If I were to ask you what the three main sources of stress are, what would your response be? If you’re like most of the professional women I work with, you’d probably say work, home obligations, and family. After all, if you were to take away looming project deadlines, housework that is piled up, and the not-so-pleasant qualities of certain family members, you wouldn’t be stressed at all, right?
Certainly, all of these types of things can give you stress, but the three main sources of stress are actually slightly different. Let’s go into each one a little more in-depth and you will see what I mean.
All of the stressors just mentioned—work, home, and family—fall into this one category of emotional stress. These are the things that weigh on your mind and heart and, sometimes, make life very difficult to live.
As a high achieving woman, it is likely that you take a lot of pride in your career. This means that you spend more hours than you’d like making sure your work is complete and high quality. It also means going in early and staying late to get the job done and get it done well.
And your personal life can bring about stress too. When you deal with death, divorce, illnesses, and injuries, it can really drag you down. But positive stressors can happen as well. These are major life events like getting married or remarried, having a child or grandchild, and countless others. They’re good stresses, but they are stresses nonetheless.
How do you reduce your emotional stress? There are lots of options. Go for a walk, talk to a trusted friend, find a hobby you enjoy to take your mind off things, listen to soothing music, or take a long and hot bath. Do something that makes you happy and do it often.
The second main type of stress is dietary stress. You know this type of stress all too well if you tend to skip breakfast and drink nothing but coffee until noon, eat fast food at lunch because you don’t have time for anything else, and rely on candy bars or other sugary snacks to give you enough energy to get you through your busy afternoon. Not only are these behaviors unhealthy when exhibited regularly over time, but they also add stress on your body.
When you don’t follow a healthy nutritious eating plan, your blood sugar can easily go awry. This puts your hormones cortisol and insulin on overdrive as they work extra hard to try to stabilize your system. You probably won’t feel it each time it happens, but do it often enough and the stress it puts on your body will show eventually via fatigue and weight gain.
To reduce the amount of dietary stress on your body, there are a few things you can do. First off, don’t skip breakfast. And when you eat, always make sure a protein is in there so you’re not consuming straight carbs. Watch your portions too. Basically, engage in intuitive eating and mindfulness and you’re on the right path.
The third and final type of stress is inflammatory stress. This involves having any sort of inflammation in your body, whether it is arthritis, colitis, or any other type of ‘itis.’ Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with a specific disease or condition, inflammation can still exist within your body.
For instance, do your knees feel swollen and tender after you’ve been on your feet all day? Maybe your fingers ache after you’ve typed a long report? It can even be as subtle as that discomfort you feel in your abdominal region, signaling that there is an inflammation somewhere in your digestive tract. The reality is that a lot of us have inflammatory stressors, whether we realize them or not.
What can you do to lower this type of stress on and in your body? Your first step is testing to determine whether your body is inflamed in any area. From there, suggestions can be made as to how to begin to heal the inflammation and those are made primarily based on which body parts are inflamed.
For instance, an inflamed elbow joint is going to be handled differently than an inflamed small intestine. Either way, the first step is finding the inflammation and the next step is taking appropriate actions to reduce the inflammation and take it away.
Reduce stress in these three key areas—emotional, dietary, and inflammation—and you will have more energy, feel more alive, and have a better outlook on life. Work will become easier and more productive, home will be simple to handle, and family, well, you can’t change them but you can still love them anyway.