Stress, we all have it. But do we all manage it well?
One day, I hope to offer classes on our regenerative farm and retreat center. For now, the ranch is virtual:
Skip to what you want to see: 1:08 - about me | 3:26 - what is stress? | 4:24 - notice | 5:06 - rate it | 5:20 - an encouragement | 5:34 - tools | 5:37 - safe place | 9:10 - walking & bilateral movement | 11:36 - diaphragmatic breathing | 15:01 - essential oils | 17:38 - bye coffee, hello whole foods
*please note, though I am a professional counselor, the ideas in this video and blog post are not meant to replace your current medical or mental health treatment. Carefully consider if these are appropriate for you and consult your medical and mental health professional if needed before implementing any tips shared here*
What is stress?
Stress is a whole body response to perceived or real threat and is the physical manifestation of and response to fear. We are each unique and how we feel stress varies from person to person but here are some common stress sensations: a pounding heart, tense muscles, a stomach ache, head ache and shortness of breath, and more.
The good news about this physical response known as stress is that we can easily test our stress at any point in time by checking in with our bodies.
Like right now.
Take a moment and notice anywhere you feel tension in your body. Scanning from your head to your toes. Maybe your jaw or neck feels tight, maybe your legs and low back feel tension.
Now rate your stress. Scale of 1-10 how much is it bothering you?
Now that you’re aware... you can do something about it.
Here’s What I Find so Encouraging....
We are like a garden. Yes, we inherit our nervous systems, and maybe we learned to walk down the paths a certain way. BUT we are the gardeners of our souls and at any point in time we can amend the soil, build new pathways and grow something new and wonderful.
You may have inherited a certain kind of garden. You may have been taught to walk through that garden a certain way leaving a garden path to follow each day. But is that path serving you? Become aware of those patterns that are actually getting in between you and your dreams.
YOU are the gardener of your soul. And at any point in time, you can amend the soil, build new pathways and grow something new and wonderful.
God gave you the garden. But he’s left you to steward it. So what are you going to do? Are you going to leave the garden unamended full of unhelpful paths? Or are you going to amend the soil and rebuild healthy pathways?
Changing our Stress Patterns & How to Overcome Fear of Change
- Pathways are formed by patterns
- Patterns stem from habits
- Habits are heart issues
- Heart issues need tending to
As humans we don’t generally repeat things unless they’ve served us. We call this secondary gain. It’s important to acknowledge how has feeling stressed and repeating my stress behaviors served me?
Stress can be a badge of importance
Some of us wear our stress as a sign of honor that we are busy and important. Some of you know someone like this and are probably very aware of how unattractive it is. Hopefully we can recognize this is not actually healthy or helpful. Imagine the opposite, someone who is available, attentive, and honors you with their full attention. Doesn't that sound nice?
Stress can be a way we relate
Sometimes we learn to connect in stress in our families or with our friends. If you've found connection in stress, it may be hard to let your stress pattern go because you may lose that sense of connection. But let's be honest, connecting in stress is not actual, heart connection. It's superficial and ultimately, can leave us feeling more lonely. When we can ditch stress, we have greater capacity to build meaningful relationships with quality people.
Stress can be a way we distract
I'll never forget feeling stressed out of my mind in college. And it was all self inflicted. I was in so much pain over my dad's terminal cancer diagnosis, my body was obliterated by a volleyball injury, and my family and I were struggling to get along. So what better way to avoid processing my emotions than to distract myself with stress? So sad! I wish I had done things differently. But I trust God gave me that story for a reason and maybe just maybe, I'm here telling it today to help you.
So, are you ready to let your stress go? And my challenge to you is- let it go. It's so much brighter on the other side. I promise.
If you find yourself cringing at the thought of change or what it may mean for you to change... here are some tips:
When we fear, we resist. We tense up. Even just the idea of changing our stress patterns can be stressful. But I have good news for you. If you want to change.... all you need is a routine. Something simple and manageable that you can easily accomplish. The beauty of routines is that routines overcome resistance
- What is your goal? Work your ways backwards. Make a routine.
- develop a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual routine
- Keep small promises to yourself
- Keep showing up
- Make a social contract
- Get the support of a friend
- Keep showing up
- Get mental health support
- Find a support group
- Believe change is possible
- Keep showing up
- Keep showing up
- Keep showing up
- You got this
5 Simple Stress Relief Tools
Join me in the garden for some stress relieving tips, tricks, and exercises.
1. Safe Place
Safe place is an exercise designed to use bilateral movement and guided visualization to help you feel calm and centered. Before practicing this technique, I invite you to rate your stress before the exercise. To learn more about this exercise, watch the video that accompanies this blog post, exercise start as follows:
what is stress? 4:24 | notice 5:06 | rate it 5:20 | an encouragement 5:34 | tools 5:37 | safe place 9:10 | walking & bilateral movement 11:36 | diaphragmatic breathing 15:01 | essential oils 17:38 | bye coffee, hello whole foods
Walking is another form of bilateral stimulation that helps: decrease physiological arousal, increase attention and focus, offers a feeling of distance from the problem, and being outside in nature is known to have soothing effects and endorphin releasing effects too. Yay for happy neurochemicals!
3. Diaphragmatic breathing
Breath work is so key. Our breath is life! And something I find very encouraging is that when I can control nothing else - I can nearly always control my breath. When breathing to decrease feelings of stress, it's important to engage the diaphragm. Please see the video that accompanies this blog post to learn more about how to do this exercise.
4. Essential Oils
Essential oils get a bad rap these days but I've done the research and I hope you will too. True essential oils (pure and free of any fillers or other chemicals) are powerful, plant based tools that have been used for centuries to help people heal. Here are my favorite stress relieving options:
🌱 past tense - temporarily unavailable
🌱 balance - https://bit.ly/2J2Pzfv
🌱 lavender - https://bit.ly/35tMuMO
5. Get off coffee. Eat Whole Foods.
There! I said it! We are programmed to thing coffee is the solution to our exhaustion. And in a lot of ways, it is amazing and delicious and helpful and wonderful. Believe me, coffee and I go way back and our love affair will never end.
However. Coffee in excess and abused has led me to adrenal fatigue... twice! (If you're not familiar with this idea of adrenal fatigue, do some googling. It is terrible, I can attest to that first hand.)
Here's why coffee can be linked to adrenal fatigue - coffee is a stimulant. It also block adenosine receptors leading to a feeling of being less tired and more wired. But here's what is less known about coffee - it also stimulates adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline and cortisol both lead to fight or flight responses.
When our system is in chronic fight or flight, we eventually deplete our reserves of those hormones and adrenal fatigue sets in. I'm not a doctor, please always consult a physician, this is just my experience and me putting the pieces together hoping it helps you too!
So How did I Quit Coffee?
I found a new morning ritual - orange juice, celery juice or herbal tea. Orange juice and celery juice are both super cleansing and healing. Herbal tea is a great, warm alternative to coffee. I know it's not the same! I know. It's so hard. But here's my favorite tea recipe: I like rooibos tea with honey and a little dash of nutpod creamer. Not coffee, still delicious.
Hello, Whole Foods
I also started eating more whole foods.
I thought I ate well but when I realized some foods like white rice and bread could be clogging up my system and contributing to adrenal issues, I started the Whole30 diet as a way to hit the reset button.
Here's what I noticed:
Eating whole foods helped heal my systems and detox. It seems to me that when our detox pathways are clear and our bodies are not being triggered to fight or flight, our body is less bogged down and can do the work of healing.
I hope this post blesses you and helps you thrive. Please feel free to leave me a comment down below and let me know your thoughts. I love hearing from you!