Analyzing Your Stress Barrel

October 2022 - Uncategorized


Life. Sometimes it can be a lot. Expectations, finances, global crises, what’s for dinner. It can be a bit much for one person to take on. When it gets a bit overwhelming, the stresses of life can lead to all sorts of symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, weight loss or gain, digestive issues and a very short fuse. When life gets to be a bit more than overwhelming, uncontrolled chronic stress can contribute to some bigger-ticket health issues including cardiovascular disease, hormone imbalances affecting the adrenals, thyroid and gonads, autoimmune disorders and cancer. But we don’t have to wait for a life-altering diagnosis to make some simple changes. We can look at the smaller issues now. We can take back control over what we spend our finite stress energy on. If we think about our body as a metaphorical barrel, the stresses and stressors start to fill it up. We only have so many resources to deal with all the gunk in our barrel—we don’t have one set of nutrients and energy to deal with work stress and another set to handle toxic chemicals. Taking a look at what’s going into our barrel allows us to decide what’s worth our energy and what we need to let go of. This can be quite helpful in making sure our barrel doesn’t overflow, contributing to those louder and louder symptoms. Remember, symptoms are our body’s way of getting us to pay attention to the fact that something needs to change. What needs to change for you?

It starts with determining which stresses your own body might be trying to deal with. This comes down to anything (or anyone!) that is not beneficial for your body, mind and spirit. Here are just a few examples. See yourself in this list?

• Dietary Stress – refined carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol, charred foods, and damaged fats; chemical additives, preservatives, flavours, colours and sweeteners

• Chemical Stress – toxins in our water like dioxins, mercury and microplastics; chemicals in our personal care and cleaning products, pharmaceuticals and other drugs, air pollution and pesticides

• Physical Stress – over- or under-exercising, lack of ample quality sleep, eating on the go; our modern footwear, workspaces and toilets; artificial light and shift work

• Biological Stress – undesirable viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites; improperly used antibiotics; too clean or too dirty an environment

• Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Stress – family and relationships, work and finances, mental well-being, unresolved conflicts and trauma, lack of passion and purpose

Particularly, the mental/emotional/spiritual stresses can compound repeatedly as we over-think the situation. Our nervous system doesn’t do a great job of telling the difference between a scenario we’re re-analyzing from the past, one that is currently in progress, or one that we think might happen in the future. This can really take up a lot of bandwidth and space in our barrel. But you can start to take control of your stress load and response! Step one is to assess what’s going into your barrel. What choices, situations or thoughts are not serving you? Are they requiring resources you would prefer to use on improving your health and well-being, and moving toward your goals? What can you change or let go of? This might mean a switch from your afternoon coffee and donut to a greens juice and almonds, giving you more resources to deal with your boss or spouse or kids in a kinder, less reactive way. You have the potential to determine which stresses are entering your barrel, and how well you deal with them when they do. Take a moment to become aware of what’s requiring your energy and decide if it’s in your best interests. Awareness is the important first step for slowly whittling away your pile of stressors to make everything in life more manageable—and better yet, more enjoyable!

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