Our lifestyles today are normal if they are stressful. Chronic stress has become normal.
Why is stress normal? We have an incredible abundance of options in our modern world. So many decisions to make, so many things to do, places to go, opportunities to take up, promotions to work for, the push to always be better and do more, technology that supports us in never stopping and we lack the education of how to truly manage stress.
Our brains think stress is useful. Our brains are wired to look for problems, ruminate on solving them and seek all the things that might go wrong.
Letting our brain go wild (not managing it) leads to loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and a perpetual state of alert which are caused by a state of stress.
When our bodies stay in this state for long enough we become desensitized to cortisol, the stress hormone. Here, we lose the ability to regulate our inflammatory responses which lowers our immune system’s functioning.
Doctors and health experts are telling us to lower inflammation by diet and lifestyle. They say: eat healthily, exercise more, get enough sleep, and stress less.
How NOT to Stress Less
Many people are making the grave mistake of trying to avoid their feelings in order to avoid stress and are instead creating chronic stress and inflammation.
We use alcohol to wind down and relax. We use comfort foods, with ingredients like flour, sugar, and trans fats, to try and feel better.
We are culturally taught to try and avoid negative emotions, using external solutions like alcohol and food.
Using alcohol and comfort foods to deal with stress seems to work in the moment.
They do not solve the cause of our stress and, have emotional and physical ramifications of inflammation.
When we avoid our feelings we pile them up in our nervous system creating chronic stress.
- “I cannot handle one more thing.”
- “I am maxed out.”
- “My plate is too full.”
- “I can’t deal.”
Each of these thoughts are indications that a client of mine is piling up and avoiding emotions.
These thoughts create feelings of stress, anxious or overwhelm.
Alternative to Piled up Emotions
What would happen if we were taught how to feel our feelings, especially the worthy negative ones like anger and sadness, instead of stuffing them away in our nervous system?
What if feeling our feelings were in our schedule like working out or meditation?
What if we expected negative feelings to be apart of our life?
Well… the positive impacts would be:
- We would have a lot less stress and what stress we would have would not be chronic.
- We would know how to process our emotions to feel better instead of using inflammatory foods and drinks to cover up and avoid our feelings.
- We would have less inflammation.
My Recent Inflammation
I recently discovered that I was avoiding some sadness around missing my friends because of COVID. I avoided my sadness by engaging in busyness… for months.
Piled up sadness coupled with frenetic busy is an inflammatory cocktail.
I know how to process emotions, and I still avoid my feelings sometimes.
What emotions are you running on, are they negatively impacting you?
What emotions are you avoiding, do you chronically avoid them?
How is your inflammation?
Are you curious if you could re-wire your nervous system (and your brain) to run on less stress?
What are the non-inflammatory emotions that fuel us to get stuff done?
…to name a few.
This is the third post of a 3 part blog series.
Inflammatory Foods part one. Inflammatory Foods part 2.