What to do when you feel overwhelmed...

In my practise as a female chiropractor, I meet a lot of women who are juggling work, child rearing and their relationships with family and spouses.   Often these women (my everyday kind of heros) are suffering from ongoing stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Stress and anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways from nervousness to headaches and even painful joints.  These painful conditions are real! People will ask me, “Is this all in my head?” No it is not. In fact, there is direct correlation between the brain and the body.

If you are overwhelmed with the demands of work and home then the “stress” of these situations has to go somewhere.  For some they experience upset stomach or heartburn and for others they can’t get a good night of sleep. In my own office, I see a lot of painful conditions that flare up with times of increased stress.  People who may get the occasional headache suddenly find that they are popping pain relievers everyday for that nagging throb that pops up around 3 pm. Or neck and shoulder tension that usually only causes mild annoyance is now suddenly in spasms.   Whatever the symptom, you can usually find there is an element of increased stress/anxiety involved in the root cause of the problem (provided there has not been a trauma such as a fall or accident). So what can be done?

  1. In my experience, the first step is to look objectively at your current situation and examine where the stress is coming from.  This can be tough, because sometimes it is your own behaviours that are causing the stress response. Once you have identified it- accept it and then either take action to alleviate the stress and/or call upon a good therapist to help you work through some issues/mental health conditions.  

  2. Start moving your body.  No matter how small the effort- keep reminding yourself that doing some movement is better than doing zero movement.  Do something you enjoy and that you can do consistently. A positive brain response happens when we exercise- it will keep you feeling happier and you will be less likely to binge on sugar, salt and fat to cope with your stress.

  3. See your massage therapist and chiropractor.  Are you sick of popping the over the counter medication to manage your headaches and joint pain?  There are excellent manual therapy techniques that are safe and very helpful in alleviating pain in muscles and joints.  We are here for you!

  4. Gratitude - write down 3 things everyday that you are grateful for.  This mind shift is a fantastic way of getting out of a negative mind set

  5. Take some moments just for yourself.  Put the phone down. Close the door to a quiet space for a few minutes each day to breath and relax.  Remember that watching t.v. or scrolling thought instagram does not count as relaxation time. Screen time is not restorative- it is distraction for sure, but does not lower your stress response.  

  6. Eat healthfully.  If you are putting processed foods into your body you will not feel great.  Eat foods that nourish you and give you lasting energy. Swap out pop for water.  Eat vegetables for your morning cravings and see how you feel. Make small changes that you can live with for the long haul.  When your body chemistry changes with healthy eating, you’ll be in a better position to resist that doughnut in the afternoon when you feel the stress piling up.  

It is normal to have times in our lives when your stress is maxed out.  Even those who look like they “have it all together” have tough times. It is recognizing when you are overwhelmed and taking action steps to cope positively or alleviate the situation that is causing the stress that counts.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help from qualified professionals within the fields of traditional and complementary medicine as well as mental health professionals. We are all here to help.

Shawna Green