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Feeling Stressed?

Feeling Stressed?
The holiday season is right around the corner and it can be a wonderful celebratory time, but it can also be a stressful time with busy holiday parties, shopping, work deadlines, and family time. I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about stress and what can be done about it before it affects our mood and our health negatively.

Take a moment to ask yourself this: “How is stress currently affecting my health and quality of life?”

In today’s busy and complex world, stress is something most of us will be subjected to on various levels, yet many of us may know very little about how to manage it, or are even aware of just how much it is affecting us.

Stress is called a “silent killer”, because sometimes we don’t feel its effects, or we think we can just deal with it and our bodies seem to manage until unexpected severe consequences occur, such as an anxiety attack or even a heart attack.

Stress is a contributing factor, if not the cause, of many illnesses and diseases.
During our evolutionary and ancient history and throughout the modern age, we used to occasionally encounter high levels of stress such as during times of famine, conflict, or – in an age of low survival rates – when a family member was ill. These major occurrences could be short lived or long, but were irregular and not an expectation of day-to-day life. Today our stresses are relatively small, but happen daily. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t know the difference between worrying about starvation vs. opening our email to see 100 new work emails. This constant stress is harmful to our bodies and mind and can cause the same flight or fight response as when worrying about our very survival.

On a personal note, there was a time when I thought I could handle my stresses with a “stiff upper lip”, but my body eventually told me differently. When I finally paid attention to my symptoms and sought help, I had run my cortisol levels extremely low, which affected my thyroid function. I had done this by running on all cylinders at full revs, from the moment I woke, until my face hit the pillow for a whopping 5-6 hours of pitiful unsatisfying sleep. I was doing this because I thought I could, without suffering any consequences. I thought I was resilient and tough enough to beat the rat race. I wanted what I perceived was “the dream”; a rewarding and successful career, the love of my life, great friends, a nice home, exciting holidays in exotic locations, enriching experiences, a rocking beach body from enjoying the outdoors and hitting the gym hard, delicious home cooked meals, concurrent Spanish and piano lessons, building a business plan…all while retaining “balance”. You know… the usual things. Sound familiar?

In recent times I have been learning to put on the brakes a bit and manage my time and energy more effectively. This includes getting 8 hours of sleep and taking time to explicitly relax (and not just by slouching in front of Netflix). Taking care of myself this way I can do many of the things I want, but maybe not all at once, and acceptance of that is key.

Maybe your stresses are different to mine or more severe. Perhaps you are raising children, starting a business, working 16 hour workdays, working for an unreasonable boss, taking care of a sick family member, renovating a home, trying to find a home in Vancouver, or in an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship… I could really go on and on here but whatever it is you are going through, there is support.

So what can we do about stress?

There are many ways to manage stress and to help change your perception of it. I’d like to invite you to book a complimentary Initial Health History session with myself, and I can show you how together we can set up a tailored stress management plan for you. Stress can be a good motivating factor for us to change, and not all stress is ultimately bad.

Are you unsure if stress is affecting you?

Your complimentary Initial Health History appointment starts with a simple stress exam to assess where your stress levels are at. After the stress exam, we will discuss the test results, what you may already be doing right, and look at tools we can add to help you better manage your stress.

Don’t let this holiday season be a stressful one! When we take some steps ahead of time, we can better prepare ourselves so we in fact have a Happy Holiday!