill you.
My stressors and things that help:
-Not feeling prepared- Brain dump, daily priority list, talking with Justin about our schedule, planning meals
-Messy space- Dedicate a day that anytime I am not working, cleaning is my priority, plan a time in the week for a messy room, make my bed every day
-Being around judgmental people- Get centered in prayer, talk to health coach/therapist/good friend ahead of time, reminder to be present/create boundaries around conversation/breathe, limit time with that person
Notice your stressors and your reaction to them to determine patterns so that you can develop healthier, more effective responses. Establish boundaries with time at work, topics within conversations, and make sure you find time to refuel your tank, however you prefer doing that. I ask my clients “what do you enjoy doing and/or what relaxes you?” A lot of people don’t know.
Create an empowered plan of what makes you feel mentally prepared for your day/week where you can be productive and present. List one action step for that week that will benefit your daily life:
Empowered Mental Checklist-
– Nutrition: ex- plan 4 meals/week
– Exercise: ex- schedule 5 days/week of 30 min of exercise
– Sleep: ex- shut down electronics by 8pm 5 nights/week
– Stress: ex- organize 2 rooms in my house/week
According to a study from The American Association for Nurse Anesthetists, people with messy homes are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. When you focus on organization in your home, you gain control of your environment, decrease stress and anxiety, and improvs your attention span (especially when you clean your office space). Your home is a reflection of yourself so taking time for it and showing yourself it’s worthy of your time can increase your self-efficacy with other personal goals. This is definitely a stress reliever for me. When my house is on point, so is my attitude.
Everyone has different ways of managing stress so getting ideas or insight from other people is such a great way. I use podcasts for ideas. We give endless tips on each episode of the Ivy Unleashed podcast and daily on our social channels, so feel free to lean on us. Find people to follow that empower you to take charge of your time and space instead of them always seeming like the expert. But also don’t forget to ask yourself what specifically gives you the feelings of calm and peace so that you can make a move to reduce your stress level.
I’ve learned that if you don’t learn how to process your emotions, stress will eat at you and manifest in all different ways. I’ve learned that I’m not invincible and I’ve gone through hard things and it’s okay to not be okay. And I’ve learned that to heal it, I must feel it.
Your gut is your 2nd brain. 95% of your serotonin (feel good hormone) is made up by the bacteria in your gut. Serotonin influences both mood and GI activity. In dealing with digestion issues for years, I am learning firsthand the link between the mind-body connection, specially the brain and gut which is connected by the vagus nerve. Our vagus nerve communicates the brain to the stomach (and vice versa), telling our body when it’s time to fight/flight and rest/digest. It is through our vagus nerve that we can control our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. By doing simple things to activate the vagus nerve, which in return switches on the parasympathetic nervous system (rest/digest), we can tell our body that we are safe and that it’s time to destress. These things include: deep, slow belly breathing, gargling, cold showers, humming, singing, laughing, yoga, and meditation. I have learned that stress and control go hand in hand. When we feel out of control, we feel higher levels of stress and when we feel in control, we often feel less stressed.
According to an article on Healthline.com, “learning how to recognize sources of stress in your life is the first step in managing them. For example, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep may help you feel more calm, focused, and energized. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as rhythmic breathing, meditation, or yoga, may also help relieve stress and anxiety”.
So what do you enjoy doing? Overall it’s important to have something to look forward to, to keep you hopeful. Take time to turn inward and reflect on what makes you feel relaxed. What works for you when it comes to de-stressing? There are a million things you can do, but you need to figure out what works best for you.
Things that help me:
- Taking time to reflect on what forms of self-care actually work for me
- Cold Showers
- Exercise – even for a minute – getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
- Eating a well balanced diet
- Supplements – Magnesium/Ashwagandha/CBD Oil
- Lighting a candle (cashmere plum @ Target is a Gold Ivy favorite)
- Reducing my caffeine intake
- Writing it down (journaling- getting it out of my head)
- Spending time with friends and family
- Saying no
- Avoiding procrastination (get er dun)
- Practicing mindfulness
- Drinking tea
- Quality sleep
- Listening to music
- Deep breathing (square breathing- breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4)
- Practicing affirmations
Foods proven to lift your mood – fatty fish, dark chocolate, bananas, fermented foods, oats, berries, nuts and seeds, coffee, beans and lentils
YOU can do this. YOU can organize. YOU can make decisions that support your wellbeing. YOU can schedule time for recharging and fun. YOU can destress your life.
Stress should be temporary and manageable so that’s why we’re giving tips on how to deal with it. However, there is a difference between anxiety and stress- anxiety persists excessively without a stressor. If you feel that your anxiety or traumatic stress is affecting your ability to function, please consider talking to a professional. Not everyone requires treatment but it’s always important to know that it’s available if you feel you need it.
3 Gold Stars
1. Carve out 10 minutes to reflect on what’s causing you the most stress in your life at this moment.
2. List out 3 things you have control over that would help alleviate some of the pressure and stress.
3. Write down one thing that helps you destress – schedule it into your calendar for this week.
- Where do you hold your stress (tension in your neck, grinding your teeth, etc.)? What ways can you work on releasing that tension?
- What 3 things can you schedule into your week to help you release stress?
- What activity relaxes you to the point where you to lose track of time?
Piece of Gold
Healing Food of the Week-
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Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and also contains an abundance of antioxidants that help prevent cancer. Dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content improves brain functioning by increasing blood flow.
𝐅𝐮𝐧 𝐅𝐚𝐜𝐭: Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage.
𝐃𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐩𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐲
Dark Chocolate Bark with Roasted Almonds and Seeds
Dark Chocolate Fruit Kabobs
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Listen to your truth and go chase your gold.
– Gold Ivy Health Co.