Kick the Stress Habit

Are you addicted to stress? Are you someone who keepson going even when you are exhausted? Are you gettingmessages to slow down and you are not listening? Ifyou have answered yes to any of these questions youmight one day experience adrenal exhaustion, if it isnot happening already. I want to encourage you to startpaying attention to the signs, signals and messagesyour body is giving you. Adrenal exhaustion may showup as physical signs, such as a change in sleeping habits,energy blockages, digestive difficulties, hormonal changes,chronic fatigue, or illness. Or it may manifest as emotionalchanges - in attitude, lack of motivation, loss of patience,anxiety, irritation, changes in eating habits, depressionand so on. It may also take the form of reduced concentrationlevels, memory loss, and a feeling of disconnectionspiritually. So the questions to ask are what can youdo to make sure you do not end up with adrenal exhaustionand what can you do if you are at that stage?

I am someone who has experienced adrenal exhaustionfirsthand. It had been coming on for many years. I ama healer and know my body quite well, yet I refusedto stop and make changes that would help support mybody, nervous system, adrenals and organs. I have alwaysgiven out energy to others and not always given enoughback to me (I did not fill up my "cup".)

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to helptake people's pain away and help them to feel better.So because of that motivation, I have been more focusedon giving healing energy and love out to others andhave not regarded myself as a priority. Finally, myenergy became depleted. My mind had been programmedto think I could do it all and handle it just fine.To be quite honest, in the past I have been addictedto stress and to pushing myself beyond my limits and,as a result, have experienced adrenal exhaustion.

Over the past few years, I have been going throughmany hormonal, emotional and bodily changes. I can certainlyfeel that the prolonged periods of stress have affectedme on every level, especially my adrenal and thyroidglands.

Our adrenal glands produce hormones and one of theseis cortisol. When we go through times of stress or becomeaddicted to stress, our body can use up more cortisolthan our glands can produce. This can lead to illness,chronic fatigue, depression and extreme changes in thebody. In my case, I developed thyroid cancer. The blessinghere is that this has forced me to make changes in mylife and to change my stress patterns. I am learninghow to make myself a priority. Old patterns can sometimesbe hard to break, but those necessary changes can bemade with practice and awareness.

Fhe first warning signs of my adrenal exhaustion wereemotional - feelings of depression, not sleeping soundlythrough the night and mood swings. I would do everythingI knew on all levels to move through the feelings ofhelplessness and hopelessness. I then began to experiencefrequent urination, especially during the night andheaviness after urinating. This led to headaches, aslowed down digestive system and low energy levels.I did not realise that my endocrine system was out ofbalance until I had some blood work done and it wasall there in black and white. Further tests showed meI had cancer of my thyroid. Boy was my body talkingto me and wanting me to change my stress patterns!

The following steps will help you to change your stresshabits and avoid adrenal exhaustion or just help youif you are going through any type of imbalance: * Practisebreathing more deeply, as your breath is your lifeforce.

Breathing is one of the most unconscious patterns wehave, but in order to improve our breathing patternswe first need to be more aware of them. Many peopleI have found breathe very shallowly. This puts a lotmore stress on the physical body, the adrenals and cancreate more tension, tightness and pain in our body.Begin now to become more aware of how you breathe andespecially how you breathe when you are under pressureor concentrating on something. Breathe fully into yourbelly and then bring your breath up into your chestas if you are blowing up two balloons. Hold your breathfor a count of two and then breathe it out fully. Youcan imagine breathing in all the good things and breathingout the stress. Continue several times and do as oftenduring the day as you can. You may need to write notesto yourself as a reminder to breathe! * Acutapping yourstress away

Acutapping will help you to release stress and tension,to feel more alive and keep your energy moving. Youwill feel more alert and energised. It is quick andeasy to do and stimulates the organs and blood flow,allowing the digestive and lymphatic system, organsand glands to work more effectively. Acutapping is greatto do at any time, especially first thing in the morning,or in the shower, where it will really wake you up.

If you are feeling tired during the day or after work,spend approximately five minutes doing a full body energytap to help you re-energise and let go of the pressuresof the day. As you do the tapping, send healing energyinto your body and remember to breathe fully as youdo this exercise. Instead of reaching for another cupof coffee, try acutapping instead.

How to do Acutapping * Stand up as it better thansitting * Use your fingertips (the fleshy parts, notthe nails) * Imagine sending loving, healing energyand light to your body as you tap Notice which spotsare sore or tight and breathe more deeply into thoseareas. * Begin to tap down one arm (front and back)* Move to the other arm and do the hands * Move up andtap across the chest and diaphragm * Move down and tapall across the belly * Move down and tap the pelvis,hips and buttocks * Move down the legs tapping bothsides and the feet and toes (you will need to bend orsit to support your lower back when you do this) * Moveup and tap your lower back and move up the back (ifyou have someone with you, get them to tap on eitherside of the spine where you cannot reach) * Move upto tap your shoulders and neck. Finish tapping yourhead and face Stand for a moment after you finish, closeyour eyes and notice how you are feeling. Can you feelyour body tingling? Do you feel more awake and alert?This is the blood and energy circulating through yourbody.

* Along with acutapping, do some sort of exercisefor at least 15-20 minutes every day. This could beanything like walking, stretching, yoga, team sport,jogging, swimming, or bikeriding. Make sure it issomething that you enjoy and that motivates you. Getsomeone to do it with you as well to make it morefun. * Create a daily spiritual practice. This caninclude going to church, temple or whatever you cando that reconnects you with your spirit on a regularbasis. Take the time to tune into your self daily.Start to build a relationship and rapport with yourbody by asking it on a daily basis what it needs fromyou and take the time to be still and listen. Bless,thank and send healing and loving energy to each partof your body on a regular basis. Take the time tomeditate, pray and slow your mind down. Be gratefulevery day for what you have in your life.

* Your emotional health directly affects your physicalhealth and wellbeing. Take care of your emotionalhealth by recognising and expressing how you are feelingand getting it to move. You can express your feelingsin many ways such as writing it out, speaking it out,dancing it out, exercising it out, or singing it out.

• Your mental health directly affects yourphysical wellbeing. Stop trying to be perfect. Makesure you spend time laughing, doing the things youenjoy and being creative. Watch your thoughts andstay conscious around your self talk. If your thoughtsare not supporting you positively, change them rightaway. Become more aware of self criticism and selfjudgment. What you focus your attention on is whatyou get. This helps to lessen your stress and tensionlevels and bring about more peace and balance in yourlife. One of the things to ask yourself is "AmI loving myself by having this thought or taking thisaction"? If the answer is no, then do somethingor say something that does express loving yourself.

• What foods are you putting in your body?Become more aware and disciplined about the food youare eating. Spend more time making sure you feed yourselfhealthy, fresh, organic and nourishing food. Avoidfast food and eating on the run as much as possible.Eat and chew more slowly to help your system digestbetter. Either silently or out loud (whichever youprefer), bless your food before you eat it, whetherat home or in a restaurant.

• Keep your body hydrated. Make sure you aredrinking at least 4-6 glasses of purified water perday. No other liquids take the place of water. Cutback on coffee and caffeine.

• Keep your home and work environment freefrom clutter. Spend the time making sure that yourliving and working environments support your healthand wellbeing. Be more aware of the radiation andchemicals you ue and have around your home. Thesecan certainly affect our health.

• Avoid being near radioactive waves. If youuse a mobile phone, it is important to use an earpiecewith it so that the phone is not up against your head.

• Rest, rejuvenate and renew on a daily basis.Get plenty of fresh air on a daily basis. Do not waitto do this until you are on a holiday - do it now.Have a regular massage or healing session to helpyour body and mind to relax and let go of stress.

• You are precious so remember to love andnurture yourself every day. You cannot take care ofothers unless you are taking care of yourself first.Don't take things too seriously - lighten up moreand worry less. Be grateful on a daily basis for allthat you have.

• There is no time like the present. Makeyourself a priority and take the time daily to replenishand recharge your body, mind, emotions and spirit.Don't wait until exhaustion sets in before you listento body and take action to do something good for yourself.

Laurie Levine is the director of Sydney's PositiveLiving Spiritual Centre and the author of SpiritualMedicine and Blessings of Gratitude.

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