Have you ever wondered where certain phrases come from? I do…often. I sometimes like to geek out on searching the internet for the origins of phrases such as “…apple of my eye,” or “…on cloud 9.” This week, I am fairly certain I figured out what it means to get something off your chest.
A dear friend of mine’s parents, sister, and aunt were in a car accident. Her aunt was killed. Her mother spent hours in the police station trying not to cry over the loss of her sister because she was in public. Then, she went home and tried not to cry over the loss of her sister because she wanted to be strong for her niece, nephews, and children. She ended up being admitted into the hospital for chest pains, with everyone worried that it was a sign of a missed injury. Luckily it wasn’t. I believe it was the way her sorrow and stress manifested in her body, since she had felt the need to keep it all wrapped up inside.
Stress is a silent killer. It inhibits your body’s ability to function properly in many ways. It also causes very real physical symptoms…especially when you hold it in and do nothing to help your body release it. If you try and suppress your true feelings or desires, you are highly likely to feel it in your body, possibly your chest. You may feel a tightness, pains when you breathe in deeply, or random shooting pains that mimic heart attack symptoms. You may feel like you cannot take a deep enough breath.
How do I know?
Last week both our dog and I had anaphylactic allergic reactions that we spent days overcoming (luckily on different days or our dog Bailey would have been out of luck). Then, I worked three days straight at our local festival, by myself, educating people about natural healthcare. Although this was fun stress, it was still stress. Our bodies don’t differentiate between good and bad stress: the effects are the same.
As I was tearing down from the festival, my husband had a freak accident in our home and ended up badly cut and bruised, with an injured arm and a concussion. Today, when I was trying to work while caring for my kids and husband who is now on bed rest, I got something in my eye. It appeared to have cut the top layer of my eye open, leaving a flap that covered my vision if I looked to the right. Thankfully, after another trip to an emergency provider, it turned out to be just a topical allergic reaction that caused that layer to swell and loosen. When I turn my eye, the loose covering bunches over my eye.
Amazingly, I am feeling pretty well in spite of my stress-filled week. But, it isn’t always this way. Often when life gets like this, I get that same pressure in my chest. But, because I knew I was under a large amount of stress, I have been taking steps to ensure I could get it all “off my chest” and continue functioning.
So, how do you get it off your chest?
- Get moving: Exercise is a great way to manage stress levels and release pent up emotions. I made sure to join my neighbor for our morning walk in spite of all the craziness.
- Nourish your body: When you are under stress, it is extra important to nourish your body properly. Eat whole, unprocessed foods. Avoid processed sugars. Choose whole grains and limit them to less than 2 cups per day. Eat a rainbow of vegetables throughout the week, and ensure you are getting enough healthy fats and protein. Most importantly, fight the urge to bribe your stress away with junk food. The comfort provided only lasts a few moments and will actually make your physical symptoms worse.
- Support your body: Your body needs certain nutrients to deal with high levels of stress hormones. You may need to supplement with extra B vitamins (especially B6), magnesium, and omega 3 at a minimum. You may also use essential oils to help your body calm, to work toward homeostasis, and to combat fatigue. I use a grounding blend and a tension blend of essential oils to help me stay calm and level emotionally and physically, and I use peppermint mixed with grapefruit or wild orange essential oils to give me extra energy. Everyone is different, but through trial and error, you will find what supports your body best.
- Listen to your body: When you are under a lot of stress, you need to listen to your body. If you are tired, find time to rest, even if only for 15 minutes. If you need to stop holding up the world for a minute, ask for help or take a break. If you need to cry, then cry. Yes, I am talking to you men too.
- Take care of you: Carve out at least 30 minutes to take care of yourself each day. Read that article you have been dying to read or treat yourself to that thing you have been wishing you had time for (e.g., painting your nails, going fishing, hiking your favorite trail). Play your favorite playlist while driving in the car and sing like no one can hear you.
Of course, if you are feeling chest pains and are not sure what they are, GO TO THE ER IMMEDIATELY. If it turns out that all is well with your heart and it is likely stress-related, then I challenge you to make YOU a priority, and to go get it off your chest!
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Disclaimer: I am not a Physician. I am a wife, a mom, a certified health coach, and someone who loves learning about natural wellness tools and sharing with others the incredible things I learn through my classes, research, personal experiences, and the experiences of friends and family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. Rather, they are intended to support your body in its efforts to restore balance and maintain health.