What's Stress Got To Do With It?

One of the recurring themes that comes up in my work with clients is the effect that stress has on their health and balance. I am not talking about "good stress" like the kind that gets you pumped up and ready to run a race. And I am not talking about the obvious kind of stress where you are pulling your hair out and screaming at the top of your lungs in the middle of a crowd that is backing away from you. Rather, I am talking about the more subtle "bad" stress that silently runs through the threads of your life and quietly wreaks havoc on your well being. And recently, no matter where I look, folks seem to be walking around with quite a bit of this "bad", but silent, stress.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Do you wake often at night or have a hard time falling asleep?

Do you wake up feeling exhausted even if you slept for 7 hours?

Is that extra weight you are carrying stuck to you no matter how carefully you watch your diet or how much you exercise?

Are you feeling hungry all of the time even after you eat a meal?

Do you have a hard time focusing or feel like you are in a fog?

Do you spend time worrying about what might happen or wishing you could undo some things that did happen rather than being present?

Do you feel constantly rushed and like there is never enough time to accomplish what you want to do?

If any of those questions resonates with you, then you might want to keep reading.

Each person has a different vision of health and balance. However, most of us can agree that restorative sleep, maintaining a healthy body weight, having energy to live your life's purpose and being able to focus and be in the present are pretty good indicators of wellness. If "bad" stress, even the most subtle kind, can interfere with our health indicators, then how to we even begin to tackle any of this without creating more stress?

Try following a few of these simple tools that I use with my clients:

Morning and/or Night Journaling: Stream of conscious writing is truly a healthy habit to have. Just letting the words flow, sweeping out the dust bunnies and clearing your mind can be a powerful tool. Sometimes this type of journaling can be used to begin a day with gratitude or on the flipside used at night to clear the mind of to-do lists before resting. No matter how you use it, see what changes can happen with this unrestricted flow of words. Remember these journals are not for re-reading, sharing, publishing, judging or critiquing. So let it all go and just write.

Get Up and Move: You do not have to join a gym, buy expensive outfits or be graceful in any way. What you have to do is get up and move. One of the most important tools for any of my clients is to establish a set time (at least 30 minutes) every day for movement. The most accessible movement to start with is walking. It's free and gets you outside in the fresh air! Once the habit of exercising on a daily basis is established through something like daily walking, then you can begin to explore ways to challenge your body by adding sprint intervals, strength training or joining a class. The options are endless! Keep track of how the sustained movement makes your feel. How does it affect your mood? Your sleep? Your appetite? Your sense of well being?

Meditation: This is a word that sometimes scares folks. The typical responses I get when I bring meditation up with clients are: "I can't sit still that long," "My mind has too much chatter," or "I don't know how." Meditation, in my opinion, is simply the intentional process of quieting the mind so that you can be in the present moment. Picture it as trying to spend some time between your thoughts. Have you ever been so engrossed in a project that your mind chatter ceased? How did it feel to have that break from the ego's constant need for conversation? The form meditation takes for each person is unique. It might be "regular" meditation, such as a guided meditation. It might be prayer. It might be gardening, sketching or yoga. Choose a form that allows you time to appreciate a quiet mind and to spend some time between your thoughts. After meditating, think about how it affects your day, the quality of your sleep and your ability to focus.

Are you thinking your vision or health and balance might improve if you embrace the ideas above, but you get stressed out even thinking about taking something new on? You don't have to adopt all three of these suggestions at once! Start with one. Make the change with intention. Spend time reflecting on how the one small change affects the whole of your day and how it affects your body.

I passionately believe that our health is our most precious asset. Being healthy allows us to live our life's purpose and contribute to the greater good. So I encourage all of you to take a step today towards prioritizing self-care.

Share your thoughts below, or contact me to continue the conversation.

                                           In Health and Balance,




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