I've written a bit about the stress I've been under running an established business, starting this new business (The Healing Farm!), going through a personal family crisis, taking business classes, holidays and on and on. It's really amazing how chronic stress takes its toll no matter how well you take care of yourself with your diet and exercise. I would say I've been going through extreme chronic stress for at least six months - something I will strive to teach people to avoid once The Healing Farm is established, but something that may be unavoidable while I transition my career and try to start this new business.
When Chris Kresser announced this webinar and program called "Paleo Rehab" that his two nutritionists created I felt like it couldn't have come at a better time. I signed up for the webinar immediately and then woke up yesterday morning feeling like I couldn't get myself out of bed. After completing a ten-week business plan class the night before, I needed to jump right back into room assignments and getting out final link payments for the Mayacamas Ranch retreat participants (plus I'm leaving for a week-long photo shoot out of the country tomorrow!). I was barely (and late) out of bed just settling in with coffee in hand for my morning routine of reading the news, answering light e-mails and my workout when my husband started ranting about something regarding the presidential campaign. As the "f" word started coming out of his mouth, I stopped him and said my psyche couldn't handle a rant at that particular moment. When he looked at me as if I lost my mind, I think I kind of did lose my mind. I broke down into hysterical crying. This has happened a couple of times over the past few months so he kindly sat down with me and we talked about the amount of constant stress I have been under for the past seven months. He had some really great suggestions like "you need to start thinking about how much you're piling into your schedule" and the fact that I haven't been myself for months (among other things). When I finally calmed down, I opened my calendar and up popped the reminder about the stress webinar! Serendipity.
I decided to take it easy on myself and recognizing that my body and mind were near complete exhaustion, I read the news leisurely and decided I couldn't handle even my NYT Seven Minute workout. By the time I was done reading the news and answering e-mails, it was time for the webninar. I actually enjoyed two hours of much-needed cooking and cleaning time (something I haven't been able to do regularly for months - Brennan has been eating frozen pizzas multiple times per week for dinner for crying out loud) while I listened to Chris, Kelsey (both of whom will be speaking at the Mayacamas Ranch retreat) and Laura talk as if they were using me as their worst case scenario patient. if you went through the N.U.T.S acronym with me - and here it is from Chris' site:
4 key factors that determine how we respond to stress
So what determines the intensity of our response to a particular stressor? Research has identified four key factors: (1)
- The novelty of the event
- The unpredictable nature of the event
- A perceived threat to our body or ego
- A sense of loss of control
Some researchers and clinicians use the acronym N.U.T.S. (novelty, unpredictability, threat, sense of no control) to refer to them. I think that’s perfect!
...I was experiencing all of the above only over multiple events and months. I was also interested to learn that as someone who is in peri-menopause, the symptoms of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue can be intensified and I'm more vulnerable. So I'm not really losing my mind then. I think I'm in some severe adrenal fatigue experiencing these symptoms:
- Weight gain (I eat with stress and although I eat well, to make it worse, sometimes I can't keep my mitts off of tortilla chips! I get organic, but I'm guessing they are fried in industrial seed oil)
- Chronic back pain is starting to creep back in
- Extreme fatigue and although I'm still an overall happy person, depression seems to be creeping in
- Brain fog - which didn't help with my ten-week course
- Cold hands and feet (Brennan commented on "Jack Frost Nipping at My Nose" last night too)
- Skin breakouts
- Panic, agitation and anxiety
- A sense of hopelessness and doubt
- On and on the symptoms matched up with what Chris, Laura and Kelsey were discussing
After the webinar a strange thing happened. I decided that despite it not being a good time for us financially, I needed to tackle this chronic stress and fatigue immediately so it wouldn't cause long-term harm so I committed to going through the program (at my own pace). When I finally got into the office, I answered a phone call from one of the Mayacamas Ranch attendees who told me how inspired she was by what I was trying to do with The Healing Farm. As I've planned these retreats, but especially the Mayacamas Paleo Reset Retreat, I've heard from so many people around the country that this is something that is needed and wanted:
- A program that focusses on a paleo reset type diet in which one learns to reduce systemic inflammation, therefore reducing or even eliminating symptoms of chronic pain and illness
- A program that is reasonably priced
- and mostly a program that a features realistic non-intense exercise program (and after listening to Chris yesterday I was wishing I had a Tai Chi instructor coming)
- In a beautiful place where one could go and unplug, rest, gently exercise and eat a meal plan that is non-toxic and inflammation-reducing
This phone conversation completely validated what I've been trying to accomplish in the past year with The Healing Farm concept. I don't want to kill myself pursuing it, but if I can find the right people to build this dream with me, maybe I can make it a reality. A glimmer of hope set in again yesterday afternoon and I was again thinking of the impeccable timing of the webinar. I decided then that I still didn't have the energy to dig into final payment setup on The Healing Farm site, so went over our personal finances, sorted and filed piles of papers from my desk and then went back into my cozy home to spend the evening with my husband eating the nutritious food I cooked during the webinar, quiet time listening to music together and then a little "business time" on a Wednesday night (a little reference to "Flight of the Conchords").
I wish I could say I woke up feeling like a million bucks this morning, but I managed to get myself out of bed at a reasonable time, managed to do my workout and get to work at my regular hour and before tackling The Healing Farm Mayacamas Ranch booking stuff, I'm going to walk out onto the avenue in the warm sunshine to run some errands before leaving town tomorrow. I think it's going to take a while until I can get myself back to the "normal" Julie, but the smartest thing I think I can do for myself right now since the stress won't stop until end of April is sign up for the "Overcoming Fatigue" program and get some much needed guidance and support for my road to recovery. Here is the link in case you want to check it out:
Thank you to Laura and Kelsey (and Chris) for doing this important work!