Six years ago (with a mountain of student loan debt in tow, while starting my first business from scratch in an area where the number of people I knew could be counted on one hand), I would have told you that I wasn't stressed. I didn't feel stressed out. But realistically, I was in a constant state of stress. The important part here is that the stressor was present, not how much stress I was (or in this case wasn't) feeling.
I am currently the owner of two businesses and COO of another, a wife, and the mother of two boys, and still have a pretty big pile of student loans; I now recognize that I'm no stranger to stress. While my blissful ignorance regarding stress a few years ago felt "fine", it likely was a contributing factor to my autoimmunity after my second child was born. Our bodies cannot thrive under constant stress, and eventually something will give.
But stressors flood the Motherhood Transition. Pregnancy is a stressor. Birth is a stressor. Breastfeeding is a stressor. Healing your body during the postpartum period is a stressor. Add those stressors together with sources of chronic stress like finances, work, family, traffic, diet, environmental toxins, etc., and it's easy to see how a lot of women end up with some dysfunction of their physical body. One of the most common dysfunctions of the physical body in our world today is autoimmunity.
(SIDE NOTE: If you have been diagnosed with (or suspect that you have) an autoimmune condition (like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, lupus, diabetes, RA, MS, etc.) there is a docu-series that's going on this week that I recommend you watch regarding autoimmune diseases called Autoimmune Secrets.)
That doesn't mean you're doomed to autoimmunity (although statistics are certainly rising at an alarming rate!). What it means is that you need to take an evaluative look at how your physical body is doing - whether you're planning a pregnancy, pregnant, nursing, or had kids 20 years ago.
A simple exercise to complete is to jot down your stressors.
- What are your sources of stress?
- What of these can be eliminated?
- How many stressors do you have that are projections or completely fictitious?
Grab a pen and start writing.
Take a look at your list and be honest with yourself. Yes, we can eliminate a lot of our stress simply by cutting out any excess, changing our diet to one that is anti-inflammatory in nature, and increasing our sleep/rest; but a lot of stressors are still going to be around. So rather than stress about it (heh heh), give yourself tools to deal with stress.
Not sure how?
Grab another piece of paper and aswer the following questions:
- When do you feel amazing? (Do that more.)
- What foods don't settle well with your body? (Eat those less.)
- When do you get time to clear your head? (Repeat that daily.)
Great ideas for stress relief include meditation, yoga (kundalini is my favorite!), journaling, grounding (spending time outside barefoot), or gardening. These practices all have additional benefits as well!
Stress isn't going to go away, so you might as well find ways to deal with it effectively.
Lindsay Mumma, DC