Recently, my mother passed away and very soon after two of my young nephews died within 10 days of each other. I was also traveling internationally and had an emergency surgery. My days began to blur. I couldn’t eat or sleep. My heart was heavy and my body couldn’t move. The grief my entire family was feeling became overwhelming and resulted in great stress on my body.
Have you ever experienced a time in your life when stress took over your body?
Stress itself can be debilitating. Our bodies go into fight-flight mode. We may crave chocolate and wine even though our bodies slow down digestion. Muscles tense up. We can’t think clearly. We may even cry or scream without notice!
It’s normal to have stress in our lives and it’s normal for our bodies to react. It’s trying to protect us. To help us. Your body is reacting as a way to protect you from harm. The harm may be real or imagined. Your body doesn’t know the difference.
Physically, mentally, emotionally—our bodies begin to echo the stressors in our lives. Sometimes it happens slowly. Often, though, it happens quickly. An accident. Upsetting phone call. Trauma. Unexpected death(s).
Top 10 stressful life events
According to the widely validated Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, these are the top ten stressful life events for adults that can contribute to illness:
1Death of a spouse
5Death of a close family member
6Injury or illness
Maybe you’re in the middle of a drawn-out stressful period in your life as you read this. Maybe you’re just a phone call away from sending your body into “freeze” zone, as I call it. And, our naturally tendency is to grab the first thing we can find to make the pain go-away. We lean towards numbing ourselves when we feel stressed. Sometimes we overindulge in food, gambling, sex, sleeping, exercising, drugs, alcohol, and more. We want to grab something fast in our tool kit to ease the pain of the stressor.
What if, just for today, you made a choice to not wish the stressor away and instead choose some radical self-love?
Radical self-love begins with grace for whatever you’re going through. It begins with honoring your body, your feelings, and whatever is happening in your life to cause such great distress.
Below are a few tips that I invite you to incorporate when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
1- Get more oxygen in your body. Sit down and start to breathe deeply.
2-Pray and meditate. For me, praying is when I’m doing all the talking. It’s also a time of expressing deep gratitude for any little thing you can think of. Meditating is when I get quiet enough to hear the answers. This is when I hear next directions and what my soul is saying to me.
3-Take a long Epson-salt bath with Lavender and Stress Away Essential Oils from Young Living.
4-When you feel up to it, talk to a friend about a happy subject.
5-Depending on the stressor, ask yourself the question… in 5 years, is what is bothering me going to be important?
Eventually, you will be able to function at a new-normal. At that time, bringing in singing, dancing, walking, and gentle yoga would be extremely beneficial to help re-connect to your body while allowing the stress and grief to dissipate naturally. Whether you are experiencing a long, drawn out stressor or one that is suddenly forced upon you, either way, having a few tools in your tool kit for not IF it occurs, but rather WHEN is important. In the meantime, during highly stressful times, continue to practice radical self-love and extreme self-care to help support yourself.