I’m not the first to tell you that stress is one of the most impactful drivers of health. But, the word has become a bit watered down. Many of my clients are so confused about stress that they glaze over the discussion, or assume that if they cannot remove “it” completely, there’s not much else they can do.
Here’s the first thing to remember: Stress IS NOT inherently BAD. In fact, it’s part of our body’s way of protecting us.Stress only becomes a problem when your stressors are overwhelming, or continue without relief. The goal is NOT to completely remove stress from your life. That’s unrealistic.
Instead, if we can better understand what stress is, where it might be coming from, and what it feels and looks like when things become out of balance…
Then, we can address the root causes and better support our body in its own work.
Then, we can become resilient to stress.
The goal is to know your stressors, address what you can, and become more resilient to the rest.
The more we work WITH our bodies, the easier it is to see change. In this upcoming series of three articles, I’m going to explain:
Stress is often defined as the body AND brain’s response to a perceived challenge, threat, or demand.
In short, stress is a reaction, a series of alarms in your body AND your brain to something that seems threatening. And often, those alarms cause downstream effects in order to keep you alive.
It’s important to know that the ‘threat’ can be triggered by a huge variety of situations, ranging from actual threats or physical dangers, to how you perceive or react to a situation, to internal stressors such as blood sugar imbalance, infection, and inflammation. You may already have some ideas about things in your life or in your body, or even about the way that your mind works that could be setting off alarms in your body. And if not, I challenge you to start listening.
Often when we think of stress we can easily become overwhelmed trying to figure out how to minimize or eliminate it. As in, “I can’t get rid of my kids, or quit my job.” In fact, many of my clients do believe that stress is having an impact on their health, but also feel stuck in the belief that there is no way to address it without completely eliminating stress from their lives -which is an overwhelming and impossible venture.
What in those lists stands out to you?
Does one input feel heavier than another?
Do you already have a sense that something on that list is affecting your health?
If not, start looking beyond burnout, and consider what other sources of stress you have the power to address.
Check back next week for the second part of this three part series where I will dive into the four areas of stress triggers in more depth and share how you can work to tackle those areas in your own life.
Katherine Andrew, MPH, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Masters degree in Public Health with nearly fifteen years of experience in community public health and private nutrition counseling. Her work experience includes individual and group health counseling, interactive workshops, food systems consulting, non-profit program development and management, and safe skin care advocacy and promotion. She works with clients to identify and address health concerns, navigate food sensitivities, explore body image, plan healthy meals for themselves and their families, evaluate and improve hormone health, maximize stress management, and restore their relationship with eating so they can enjoy food and thrive. Gut health, food sensitivities, hormones, family food dynamics, and intuitive eating are a few of Katherine’s passions and specialties.
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