Last month I finally made an appointment to visit a functional medicine doctor! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I wish I hadn’t waited this long! I’ve been feeling tired, sluggish and foggy for a while now and even though Owen is sleeping through the night now, it hasn’t improved. On top of that, my skin has been breaking out like crazy. So, in January, I decided it was time to really get serious about my health and wellness.
If you remember this post from last year, I really started getting serious about wellness and healing my body from the inside out. I saw huge changes, but I still wasn’t feeling my best. Before visiting a doctor, I took the “try anything” approach. I read countless articles, blogs and watched documentaries, trying to figure out what was “wrong with me” and as soon as I saw someone with a similar symptom, I tried their methods. Often times they did make a difference, but none of them got me feeling 100%, and I’d fizzle out on my latest craze and find myself in the same spot.
That’s what finally made me decide it was time to see a professional. I could continue guessing and trying random diets, supplements and skincare products, but if I knew what was actually happening inside, I could take a more calculated approach to healing myself. I’ve gotten so many questions for you guys about the functional medicine doctor, so I’m planning on sharing a big post on my experience that’s much more in-depth than this post! But the quick version—after doing blood work and a saliva test, we found some interesting things.
One of the biggest culprits to all my health problems and simply not feeling my best?
You guessed it—stress.
I recently read that the root cause of 85-95% of all sickness, disease and illness is stress in our bodies. How crazy is that? But, the good news is that if we can learn to decrease and remove stress from our lives (easier said than done), we can potentially heal ourselves and avoid future health problems as well.
I used to think of stress as simply something I felt when I had a deadline to meet or when things weren’t going my way, but stress is so much more than that. Poor diet and lifestyle choices can put stress on our bodies internally that cause things to go awry and not function at their best. So, even if you don’t feel “stressed out”, your body might be fighting hard to keep things balanced inside!
It’ll take time and some big changes to fully remove stress from my life, but here are a few simple tips for how to reduce stress on a daily basis:
Get More Sleep
If you’re a new mom, this might not apply to you just yet, but if you’re stressed out, getting adequate sleep can be huge for making you feel better. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, work on creating a peaceful nighttime routine that includes dim lights, no technology and maybe a good book. Creating a calm nighttime routine can help reduce stress and make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Diffuse Oil or Light a Candle
Scent has the power to bring back memories like crazy, doesn’t it? A certain candle or outdoor smell can send me straight back to a memory from 10 years before. Find a candle or essential oil that makes you feel calm and relaxed and when you’re having a stressful moment, light it or diffuse it and take a few deep breaths.
I’ve talked about meditation several times around here and while I’m still working on getting my own practice a little more regular, I find that when I am meditating regularly, I’m so much happier, relaxed and less stressed. If I find myself in a stressful or anxious moment, shutting off technology and meditating for just a few minutes can do wonders for my brain.
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In a pinch, taking a few deep breathes can really save me from losing my cool. Just take a step back from the situation, close your eyes and take 5 deep breathes—in from the nose and out from the mouth. While you’re breathing, focus on the breathe in your body, your chest moving up and down and your muscles relaxing.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
I recently bought this 5 Minute Journal and admittedly, I don’t do it everyday, I really enjoy the practice. I’m working on becoming more of a morning person so I can do this before I wake and feed Owen. It has you write down what you’re grateful for and has you set intentions for your day, which always puts me in a good mood first thing in the morning. Making note of things that you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up can really get your day started in a positive direction.
Easier said than done, some days when I’m stressed out with Owen’s constant waking and lake of naps, I don’t have the time or energy to exercise, but getting out the house for a quick walk can do wonders for my stress levels. Bonus, if you strap your baby to your chest, you’re getting more of a workout since you’re carrying an extra load!
photos by Hannah Schweiss