Long Term Chronic Stress is no joke! The problem with long term stress is that because we live in a society where many people are also chronically stressed and knackered, these things have been normalised and accepted as ‘just life’.
i used to legit think I was wonder woman, hell, i FELT like wonder woman. I could train 3-5 times a day, I could teach all the fitness classes in the week, I didn’t need much sleep, I could undereat, I could work like a horse and be there for everyone and help them. Little did I know that I was actually living in fight-or-flight mode.
I spoke in an earlier blog post about the onset of chronic disease being like a rain barrell, where the little stresses of life such as high workload, trauma, low sleep, relationship challenges and so on, add up and accumulate until our rain barrell overflows. When this happens, we are then starting to see chronic illness, inflammation or other horrible things come into fruition.
I am not a doctor and I cannot diagnose, cure or treat anything, but what I do know from working with many many women who have been under chronic stress for so long is that the effects of chronic stress are REAL BUT they can be reversed.
Signs that you might be functioning in fight or flight mode or are chronically stressed
Irritability and Impatience
Inability to rationalise
Low self esteem
Compulsive or obsessive behaviours
Aches and pains
Frequent illness, colds, coldsores, infections
Weight gain, or lack of weight loss
Sudden weight loss
Inability or Denile that you need to rest or relax
‘Go Hard’ or ‘Go Home’ mentality
Pushing through workouts or working when you’re tired
Saying yes when you really want to say no
Feeling like you can’t say no
Working more than you are resting
Working in a stressful environment
You have yoyo dieted for years
Having toxic household products instead of organic
Grieving, healing, going through big life changes
Moving timezones constantly for work
Lack of regularity in eating or sleep patterns
These are some examples that your body will be in a fight-or-flight or stressed state.
To understand why fight or flight mode doesn’t help us out in the long term, it helps to mention the pathology of being in a state of high stress.
Whilst our ancestors had fight or flight response reserved for when a sabre toothed tiger was chasing them, our modern day versions of stress look more like work stress, relationship stress, ratrace or societal stress etc etc. When we are in this high alert mode, our body does several physiological things to preserve survival. Dr Mariza Snyder states that ‘Regardless of the stressor or trigger, acute stress causes our bodies to divert blood flow from our digestive and reproductive systems and to redirect it to our extremities in preparation for a full-on battle. Blood pressure and heart rate increases, respiration kicks into high drive, and we are primed for battle.’ After this our bodies are supposed to then calm down fully and repair, rest and relax and get back to normal but if this doesn’t happen, because we have so many stressful demands, then we are in real trouble because we are setting the stage for a long term chronic stress landslide.
Ignoring the fact that we might be chronically stressed is not ideal at all because long term stress is one of the biggest triggers for hormonal dysfunction, immune system function, health energy, reproductive health, digestive health and emotional health. Whatismore, long term stress creates more cell death in our bodies leading to faster aging. In fact, the biggest thing that I did was to do less… in the last year people say how much younger I look and I’m like.. eat more, train less ,do less…. that was what I did. But all in all these were all steps to reducing my toxic, stress load.
There’s the bad news! But there is good news, too! The good news is that we are the major shareholder in our own life and health and we do have power to overcome chronic stress and start to live with more balance and harmony. I do advise getting Dr Mariza’s Book The Essential Oil Hormone Solution because for any woman, this is a fab little bible to help. I also recommend Paul Chek’s How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy. Both are game changers!
So here are some great steps we can take towards recovering from chronic stress:
Give yourself time - Change is a process and not an event. If you were born stressed then it isn’t going to be a quick wham bam thank you mam, it will take at least 6 months, if not longer of serious r&r
Slowly start to reduce your ‘non priority’ tasks - Believe it or not, if you suddenly stop being busy, you might get MORE STRESSED as the body might be so used to being busy and overdoing it that when you stop it’s like.. WTF IS HAPPENING. So reduce slowly, and change things slowly. Our subconscious really loves slow gradual change, as in nature :)
Connect with loved ones - I really know first hand how easy it can be to shut out people you love when you’re knackered but often this is because we feel pressure or like we cannot be authentic around them. I mean, you’d never shut out your dog or your cat!! This is because we know they accept us. Yes, relationships are hard, but the right ones stick, and the right people accept you. So connect, have a cuddle or a catch up, whatever suits.
Use essential oils -Y’all know I am obsessed with essential oils in their purest form (doTERRA are the best IMO - you can get these from me :D) - Lavender, Frankincense, Bergamot, cedarwood, Wild Orange, Lemon and Clary Sage to name a few. For more info head to my essential oils page or my youtube .
Eating A Diet That is Normal - OMG this needs a page of its own… for now, let’s just say, diets are BS. I hate them and specific diets really only apply to specific people. We are all unique on the inside as we are on the ouside and different foods suit different people. For the sake of this article, just don’t follow restrictive diets, they will make your body stressed!
Integrate practices that make you feel relaxed - For example, meditation, walking, yoga, tai chi, watching a film, painting, going for a coffee, swimming
Find Colours that soothe you and use them
Write a list of all the things that make you stressed and start to note what they are
Journal - Write down all your feelings, issues etc in a big letter, as if to an agony aunt. Then write back to yourself, as if advising yourself like.. ‘Cassie might benefit from putting less pressure on herself…’ and so on.
Find Professional help to help you if you feeling a little stuck - I go to therapy once a week and I have no shame about this. Therapy is amazing time dedicated just for you, to speak about you and deal with all of YOUR stuff. I feel like it’s the best thing that I ever did.
I hope you enjoyed this article, I would really LOVE to hear your comments, so please as always, share, comment anything!
Love and hugs and wiggly bugs!