I’m sure we can all agree that 2017 was a year of highs and lows, with great blessings and challenging circumstances. In this New Year, I want to be intentional about learning from the challenges I faced in 2017 and bringing a few key truths into my life. My hope in sharing these experiences and thoughts, is that you’ll somehow be encouraged, wherever you are in your health journey and life journey.
Stress destroys health, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. You can break free from the vicious cycle of stress, anxiety, fear, and worry. It takes discipline (just like eating well and exercising take discipline in the beginning) and it’s not easy, but it is possible! Your body, mind, and soul will thank you for it.
To put this in perspective: we can eat organic, whole foods all day everyday but if we’re stressed to the limit, we cannot experience optimal health.
I’ve written it and said it to clients a hundred times: “stress is a killer” and “your body can’t heal when you’re stressed”… But did I really believe it? Maybe not wholeheartedly. Until my body forced me to. I’ve shared the quote “if you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream” and this is a great reminder when it comes to stress…
Throughout 2017, I was in denial that my low-level stress was taking a toll on my health. I knew I was prone to stress about small things (things that shouldn’t give me any stress) but to be completely honest with you, I thought I was “getting away with it” and that it wasn’t really affecting me negatively. (Well, I wasn’t getting away with it!)
In the Fall of 2017, I started noticing physical symptoms that I now know were worsened by my chronic stress. Many things happen chemically in our bodies when we are stressed. One of them is the inability to absorb nutrients from the food we’re eating. Our mind sends signals to our body that we’re in that fight-or-flight state, that we need to run or fight, not digest and absorb nutrients. Living in a state of stress (even if it’s low-grade stress) left me with nutrient deficiencies that began to result in physical symptoms.
Don’t wait until you have physical symptoms to address underlying stress in your life.
If you believe that chronic stress is an issue in your life but don’t think it is negatively affecting your health, I encourage you to take action today (and everyday) to address it. Don’t wait until it reaches a level where your body starts to break down from being in a constant state of fight-or-flight. Whether that includes spending more quiet time, journaling, praying, listening to praise music, meditating, exercising, nourishing your body with real food, nourishing your soul with community and accountability, counseling, or deep-breathing, I encourage you to try a variety of stress-reducing activities until you find one that makes a difference in your life. Your health is worth it! We can’t “get away with it”, even if it seems like we can, for months or years.
Here are a few questions that have been helpful for me:
- What is the source of my stress? A desire to be in control? Insecurity? Feeling overwhelmed? Discouragement?
- Whose voice am I listening to? When fearful thoughts enter my mind, are they truth or am I trying to predict and control the future?
- What will I accomplish by allowing stress to dominate my mind? (The answer is nothing, but we have everything to lose, especially our health! And without health, what can we accomplish?)
One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, writes…
“Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. Choose well.”
“Stress ia joy-stealer. You can’t simultaneously feel stress and gratitude at the same time.”
“We only feel one emotion at a time so it’s impossible to give thanks and feel fear or anger.”
Let us make 2018 a joyful, healthful year!
Hannah is the founder of Healthfully Hannah and is a nutrition professional empowering women to live healthfully through science-based, step-by-step guidance. Read Hannah’s health journey that led her to discover the power of Functional Medicine and Nutrition. Get in touch with Hannah right here.
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