“Minimize stress as much as possible.”
What does that even mean?
How does one go about “minimizing stress as much as possible”? Do I actively choose to be stressed? Should I just wake up tomorrow and decide “nope, no more stress for me!” Do I devote my life to the practice of meditation and yoga? Do I quit my job? Minimize stress. Just thinking about figuring out how to minimize stress in my life = more stress.
Regardless, I suppose I have to figure out a way to minimize stress in the very near future…
Let’s start with my history with stress. I was very active in extra curricular activities in high school, and very vividly remember feeling STRESSED OUT during my freshman year. The more I said “I’m so stressed,” the more I could feel my friends and families eyes glaze over. So, I made the conscious decision to stop talking about how stressed I was.
For the remaining years of high school, I’m sure I was stressed (I took on more responsibility, harder classes…), but I didn’t feel stressed. Instead, my stress started manifesting physically. I would have a pounding headache for two weeks. Then, the headache would go away and I would get a random rash all over my arm. Then, the rash would vanish and now all of a sudden I had the flu. Repeat x 3 years. I knew how to say “I’m so stressed,” but once I stopped feeling stress, I didn’t know what to do.
Then there was college. I was determined to get out of college as fast as possible, squishing my education into three packed years. I was always sick (and eating poorly). I even went so far to take 27 credits one semester; that semester I had stabbing pains in my stomach that were so debilitating, I couldn’t stand up. After a trip to urgent care, they determined I likely had an ulcer. Cue my mother and the doctor yelling at me for taking so many classes…but, like many other issues, it slowly vanished (and never was proven to be an ulcer in the first place).
Next, PwC. Talk about a high stress environment! But still, stress manifested itself physically. This time, I was told that my heart was “fluttering” on a regular basis. After even more stress, and going to a cardiologist, it was determined that it was “probably just stress” and only worth looking into further if I wanted to pay for +$2,000 tests (damn high deductible plans). It seemed to get better, but then my personal life shattered and I decided to change careers (federal consultant –> chemistry teacher) and locations (Arlington, VA –> Cleveland, OH), so onto the next stressful chapter…
Fast forward to today. I have a lot of responsibilities at work, and I feel stress a little, but I think my body feels it more. As I’ve already mentioned, the current consensus is that one of my primary issues is an elevated level of candida in my gut. After reading the “10 Signs You Have Candida Overgrowth & What To Do About It” article on mindbodygreen.com, I took special note of the warning signs:
There it is. Right there. “Living a high-stress lifestyle.” Great! I mean, I barely ate a vegan cupcake a week before this forever-long detox, I don’t drink to excess ever, I don’t eat that much tempeh, and I haven’t taken antibiotics for years (until a very recent z-pak).
But, the “anti-candida” diet I’m on seems to be working, I still see my face making improvements. If my cystic acne ends up being another manifestation of stress in my life…I truly need to finally get this stress under control.
So, what to do? I actually have no idea how to go about this de-stressing process, and it’s stressing me out! I reached out to the functional medicine center health coach for some ideas, and she suggested the following:
· Epsom salt, lavender and baking soda bath
· Beef up the self care doing things that are relaxing but bring you joy
· Minimize stress as much as possible (environmental and emotional)
I can try the bath. I can run more? I still don’t know how to minimize stress. I go on spring break on Friday, at which time I plan to dedicate the week to figuring out what it means to minimize stress. I’m going to start by working my way through Dr. Hyman’s suggestions on the topic, and might even try out a yoga class or two (I can’t touch my toes. Is that bad?).
How do you minimize stress? Any suggestions?