Stress is the number one cause of disease and death and, unfortunately, no one is immune to it. (No matter how much we all want to be.) Like it or not, we are all susceptible to the physical effects of stress which, if not kept in check, can mount and seriously take a tole on your overall health – hence the whole “death” thing.
Given what we now know about the devastating effects of stress, the importance of us each monitoring and working to reduce our individual levels makes a lot of sense.
As someone who suffers from Hypoadrenia, to the point of Adrenal Crisis. I am essentially constantly teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Random and unnecessary flares of cortisol have me feeling like I’m in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’. As a result, I have had no choice but to take drastic measures to find methods to reduce the levels of stress in my life. One way I have learned to gain the upper-hand on my stress is to use a point system as a visual representation of the chaos of my life.
What typically pops into our heads when we consider life’s stresses are the usual difficult circumstances, like loss of a loved one, separation or divorce from a spouse, moving, trauma, sickness, natural disaster. All very real and justifiably stressful situations, but what we don’t consider are the different ways that stress effects us (such as mental, physical, and emotional stressors), or the fact that stress comes at us in sometimes the most minuet, unseen or unrecognizable forms. And while some of life’s stresses are regrettably unavoidable, finding hidden forms of avoidable stressors and eliminating them, even temporarily, can have a lasting impact on our health and overall quality of life.
Let’s take a look at the three ways stress can attack us and see where it all adds up for you…
Mental Stress –
This one is typically an easy one to avoid unless, of course, you have commitments to school or work that require heavy learning. If you are experiencing the negative symptoms of accumulated stress, or if you are like me and suffering from Hypoadrenia or Adrenal Fatigue, reducing your mental stress load can have an instant effect on your stress recovery.
There is a reason why mental health days are allotted to full-time employees on a federal level, and even by some privately owned businesses, because recovering from mental stress is seriously that important. Too much mental stress can eventually lead to physical or emotional stress.
As humans, taking a mental health day every once in a while is not only vital to our happiness but to our overall health! Do be sure to take a mental health day if you feel like you are stressed or mentally overwhelmed. Ignoring your body’s signs or symptoms of stress, or attempting to “push through them”, or “stuff them down”, will only result in catastrophic effects on your health.
Emotional Stress –
The most substantial, way stress effects us is by emotional stress. According to Dr. Patrick Flynn, of The Wellness Way Clinics, who is known as “The Hormone Whisperer”, long-term emotional stress is devastating to our overall health, having ten times the impact on a persons body than any other type of stressor out there.
These are the obvious difficulties in life that typically come to mind for us. Things like divorce or death of a loved one have a considerable amount of stress attached to it. Herein lies the arrows of stress that are not always easily avoided, making the effort to drastically reduce our mental and physical load all the more important, in order to accommodate for the additional force.
I have personally found The Holmes – Rahe Life Stress Inventory List to be extremely helpful in terms of giving me a visual representation of the emotional, and even some types of physical distress that I had been under for the past year.
When broken down and rated by this system, I could see my greatest hardships and successes, and was utterly shocked by the level of stressful circumstances that I had endured within such a short period of time, and suddenly everything made perfect sense! Anything over 300 points was considered detrimental to your health during the span of the next two years. In this past year I scored a total of 499 points! Almost 200 points above the highest bracket!
Upon even further consideration, the past four years of my life have actually been very stressful, according to Holmes – Rahe (what with getting married, having babies, and publishing a book and all), no wonder I was experiencing frequent nervous breakdowns! Add to that the physical distress I’ve endured (due to infection, inflammation, and long-term malnutrition and fatigue), and the mental stresses of endlessly researching my symptoms and diagnosis throughout this entire past year, in an effort to save my life. I was a (barely) walking ticking time-bomb!
Have you been feeling extremely stressed out these days? Put your own life to the test by clicking here to take the test.
Physical Stress –
Physical stress mainly consists of illness, infection, injury, surgery, food allergies and sensitivities, long term fatigue or malnutrition. These are the inevitable, and eventually even unavoidable, distresses that our human bodies endure. Working to actively encourage healing and healthy cellular regeneration is important, but that’s not all we can do to avoid physical stress.
Consciously avoiding things like loud noise, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other natural or synthetic chemical toxins, is another great way to drastically decrease your physical stress. The less you introduce harsh or harmful products and ingredients to your body, the less work your body will need to do to recover. Other potential variables that are within your power to change include poor dietary and sleeping habits, substance abuse, or over exercising.
Do not neglect your one and only body. Be mindful of everything you apply topically as well as ingest!
When I was struggling with the later stages of Adrenal Fatigue, my friend and fellow Naturally Strong Mom, Sarah, introduced me to an app called ‘Think Dirty’. I loved it instantly! And it quickly became a frequent favorite app for me, especially when strolling the isles at the grocery store. What a tool!
‘Think Dirty’ rates cosmetic, hygiene, and household products on a scale of 1 – 10 in terms of safety. Products that include perfumes, Parabens, or toxic chemicals (natural or otherwise) receive a high rating and is categorized in red. Gentler, safer products get scored lower and in green, while those somewhere in between safe and hazardous fall into the yellow category. ‘Think Dirty’ allows you to search their extensive database for your regular daily products, either by name or by scanning the barcode, putting them to the test on their safety scale.
I have found it to be so precise and extensive that I have chosen to use it to base my voluntary toxic exposure point system for my personal products (i.e. my cosmetics and hygiene items). It allows me to add up my daily product usage based upon their safety, which helps me to work on actively swapping out my long-time favorites with some safer, cleaner, healthier options.
For example, when I added up the ratings of just my “run to the store” makeup basics, I added up over 30 points easily (See above, right). After investing in some cleaner cosmetics however, and making the “makeup basics swap”, that first really important commitment, I only added up 14! (Above, left) Less than half the physical stress from my usual cosmetic go-to’s!
And would you believe that I actually love my safer stuff so much better? And feel this whole new confidence on those rare occasions that I do actually do leave my house and wear some? Why I didn’t commit to big-girl makeup a long time ago, I will never know!
Click here to check out ‘Think Dirty’, or head to your App Store and download it now for free to start scanning and adding up your regular products right away! You will be shocked at how quickly all of the toxins add up!
My light at the end of the tunnel happened when I took the time to create an inventory, a numeric visual representation, of as many different kinds of stresses as I could. Once I began exposing the hidden toxins in my home, and seeing where I could lower my numbers and improve my overall score, my health finally began to change for the better. My body was able to find the energy to fight my long-standing infections, and focus on healing my badly neglected frame.
Always remember that your body is unique, rare, and very sacred. Only here to bless the earth for a short time. Your very life depends upon it. Although our human bodies may be surprisingly resilient – granting us, and the environmental toxins of the world, so much grace – that is still not a reason to mistreat ourselves, and to foolishly gamble with our lives. Sickness and disease are on the rise and stress is behind them both, it’s no secret!
If you are looking to avoid the number one killer, your first step is tracking. After that, any additional unnecessary stresses suddenly become obvious, giving you the upper-hand on your stress management. Taking the time to add up your own stresses will not only shock you (maybe even impress you) with how much your body is capable of handling, but it will also allow you to see the areas where you can improve in your life.
If you’re feeling the weight of an unchangeable stress and you are having trouble coping with life as a result, actively working to decrease your stress in other areas (even for a temporary time being) can have a positive effect on your health, and help to give your body a chance to cope by allowing it the additional resources it needs to adjust, speeding along your healing and recovery.
And if you feel like you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and are having difficulty coping with everyday stressors, be sure to click here and check out other Naturally Strong Mom articles! And also swing by NSM’s Shopping List if you are ready to make the swap to safer products, your future self will thank you for it!
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Peace, Love & Happy Healing! XO
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