Stress! You have it – even if you don’t realize that you do. For many of us, a low-grade amount of stress is a part of everyday life. You might not even recognize that it has a negative impact on your overall health!
Have you read my recent post about staying calm in the middle of the cuh-razy of daily life? Yes, Marie is on a bit of a “deep breath … calm down” kick lately. My friends can tell you that I’ve been saying it a lot!
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I tend to write about what I most need to read, and right now I need a lot of reminders to CALM DOWN ALREADY. For those who aren’t up to date on the craziness of my life – my husband has mild autism and works away from home all summer, and we have four small children at home, one of whom also has autism. It gets wild around here.
Studies have shown that feeling stress or anxiety on a long-term basis doesn’t just affect your peace of mind.
I mean, it does that, too, but you’re more likely to suffer from things like digestive issues and a weak immune system if your mind is persistently stressed.
During my early twenties, I worked in the kitchen of a small theological school. Even working in the kitchen, I learned a lot!
Each year, the fourth-year students, buried under a heavy load of pastoral work and intense studies, were immediately recognizable.
And it wasn’t just because of the bags under their eyes and the zombie-like shuffle in their walk.
In one hand they had their coffee cups and in the other – a tissue. They were always ill!
Graduates told me more than once that the constant stress of that final year took a toll on their health that required years of recovery. Do not underestimate the physical impact of stress.
Cortisol is the hormone your body produces when you’re feeling stressed. It can take a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. Because of this, giving your mind time to relax and recover is one of the most important self-care routines that you can practice.
Your state of mind has the potential to greatly benefit your health, or degrade it, over time.
Your liver produces glucose to give you an energy boost when your body is feeling the effects of stress. Whatever your body doesn’t use is then reabsorbed.
However, if you’re suffering from chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with the extra blood sugar your liver is producing. You may be at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes if your body is producing too much glucose. You’re more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux if you suffer from stress. Stress doesn’t cause ulcers, but it may cause pre-existing ulcers to act up.
Sexuality and Reproductive System
Stress affects the menstrual cycles of some women.
You may have irregular or even non-existent periods or more painful or heavier cycles. Too much stress may magnify the physical symptoms of menopause for women.
We have all heard about women who get their period the morning of their wedding – stress can do that and so much more.
Stress is known to stimulate the immune system, which is good if it’s short-term because it helps your body stave off infection and heals wounds. But if you’re stressed for prolonged periods of time, cortisol compromises your immune system. Remember those students that were always ill? Too much cortisol for too long of a period.
Cortisol inhibits histamine secretion and your body’s inflammatory response to foreign dangers. What does that mean? It means that people who are affected by chronic stress are more likely to catch viral illnesses like the common cold. It also takes more time for the body to recover from injuries or illness, if you’re chronically stressed.
Wait – what does this have to do with homesteading and simple living? Everything!
If you are not calm and centered, if you can’t accept your imperfections and your inability to do everything, you are not going to make it through the tough times. And don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t get hit by them.
A tall order, right?
For some, exercise is an excellent outlet to give their mind time to recharge. Meditation is a well-known method for clearing your mind. Meditation is not something for Christians to avoid – consider meditative prayer to keep yourself spiritually healthy and watch the effects spill over to the rest of your life. Do not overlook the benefits of getting out of the city and into green spaces.
Being around nature is calming.
Remember to focus on the positives rather than focusing on everything that’s going wrong around you.
Practice self-love and compassion and acknowledge your reality rather than criticizing yourself. You are loved and you are worthy of love and well-being.
Set daily routines that will provide a day-to-day sense of peace and comfort that you can use to escape the stresses of everyday life, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day.
Keep your mind healthy and calm – this plays a very significant role in your health, physically and mentally.
Maintaining a peaceful state of mind is one of the best ways to protect your body from the negative effects of stress. Remember that stress and anxiety are inevitable hurdles everyone deals with.
It’s how you manage the stresses of your everyday life that’s important.