How to Keep Cool When Life Heats Up: Part 3 – Mind-Body (Summer Series)
Heads Up, Mama!
On May 25, 2021, I explained that for the duration of my kids’ summer break from school, I’ll be releasing a series of posts called, “How to Keep Cool When Life Heats Up.” If you missed that post or just need a refresher on what this series is about, you can read it here.
It’s amazing how one change can create a ripple effect that changes your entire life.
- The birth of a child
- A job loss
- Moving across the country
- Visiting a new church
- Inviting someone new to your party
Events occurring in isolation are hardly ever true. There will always be a ripple effect. Good or bad. Always. My proof is how life changed dramatically for me after each of the aforementioned events took place.
(These are pretty self-explanatory and you can probably relate to several. But here’s the skinny on that last one: I probably wouldn’t be married to my husband had I not had the courage to invite him to my Sweet Sixteen.)
Just like life changes create ripple effects throughout your life, stresses (big and small) create ripple effects throughout your body.
Hence, it’s time we stop treating stress as just a mental issue.
In today’s post (part 3 of my summer series) I’ll first do my best to explain how stress affects our mind and body. Ever since I learned that the two are intertwined, I take extra care to nourish my body during seasons of life that are more stressful than usual. Then, I’ll share some ways that I nourish my body during seasons of high stress. Hopefully, this post helps you understand this mind-body connection and gets you thinking about how you can navigate your days in a way that honors that connection.
How I made the mind-body connection?
When people hear the word stress, they usually think about the mental component. But we can easily be stressed and not feel mentally stressed.
Until, that is, our body starts to break down, causing us to pause and wonder, “What’s going on here?“
That’s essentially what happened to me, way back in 2015, when I noticed these aches and pains that weren’t there before. Long story short, I realized that my body was letting me know that it was stressed out beyond my mental capacity. Meaning, my body wasn’t able to keep up with everything I’d been through.
That’s when I realized that I can’t just muster through stress without consequence. I realized that if I didn’t properly manage stress, my body would let me know.
It’s because of that experience that I started to adopt a more holistic approach to mastering my mom stress. From that point on, I started paying more attention to my body and began taking preventative measures to protect myself from future stress.
How stress hormones effect us?
Time for a brief science lesson: Your hormone levels are always fluctuating.
Simply put, your body has many different kinds of hormones, each responsible for its own thing.
But the stress hormone – cortisol – is the one responsible for sending you into what we all hear described as “fight or flight” mode. Any type of stress your mind or body faces can cause your body to enter into this state, a state that we shouldn’t ever constantly stay in.
Each time we react mentally or physically to something stressful, our body is flooded with extra doses of cortisol, as a way to prepare us to survive.
The problem is that we humans of today (and especially us mamas) are constantly bombarded with stressful events that trigger this extra blip of cortisol. This steady drip causes us to be in a constant state of high alert, meaning our body doesn’t ever relax. And while the initial danger that caused your body to shift into high gear might have passed, your body has to slowly come off its cortisol high – a process that can take some time. But if we are always facing things stressing us out (pings and dings from notifications, for instance), this drip only continues and never stops.
What your body does under stress?
When you’re in the middle of this survival mode, your body has decided to shut down restorative systems – like the one where we detox chemicals. This makes sense because if we really were in a life or death situation, why would our body waste energy and resources trying to do something like detox?
Therefore, without our restorative systems running to keep us healthy, it’s safe to say that when we’re under stress, our body isn’t operating at peak performance. Under stress, your body is storing toxins, further harming you in ways you can’t even see.
Imagine how your organs must feel while it’s under stress 24/7 without an end in sight. Because you cannot see the burden your body is facing, actually see what’s happening inside of your body, it’s easy to ignore. Which makes it that much more important to take care to not overload it with too much stress in the first place.
Things you can do to nourish your body while under stress
If your body isn’t detoxing like it should, it’s clear that your body will handle anything you do differently than if you weren’t facing stress. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful about how you’re nourishing your body, including (but not limited to) paying attention to the types of foods you are eating.
Remember, your body is dealing with a lot, and it’s trying to keep you alive, so do your best to help it by reducing unnecessary sources of stress.
Here’s a list of some of the ways that I try to nourish my body to help it restore itself back to homeostasis:
- Eat clean, organic fruits, veggies, poultry
- Buy pasture-raised eggs and grass-fed beef
- Limit overly processed foods
- Supplement vital nutrients and minerals (I take multivitamins and magnesium*)
- Practice yoga regularly
- Set healthy boundaries with others and social media
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stay hydrated
*This link is an Amazon affiliate link and will take you to the magnesium supplement I’m currently using. If you choose to make a purchase through my link, Amazon will pay me a small commission for referring you. This doesn’t affect your price in any way. As always, please consult your doctor before taking supplements.
As you can see, these are relatively simple things.
Sure, they require lifestyle changes in order to accomplish. And changes like these are difficult to make. But the way I feel when I nourish my body in these ways makes it all worth it. My mental health is worth making changes for.
Stressful seasons are going to happen. I might not even know when (did any of us see the pandemic coming). But what I can do is acknowledge a stressful season once I’ve reached it. Then, I can do my best to practice nourishing my body in ways that help it combat the extra stress.
Am I perfect? Heck no. I don’t eat 100% healthy and sometimes I don’t get a good night’s sleep.
The goal isn’t perfection here. The goal during stressful seasons, like the one I’m in now, isn’t to stress out about how I’m nourishing my body. The goal is to simply be more mindful of the connection between the stress I’m facing and how my body reacts. It’s empowering to know that I have a little bit of control over how I feel if I take a little time and energy to nourish myself.
Take some time to review the list of things I do to nourish myself. Click through some of the links I’ve shared in that list to other posts I’ve written for more information that can help you make some lifestyle changes that resonate with you.
As always, if you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it with another stay-at-home mom.
And if you’d like to continue to read the rest of this summer series, be sure to subscribe to my blog using the form below so you don’t miss a single post. When you subscribe, you’ll receive emails every time I published a new blog post. I also send out monthly issues of my newsletter, “The Calm Download,” which will resume in September 2021.
I hope this summer is treating you well so far and that you’ll take some time today to practice nourishing your body. You deserve it.
Read Part 2 (Self-care) in this summer series