My husband Craig introduced me to this fabulous thing called leisure time.
Have you heard of it? It’s fantastic.
Once exposed, I happily welcomed it into my life and it has played a vital role in my overall life balance. Of course, life is dynamic and balance will sway from a little too leisurely to a little too much work; but if I can help it, it’s usually not for too long. That was until this winter when all of a sudden I had a LOT of life going on all at once. Although my logical brain was telling me, “You can do this… this is not too much… this is totally manageable”, my body was sending out MAYDAY signals.
Hair falling out. Craig usually notices this first, quietly picking hair off the back of my shirt.
Tightness in my chest and stomach. Catching myself taking deep breaths to ease the pressure.
Lack of appetite. Did I even eat today? I can’t remember.
Disrupted sleep – and I LOVE sleep. Waking too frequently, waking too early, panicked dreams.
Tightness all around my shoulders blades wishing someone could just stick a knife in there to relieve it.
Mindlessness. Why am I pulling into Craig’s work parking lot when I meant to go to the bank?
Day after day, week after week, I kept waking up feeling the same way experiencing the same things. We call it anxiety from a diagnostic perspective, but I know it is my body’s wise intuition telling me – “MAKE SOME CHANGES LADY”. I quickly reverted back to my type A personality and went into FIX IT mode. Although I knew there was an end in sight, the plan was to get through this chunk of time as unscathed as possible.
- Accept the things I cannot change. Take the work, sign the contract, get it done. My mantra becomes, “And this too shall pass”.
- Do everything I can change to minimize any additional stress to my body.
- Eat PERFECTLY. Bad food is an internal stressor to the body and an easy one for me to control. Vegetables, fruits and lean proteins it is.
- Drink PERFECTLY. Although a common tendency is to self-medicate with alcohol, caffeine, sugary beverages, I know this too is very stressful to the body so avoid it all. Well not my coffee in the morning. I had anxiety, not psychoses.
- Exercise daily. I knew the adrenaline and cortisol was surging through my body and exercising is a great way to “burn it out” so to say. I made it to the gym consistently and walked my dog daily. Sitting is the new smoking. I had to move my body.
- Meditate daily. I once read that if you’re stressed and pushed for time be sure to meditate at least once a day. If you’re REALLY stressed and pushed for time, meditate twice a day. For me, meditation means taking the time to quiet my monkey brain. This helps me to be more mindful during the day. I often ask for a light and energized body, an alert mind, an open and compassionate heart, and grace and flow to my day. I was able to fit in 20 minutes daily in the morning, and then read about it at night. I found the book Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan most helpful for implementing meditation as I’ve never been great at it.
- Nourish my adrenal glands. These are the 2 little glands that sit on top of your kidneys and secrete your stress hormones and catecholamines (cortisol, DHEA, epinephrine and nor-epinephrine). When chronically kept in stress mode, these glands can get burnt out resulting in chronic fatigue, chronic pain, immune disorders, cognitive dysfunction, muscle wasting, to name a few. Short term, it can show up as weight gain (especially belly fat), anxiety, depression, insomnia, and muscle soreness. Here’s what I took:
- Adrenogen™ – an adrenal glandular made by Metagenics to nourish the adrenals glands. If you want healthy adrenals, eat adrenals. 2 twice a day.
- Serenagen™ – a combination of traditional Chinese medicine herbs known as “adaptogens” that can help buffer the adrenal response. Essentially – the stress goes on, but it takes your body’s response to the stress down a notch. 2-4 during the day and 2 at night so I could get a better night sleep. Serenagen™ is what works best for me, but there are a plethora of adaptogen combinations that can be tried for best results.
- Ultra Clear Renew™ – a medical food designed to help liver detoxification.
- It works as a macronutrient balance meal (one less meal to make! – sometimes two)
- It provides targeted nutrition for mitochondria function (cell energy) to help detoxify all of that cortisol.
- Immune support. It is well documented that stress will lower your immune system and I had NO TIME to be sick with fitting in the meditation, exercise and all. I used a variety of things at different time … Vitamins A, C, E, D, homeopathics, omega 3 fish oils, multivitamins, and probiotics.
Eventually, in the spring, many things did wrap up and I was back to my life of balance, structure and routine where my body functions best. I am happy for the experience as it has brought a new sensitivity towards my patients who are also experiencing intuition. If your body is telling you that it’s time to make some changes, it’s a good time to listen.