stress pillar

by MrsFatass on August 20, 2017


I’ve explained before how I’m looking at my recovery from Adrenal Fatigue like different pillars holding me up. Right now, this is a time in my healthy living process where I’m really being  forced encouraged to consider the importance of REST and the elimination of STRESS. I’ve skimmed articles here and there that talk about stress and sleep and how these things can be preventing you from losing weight or building muscle/strength the way you want to and I just kind of thought “yeah, right”. It was never an option for me to “reduce stress”, or so I thought. Anyone with a family and a job is going to have stress. I’ve gone through bouts of insomnia too, and would turn on the tv or scroll my phone until I got sleepy again. Then the flipside were periods where I would sleep and sleep and sleep but never ever feel rested. And the final blow for me, I believe, was when I added a 5:30AM class to my lineup. It was never really possible for me to get to bed at night before 10 or 11PM, and I was up by 4:45 (which got pushed back to 4 once I went to the gym and then on to personal training).

And as my clients got leaner, fitter, stronger, and happier? I got slower, angrier, weaker, and fatter.

And it didn’t make sense. Because I was training, and I was clean eating, and I was hydrating.

Eventually I was sent for a sleep study, which opened my eyes to a lot of things.

In the hour that we went over my results, we talked about my weight, my job, my life, the results of my endocrinological workup, and the fact that I was barely managing to get enough REM sleep to keep from going insane falling apart. “No wonder you aren’t getting results from your efforts! Your body has no ability to recover right now!”

He made all of my test results come alive. On the surface I presented to him as someone with fibromayalgia (I have every symptom but the nerve pain) and he said at the rate I was going, more serious autoimmune issues were going to be a given. We talked about how to get better sleep, how I should be supplementing, ways to be using oils, reducing stress, and how I needed to rid my life of toxic relationships.

The last one made me give him one of my BLINKS.

He asked me about the nature of some of my closer relationships. We discussed my business partnership, and how I basically traded one brand of stress for another when I escaped went to work at the gym. We talked about friendships (both current and past) and the types of conversations and activities they included, and my feelings about that. We talked about my faith, and how I was grasping at it for answers to why I was working so hard but feeling so awful.

He said that it seemed that I wanted to release a lot of “toxicity”, but for whatever reason I wasn’t allowing myself to do it. He suggested that what I was doing was swallowing it, bending around it, and finding ways to justify other people’s toxic behavior when really, what I needed to do was eliminate it.

He explained that wellness meant much more than the results of a blood test. He said that if I had the balls to make real, impactful changes in my life, that I’d be able to reclaim peace, which would lead to health.

At the height of my “crash” I was sleeping maybe 6-7 hours at night, in chunks, and falling asleep oftentimes sitting up) in a chair throughout the day. I was physically exhausted from both by training schedule and my own personal workout schedule. I was drinking both daily whey protein and a daily amino drink for “energy”, which was the tip of the iceberg in terms of things I was eating that caused my body immense inflammation. I was turning to screens to “unwind”, sometimes scrolling social media, but also reading books on my phone when I couldn’t sleep at night. I was living with near constant pain for months. I was feeling so physically terrible that I manifested negativity in many personal and professional relationships. I was swallowing toxicity by the gallon.

So. What is all of this leading up to? Well, while I realize that everyone reading this who may be drowning in a sea of stress might not be able to go to Key West with friends who have known you from the start of your adult life, have an epiphany, pack up your life and move it to your happy place, there are probably things you CAN be doing right now to either remove stress, or better deal with that which you can’t get rid of. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.

  • MEDITATION. So, I’m a pray-er. I have always been a pray-er and there have been many times over the last year that I have white-knuckled my faith in hopes to hang on long enough to find answers. But I have learned that in addition to devotionals, studies, worship services, and prayer, taking time for daily meditation has helped ground me, and has trained my mind and body to be able to breathe through stressors and challenges in a more fluid way. Little by little the tension in my neck and shoulders is releasing, I’m clenching my jaws less, I don’t swear as much, my road rage is softening. Using a mantra, doing breathing exercise, using guided visualization – all of these have given me great clarity, and I am now easily able to see myself healthy and whole someday. (Don’t know where to start? I just downloaded some free apps on my phone in the beginning! I find that being guided by another voice helps me focus more clearly on my practice.)
  • AROMATHERAPY. If you know me even a little, you know that I’m an oil junkie. While sniffing oils doesn’t “cure” adrenal fatigue, aromatherapy absolutely helps me deal with my reaction to the stress and the symptoms. If you can identify what’s in my diffuser, then you can pretty much tell where my head is at that day. Right now a blend of Balance and Bergamot. Sometimes Lavender or Cedarwood for sleep, sometimes Peppermint for energy, Citrus for clarity, or Ylang Ylang for femininity and bow chicka bow wow. I sniff my bracelets and my car diffuser and I usually have a bottle or two in my purse.
  • TAKE CARE OF MY EYES, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY. I look at screens. I look at them A LOT. Google how bad that is for sleep later! It’s quite an education. So I now have filters on my screens and my glasses also block blue light. However, I also took a figurative turn with this one and began protecting my eyes from other things that were keeping me up at night. Let’s just say Unfriend/Unfollow/Block lifted a huge weight. I changed the things I was reading, choosing more uplifting, motivational books and magazines. I finished some household projects, so even the walls of my home were pretty to look at. I began driving more scenic routes to places, even if they weren’t the most direct. And this summer I looked at the ocean as much as I possibly could.
  • PURGE. Trophy Husband and I decided we would not move anything with us to Florida that had any bad energy. So we purged. Any material item that had negativity associated with it – gone. Old emails or text messages or photos – deleted. Anything that didn’t deserve a place in our new life – eliminated. The pile of things wasn’t all that big, but it was hugely meaningful, and letting go of those things has created so much more room in my heart for my beautiful circle of family and friends that are family.
  • SLOW DOWN. Initially, this was about my workouts, but since my island vacation – where time seems to stop – I am consciously slowing down other things in my life, too. I don’t feel the need to power walk, or to push the speed limit, or to cram a thousand to-dos into one day. I do what my body feels capable of, and I rest when I need to. There have been many times over the last year when people have said to me “I don’t know how you’re doing it all”. But I have learned that a “one at a time” mindset is better for me than a “how can I multitask it all” one does.

I am lucky that I have had time the last few months to reorganize and reprioritize and really DO things to eliminate stress. I can’t even believe that we live by the ocean now. I love that I can see my mom and dad any time I want to. I run into my cousin at the grocery store. I text with my aunts. I walk on the beach. I’ll begin working soon, and will have to juggle all of these “tips” with a schedule, so maybe it will all go out the window.

But maybe it won’t.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna August 22, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Good for you! I, too, recently moved and have tried (although not 100% successfully) to eliminate negative energy by leaving certain things, including people and habits, behind. Here’s to more positive, new beginnings. XO

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Thea August 22, 2017 at 2:02 pm

I’m so happy that you bit the bullet and moved. I can’t wait to see what a different locale will do for you!

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