Dear Stress it’s not you, it’s me…

stressed

In my continuing health journey, I’ve found myself in the doctor’s office more frequently than when I had a high-risk pregnancy the past two years. A blood draw around the time we were (yet again) moving revealed that my prolactin levels were high and out of range.

My endocrinologist always begins our appointments by asking how I’m feeling. This isn’t the standard “how are you” greeting, instead it is a specific question meant to gauge how I’m handling my medicines.

As I smiled wearily, my endo nodded. My blood draw had revealed what he already knew to be true, I was not functioning at my optimum. My thyroid levels were in range, but my body was fighting itself…again.

By May there was no change, and after two months of old routines sneaking in naps and increasing the caffeine, I seized the opportunity to get a hair analysis done. I’d convinced myself that I likely needed more magnesium or some other pill. Reminding myself I’d need to cut back on sugar before football season came around, no thought of worry crossed my mind as I handed over my hair.

Two weeks later I had a phone consult to discuss my hair analysis and as each symptom was brought up and matched to a food craving I knew I was in trouble. Sugar cravings can be a sign of stress. The problem though is cyclical. You see, sugar is as addictive as cocaine according to scientific studies of the brain. So even if you begin your sugar cravings due to stress, they will continue due to addiction. Then, the next time you are stressed your cravings will increase. Without realizing it, you can steadily increase your sugar intake over year to gain the average five to eight pounds assigned to Americans.

New diets like Whole 30, Paleo and Belly Busters have become frequent “Favorite Pins” on my Pinterest notifications, and after a quick skim I can understand why. Testimonials are all the same. When we eliminate sugar and foods that convert into sugar in our bodies we feel better, lose weight and increase our energy. The great thing about Whole 30 in particular, is that it only lasts 30 days. That is long enough to create a habit and flush your system of cravings. That is until you find yourself stressed again!

I’ve just completed five weeks of a sugar, caffeine, dairy cleanse. Whole grains and Ezekial bread, fruit limited to blackberries and granny smith apples and a lot of veggies, quinoa, and grilled chicken 🙂 I lost fifteen pounds, slept great and had tons of energy. All was well until I found myself overwhelmed. Immediately I started thinking about cupcakes and chocolate and chocolate cupcakes.

The difference, this time, was that sugar was not an option. Therefore I needed to address the stressful feelings and figure out how to eliminate the feelings (or cause of the feelings).

Stress, here’s the thing. I’ve learned that words hurt, and as much as I want to be the bigger person, I internalize the critical words of those around me and they wound me. So I’m eliminating you.

Stress you rear yourself when the demands of others fill my calendar outweighing my own needs. I’m working to keep you in check with the word no.

Stress you find yourself most confident in my fear. When fear floods my mind instead of God, you settle into my body, my thoughts, and my sleep. Of course, this one is on me, when I fill my time with others needs, and allow others words to flood my thoughts devotions become scarce, and you grow.

So I’m working to eliminate you stress and for some of you reading that means you can insert your name where stress currently sits. When you demand and criticize you’ll find my cell phone, and email won’t recognize your number or address. When I say no, I mean it and guilt trips will not work. Your priorities are not necessarily my priorities, and I’m done pretending they are.

You know the best part stress? All the comments about how your way will make me a better mom, Christian and person? Well, they no longer reign supreme. The truth is that I’ll be a better wife, mom and Jesus follower without your presence. So I’m eliminating you from my daily life. I’m sorry I’ve let you settle in, that’s not your fault, it’s mine. And now it’s time to fix that.

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