Stress Almost Got Me
Okay, so this is a bit embarrassing to admit given that I'm a long time green living and wellness expert, but as I write this post my acupunturist is treating me for what he calls nervous exhaustion.
Nobody is immune to stress, especially these days. Even wellness experts who have been practicing what they preach--like me. Basically, in Chinese medicine terms, nervous exhaustion is an imbalance of the liver. In my case, it's showing up as digestive disturbances that feel like gas bubbling up into my chest, dry eyes with a twitching lid, and a frequent feeling of anxiety-especially upon waking. Sometimes I awake with a start and my upper body feels like it's vibrating. For me anxiety goes right to my stomach. If it's a serious stress, I typically throw up immediately, and then I can function and remain calm to handle the situation.
Why Is This Happening?
Two years ago in July, my only child and beloved daughter, experienced a life threatening health condition. I didn't leave the ICU of the hospital for about 10 days--even to sleep. On day 10, after a somewhat botched surgery on my daughter, I started to have what I believe was the begining of an anxiety or panic attack. I deep breathed my way out of that one, believe it or not. I was more terrified of being admitted to the ER, and put on some sort of pharmaceutical to calm down. I couldn't take the time to fall apart and not be there for my daughter. Since then I've done a bunch of things to heal from that experience, such as: EMDR, regular massage therapy, acupuncture, herbs, mediation, organic gardening, mindfulness exercises, yoga, a private coaching session with a horse and a life coach, and more. Many of the activities that I offer in my retreats.
Fast forward to this summer. I know that I've been pushing myself too hard. I guess I'm kind of a Type A personality with a laid back demeanor. Stress is more internal than external with me. For months, I hadn't taken off more than half of a day per week. Summer is my favorite season, mind you. This is not a good idea.
I've been too busy. People often ask if I ever sleep. Remarkably I do, though not always restfully or uninterrupted.
My "Go To" Tools For Health
As is so often the case when physical symptoms get this bad, change is basically forced upon us. So, I took off 5 days to be with my family over the Labor Day weekend to recharge. Last week I got a wonderful 90 minute massage and an acupunture treatment. I'm on Chinese herbs that are designed to cool the liver. When the liver is strained by too much stress, it overproduces heat. I've changed my diet some to feature cooling foods, like organic raw juices (with cucumbers, carrots, apples and mint) as well as foods that are easy to digest. No alcohol, coffee or fatty foods, including red meats, which are harder to digest and create more heat in the system. More acupunture next week--and I've even scheduled an appointment with a holsitic leaning nurse practioner just to cover all of the bases.
Deep Breathing Saves Me Every Time
Honestly, one of the best things I've been doing is deep breathing. Whenever I get that weird vibrating or tightness in my chest feeling, it is THE thing that gets me back to balance. I have come to depend upon deep breathing as my go to techinque.
Women & Stress
I know that I'm not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, women report that their stress is on the rise. Women are more likely to report that money and the economy is the biggest contributors to their stress. They are also more likely to report physical and emotional symptoms of stress than men, such as: headaches, an upset stomach, feeling like crying, feeling angry, fatigued, depressed, a lack of energy and the will power to change things. What was really surprising was the married women seemed to be experiencing more stress than single women. It seems that single women are taking better care of themselves in the stress department.
I'm feeling better and am going to be sure to take at least one full day off per week, probably two. I know I'll be more effective when I'm working by recharging my batteries. You know what they say on the airplanes--put your own oxygen mask on first before you try and help others.
Here's a free resource for you: 15 easy tips for decreasing stress in your life that I use on almost a daily basis. In my current situation, the impact of not taking time off was my big lesson. Grab the ebook here.