Something happened to me recently that completely took me off guard. It happened during a time of “rest” so this made it even more perplexing. Whatever has been going on inside of me, my body, finally said “enough.” Have you ever been there? You are living life as your “normal,” and then something happens and sends you on a different trajectory?
For me, it was in the evening. After dinner, I slowly started to have a throbbing pain in the middle of my chest. As the minutes went by, the pain increased. For the next two hours I tried to use known remedies to help myself. I turned to peppermint, antacids, ibuprofen, nothing seemed to work. While in the ER waiting room, the pain continued to increase. For four hours, I experienced pain I hadn’t experienced before. It was so confusing and scary.
After receiving pain and numbing medication, the throbbing finally relented. Six hours later, I was sore, relieved that the pain was significantly decreased and still trying to understand why this happened. Through a myriad of blood tests, X-rays, a CAT scan, and examination, it was determined I have either some type of potential ulcer or spasms of the esophagus. My follow up appointment will be with a GI doctor. Whew. What is happening?
The next morning, I woke up scratching my head. How could this have happened to me? I have been in a time of rest so I couldn’t figure out why I would be “stressed” or that my body would be reacting the way that it did. After some reading and researching, I have come to some conclusions that remind me of a circuit breaker. You know, those things that trip in your house when there is some type of surge or malfunction.
The basic function of a circuit breaker is to break the circuit in case of faulty conditions, so as to protect the power system equipment and auxiliaries. Clearly I have some “faulty conditions” going on that I wasn’t even aware of. Maybe you do as well.
When stress is becoming detrimental to your health, your body begins to give off signs that stress overload is beginning. You may not even experience these symptoms to well past your season of stress. People with stress overload may begin to feel the following on a regular basis:
Anxiety and panic attacks
Constantly feeling pressured, overwhelmed or hurried
Irritability and moodiness
Sudden onset of allergic reactions
Overwhelming sadness or depression
True confession: My lack of exercise, irregularity in sleep, inconsistent diet, long periods of stress at work and a lack of consistency in relaxing, have had an accumulative effect on my body, regardless if I was aware of it or not.
Our bodies are amazing. When something is happening, or our systems are not functioning properly, God has created us with built in circuit breakers. It’s only a matter of time before the breaker snaps. For some it is a mental snap, for others it is a physical one.
What is going on inside of you right now? Are you living life as a sprinter or marathon runner? There are no shortcuts to strengthening your physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual systems. Even if you believe you are the exception, you are not. I am not either.
If you want to change and go in a different direction, here are some ways to manage and deal with stress (http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/stress-tips.html).
Nutrition. Change the way you eat. Caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars, and nicotine all create instability within your health systems.
Exercise. Incorporate physical activity as often as possible. This helps metabolize stressful hormones in your body.
Sleep. A regular sleep schedule replenishes your exhausted systems. In contrast, lack of sleep exasperates your systems.
Relax. Learning how to relax centers you and gives you perspective.
Boundaries. Managing your time, replenishment cycles, and priorities begins to put life in perspective and help create healthy boundaries. Learn to say “no.”
If you are like me, it’s time to reset the circuit breakers. It’s time to set a new path and a new course to form new habits. I hope to share the difference in future blogs this year.
For now, take a deep breath and get back on track. Focus on those things that are life giving to you. Something in your life is coming to an end, and something else is just beginning. As you and I start this New Year, let’s work on healthier systems.
It’s my heart and passion to help leaders live out their callings and flourish. I believe your best days are before you. It’s time to thrive. Let’s do it together. You are not alone. Click here to set up a Discovery Coaching call.