Stress. Even the word itself makes me feel stressed. This is unfortunately a topic I know about intimately having faced proper burnout in my life already. And because I have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue in the past and have been fortunate enough to write about it from the other side, my motivation to never go back there and my understanding of how damaging stress is to your health comes from a very deep and genuine space within. About four years ago, I was going through a very traumatic divorce (honestly is there any kind of divorce); on the verge of depression from all the grief and fear I was in and the enormous responsibility of keeping it all together for my then 16-month-old baby with massive financial responsibility from a business that was taking me further and further into debt. Actually, it was a financial cliff-hanger – I owed millions of Rands and was completely on the bone of my ass, so to speak. But somehow, I managed to keep it all together, so that I could take my family to a place where we could once again thrive, and see my business reach the potential I know it deserved. It’s a positive story on nearly all accounts, except for the toll on my health.
I depleted so much “good storage” in my body from the poor sleep and poor diet (mainly because my days were so full I did not support myself in planning meals so “forgot” to each lunch most days and was thus walking around nearly blind from sugar-lows). The long-term toll was so ingrained that even when I was on the other side: living in my own home and walking into a successful and viable business every day, stress had become a deeply entrenched habit and I was getting ill more often than I should have, given the highly nutritious diet I was on.
But even more than the physical toll, I look back sadly on the emotional and spiritual toll that stress takes. It is difficult to truly be present when your body is in constant flight or fight mode, and it is nearly impossible to experience joy when you are not present. And life is just too short to waste it by being alive, but not really living.
I was fortunate enough to be working in the industry I am with access to an incredible knowledge of support and natural stress healers, and so can write about adrenal fatigue from the other side, after a fairly swift healing. I was also fortunate enough to have had support of an amazing functional food healer at that time, and within a few months of recognising how ill I actually was, I was able to restore my body back to some reasonable balance with the right foods and herbs.
Stress ages us and I know I am always going to have to work a little harder than most to stay in balance because of my history. It was about this time that I made the decision to step away from Faithful to Nature for a while so that I could find more balance too. During this time I did the Vipassana 10 Day Silent Meditation which was another amazing tool in healing and finding more about myself. You can read all about it here.
My experiences have shown me that stress is habitual – if you believe that your stress levels are robbing you from living a fuller and more joyful life I urge you to not only look at your diet, but also to look at your belief systems around being busy; to look at how you support yourself emotionally and spiritually and to look at how you can slow down – genuinely slow down – so that you can get more from less. In fact, the more I work towards accepting and loving myself (and hence getting to a place of “me being enough”) the less I am finding the need to fill my life with stuff. As I shed belief systems that no longer serve me, so too am I finding myself adopting more of a minimalist lifestyle. Truly, unhappiness can be very expensive, in many ways. It really can be a catalyst to unnecessary consumption of stuff, plans and busy-ness.
It is a well-known fact that stress is one of the leading factors in the onset of dis-ease and unhappiness. It also results in digestive issues, poor immunity, irritability, headaches and so on.
I cannot recommend enough the benefit of including at least one adaptogen (stress fighting herbs and foods) in your diet and you can read more about these stress-fighting herbs here. My personal favourites are ashwagandha and maca.
Other products I personally use and can highly attest to their support in helping me stay balanced and well nurtured are:
- Get Oily Essential Oil Blend – Sweet Sleep. This has been by far the most amazing aromatherapeutic product I have tried. My 7-month-old son is still waking hourly and when I get over-tired I struggle to go back to sleep with the regular wakings, this has helped us both tremendously. I have yet to try the keep calm blend but based on this efficacy of its sister product I am positive it’s a winner.
- Good Health B Stress Free. As Wallis writes, “Really happy with this supplement. I had a B12 blood test done and my levels are excellent (I’m a vegan). I can also feel the calming effect of the other herbs.”
- Foster & Welsh Stress Busta Nasal Inhaler, as Keren shares, “Beautiful smell and works instantly”.
- I try to include Bellabaci Genie in a Bottle in my nightly routine. Not only does my skin smell amazing and feel very soft, but I find the blend remarkably calming.
- Good Health Deep Sleep. As Lindie writes, “I bought this because I was just having a hard time in general. This is an amazing product that works so subtly – to make you sleep better, feel better, and no cravings! I will definitely buy this all the time – try it. You won’t be sorry!”
- Tulsi is a powerful adaptogen and this blend is a gorgeous way to unwind my mind and emotional state at the end of a busy day. It really is self-love in a cup!