Just seeing that word stresses me out! It’s something ever-present in many of our lives and can come in many forms- interpersonal, financial, work, time commitments, children, family…you name it, there is probably something that is stressing each one of us out even in this hour.

Is All Stress Bad?

Stress and the body’s response to it is actually a good thing- we need the adrenals to kick out cortisol when being chased by a bear, but chronically pumping out cortisol due to an overfull life isn’t going to make us feel well. In truth, many of the health issues my clients experience are rooted in too much stress and their bodies not being able to handle it any longer. We often think that one day our health goes south and look for that “one thing” that caused it, but the reality is the rat-race pace of “normal” life and everything that goes with it causes our health to tank day after day.

Stress Comes in Many Forms

I think so many of us jump to mental/emotional stress when we think of what is “stressing us out” but there are SO many other things that can cause your overall body stress:

  • Food Sensitivities
  • Parasites, Bacterial Infections + Fungus
  • Heavy Metals
  • Leaky Gut
  • Low calorie and/or low-fat diets (aka not eating enough)
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Too much exercise
  • Not enough Sleep
  • Mineral Imbalances
  • Deep-rooted Trauma

Instead of constantly looking at more yoga classes or meditation or breathing exercises, we may need to look INTERNAL to assess the inner-workings of our bodies and what could be adding to our stress bucket.

The Body Is Good At Handling Stress…Until It’s Not.

Our bodies are really good at adapting for years, even decades until it is finally enough and it can no longer adapt. We see this show up as weight gain, fatigue, sleep issues, anxiety/depression, etc. and we assume that it is a hormone problem or a sleep problem and seek out medication to “fix” it. 

The hard truth is that no pill will fix what your lifestyle has caused. We have to address the stressors in our life (both internal + external) in order to fully get a grip on the things we can control and get the body back to healthfully adapting to stressors we can’t control.

My Stress Story

If you’ve heard my story in other articles/instagram, you know that one of my biggest health issues was chronic fatigue and thyroid/adrenal issues, which never got better with adrenal or thyroid support, teaching several  yoga classes a week and meditating. My body didn’t begin to respond to healing until I learned that my life was too overbooked and over-full.

Working 3+ jobs, teaching fitness classes, managing a household, being a friend/family member, building a business and eventually becoming a parent was too much for my body. It held on for many years of over-work and under-rest but as I began to get older, my body started to tell me in more ways than one. No amount of coffee was helping my energy, weight was starting to stay on despite exercising 7+ times a week and no supplements were working either. 

We Have to Become Countercultural with Our Commitments

This process for me has been 4+ years in the making and I still struggle with overcommitting. I slowly quit the jobs, started saying no to more volunteering, and set boundaries around what I would and would not allow from others who caused me stress.

Similar to other “addictions” every new season of life has brought more temptation to jump back into the hustle- becoming a parent added a million tasks, both physical and mental that I could be doing daily, the house is now never as clean as it was before and building a business is a 24/7 opportunity if I let it be that way.

Daily I have to ask myself to prioritize what is necessary vs. what is just another item on the never-ending to-do list. 

  • Yes, the carpets need to be cleaned, but does that have to happen today? 
  • What are things that I can ask my husband or my mom to help with? 
  • What are things that I’m just adding to the list to keep up with the Jones’? 
  • What are things on my list that will actually bring me joy?

Simplification Extends to More than Just My Schedule

I’ve also been simplifying in many other ways in my life to free up space and time (literal + figurative) to breathe more easily. Some of these were that I:

  • Decreased my wardrobe by 80%
    • no, those cute jeans shorts from college will likely be 1. Never fit again and 2. Aren’t exactly appropriate for my age anymore LOL

  • Decreased my personal care products
    • My husband used to complain about how many bottles were in the shower, on the counter, etc. (I’m not kidding- I used to have like 10 different hair products in the shower alone)
    • No serum is going to make my skin look as good as clean, healthy, nourishing foods will. I spend less on creams and more on my diet now to help my skin!
  • Decreased cleaning products
    • Similar to personal care, under the sink used to be jam-packed with bottles. Now I stick with 2-3 brands that I can trust and cover a multitude of cleaning needs

  • Decreased the clutter
    • At one point we were moving almost every year, but now that we’ve been in our current home for over a year I seasonally go through all our drawers, cabinets, etc. to evaluate if the stuff is still needed or if it is organized in a way that creates more space and less stress in my life.

  • Decreased all the supplements + wellness foods/products
    • I’ve written a previous article on this, but I stopped falling for every claim I read and now stick to whole foods vs. supplemental for my nutrition needs. Protein powder is great, but I strive to get my protein from quality animal sources vs. powders or bars.
    • I do still have a cupboard full of supplements, but as a practitioner that is one of the duties of this job to test out items before I recommend. Slowly getting through that cupboard 🙂 

Stress Is Inevitable; Simplify to Deal With It

Again, I am no stress-reduction expert but my own personal journey of both getting to the root of my health issues AND pulling in the reins on the lifestyle that caused it has helped me truly start living for the first time, maybe ever in my life.

My entire life was geared towards productivity and success- in school, in work, in finances, etc. but simplifying and really focusing on what matters has helped me to see through the BS to understand that there is life outside of the constant grind. Am I perfect? Nope. Still sitting next to my ever-full to-do notebook that is color-coded, but daily I am working to slow down, cut back and live a happy, simplified life. 

What do you need to assess and pull in the reigns on? What things cause you the most stress that you CAN control and can change?