Hi friends, are you feeling burned out, overwhelmed and completely exhausted by the stressors in your life? Do you survive long work days with cappuccinos and sugary carbs, only to be left feeling foggy and irritated throughout the day? Is your schedule filled with things that you absolutely dread going to? Are you battling anxiety and depression? If so, this post is for you.
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I wished I had the flu or a flat tire just so I could get out of something I said yes to. I know the feeling of burn-out all too well. For many years, I wore my busyness as a badge of honor. I disregarded my health and slept four hours a night for 8+ years. There literally weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things I had committed to.
Instead of learning how to rest and say no, I bought into the idea that “sleep is for the weak.” And boy, did I pay the price for it. I pushed my body so hard for so long that eventually, my health took a big hit. In recent years, I have struggled with seasons of depression, painful gut issues, and severe cystic acne breakouts. The modern-day stressors in my life were eating away at my health and I had to make some BIG changes before I was able to start feeling better.
Little by little, the fog of depression has lifted and I’ve been able to make good strides in letting my gut heal (and subsequently, my acne has been improving too!). Small changes add up big time when it comes to our health. Sometimes it just takes being exposed to the right information to know what changes we need to make!
With that said, I am deeply honored to share this post with you. It’s a special one!! Not only is it filled with lots of wisdom and insight, but it also makes for my first guest blog post ever. In the words to follow, Olivia Hermosillo is sharing what modern-day stressors we need to be aware of and simple ways to combat them.
Olivia is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner in San Diego, California. She is passionate about teaching others the beauty and power of traditional foods, ancestral wisdom and simple ways to incorporate both into modern-day life. Inspired by her own need to let go of the excess and welcome only the essential, she strives to go back to the basics in a world that seeks convenience over quality, trends over tradition, and abundance over the necessary.
You guys. This information is gold. I hope these words resonate with you and inspire you to make simple, practical changes for the benefit of your health.
I’ll let Olivia take it from here:
How Modern-Day Stressors Are Making Us Sick
(+ Tips From Our Ancestors)
By: Olivia Hermosillo
It seems like we’re in a bit of an “everything era” — where we need to do everything, be everything and be everywhere in order to be viewed as successful or keep up in life. We are stressed and unwell as a result.
Resting is essential to healing. Remember when you’d stay home sick from school and all you wanted to do was go out and play but your mom insisted you lay down and rest? She wasn’t being mean — mothers know best!
Let’s go a little deeper and learn how our bodies are wired:
Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic
The sympathetic nervous system is our “fight or flight” response. When this becomes our body’s go-to response, all of our blood and energy goes into the organs necessary to keep us alive in stressful situations. This means our body is not worried about digesting the food we just ate, or repairing those cells that have been damaged, or building our immune system up. Quite the opposite! Our body is concerned with one thing only: to keep us alive since some sort of danger or stressor is present. An important thing to realize is that being frustrated in traffic does the same thing to our body as coming across a wild animal in the woods. Both situations put your body in a sympathetic state.
On the other hand, when our body utilizes the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” state), digestion, elimination, detoxification, rebuilding and restoration are able to take place. Only when our body, mind and soul are relaxed can healing actually take place.
What are some other modern-day stressors that our bodies perceive as a threat?
This is the light that comes from our phones, televisions, computers and most lighting fixtures nowadays. Blue light has been shown to cause free-radical formation (unstable molecules that damage the cells in our body) and sympathetic dominance. Each and every flicker is stress on the eyes and body. When you do need to be in front of the screen, try wearing blue-light-blocking glasses or applying a screen protector.
Processed, Life-Less Foods
Living a healthy lifestyle does NOT mean being deprived. As I know it can be such a touchy, loaded topic, my background equipped me with the knowledge that the foods of our ancestors give us all the nutrients, energy and flavor we could ever need. Quality animal fats, well-sourced animal proteins, organic vegetables and fruits, properly-prepared grains, seeds, nuts and legumes… Nothing is off limits when we give our body nutrient-dense, whole foods. It’s also important to know that we are bio-individual and have different nutritional needs. If you feel like deeper exploration (with a Functional Doctor or Nutritional Therapist) would be beneficial, I encourage you to get the answers you deserve! Constantly eating foods that upset your stomach, make you feel tired or produce reactions is no way to live and is putting undue stress on your body. Celebratory foods should absolutely be enjoyed to the fullest and the freedom to indulge (without stress or guilt) is definitely the goal. We need to understand that processed, denatured foods causes stress and dysfunction in the body but when we’re filling our life with the real thing, those celebrations won’t have detrimental effects on our health and we can enjoy them thoroughly.
Before I hit rock bottom in my physical, mental and spiritual health, I was saying yes to everything and had no boundaries. Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I was allowing others to tell me what I needed until I ran myself into the ground, completely disconnected to what I, myself, wanted or needed. Giving yourself grace to say “no thanks” allows you some time and space to rest, re-charge and give your whole heart to people or things that are life-giving. Now as a recovering-people-pleaser, I deeply respect others who set healthy boundaries for themselves and it only encourages me to do continue to do the same.
I respect the fact that there’s so much more to wellness than eating nutrient-dense, real food. You cannot thrive if you are unhappy at work, at home or in life. I am personally finding growth and healing through therapy and encourage anyone who feels stuck in a particular mindset to seek support from someone or something that can get to the root and help heal wounds. This will take a huge load off the body and mind!
Ways to support the parasympathetic system:
Getting a good night’s rest is essential to optimal health since this is when our bodies can restore and heal. Be aware of blue light exposure and allow yourself time to wind down in the evening. Perhaps find a nighty ritual to alert your body and mind that sleep is coming up. Diffusing therapeutic-grade oils (like Peace or Serenity) by my bedside is a nightly ritual of mine.
Really, Olivia? Really. Too many of us are eating on the go, eating while we’re standing, eating while we’re in a heated discussion over the phone… Remember: You cannot digest when our bodies and minds are in a sympathetic state. It is so simple (and yet a challenge at the same time), but it has extreme effects on the body. Sitting down, giving thanks and salivating over the food you are about to enjoy is actually the beginning of the digestive process. Enzymes are being released and gastric juice is gearing up. If we skip this step, undigested food is going through our system which causes of a host of problems (I see it ALL the time!). Do whatever you need to do to cultivate a space where you want to sit down and eat. More importantly, give yourself enough time to actually sit down and enjoy your food.
Before modern times, humans would get plenty of that important golden sunlight. While the sun gives off UV, blue light (the damaging kind), it also gives off near infrared light (the regenerating kind). Sitting in a near-infrared sauna can have an array of benefits, some of them being: the activation of the parasympathetic system, decreasing blood pressure and detoxification through passive sweating (toxins=stress). It’s also a chance to sit, meditate and breathe — something we don’t do enough of these days!
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Tomorrow’s email is the last of the Cleanse & Replenish mini series. You might have guessed it – we’ll be going over sweeteners! There are most likely some harmful culprits lurking in our cupboards. Keep an eye out for healthful and delicious alternatives to the highly refined, man-made options we’re so used to nowadays! Click the link in my bio to make sure you get this email tomorrow 🍯 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo by @hannah.costello
Hi, it’s me again! Before we wrap things up, I wanted to share a few of the things I learned from reading Olivia’s words. What resonated most with you? What practicals did you gather? Is there anything you want to implement today, or this week? Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts with us! We would love to hear what inspired you.
My biggest four takeaways:
- When I’m stressed, my body is in it’s sympathetic state. As a result, my body cannot heal, digest, eliminate, detox, rebuild, or restore. No wonder I have gut issues!! Healing can only take place when my body, mind, and soul are collectively relaxed and in the parasympathetic state.
- It’s crucial that I pay attention to what foods upset my stomach, make me feel tired, or produce reactions. And when I eat, I need to do so in a relaxed state.
- Healing unresolved feelings is just as important as eating nutrient-dense food. What situations/relationships do I need to revisit and heal? Hmm….
- Lastly, where can I find a near-infrared sauna!? This sounds so fun and also has a lot of benefits that will help my skin and gut so much! Sign me up!!
Now, flamingo friends, I hope you feel a little more equipped to combat the modern-day stressors in your life. You are not alone in your struggle. Together we can grow and make changes and find healing.
PS – did you catch my last post on SELF-LOVE!!!?