The Power of Invisible StressMay 05, 2020
If you had a superpower what would it be?
Mine would probably revolve around getting laundry done, being able to be in two places at once, and having groceries magically appear in my kitchen. We’re pretty close with that last one I suppose!
Did you know you already have something inside you with an amazing super power? Unfortunately, it’s not one that’s used to your advantage or that you want to wear a cape for. Know what it is?
Stress is already powerful as it is, but it’s got a super power that makes it even more destructive and damaging.
Stress has the super power to be invisible.
Do you ever say something like, “I don’t feel stressed at all!” But grab a pen and paper, and I bet you could list at least 10 things that are weighing pretty heavily on your mind.
I call this invisible stress. We (yes, I’m including myself here) become numb to these stressors, the effects they cause, and eventually don’t even realize they’re there. This daily tension becomes “normal”, and it becomes acceptable, even honorable, for us to feel stressed and not our best. It’s like feeling that way is a reward for all that we’ve gotten ourselves though.
The Effects of the Invisible
Everybody “deals” with stress. But, the way we respond to stress can transform an unfavorable event into a harmful villain.
The day-to-day juggle of responsibilities, expectations, and over-commitments are stressors that quickly become invisible. Then, we add on personal struggles with worthiness (big one here), emotional hurt from others, family challenges, and allowing permission for our own self-care.
And let’s not hide the 2020 elephant in the room! COVID-19 has brought on an onslaught of new stressors like financial uncertainties, cancelled procedures, employment concerns, work-from-home challenges, emotional frustrations, and mental health hardships.
Suddenly, we’ve gone from just fretting about what to make for dinner to a constantly stressful, fight-or-flight lifestyle.
The power of the invisible has overpowered us.
When you stay in this fight-or-flight, sympathetic mode, you’re likely to experience:
- Digestive issues—constipation, after-meal discomfort, “indigestion”
- Dry mouth, skin, scalp, and vaginal tissues (or recurrent infections in these areas)
- Sensitivity to loud noises or sudden stimuli
- Sweating too much or too little, even without exertion
- Higher sensitivity to pain
- Difficulty relaxing or feeling guilty for resting
- The constant need to stay busy
These symptoms don’t even scratch the surface on the deeper health challenges that result from prolonged stress. Related to infertility for both women and men, stress hormones overpower your reproductive hormones to cause:
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
- Reduced egg quality
- Poor sperm health
- Reduced overall fertility
- Increased risk for miscarriage
There are also invisible internal stressors like gut infections, chronic inflammation, under- or over-eating, food sensitivities, or nutrient deficiencies. These sometimes require testing to confirm along with strategic
At the end of the day, a lot of invisible factors could be some main contributors to your health and fertility struggles.
How Can you Begin Responding Differently?
No, I’m not going to tell you to just take a hot bath, booze it up, or go on a vacation so you can chill out! Those are short-term attempts to heal long-standing problems. You first need to recognize and call out what you can. Over time and with practice, you can learn to respond to those stressors in a healthier way, and eventually you can go deeper to explore more invisible factors that are exerting their super powers over you.
That’s why I include SO MUCH MORE than nutritional nourishment when I work with clients. We must learn to properly nourish our whole-body physical, relational, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements before we can find lasting and sustainable health.
For now, here are a few simple ways to switch your nervous system from overstressed back to rest and digest:
- Take regular breaks for s-l-o-w, deep breathing, especially before meals
- Try digestive bitters with meals and pause to look at every forkful of food before you eat it
- Schedule daily time for self-care—a bath, foot soak, quite solitude, meditation
- Write a daily list of 3-5 things you’re grateful for
- Close the door to toxic or harmful relationships
- Turn off all screens for at least 10 minutes a day. Work up to a full day each week off of all screens.
- Begin a calming nighttime bedtime routine
- Seek out a therapist when it becomes too much for you to address on your own
What are your invisible stressors? Pull out a pen and paper and make a list. I know you might not want to look some of those in the eye, but once you’re aware of what’s trying to stay invisible, you can win back some of your own healthy, responsive power.
You’ll be amazed at the true super powers you have inside. You might even want to start wearing a cape!
In joy and health,
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