Emotion. I eat. Boredom. I eat. Denial. I eat. A web of inflammation weaves its way through my tissue connections, starting viscerally and ever expanding. Pain. I eat. Sorrow. I eat. Stress. I eat. Joy. I eat. As night drags on, I thrash around my […]
Tag: self care
Stress can be the catalyst that breaks you. How do you check yours?
I thought I had it under control. I didn’t think I was letting it take over my body or my life. Turns out I was stifling and stuffing all along.
Stress will kill you much faster than you’d choose to die.
I see it in my work and in myself. July of 2018 was hell for me. My significant other was out of town and our home had an infestation of bed bugs. I didn’t cry or have a melt down; I did however crash with a weird visual migraine half blind, half aching, that numbed my entire left arm - it lasted 24 hours.
There are always physical implications of unchecked stress.
Seeking a source of chronic pain in the body can be like sifting through sand looking for a flawed grain. How do you know what the problem causers are? Is it habits? Repetitive motion? Injury? Illness? Food? Lifestyle choices? Relationships? Not having boundaries?
It’s all of the above and more. It’s Stress. The hormones that are released into our systems in times of high stress can help us overcome it, in acute situations. Chronic stress has physical implications on the body. It can affect the body systematically and bring with it havoc and mayhem in the form of discomfort or pain. It’s a tool that if left unchecked can create a toxic reaction. At the wrong time with too much stress it can change your chemistry, for our tiny humans - this can be detrimental to their growth but for those of us who are grown, it can leave you in a place of chronic pain or diseases.
For me, anxiety builds stress, and vice versa. I've spent years stuck in a cycle of stress that I'm finally working towards breaking.
How I combat Stress and Anxiety:
- Self care is important. I act like my own parent(which can lead to arguing with myself), if I would want my spouse or child to behave in a certain way, that is exactly how I tell myself to do something. I focus on building good habits and the long term reward over instant gratification.
- Goal setting, I stick with priorities and adjust as needed. It’s always a challenge to hold myself accountable. Maybe it is strong will power, but I believe that to be a limited resource. It’s more about revisiting the goal and keeping it top of mind. I allow myself to want it more than I'm scared of it so it's a driving factor not an inhibitor.
- Breathing; we all need air! Breath in long, deep diaphragmatic breaths daily. Hold breath for a few seconds, ¼ length of the inhale, then exhale twice the length of the inhale. I know I need to work on this more, because oxygen is necessary; however, sometimes breathing brings awareness to an area that needs work and that can be frustrating. There's lots of breath work options available. Try out priming (it's helping me overcome anxiety surrounding exercise).
- Acupuncture, acupressure, massage, Rossiter stretching, Yamuna body rolling, functional fitness training, bodywork, tension release, fascia management, infrared sauna, detox bathing, journaling...(ect). These tools are not used daily, but as often as I can remember to use them depending on where I’m at in my cycle, my autoimmune flares, and my mental state.
- Meditation - to adjust the mental state and not just mindfulness, find the type that works for you. I like autogenic training because to me it works like self hypnosis, where I found myself fighting, judging, and loathing mindfulness or breathing meditation, something about autogenic seems to work best for my mind. I also focus on thought fasting, what's one thought or belief I'd like to instill, I set a timer and continue to bring my awareness to that one thing for a short duration, 5-10 minutes.
- Exercise - though difficult with chronic pain or mental barriers, still doable. Try something new until you find something you like and believe you can be successful at. Find a trainer to check into your body and form. I am a fitness trainer and yet I still have a professional train me on functional movement. I’d encourage everyone to try functional training as it’s injury prevention. I built up core strength and stability using foam rolling actively. Yamuna body rolling allows me to stretch like yoga while participating in weight bearing exercise. Running had to go because it had a negative impact on my pelvic floor, my gait and my joints but walking is magic.
- Realistic to do lists and expectations. SMART goal setting is crucial. Time blocking is necessary. This one is the most challenging. I try to meet myself where I’m at. Meaning, if it’s a high pain day, the bare minimum for survival is necessary. Know you’re not where you want to be and that’s okay. Everything in life is a practice and any task you take on doesn’t get easier, you get better at it with continual practice and time. If you maintain a beginner's mindset and choose the life of a learner there’s always answers to seek, solutions available and avenues unexplored. Stress is inevitable, how you cope and react can change.
- I'm also working on cultivating a better spiritual practice. For me that means finding people to discuss my concerns and ideas with as well as reading literature that supports my pursuits for head space and a religious purpose.
Growth is hard, and effort doesn’t come easy.
I always believe in each human and their potential.
The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity
by Burke Harris, Nadine
Loneliness can stem from rejection, from feeling isolated in our choices, our needs, and desires.
At some point during the surrealism that is getting an Interstitial Cystitis (IC) diagnosis I began to loathe small talk. “Hey how are you?” became an insult to me as I felt like nobody would receive my answer well. They’d expect a “Fine, thanks and you,” but I was so far from fine that “Fine” wouldn’t dare leave my lips. Lying is difficult and I’ve always struggled with holding myself back from pouring my heart out onto the lap of whoever was willing to listen.
I’d asked my boss at the time to stop questioning how I was since I was nowhere near fine and instead ask me what was up with current events as this was a conversation I could confidently be involved in. I might be falling apart personally but big matters of the world still deserved discussion. He never questioned my need to avoid that question or the lifestyle changes that were forced upon me, but many others did.
People will betray me, belittle me and turn their backs on me for not being their version of, “Fine thanks and you?” They have already.
About a year after my IC Diagnosis, I had a former friend actually tell me I needed a “food intervention.” She believed I was being too obsessed with food. My “friend” said she was going to host an intervention and gather all our mutual friends because everyone agreed with her. None of this specific cluster of people I knew once asked me why I was living the way I was. They never expressed interest in why I believed I needed to make these necessary changes for my own health and sanity.
I was doing what my doctors were telling me, avoiding certain IC triggers to avoid an unwelcome visit from Frank, my IC fire causing monster, and had received adequate food sensitivity tests to ensure I wasn’t reacting to things I was still eating. I food journal-ed to fill any gaps within my eating habits hoping to eradicate the cause of my IC or at least minimize the severity and impact of symptoms. I was and still am to some, obsessed with curing myself of the most painful experience I’ve had to date. Who wouldn’t be obsessed with wanting to feel better after spending countless days and months, quickly turning to years, feeling their worst?
Many of those I considered friends found my new lifestyle outrageous. Occasionally I still get questions drenched in implications like, “What happened to you?” Those willing to ask this question are unable to support me in my healing journey, they can never respond to the,"What do you mean?" response.
It began long before my IC journey too. People saw me trying to better my life. I was received with an inquisition. My junior year of college, after 7 years of part time classes I returned full time to complete my last courses in two years. I maintained a full time job and my social life plummeted. I had friends unwilling to accept homework or an early class as adequate reasoning for not going to concerts, bars, clubs or other social events. It’s not up to them how I spend my time. I no longer want to waste my life in meaningless ways. Especially when I’m already suffering physically due to the nature of IC and the Fire’s that Frank starts, ceaselessly raging.
Through these experiences I’ve learned that when you start to advocate for yourself and your needs, there will be people in your life willing and ready to treat your positive changes with negativity. I forgive them for not attempting to understand my circumstances and unknowing their line of questioning and acquisitions comes off as cruelty. Why would they be perturbed over my desires to be my best self? To seek healing and health?
I won’t let someone else dictate the type of life I lead. I want health. I will find healing. I cling to those willing to attempt to understand my experience and support me regardless of how obsessive I can get. I want to surround myself with those willing to understand me and my struggle. Those willing to love me through it. Those that have goals of being their best selves too. These friends exist.
If you’re suffering a change in life whether self chosen or forced on you, - and yes I said suffering a change. Change is uncomfortable enough without adversity of other people meddling - be prepared for your chance to receive negative reactions from those close to you. People may reject you for who you are becoming whether by choice or medical necessity. They won’t understand the change you’re going through. It’s okay. They’ll face their own difficulties in life, body and mind, eventually. You cannot worry about who will join you on your journey because regardless of the company, it’s your to be your own best friend, continuing this venture.
There will come a point in your life when you’ll have a friend, coworker, strangers, or loved one disagree with you or your life choices. In those instances, be your own advocate and stand by whatever decisions you make that you believe to be in the best interest of your body and health.
They will forget your needs.
They will forget your restrictions.
Don’t let yourself be a victim. Stand up for what you need.
You can’t help anyone else while you suffer your own misery. First fix yourself. Don’t let their rejection seep in and feed your guilt. It is absolutely okay to be ambitious and steadfast in your determination for change. No matter the cause of your glorious change, never be ashamed of bettering yourself.
Knowing who is worth your time is important. Don’t let yourself be the victim or people treat you as such, it feeds your worthlessness. The more someone feels sorry for your circumstance the more pity you receive from someone the easier it will be to let them go.
Those that care for you will make adjustments, ask how they can help and provide supportive ideas, eager listening ears and a gentle hug when you ask for one.
Let go of those who shame you. You’re worthy of the space you occupy. You deserve all the special love and attention you desire.
When they ask, “What happened to you?”
And they will.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m advocating for me. My needs. My health. My life.”
Anyone worthy of your time will respect that.
Also, don’t let you treat yourself in a way you’d never let anyone else. Don’t ever let anyone else treat you in a way you’d never treat another. Know your worth.
Before you feed the world, feed yourself.
Accept yourselves Apples,
"Sometimes it's about living your life like most people won't in the moment, so you can live the rest of your life like most people can't." - Unknown