More than diet. More than exercise. More than your genetics.
Chronic stress to be exact. Because stress is a normal part of life, it's necessary in fact. So let's not jump ahead and blame all our problems on stress. But prolonged stress, stress that results in a dysregulation in your nervous system response, leads to inflammation and inflammation as studies show is the root of all chronic disease.
When I say stress, what comes to mind?
Work? Kids? Finances? That feeling of simply being overwhelmed?
I recently completed a poll of mothers today and I was actually a little surprised by the response. Less than 6% connected stress with their health but over 55% reported that stress was a top symptom they were looking to get rid of. This seemingly contradictory response left me feeling confused, it just didn't make sense. But then I remembered how stress and the nervous system interact.
When living in chronic stress your nervous system begins to interpret calm as a threat.
Does this ring true for you?
Have you ever found yourself saying you just needed a break but when that break came you didn't know what to do with yourself? Do you struggle to take 5 minutes to just sit, feeling like you should be doing something? Are you a habitual multi-tasker?
Spoiler alert: Your nervous system thinks you're addicted to stress.
So what do I actually mean by stress? Remember not all stress is bad but your body responds to stress in the same way, by activating your nervous system's stress response.
Physical- Any increase demand on your body. Illness, lack of sleep, injury, poor diet, even exercise.
Mental/emotional- The pressure of a deadline, starting a new job, interpersonal conflict, pursuing a passion, the mental load of motherhood. This is what we usually think of when we think of stress and oftentimes the very thing we mother's deny we're under because that's just become the norm.
Chemical- We live in a toxic world and these toxin exposures build up and put an increased demand on your body's detox organs like your liver and kidneys.
We all have a stress tolerance threshold, or a stress bucket if you will, based off our own nervous system's level of resiliency. Some people regulate easily while others are operating at near capacity all the time where any added stressor threatens to tip them over the edge (or overflow that bucket).
So what about you? Which type of stressor do you struggle with the most? Do you feel fairly regulated in your stress response or are you operating at near capacity?