If you’ve been living on this planet long enough, life has had it’s fair share of stressful experiences. Over time, did you know that stress plays a major role in your physical health? Different parts of your body can begin to shut down as you mentally try to make sense of life’s circumstances.
Over the past couple years , I am one of those people whose body has taken a hard hit due to chronic stress in my personal life. I recently came to find that I am in the population that struggles with adrenal fatigue and have been taking steps towards getting my physical health back. I was thankful to find an answer after a year of experiencing severe fatigue, vertigo, hair loss, brain fog, insomnia, and random weight gain. Alright, enough of my health records. But, for those who are also sitting in this same boat, I wanted to shed some light on how I began to get my health back. I promise not to make this blogpost boring. Nor, do I claim to be an expert. (I will link articles about adrenal fatigue from the experts below for those of you who would like to read up on this.) This blogpost is not another health article nor is it about adrenal fatigue, really. It’s just my story on how I chose to choose rest over stress, and how I got my life back, one small decision at a time.
This post is for every person who hopes to live life to the fullest, have energy for the everyday, and find joy, even when life’s circumstances are less than ideal. Stress in this life is inevitable, but stress doesn’t have to define us. I am here to let you know that your health is so important and you are the only person who can make the decision to prioritize it. Taking care of your mind and body is vital to living a prosperous life. In order to become healthier, we have to be mindful of our everyday choices.
I recently tweeted, “You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. Prioritize both your physical and mental health, especially when chronic stress has been affecting your daily life. Taking care of yourself is vital to a successful career, ministry, fill in the blank. When you can’t change your circumstances, focus on what you can change. Your morning routine, your social media habits, your exercise and diet, your calendar. Healthy living begins with everyday choices that will transform you, inside and out.”
If you want to see any kind of change in your life, you are going have to commit to this. It’s either all in or all out. You can’t hang out around the edge of the surface, tiptoeing back and forth between having healthy habits and breaking them, because you only got one life to live. You can’t make excuses, either, no matter what you’ve had to go through. At some point, you are going to have to get back up again and be someone who does more than just survive. My friend, you are meant to live a life that flourishes in the season that you are in, one decision at a time.
So, what were some of those decisions for me? How have I been taking steps towards getting my health back? First, I did a digital detox. I took a long break from Instagram. And, it was the best decision I could have made. As an Enneagram Type Three, the performer’s success is largely defined by what we do. This is where entrepreneurs thrive and where my own drive for success in both my personal life, my career and at times, even ministry, came from. So, for me, letting go of Instagram for awhile allowed me to refocus my time and energy on what matters most. During this time, I had friends look me in the eyes and say, “You are loved not for what you do, but for who you are.” And, let me tell you, those words were sweeter than honey. Ultimately, it’s been a journey between me and God, a journey that has brought a lot of freedom by continually surrendering that part of my personality and heartbeat over to Him. To be fully seen and known, that is what we crave above all else. And, to find that through the Word of Christ, my word, it’s a beautiful gift. Leana Tankersky writes, “God says you do not need to do more, fix yourself, or hold anything together. You just need to fall back into my grace, trade your trying for trust. Where you are broken and bruised is exactly the place, not in spite of that place, that I want to show you you’re beautiful. He says, Breathe. And, begin again. Keep coming to the table and I will keep showing you the way.”
P.S. I also highly recommend The Road Back to You by Ian Chron and listening to the Typology podcast (I’m all about the Enneagram).
The next thing is this little word that a lot of us don’t know how to interact with. Let me introduce you to my friend, rest. You can’t expect to keep the car running and never run out of gas. It is so important to take the time to rest and recover, to say no to people and to learn when to say yes. I learned this the hard way. I was so busy saying yes to everything and always filling up my calendar that I never took time for myself, and it really affected not only my health, but my personal relationship with God. Even though I am heavily involved in ministry, my own personal time with God became limited due to the long (very long) list of things that no human can accomplish in one day on their own.
So, I started listening to my body again. I’ve started going to bed earlier. I unplug from technology at least an hour before bed. I have a lock on my phone from 10PM to 7:30AM. I meditate in the evenings with the Abide app and fall asleep to a devotion since I struggle with insomnia. And, due to going to bed earlier, it means that I’ve been waking up earlier, not feeling a rushed start to the day. Mornings have become my favorite time of the day again. I wake up to a cup of hot tea, get to journal and spend time in prayer and The Word, saying out loud the promises of God over my life and my day. In the past, sometimes I would compromise my time of journaling so that I could get my morning run in. But, not anymore. If I don’t have time to do both, I opt for just the morning devotion and time of rest before a busy start to the day. Or, I do a low impact workout like yoga and light CORE. It is so important to start your day not rushed.
Lastly, in addition to daily exercise, my diet has been the number one thing that I have had to change. And, when I mean diet, I mean a lifestyle diet, not just a “30 day cleanse” or “5 day detox plan.” This is more for those who struggle with adrenal fatigue. But, if you experience stress of any kind, try a few of these:
No caffeine after noon. (This is so hard, especially on the weekends!)
At least 72oz of water a day. Start monitoring it! There are plenty of great apps out there for that.
No gluten (Bye bye bread.) I’ve found some amazing gluten free pasta brands, though! Check out your local Whole Foods or local markets with gluten free options.
No processed sugar. (I do enjoy some dark chocolate every once in awhile though).
Eat plenty of protein and look up foods that will help you and your symptoms!
It’s been a journey towards becoming a healthier me, but these daily habits have truly helped me to breathe for myself, find joy in every circumstance of life, and get back both my physical and spiritual health. I’d love to hear your thoughts below and what daily habits help you to live a happier and healthier life. Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy the journey. Cheers until next time, friends!