October 5, 2011

Sidelined By Stress


We all know the word--but do we really see it when it's actually happening--or not until it's too late? How many of us deal with innumerable stressors day in and day out but don't take the measures needed to combat the damage being done to our bodies?

Last month was intense, dude. Really intense. If you read my post about Getting Unstuck, I made a big decision to leave a situation that wasn't a good fit. Sounds easy, it wasn't. It took alot of courage, a lot of discernment and alot of sleepless nights spent trying to figure out the right solution.

All those sleepless nights took a toll on my immune system.

All the thinking and rethinking triggered my adrenal glands 24/7 and then this is what happens:

Your sympathetic nervous system does an excellent job of rapidly preparing you to deal with what is perceived as a threat to your safety.
Its hormones initiate several metabolic processes that best allow you to cope with sudden danger.

Your adrenal glands release adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) and other hormones that increase breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This moves more oxygen-rich blood faster to the brain and to the muscles needed for fighting or fleeing. And, you have plenty of energy to do either, because adrenaline causes a rapid release of glucose and fatty acids into your bloodstream. Also, your senses become keener, your memory sharper, and you are less sensitive to pain.

Other hormones shut down functions unnecessary during the emergency. Growth, reproduction, and the immune system all go on hold. Blood flow to the skin is reduced. That's why chronic stress leads to sexual dysfunction, increases your chances of getting sick, and often manifests as skin ailments.
With your mind and body in this temporary state of metabolic overdrive, you are now prepared to respond to a life-threatening situation.

---taken from http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/stress.html

Awesome. My life had become a life-threatening situation. That explains why I
got slammed with a horrendous cold last week. Missed two shifts at my other
j-o-b and had to move in-person client appointments to the phone.

I was sidelined by stress.

As I spent hour after hour recuperating (as a health coach, I know better than to push the issue--I stopped what I was doing and took good care of myself right away) I said to myself, "you could have seen this coming. You know better."

It's true. And you know what? The reality of my life (and for many others) is that there will always been an endless number of stressors. As I come out more and more, the stressors are adding not diminishing. I have a business to run and lives to change! What to do?!

Take steps to manage and reduce the stress--do your best to reduce the negative effects that stress has on your body and in your life.

Here are some I'm finding helpful these days:

1) BREATHE: Encountering people who don't know how to be an ally? Breathe
and be patient with them. Unfortunately most schools aren't teaching people to
be respectful or open-minded and compassionate once they graduate kindergarten--or they aren't enforcing it strongly enough. I'm working to change that--but I'm breathing, first.

2) SAVE IT: Seeing hateful/bashing comments on facebook? Don't engage, or if
try to advocate for more tolerance--proceed with caution. If a facebook friend allows a hateful thread to continue on their page, consider the value of that friendship in your life. Save your energy and your love for posts that make your life better--ones that lift up all there is to be grateful for. Instead of posting a comment where it will only be refuted with hate, send a message to a loved one asking them about their week. Go where the love IS.

3) TALK/REACH OUT: Questionable things happening to you at work or in school surrounding your identity? Immediately reach out to someone you trust--who will listen to you without trying to justify or rationalize things away. Listening is all
they need to do. Most people need help with their listening skills, so if the conversation leaves you feeling gross--call another friend until you feel heard
and supported, valued and appreciated.

4) SLEEP MORE: Having trouble sleeping? Prioritize a consistent (early) bedtime and don't use electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. Wind down my meditating or doing some deep breathing exercises, journal, vent to get the concerns of the day off your chest and out of your mind before you lay that
pretty head down to sleep. You need to sleep to counteract the damage from the stress--it's the one thing you can't skimp on to preserve your health.

5) EAT REAL FOOD: Feeling crappy from interpersonal interactions? Maybe
you're trying to make a big, hard decision in your life (they never end) or tackle
a huge pile of work. Don't add to the negative, anxious feelings by eating fast
food loaded with sugar and salt. Those foods trigger even bigger, more
damaging chemical responses from your central nervous system. Give your poor mind and bod a break---reach for the fresh fruits and veggies like you do your closest, best friends. Think of them as your best friends. I'm not kidding.

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