By Kasey Willson
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As I sat out on the back lawn, soaking up the morning sunshine, amongst the flowers and listening to the birds chirping, I watched a little blue wren hop along in front of me. I took in a deep breath and had an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace.
Despite the chaos this week brought with the US election blasting biased reports through all media (and having an understanding of how this greatly impacts our country), my adrenals had been on high alert and this moment seemed like the medicine I needed.
I realise full well, stress is evident in many forms and on the rise as pressures and expectations also increase.
Maybe for you it’s the chaos of juggling the mum: work balance or seeing multiple negative pregnancy tests, the anxiety of losing a pregnancy, being in the thick of broken Mumma sleep or your patience is wearing thin with a toddler who has dropped the day sleep, at your feet. On top of course all the other stressors our daily life brings.
I know many can relate to the impact this year has had on their nervous system - spiralling into a state of fear based media driven fight or flight. The impacts the lock downs have had on mental health, alcoholism and lack of routine health care, has been disastrous.
So if you if you need a gentle reminder of ways to stay grounded amongst the chaos, this episode is for you.
When we are in a state of stress whether it’s driven by physical, mental or emotional causes, your body will respond by stimulating your adrenal glands through messenges sent from the brain. This leads to a heightened production in your adrenal stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, DHEA and noradrenaline. If the stress is prolonged, the pressure on the vulnerable adrenals leads to a state of adrenal stress.
Symptoms of adrenal gland stress include:
If your stress continues, the resulting adrenal gland stress will eventually develop into adrenal gland fatigue where they are exhausted and unable to produce adequate adrenal hormones). Both adrenal stress and fatigue drive thyroid and sex hormone imbalances such as oestrogen dominance, low progesterone and PCOS.
To prevent and overcome this stress, anything that can help bring your body back to a state of calm, Instill fun, create a smile or a good belly laugh will be therapeutic to you during this time.
Here’s some of my favourite ways to do this...
Nature time is so powerful at teaching us to slow down, reconnect and appreciate nature’s beauty, like watching a bird sing, bees buzzing around flowers, leaves blow in the breeze. As corny as it sounds, frolicking in the garden, picking and smelling flowers is also a precious time for me. The simple things truely are the most magical.
Green (nature) time has shown through research to reduce cortisol levels, therefore helping rejuvenate stressed adrenal glands. Just tonight I was out planning cuttings that my mother in law had gifted me and I stopped to take in the moment as I just felt so at peace as the sun was going down and my feet were touching the grass. It was the most grounding way to end a day on the road.
Along with the breaths of fresh, oxygen rich air they bring, your exposure to 5G electromagnetic stress is minimised when you are amongst tall trees, as it doesn’t work properly when there’s lots around!
Pairing your nature escape with time with animals is another way to feel grounded. Growing up on a farm, my childhood was filled with horse riding around the farm and I remember the daydreaming I would drift off into as I rode around the cattle and paddocks. While this is not my reality today, just visiting our chooks to collect the eggs and watching the birds fly around us in our backyard, really is an effective way to stay present.
No matter how chaotic things may be, taking a break to be outside, in the sunshine, barefoot on the grass, taking in the nature around us either by myself or with my family, is a powerful way to bring me back to a state of bliss and gratitude.
Sunshine Vitamin & Movement
As I spoke about in episode 4, the vitamin D available through direct sun to skin contact plays a crucial role in supporting your hormones and a deficiency could worsen mood and stress levels.
Combine this will daily movement and you’re also encouraging happiness endorphins. Movement can help to restore the hormone imbalances that are driven by stress. Taking a walk, yoga on the back lawn and a trampoline session are my Mumma movement go-to’s these days.
Nature’s medicine also plays a role in my stress-busting regimen.
If I’m in a tired but wired state, or trying to adapt to a stressful situation, I’ll diffuse a or apply a diluted blend of lavender, magnolia, neroli, orange, rosemary, & copaiba essential oils. Head here to pick up therapeutic quality oils.
For a fast acting chill out therapy, along with copaiba essential oil, the amino acid L-Theanine works wonders on a worry wart mind by promoting the neurotransmitter GABA. This is helpful for an overactive mind at night and when feeling overwhelmed with a big to-do list. If you'd like it in food form, try Green tea daily, but also be mindful that green tea may be too stimulating for you due to its caffeine content.
Herbs like Passionflower, Zizyphus and Kava have powerful anxiolytic effects to use in times of heightened stress and anxiety. If pregnant or breastfeeding, please seek the support of your Naturopath before reaching for these therapies.
Magnesium and B vitamins are my other safe recommendations for all stages of life and in times of stress. Although its not as regular as I'd wish, Magnesium chloride baths or foot baths are my most fav way of getting in more Magnesium and a bath is such a soothing way to lower any heightened stress. You could also brew a cup of lavender, chamomile or lemon balm tea and enjoy it at the same time for a bonus calming effect.
Stress leads to protein breakdown of muscle tissue to provide fuel for the stress response. Adequate protein is important to replenish this and also to promote healthy moods, through amino acids role in the production of neurotransmitters.1
Encourage a happy environment for meal time, chew your food well before swallowing and avoid eating on the run, to ensure you are getting the most from your foods, especially proteins which require strong stomach acid to digest. If you don't chew well, you won't be stimulating the secretion of the hydrochloric acid and malabsorption can develop.
Gut health is also crucial, for healthy production of the mood modulating neurotransmitter, serotonin. Include fermented foods and probiotics (which feed your gut bugs) to encourage your beneficial bacteria and the resulting production of serotonin.
It's also time for the coffee chat. Caffeine is a stimulant that can push already frazzled adrenals into a deeper state of stress. So be honest with yourself and if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, it’ll best serve you to cut back or eliminate caffeine through tea, coffee and of course energy drinks, you may find stopping dark chocolate particularly late at night helps you unwind. To help you ease into a coffee free day, have a selection of herbal teas on hand. Roasted Dandelion and chicory herbal tea blend is the closest tasting option to replace coffee.
If you’re reaching for coffee for the energy, consider herbal support from withania (for anxiety mixed with physical or mental depletion), Rehmannia (for nervous tension and fatigue) and American ginseng (to help your body adapt to stressors). Coenzyme Q10, B vitamins and Magnesium may also benefit you.
Other stimulants to avoid include sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as alcohol. Opting for some nutritious healthy carbs like root vegetables, fruit with skin and well prepared gluten free grains and legumes will encourage a more stable blood sugar level.
Alcohol is also something that although may help you relax initially, will overwhelm your liver, cause a restless sleep, contribute to b vitamin deficiency and next day anxiety.
Reduce additional stress from foods by eliminating foods you know you are reacting to, such as common intolerances toward wheat and pasteurised dairy products.
Transcendental medication is another tool in my wellness kit that I turn to at any moment I can close my eyes. Even if it’s not for the recommended 20 mins, twice daily, slipping in a medi for just few minutes helps to bring me clarity. Alternatives are the One Giant Mind or Insight Timer app.
Switch It Off
Turn off the mainstream media. When have you ever felt uplifted after watching or listening to the news? The fear based bulletins and constant adverts are bombarding you with fear, overwhelm and in many cases biased or misleading bulletins that won’t serve you in the slightest. Instead, reach for inspiring, educating and empowering podcasts, blogs, documentaries and you tube channels that are providing solutions and giving you more confidence for living a healthy, joyful life.
If you are on social media, use it wisely for getting these inspiring and educating messages and updates, but limit time you spend mindlessly scrolling -which can easily create feelings of comparison and is not supportive for your mental health. If you are experiencing comparisonitis, something I’ve learnt over the years to explore why feelings of ‘why not me’ come up as I see others ‘successes’ or take a scroll through social media. I now transform this draining jealousy mindset into gratitude, allowing me to embrace the uniqueness we are each blessed with and celebrate the big and small wins of others. Best of all, it feels so good to spread kindness.
Go the next step and limit your electromagnetic stress by either having large phone free chunks of time in your day - perhaps leaving your phone somewhere like on the kitchen bench and checking it less frequently throughout the day. Or you could do what I often do (as I like having my phone on me to capture photos and videos) is to turn your phone on aeroplane mode for majority of the day (and all night). I switch it on to check messages and upload to socials just a few times during this ‘on’ time.
Have a time limit you spend on your phone and socials and try to spend this time you are on your phone or online, away from your little ones as ‘monkey see, monkey do.’
Surround yourself with like minded friends and family. It’s ok to have differing opinions but it’s most helpful for your health and happiness to be around those who do support you, uplift you and make you feel content and your true self around them. Community is so powerful, so let these people know how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Even if your community is online, this is still a form of connection if you’re not receiving this from those physically around you. I love hearing from and seeing my Glowing Mumma Community Mummas who have created a supportive, safe environment where we’ve been able to discuss topics that may have been shut down elsewhere. I know how important this kind of connection is and so happy these Mumma’s have this space to turn to.
Being present with loved ones is the perfect way to stop a monkey mind and while being actively in play mode, there’s just no room for stress. Creating something (for fun) in the kitchen, trampolining, playing on our back lawn or gardening together are our go-to activities we love to do as a family.
Colouring in, whether it’s by myself or with my daughter is one of the most effective ways to create calm for us both and practise mindfulness. It helps me express my creativity and I find my (positive, uplifting) ideas flow in this state.
Have fun. As a Mumma, I’ve learnt to take the serious out of my day.I appreciate the small things, giggle more, sing and dance around the kitchen and embrace my playful side with bubba.
Life’s too short to stress about things out of our control, hold grudges, judge others or care what others think of you. I’m a Virgo, so this has been challenging, but mummahood has been a wonderful teacher for me.
Embrace The Grounded Feeling
So when you’re stuck in a state of fight or flight and feeling overwhelmed in amongst the chaos, switch off the news, reduce your screen time and be mindful of your stimulant intake. Come back to the beauty Mother Natur has to offere, movement, sunshine, meditation, play and the healing power of foods, herbs and nutrition to feel grounded once again.
Most of all, how could you infuse more FUN into your day?
1) Wilson JL. Clinical perspective on stress, cortisol and adrenal fatigue. Adv Integr Med 2014:1(2):93-6.
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