If you are one of my regular readers or subscribers you may have received an article about a week ago titled the same as this one. I apologise for that article as it was the absolute raw version that I had never intended for others to see. So if you have time, grab a cuppa and put your feet up as it’s a bit of a read.
I could title or begin this article in so many ways. For eg: Is good enough…..enough? Or Falling off the Wagon……and getting back on again. Or Keeping up with the Jones’ or Good stress, Bad stress – does the body know the difference? Or Am I an Adrenaline Junkie? This may seem a little like a ramble, in fact I’m sure it is, but I found this to be a very thought provoking experience and thought I would share with you Finding the Balance in Life.
Recently I endeavoured on a few more challenges as I felt I had the energy and strength to achieve them. However 2 weeks into the new challenges and I hit a wall of stress! Slowly, and then not so slowly, symptoms started to appear. First my legs broke out in a rash that I put down to sweating so much. Then a bout of vaginal thrush appeared. And then mouth ulcers started to form. Diarrhoea had started, fatigue set in, low energy, no appetite, my stomach was bloated and my digestion was not working. How did I get here?, I wondered. I took a visit to my health food shop to chat with one of the naturopaths and during the conversation he said one thing that ” made the penny drop” so to speak. He said ” the body can’t tell the difference between good stress and bad stress”. It all made such clear sense – even though I was not happy about it, but I wondered, how many of us think we are doing great things for our bodies or our minds or our families only to discover that we have pushed ourselves just a bit too close to the edge. I also had to wonder if I would ever have a normal functioning body again – maybe not (more on that later). But it gave me another challenge – to find the balance between good stress and bad stress.
The difference between good stress and bad stress
Good stress will give you all those warm and fuzzy feelings and a sense of achievement, purpose and fulfilment – all the things that motivate you to continue with challenging yourself. I was definitely feeling this.
“Bad Stress can trigger the body’s response to perceived threat or danger, the Fight-or-Flight response. During this reaction, certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol are released, speeding the heart rate, slowing digestion, shunting blood flow to major muscle groups, and changing various other autonomic nervous functions, giving the body a burst of energy and strength. Originally named for its ability to enable us to physically fight or run away when faced with danger, it’s now activated in situations where neither response is appropriate, like in traffic or during a stressful day at work. When the perceived threat is gone, systems are designed to return to normal function via the relaxation response, but in our times of chronic stress, this often doesn’t happen enough, causing damage to the body.”
I was also experiencing this type of stress.
If you have endured (chronic) long periods of stress in your life, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, chances are that your body may interpret all stress as bad. A few years ago I had been diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) which I believed had been dealt with by treating with medication and counselling. But I had been advised that I would need to be on a consistent low dose antidepressant for the rest of my days. I didn’t want this at all. So I sort all the research I could find about how to work through this without drugs. One of the solutions was to exercise a lot. Exercise was one of those challenges that I had taken on to help support my stress disorder. But exercise was also causing my body to stress. So what to do? This new information gave me a lot to think about. I knew that the only way to keep moving forward with being challenged but not stressed, I would need to look at my thoughts, my goals and who I am as opposed to who I want to be.
Stressful situations demand our attention. They also produce adrenalin which give you that extra umph! to get through the demands. It could be raising children, racing after toddlers, managing work with home and family needs or it could be managing an exercise program in amongst a busy life. For years as a young teenager and then an adult I ran on adrenalin. I used up every bit my body would produce and then some. I usually worked 2-3 jobs at one time (my belief was why spend money on going out, when I could make money by working and being out at the same time – hospitality industry has some good advantages of being very social) Then through raising children and homeschooling I was also dependent on adrenaline to get me through (especially in those days of being very ill with candidiasis) And now here I am with teenagers, still homeschooling but wanting to start shaping my identity again as my kids get older. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I think it’s a healthy thing otherwise I might end up at a complete loss when my kids finally need me no more and I haven’t taken care of my own needs. And guess what – much to my surprise I’m still an adrenaline junkie! But in order to control my stress levels I needed to reshape my thinking in order to control that nervous energy. This mean’t giving up my addiction for adrenaline. There I said it!
We all have challenges in life, some are given to us and some we choose of our own accord. We all need challenges – its what keeps us alive otherwise we die of boredom, lack of stimulation and purpose. It may come in the form of a job after being at home for many years of raising children or taking up a new hobby or physical activity. But how many times do we find ourselves out of kilter and in need of some readjustment. It’s about finding the balance. A couple of weeks down the track and after some naturopathic treatment and a long hard think about the situation this is where I’m at. Hopefully these steps may help if ever you find yourself in the midst of a stressful flurry or in need of a recalibrating.
1. I couldn’t change anything until I got my body and health back in order. My naturopath gave me:
Echinacea for my immune system. Traditionally used for infections and wounds, Echinacea has become a favourite herb of choice where immune support is required. Over 500 scientific studies have documented the chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical applications of Echinacea. Echincaea has healing, anti-microbial, antiinflammatory and nonspecific, immune-stimulant activity, primarily through the stimulation of fibroblasts (cells involved in tissue repair) and activation of phagocytosis (the process of bacterial scavenging by special white blood cells). Common Uses for Echinacea:
- Respiratory tract infections especially colds and flu, sinusitis, tonsillitis
- Sore throats, swollen lymph nodes
- Cold sores, herpes, Candida infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Chronic infection or illness associated with reduced immune function
- Topically for wounds, abrasions, skin infections, mouth ulcers, eczema, acne and psoriasis
Iron supplement for energy and immune support. Iron, one of the most abundant metals on Earth, is essential to most life forms and to normal human physiology. Iron is an integral part of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. In humans, iron is an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport. It is also essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. A deficiency of iron limits oxygen delivery to cells, resulting in fatigue, poor work performance, and decreased immunity.
Magnesium is an essential mineral required by every organ in the body for a range of activities including bone, protein and fatty acid formation. It is also essential in activating vitamins B and D, relaxing muscles, regulating calcium levels and helping blood to clot and is required for the secretion of insulin. Most of us do not get enough magnesium in our diets due to our diminished sources through the soil and the foods that are grown. Most of us are magnesium deficient and need a lot more magnesium than the prescribed dose. Usually it’s around 300 to 400 milligrams per day. One way of increasing magnesium into your body is using Magnesium Oil.
2. Cutting back my exercise routine to allow my body to rest.
This was easy once I dealt with my mind. Often our greatest difficulties are with our thinking. Our thinking shapes our emotions and our actions. I had to determine in myself what I thought was ideal as opposed to what was real. Then I had to come to terms with real and accept it. And then I needed to see it in a different light. By this stage I could assess how much exercise I could do without burning myself out but still feel challenged and satisfied on a physical level. It came down to (for me) a pattern of 2 days high impact exercise and 1 day for light exercise, stretch or rest, then 2 days on again. But most importantly it was maintaining an attitude that I need to be aware to read my body everyday not just plough on like I used to when I was 20. That by far was the greatest challenge. I didn’t want to except defeat. I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, I needed to see my limitations and work with them, not ignore them. They are there for a reason, whether I liked it or not. Better to be a friend to them then an enemy!
3. Going to bed!!
Okay so this is a toughie! No kidding!! When my kids were little I knew they only way I was getting up the next day early to do it all over again was I had to go to bed early. So at 9.30pm without fail every night, I would be in bed with a good book and asleep by 10pm. I never thought that would change. I was also dealing with a lot of ill health which prompted my tiredness factor as well. These days, meaning the last 2-3 years I have become a candle burner. I’m up late, usually trying to unwind in front of a good TV program and/or still cleaning up from a busy day of school, activities, errands and meal preps. By the way TV is a very stimulating activity, especially for people who are a little tightly wound. Then I’m up early to fit in as much as I can before school and kid activities start. In one way I think I’m not as busy as when my kids were little and therefore I can do more, without realising that my day is filled now with many discussions on life, driving teenagers around, writing articles for a website, organising homeschooling events and producing far more meals than before. Why on earth do I think I have more time! But the bottom line is still the same – I need more sleep or at least more before the hour of midnight. There is much research on sleep and how much we need! Here are 7 things that should make you want to jump into bed right now!
According to one research the 7 most serious effects of sleep deprivation are:
- Heart Disease
- Lapses of attention/delayed reaction time
- Death – You may have a shorter life span.
Read the full article here
4. Taking some time to reassess the wheel of life!
We all need to take time out for our brains and minds to process what we have just crammed into the day. My pattern of staying up late and falling into bed exhausted or over stimulated was not helping. Slowly I came to terms that A) I’m not superwoman – even though I’d really like to be and B) whether I like it or not my body has been through way too many years of stress of different forms and I needed to respect that and work with what my body could do and not what I think it should be doing. I also needed to look at what else was happening in other areas of my life. Did I have balance? Was I investing too much energy and time into one area of life and not having enough deposits when it came to other areas that needed my attention. One thing that stared my glaringly in the face was that if you stretch yourself too thin then there is no room for error or mistakes! This was something that even though we may realise along the way it’s only in hindsight that we start to understand that we have to have a reserve tank somewhere. If we are always running on high speed than our tanks run dry too fast and too soon. It’s better to prioritise the important stuff and learn to ease back on the things that can be put on hold for awhile.
And yes I had to admit that some of my thinking which of course then motivates my actions was fueled by fear. Fear of getting older and looking and feeling it. Fear of not being able to keep up with the world, my children, their friends etc. And to a certain extent fear of not being in control.
At the end of this exercise this is what I’ve gained:
New insight about myself – a great value in itself.
Staying mindful – about where my body and mind is at. Knowing more about how far I can push myself.
Adrenalin is not on tap anymore! A sad reality of having many years of illness, however glad I’ve found out now. This was an important lesson for me as all I ever dreamt about when I was deathly sick was when I would be able to feel normal again. Well normal now is not what I thought it would be but my gauge is working now and I can reset it to the normal that my body can cope with.
Sold out on Echinacea – what a power herb that is.
And finally that I can’t control everything and thankful for that – otherwise I’d be a very busy woman!
Well there you have it. Can you relate to any of this. Ever been through a mini crisis or a major one that you’ve gained wisdom and clarity from. Would love to hear from you.