Why am I exhausted and in pain all of the time??
US culture puts a ton of stress on moms and women in general.
There is a constant underlying shame and/or guilt that you are not doing enough. And to top it off, the narrative that “doing something for yourself is selfish” is perpetuating these thoughts.
This causes moms to lose their own identities. You are not only a mom, you may be a runner, singer, pianist, artist, dancer etc.
However, along the way we lose touch with ourselves, regardless of if you are a parent or not.
Urgency culture is wreaking havoc on our bodies.
I am here to tell you that you ARE doing the best that you can with the resources and information that you have at this moment.
And many other people feel the same exact way as you.
How our bodies perceive danger
But first, I want you to imagine what the chronic ongoing stress can be doing and how it can be affecting your body.
I want you to imagine how you would feel if you saw a tiger chasing you.
Frozen to the spot.
In times of stress – whether it’s running for our lives or running late for work – our bodies don’t know the difference and process the panic in the same way.
There’s a perceived danger, and our body’s sole responsibility is to keep us alive.
If you’re always in this mode – up against deadlines, worries about money, dealing with ongoing family drama – you don’t have the time to rest and digest.
How Stress Is Impacting Your Body
This constant tension can also lead to chronic bloating and heightened cortisol – a hormone created by the adrenal glands that can up your blood sugar levels, increase belly fat and decrease your body’s response to insulin – which could eventually lead to prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. This essentially is leading our bodies to being burnt out.
Signs you are in this “fight or flight” response include:
- Constant fatigue
- Craving sweets or carbs
- Chronic headaches/jaw pain
- Chronic neck pain
- Chronic low back or pelvic pain
- Constantly feeling hungry
- Brain fog
- Constantly needing stimulants (like coffee)
- Weight gain in the mid-section (unable to lose)
The Body-Mind Connection
This isn’t to scare you, but to reiterate the importance of well-being, as our bodies and minds are interconnected.
Chronically living in a stressed-out state can lead to chronic pain and illness.
As we come to the end of the month of January, coming out of the fog of New Year’s resolutions, bombarded with ads for new exercise routines or diets – I want you to think about your stress levels.
Exercising is only one form of health.
For our bodies to be in optimal health, focusing on ourselves is vital.
I understand time, finances, work, kids, etc can be time-consuming, but just connecting with yourself can make a world of difference.
How this applies to physical therapy
You might be thinking… How does this apply to physical therapy?
There is a direct correlation with chronic pain and chronic stress on our bodies.
If I just treated someone’s low back without asking about the stress they are under, I am missing a huge piece of their recovery process. It doesn’t matter how many times that person is massaged or if they do their exercises, the muscles are going to go back to a tense state unless the root cause is addressed.
So what can I do to support myself and my stress levels when I don’t have much time?
Here are a few questions to help you re-align yourself back to YOUR needs.
- Do I need to go to _______ today? (insert optional event here)
- Does ________ serve me or am I doing it to please someone else?
- Am I taking time for myself today? (even if it is 5 min in the car)
- What hobbies have I engaged in outside of work and the kids?
- Have I laughed recently?
- Do I sit and enjoy the food I am eating?
I know these things may sound insane, but after surviving cancer, I cannot relay this message enough.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2019. I remember sitting in the chair getting chemo and thinking….
“Why did I care so much about what people thought of me”
“Why wasn’t I more present with the people I love”
“Why was I so worried if everything wasn’t perfect”
Nothing was scarier than not having my health. Thankfully my 3 year scans were clear.
The point is life is meant to be enjoyed. Leave the dishes in the sink, wait to reply to that email tomorrow, leave the laundry for another day… and just BE.
Your body will thank you.