Until You Recognise Your Stressors, You’ll Never Overcome Body BurnoutJun 27, 2022
Hello! There are lots happening over here at Chris & Filly Functional Medicine at the moment. I’ve recently submitted my NEW BOOK (Mama Shine: 4 Steps To Ending Your Body Burnout (for good!) - working title) to my seven awesome Beta-Readers to read and provide feedback, before doing my final edit ready for the publisher. Super exciting!
I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my book all about STRESS (it may or may not make the final cut…let me know if you think it should? lol).
I believe that stress is THE culprit when it comes to burning out your body systems, leading to energy, mood, and gut issues. Stress keeps your nervous system wired, which always results in body systems breaking down. If you don’t think you’re under ‘stress’, I guarantee this except my book will have you thinking differently!
What is stress?
So what is ‘stress’? When I meet with a new client and I ask them this question, most will immediately respond with ‘emotional’ or ‘psychological’ stressors. Things like a relationship or work issues, finances, trauma, death of a loved one, trying to juggle it all, or simply living a very fast-paced, busy life. While these are big stressors, there are many other different types of stressors to consider, which could all be affecting your state of mind and the calm (or chaos) within your body. Holistic health expert, Paul Chek, created a model which identifies the many types of stressors that affect our whole self.
Chek’s model shows six different types of stressors. I’ll tap into these stressors in more detail later in this book, especially as they relate to our three Mamas. For now, here’s a quick summary:
Body system burnout is the biggest physical stressor: hormonal imbalances, gut inflammation, detox issues, neurotransmitter depletion, and chronic muscular-skeletal injuries and pain. Mums also have the extra physical stressor of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and sleepless nights. Even if you had a lovely pregnancy and birth, and breastfeeding is a breeze, your little munchkin will be sucking all the nutrients from you, which is literally ‘stressing’ to your system. And exercise! While it’s great and healthy, over-exercising will burn your body out.
Chemical stressors include environmental toxins, like petrol fumes, paints, solvents, factory gasses, sprays, as well as toxic mould. Nasty chemicals in your skincare and cleaning products can also add to your stress bucket. Then you can have natural chemicals in foods, like histamine, salicylates, and sulphur, which can cause stress and inflammation in susceptible people with chemical sensitivities.
Electromagnetic fields (or EMFs) can also add to your stress bucket. Unless you live out in the bush, off-grid without any reception, you are likely exposed to a ton of EMFs. These come from electrical appliances in your home, computers, laptops, mobile phones, blue tooth devices, and 5G. They are what I call silent stressors.
Psychic stress is emotional-mental stress. I mentioned examples of this earlier. But at the crux of psychic stress is how you think and feel about yourself, and the beliefs and stories you have created about yourself, which dictate how you behave and respond to emotional stressors. I hope I harped on about this enough in chapter one, for you to understand that this is almost always the deepest root cause of body burnout.
Man-made, synthetic foods are inflammatory to the body. Things like trans fats, refined carbs, and processed sugars. Poor quality “healthy” food can also add to your stress load - things like grain-fed, caged animal products and plants sprayed with Roundup. Skipping meals unintentionally, eating on the run, and eating reactive (even healthy) foods are also stressful.
Thermal stress is pretty simple. You’re either too hot or you’re too cold. This could be due to environmental issues, like not having sufficient heating or airflow in your home. It could also be a result of hormonal imbalances that can affect your internal temperature.
As you can see, stress isn’t just about the bills stacking up. There are so many ways your body and mind can become overwhelmed, which inevitably leads to your body systems crumbling. As in Chek’s model, the more stressors filling your bucket (or funnel, as in Chek’s model) the greater the likelihood of symptoms arising - and if it goes on long enough unchecked, premature death! You definitely don’t want that happening, now, do you, Mama?
Identify & Addressing Your Stressors
Now that you’re aware of all the potential stressors, it’s time to get clear on your own stressors. This is essential for calming your system - both your mind and body - so that you are in a conducive state for healing. Once you’re clear on your stressors, you need to then identify and focus on the stressors within your control. This is super important, as many mums live in a state of overwhelm, anxiety - even panic - because they constantly focus on issues outside of their control. You’ve probably experienced this, right? Worrying incessantly about what might happen in the future, mistakes you’ve made in the past, what other people think of you, politics, pandemics, wars, and the economy. Getting all wound up with anxiety. The reason why this causes you unnecessary suffering is that these things are out of your control, and so you feel out of control. This is a classic symptom of anxiety disorder.
Personal development and leadership expert, Stephen Covey, created a framework to address stressors in a healthy way. This is known as his ‘Circle of Concern’ model.
With all your stressors, identify what is within your control. You can control how you think, feel, behave and act, especially when it comes to your own beliefs about yourself. You have control over the decisions that you make, and some of the things you can change in your life. When you focus on what you can control you will feel so much more empowered and able to make changes, where it matters. In the context of addressing stress, you absolutely have the power to decide how you respond to stressors - for better, or for worse. As Covey’s model demonstrates, there will be issues that arise that are not directly in your control, but where you do have the ability to exert influence. How your household runs, Mama is a classic example of this. You can’t make your children or your partner do certain things, but you do have the ability to influence what happens in your home. And for problems that are outside of your control and influence, can you learn to accept those issues, or at least deflect your focus away from and to the things you can control and influence? When you master this “Circle of Concern”, right back to rewriting and controlling your own self-limiting beliefs that caused you to be where you are today, then you will achieve a resilient and calm mind, despite all the craziness that goes on around you.
To help get you started on identifying and addressing your own personal stressors (in a healthy way!), follow this process:
- List all your current stressors - physical, chemical, electromagnetic, psychic, nutritional, thermic - that you know of. If you suspect certain issues, like adrenal fatigue or toxin build-up in your body or mould issues or even self-limiting beliefs that you think are there but that need ‘diagnosing’, put them down on the list as well, with a question mark next to them.
- Score each stressor out of 10 (10 being the highest).
- Identify the source of the stressor. This goes back to the big question WHY that we looked into in Chapter 1. Why do you have this issue?
- Take each stressor in turn and decide whether you have control, influence, or no control/influence over it.
- Stressors you have no control or influence over, let go of for now.
- Concentrate all your efforts on the stressors you have control over first and foremost. You can work on stressors you only have influence over, later. Prioritise each one by placing a number against them, starting from 1 (being the most important or biggest stressor).
- Which of your priorities is making the most impact on your stress bucket right now?
- From your stressors above, choose the five most important stressors that you do have control over.
- Decide on the actions you can take to reduce each stressor and write them in the right-hand column below.
- Now start doing! Get to work on eliminating, reducing, or changing the way you think about this stressor.
Hope this brain-dump exercise helps you gain some clarity around your stressors and root causes of body burnout. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, not sure where you’re stressors lie, our Ending Body Burnout Assessment helps you identify root cause contributors. Take the free test here.
Filipa Bellette is Co-Founder of Chris & Filly Functional Medicine. She is an accredited Clinical Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner. She is also a Ph.D. thought-leader, award-winning writer, and regularly published as a guest blogger & in the media. Together with her husband Chris Bellette, Filipa has worked with over 2,000+ busy, burnout clients in the last 10+ years, and specialises in producing healthy, balanced, and happy Mums & Dads...or as she calls it, a Power Parent! Filipa’s own passion for producing high-performance Power Parents came from her own personal experience of Mummy Burnout, after having babies and juggling the demands of business, family, and her failing health.
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