I used to feel proud of how much I worried. I kind of wore it like a badge of honor—I was always one step ahead of any disaster that could strike. If things got too calm, I would create some kind of chaos in my own life to up the stakes. Worry was a sign I was going out on a limb, getting outside of my comfort zone, and making my dreams a reality.
I was also killing myself by living in a constant state of tension. Or so said my doctors and therapist.
Still, it wasn’t until I went into labor at 31 weeks with my second daughter Bennett that I truly understood what I was doing to my body. My labor wasn’t due to complications with the baby, the way I was carrying, my blood pressure—none of the normal reasons doctors looked into.
After contractions were under control, I took a conference call from the hospital. There was nothing about it out of the ordinary, no high stakes decisions; it was a pretty normal work call. Yet my monitor start spiking and contractions started again.
We learned that day my labor was stress-induced. And what was scarier? I didn’t FEEL stressed.
And so started my journey to heal my physical body, to become more in tune with how my body responds to stress, and to learn to release it as soon as it manifests itself.
Because no matter what kind of worry you have (conscious or subconscious), the response is the same: it increases your cortisol levels. And an increase in cortisol levels is something none of us want, as it compromises our immune systems, opening us up to a whole host of other things we really don’t want to experience.
In addition to finding relationships between cortisol and heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, the stress and fear brought on by worry can cause depression, anxiety, mood disorders and the ever so familiar…burnout.
I’ve come to a point in my journey with depression that medication works, but it will only get me so far. The next step, now that I’m done having babies (possibly forever) is to heal my body through connecting with it.
Feeding it with foods that better impact the health of my brain.
Why? Because a brain that is well-fed with the right kinds of fats and proteins is flexible, resilient, and more capable to handle prefrontal cortex problem-solving, which is necessary when sorting logically through cause and effect. If your brain isn’t functioning at its full potential, or if you’re like me and have ADHD (which makes executive functioning tasks especially difficult) you’re going to have a lot more trouble talking yourself out of irrational fears.
It becomes nearly impossible to remind ourselves that—yes, something bad might happen but most of what we worry about, doesn’t. So what do we do once we understand the worst-case scenario isn’t worth spending 100% of our attention on? I’m looking forward to finding out.
Recommended Reading: Genius Foods by Max Lugavere
Releasing my emotions and energy physically.
I’ve become really interested in how energy works within the body, especially with the connective tissue we call fascia. While there is a lot we can do to improve our environments, it’s imperative to release the tension that already exists so we can better heal. I’ve seen a holistic chiropractor and massage therapist to work through these physical blocks, but letting emotions move through you (laughter, fear, disgust, anger, fear, sadness) is your body’s natural way of regulating these spikes in cortisol.
Recommended Reading: The Power Source by Lauren Roxburgh
Committing to morning and nighttime rituals.
This is the time I set aside for myself and no one else. I keep it pretty simple. I have checklists that I like to reference in the morning and night, or when a day goes badly and I need to reset. It has helped SO MUCH to have a couple tried and true tactics I can refer to when my anxiety whips up. Sometimes it can be hard to remember what to do when you are hit with a sudden wave of the worries, so not having to access this list in my brain has been a big help. My list looks like this:
To help my fellow worriers out, I created a little printout of my ritual list that you can download using this link:
Just having these small acts of self-care at my fingertips at all times takes the pressure off my brain to find a solution to relieve worry and stress. I store mine in Evernote so I always have access to it. The small ways we care for ourselves add up to make massive changes over time.
Recommended Reading: Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive, and Energy by Bonnie St. John
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.