Really Honest Thoughts on Stress, Control, and Letting Go
Many studies suggest that up to 90% of illness can be linked back to stress. Right now in the health and wellness community, inflammation is all the rage. Pinterest is saturated with spirulina turmeric leafy green smoothies, all in the name of taking some of the stress off of our overworked, stressed out, bodies.
Inflammation can be linked to chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, and many other health concerns.
Learning about stress and its negative effects is informative, but if you are anything like me, you get stressed out about being stressed out. I will spend hours pondering over webMD reading all of the terrible things that can happen to me because of stress and I end up even more worked up.
Last week, I took a trip to Tulum, Mexico in order to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher certification.
It was one of the best weeks of my life.
For the first time in years, my GI system was regular.
Physically, my tension in my neck and shoulders was significantly reduced.
I slept well, going to bed around 11 and waking up a little after 6 each day.
We had 3 meals a day, abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables, lentils, whole grains, fresh fish, etc.
Each night I drank ginger tea to soothe my tummy and my soul.
Each morning, we silently walked a few miles along the beach and watched the sunrise.
We practiced a LOT of yoga. I saw the sun every day.
It seems like these things would obviously make a person feel marvelous. And part of health is absolutely tied to food, movement, sleep, etc.
Even more importantly though, I spent each night talking and connecting with brilliant women (and men!) from all over the US and Canada.
Each night we would laugh so hard that my face would start to ache. I could just sit and listen to stories about kids, jobs, travel, dreams, poop, hospitals, husbands, weddings, cars, and literally anything else for hours.
My phone only worked in 2 small areas of the resort and the wifi sucked, so I mostly just left it in my room.
I journalled every day. I read before bed every night.
I came home so incredibly full of love and light and joy and health and it all came to a crashing halt the second I got home.
I spent a few hours scrolling through instagram before bed, falling asleep deep in comparing other peoples bikini photos to mine.
I woke up to a too-harsh alarm and rushed my way to work, where I could feel the stress building up inside me like a title wave of feelings that I didn’t want. I cried like 4 times. My GI system stopped working well. My sinuses clogged up and I felt the wave of a cold coming on.
This was a huge smack in the face. But at the same time, such a valuable lesson to learn.
I got a serious reality check about what I am currently doing with my life and what needs to change.
Less scrolling before bed.
Less checking email and texts the second I wake up.
Less scarfing down a protein bar in the car because I’m too busy and have too many places to be to sit down and eat a meal.
Less pushing myself too hard.
Less listening to the terrible things I tell myself.
More coffee shop dates.
More reading and writing.
More warm, fresh, cooked foods.
More time laughing.
More time in nature.
More time with people I love.
I think in many ways we over complicate health and wellness. We think that boutique fitness classes and perfectly balanced meals will fix all of our problems. We think that if we follow more healthy food instagram accounts that we will feel the way that those influencers look-happy, fulfilled, successful.
Maybe it’s not about hitting your macros perfectly, or following the training plan to a T. Maybe it’s about letting go of some obsession. Choosing places to release stress and tension.
Maybe it’s time to accept that you aren’t going to see everyone’s posts on instagram and you aren’t going to be 100% in the loop. Maybe not knowing a few things will actually create space for better things in your brain.
I spend so much time zombie scrolling through my phone out of fear that I’m going to miss something. As if not knowing that Suzy Q got a new puppy last week is going to negatively impact my existence. In all reality, by spending so much time trying not to miss anything online, I’m missing out on my own life instead. I am not spending time with loved ones when I am plugged into a virtual world.
I can’t be my whole self when I live every moment under the pressure of stress and expectations that I set for myself.
I have a lot of work to do on myself still.
I am in the process of nurturing the good thoughts in my mind so that they overpower the negative ones.
Sometimes I feel like I am carrying around mountains that I was only designed to climb.
I can’t fix everything right away.
But I can live with the spirit of Tulum in my heart, and make small steps toward releasing just a tiny bit of the stress that I hold.
After all, the solution to getting rid of stress is letting go, not tightening the grip that I hold.
Take a deep breath in. Let your shoulders release down your back. Take a baby step forward.