On a scale of one to ten, how much stress do you have in your life? If you’re like most professional women who are trying to balance a high powered career with keeping up at home, your answer is likely a twelve or even a fifteen. Even if you’re modest enough to say seven, eight, or nine, that is still too much on a regular basis.

When you have a lot of responsibilities at work, like being in charge of a team or finishing an important project for a high-money client, along with a lot of obligations at home, such as getting the kids through college or taking care of your aging parents, it is going to trigger a chain of events in your body. Events that likely have already begun if this is how you’ve felt for a long period of time.

The Stress Response

Chronic stress increases your production of a hormone called cortisol and cortisol does a couple of things to your body. First, it causes you to build and retain fat around your waistline. That is why the more stressed you become, the bigger your midsection gets, and the harder it is to lose the weight.

Second, cortisol also affects your digestive system, making it weaker and weaker over time. This opens you up to experience negative reactions to foods (called intolerances), as well as increases the chance that pathogens (bacteria and parasites) will settle in, wreaking havoc on your stomach and intestines, causing things such as cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

Because your digestive system is having difficulties, the toxins in your body start to build. Although your liver is normally quite efficient at dealing with them, there becomes just too many to handle, putting it in overload and rendering it completely unable to keep up. You feel lethargic and lifeless as a result, not to mention that you’re more susceptible to colds, flus, and other diseases, putting you at risk of some serious medical conditions.

Identifying the Initial Trigger

In order to effectively deal with your stress, you need to understand what has caused it in the first place. Did something major happen, such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a long-term relationship that set these things in motion for you? Or, is it something that has built up slowly over time as you were taught that a woman never complains, she just does, always putting others needs before her own?

Maybe the demands of your career have grown as you’ve worked your way up the ladder? Perhaps you push yourself even harder because you know that you are nearing retirement and so time, and life, are limited for you? Regardless of the reason, you need to first identify your stressor if you expect to release the trigger it has on the chain of events that are truly putting your health at risk, possibly even currently making you sick.

Sit silently for a moment and see if you can pinpoint when the stress started to escalate for you personally. Was it one single event or a culmination of happenings that started your spiral? What is causing you stress still today? Really delve deep when answering these questions because the more self-intuitive you are, the easier it will be for you to begin to overcome.

Dealing With Stress Effectively

Once you’ve identified the stress trigger or triggers that are in your life, it is time to learn how to deal with them so that your cortisol production can decrease, your digestive system can begin to heal, and your liver can come off overdrive. What can you do to deal with stress effectively?

While everyone is different and experiences stress relief in different ways, here are some options that you should consider to help you begin to stabilize your stress response:

  • Let go. If there is something happening in your life that you can’t control, you need to find a way to let it go.
  • Develop healthy behaviors. Exercise releases feel-good hormones and it allows you to release the stress from your body in a healthy way. Eating good foods gives your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off bugs and bacteria that can damage your health.
  • Take supplements. If your body is lacking, it is going to have a difficult time dealing with stress, so make sure you’re getting what you need to succeed.
  • Relax. Yes, you have a lot to do, but if you don’t take the time to relax, you’ll have more than enough time in bed, feeling sick and unable to live your life.
  • Develop a strong support system. Find people you trust that you can talk to about anything so you have someone you can vent to and bounce ideas off of.
  • Ask for help. If you feel in over your head, enlist the help of an expert to help you regain control over your life so you aren’t so overwhelmed.

These are just a few ways to deal with stress as the possibilities are endless. As long as you understand what stress is doing to you, find your trigger, and start to reduce stress’ hold on you, you are on the right path. It is time to regain your health, and regain your life!