"I'm not stressed!"
When I talk to my clients about stress and the systemic impact it can have on our bodies I often hear "I am not stressed". Unfortunately being stressed has became a negative thing and something that we either don't want to admit to ourselves or others, or we simply have not recognised it. It is so common for us to keep going and the feeling has become normal to us.
When I then go on to discuss what "stressors" and ask what stressors could be impacting their nervous system it can open up the discussion.
What could "stressors" be?
A stressors are anything that may trigger the stress response in our body. This is such an individual thing and it is also important to discuss life load.
A stressor could be physical, psychological, psychosocial, environmental, chemical, external or internal. An external stressor could be life change, an argument with a friend or work deadline. Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are stressors on our body. As is intense exercise.
For me, I like a To-do list, I have learnt over the years to keep it realistic and achievable but it works for me. For others, a To-do list may be a stress on them.
This is known as the fight-or-flight response and it is our bodies immediate response to a threat. I speak to clients about how when we are in this alert state our body thinks it is running away from a tiger. The body systems that are needed to react quickly get our blood and nutrients, such as our brain, heart, lungs and muscles. If we are running away from a tiger we would not sit and eat a meal, in the stress response we see our digestive process slowing down.
Mild, acute stress can actually be good for us, the problem is when it becomes chronic. When our body feels that is it constantly on the run from that tiger.
Chronic stress can have a systemic impact on our body, affecting our immune system, digestive system, sleep and hormones.
Know your stressors
Thinking about what stressors could be in your life is an important first step. Becoming aware of these can then help you either reframe the importance or bring balance into your life. We can balance these stressors with activities that are parasympathetic in nature and also a balanced, wholefood diet that is rich in B vitamins (wholegrains, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, sardines), magnesium (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, quinoa, cashews, sunflower seeds, dark green leaves) and vitamin C (peppers, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad greens). Again this activities are so individual, I ask clients "what do they do that gives them a deep breath feeling?" It could be breath work, meditation, yoga, reading, watering plants or washing the car.
I believe when we start to unpick our feelings/emotions and then connect to them how our body is being impacted it is then we can start to make changes.