Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I love a good pun. I am my father's daughter after all.
Anyone else miss Salt n Pepa?
image courtesy of merchdirect.com
But seriously, stress is real yo.
Whether you're a mom at home with kids 24/7, a mom working outside of the home and trying to keep it all together, not a mom at all and simply overwhelmed with work, life, relationships, what have you, sometimes it's just too much. Over-worked, over-tired, over-committed = overwhelm.
Stress, in everyday terms, is that feeling we have when we are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands.
Stress is really important. It triggers all these amazing hormones that work to keep us safe. Maybe they encourage us to run away or fight, whatever their result, it's our bodies effort to keep us going. Part of this is physical. We feel our heart rate increase, we're more alert, we might sweat or feel our muscles ready to move. Part of this is emotional. We might feel scared, nervous, anxious, even excited.
Fun fact: when those stress hormones are running through our body, our normal bodily functions, such as the digestive and immune systems, are slowed down.
Stress can be really harmful to us as well. From chest or back pain, muscles spasm, high blood pressure and heart disease to low immunity, trouble sleeping, headaches and digestive problems, stress can wreak havoc on us physically!(source) Stress can have an emotional impact too. In fact, for us women, it may likely be the emotional impact of stress that we notice first. It could be just a general feeling of dis-ease within ourselves, or we might be able to name it. Some of us get angry, others anxious. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate or we forget things more than we normally would. Stress can leave us feeling drained, tired all the time, irritable, sad, depressed, insecure and burnt out. Which is hard because we're supposed to have it all together, right?
The thing is, we often assume there is something wrong with us when we feel these emotions,
that's it's all in our head,
instead of understanding our body's chemistry
and learning to manage our stress.
Emotions, especially "negative" emotions, are not just you being weird. They're not just in your head or you being a crazy lady. Our body bodies send and receive these chemical messages ALL THE TIME. They effect and often determine our emotions, reactions, and responses. When you have those moments of stress, anxiousness, or feeling out of control, it's not just in your head. You're not crazy, you're normal.
The thing is, often in these moments we start to create habits of behavior to cope. Maybe we bite our nails, eat too much or too little, withdraw socially, lash out in anger, grab a drink, or simply feel restless. Whatever it is that lessens your stress response, it's serving your needs in that moment. If it's a healthy response, keep it! If not, I've got some ideas for ya.
This image. It cracks me up and yet, it's kinda my goal. The calm in the chaos.
We can get there. We just need some tools to help us access our parasympathetic nervous system, our rest, digest, relax and heal part of our nervous system. Instead of letting fight or flight take over, lets take a little control back, take a little perspective back, and make a decision about what's coming next so we can respond rather than react. This is great for us as adults, and for our kids. If we want our kids to be able to do these things as well, they need us to model what it looks like and sounds like. As we get better at it, we're better able to verbalize what we're doing in the moment, and our kids can then translate that to their bodies and in their language.
First, lets talk about four essential oils that support grounding and calm. All can be used topically and aromatically. For topical use, consider diluting them in a roller bottle and rolling over pulse points, bottoms of feet or over the heart. Aromatically you can place a few drops in a diffuser, onto diffuser jewelry, in the palms of your hand and cup to inhale. Use them before you get triggered into stress reactions. And get to know your triggers! They are different for everyone:
Our triggers are both unique to us and not so unique. Getting to know yours will help you to proactively manage stress before it even starts.
Balance: Fantastic for re-centering, Balance is the oil of grounding. It is blended of mostly from tree and root oils. It's wonderful for calming minds that have trouble calming down, and helps us reconnect with our roots, especially when the mind has taken over. It helps to bring us back down to earth and reconnect with our bodies, which we can feel really disconnected from at times of stress.
Console: also called the Comforting blend, contains resins and florals. It is really good to use in moments of grief, as well as moments of transitions and change in your life. Console can help us to release burdens. These can burdens of feeling a lack of agency or power, feelings of guilt, for example.
Peace: is helpful for bringing our awareness from the outside, in. This Reassuring blend contains florals, mints and resins. It is great for those moments of stress that are provoked by fear, vulnerability, or lack of control. Instead of trying to control our environment or relationships, we can take a moment to respond to our fears and control our response.
Serenity: the oil of Tranquility, is a blend of flowers and herbs. It is uniquely calming and supports quieting the mind and body agitation. Serenity is uniquely blended to promote restful sleep, though it perfect for moments of anxiousness and nervousness as well. For sleep, try putting a few drops in a diffuser or applying it topically 30 minutes before going to bed.
Adding these oils to a breathing practice is a great way to manage your stress. Often in those moments, our breath moves up into our upper chest or throat and gets really shallow. Sometimes we even hold it. To activate that parasympathetic nervous system, we can use the breath in a simple pattern to make our exhale longer than our inhale. Here's how to do it:
1. Bring your hands to your ribs. Inhale through the nose for a count of 3-4. Fill the rib cage first, then let the breath fill up the belly as your diaphragm drops down
2. Exhale through the mouth for a longer count of 5-6, emptying the belly first, then feeling the ribs contract back inward.
3. Take 5-20 of these breaths anywhere you happen to be to come to a place that is more centered and calm.
Want some more info on these oils and this breathing technique? Check out my youtube video below, and while you're at it, subscribe to my channel! Don't you love the freeze frame moment? Couldn't be better for this topic ;)
So, tell me. Where is your stress coming from these days? How do you tend to handle it?
"I just need to lose 5 pounds and then I'll try online dating", Susan, Uber driver.
It's kind of amazing what people will share with you, the little clues they give you into their psyche. In a 25 minute drive I learned a lot about Susan. I got a glimpse into how she views herself, her body, and how that affects what she allows, who she allows in, what she allows herself to experience.
We have a lot of societal baggage around bodies, weight, beauty standards, and as a result food, in the US. The way we move through the world, how we let people treat us, the relationships we seek out, and the experiences we choose to allow ourselves to have are often influenced by this baggage. It's hard to NOT let it affect you.
image courtesy of theodyssyonline.com
TV, Instagram and other social media, magazine covers, the ridiculous amount of weight loss quick-fixes, just to name a few. Who we hang out with, the messages we got from our family or friends growing up, these also serve to create internalized messages of what is acceptable, expected, enough.
It's really easy to blame the body, especially for negative emotions. We look out into the world to determine where we belong. If we don't see people like us, we translate that into a feeling or sense of being other. I know I would stick out like a sore thumb in a biker bar, but maybe you would totally be in your element. This is normal. The thing is, we as women often blame our bodies for not fitting in OR we use negative comments about our body to fit in.
In blaming our bodies we say things like, "I feel fat today"or "I can't do (fill in the event) because I'm too (big, small-chested, skinny)". Once these comments start, it's difficult to stop them coming up again.
To fit in, we say things like "I hate my (insert least favorite body part here)" and then nod in agreement as our friends pick themselves apart too. When others make these comments it's really hard not to start thinking about our own bodies. It's a lot easier to join in.
You know what? Fat isn't a feeling. There certainly are a lot of emotions wound up in those negative phrases above, but fat ain't one of them. Figuring out exactly what they are and naming them, rather than blaming your body, is the important work. Learning how to sit with them and be uncomfortable so you can move past them, that's the good (and the hard) stuff.
The crazy thing is that whether you're unhappy in general has a lot do with how you feel about your body than what your body actually looks like. And let's be honest, our own perceptions are the most skewed anyway. Our mental health isn't the only thing that suffers. Research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, suggests that "women who obsess over their body and diet have chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol (even when their life is not otherwise stressed)—and, as a result, may suffer from elevated blood pressure, lower bone density, higher amounts of unhealthy belly fat and even menstrual problems". (source) We're hurting ourselves physically here too!
You are here to experience your life, not to wait until you lose x number of pounds, look a certain way, or fit into a pair of jeans. You could do all that and it still won't change what's in here.
Whether it's feeling vulnerable or scared, unhappy with something physically in your body or in your life circumstances, it's not your BODY that's the problem.
If there are poses you can't get into in a yoga class, it's not your body that needs to be changed, it's the pose. Your body will evolve into harder poses as you practice, work through foundational poses, and build strength. If no one in your exercise class looks like you, it's not your body that the problem. It's the mainstream perception of what a healthy body looks like, who it excludes, who it attracts to the class, and who it leaves out.
Dear Susan, if you're not ready to start dating or you've got some fears about it, I promise it's not those 5 pounds. I'm not going to pretend to know exactly what it is, but I sure as heck know it's not your body. And I do know it's your perception and blaming of your body that is holding you back.
It's OK to start speaking kindly to yourself and not feel like you LOVE your body every single moment. Heck you can not like certain things, thank them for getting your through the day anyway, and move on. At least your moving in the right direction.
It's OK to choose to spend more time with positive people so you don't get sucked in to negative patterns.
It's OK to opt out of a yoga pose or to talk to the instructor after class and let them know you'd really like suggestions to make a pose more accessible. It's OK to seek out a yoga teacher or studio that welcomes and teaches to all bodies.
It's OK to embody your body.
It's OK to take up space.
I'm curious, how does this land for you? What resonates? How do you blame your body? Share a comment below and help us all take steps toward a more positive relationship with our bodies!
I'm Tonia, a Midwesterner transplanted to Colorado. I'm a mom of two lovely littles, a yoga instructor, DIY-er, teacher, stay at home mom, and a doTERRA Wellness Advocate. I blog about a little bit of all of these and everything in between!
Are you looking for natural health options, but don't know where to start? Book a 1-on-1 appointment with me! We'll spend about 30 minutes getting to know your health goals and concerns, learn a bit about doTERRA, and go over the most commonly used oils that meet your needs. You don't have to buy anything, but if you see something you like, of course I can help you!