The most valuable lesson I have learned is that the most meaningful journey is the inner journey.

Signals of Stress

Identifying the early warning signs our mental and physical health sends

Jean Edelman: Hi, I’m Jean Edelman. For decades I’ve been a student of the healing arts: Reiki, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, plant based and macrobiotic cooking. Join me on this journey and hear my word of the week.

Great to be with you this week. This week I want to talk more about our mental health and signs that we need to pay attention to. Our body is wonderful at giving us signals. Think about when a cold or the flu is coming on. Our body is letting us know with those aches and those pains. But the same goes for our mental health. So I wanted to go through a short list of signs that we should be aware of, that our body is sending us a message that we need to pay attention to. We need to make some changes, or we need to seek out some help. The first thing that might be changing when we’ve got a lot of stress and a lot on our mind, is our sleep. Are we sleeping too late? What has changed? Does it take us a long time to get to sleep? Are we waking up during the night? Are we anxious? Are we running through our lists? Are we having any nightmares? So much of our cognitive health is tied to our sleep. So noticing any changes is very beneficial. Even keeping a little note card next to our bed so we can jot down anything that’s going on, maybe a little dream journal or something, just so that we can write down our list and then stop being anxious about it and go back to sleep.

But noticing our sleep changes is very important. Our gut, our stomach, so much more research is coming out about our brain and our gut connection. Research is saying that our gut is our second brain, so any stress or mood changes can absolutely be felt in our gut. Are we experiencing any cramps in digestion? Have our bowels changed? We need to pay attention to any of these changes.

Another thing to notice is are we motivated? Are we able to keep up with our daily responsibilities? Are we having trouble concentrating? What’s our self-talk? I’ve chatted before about our awareness of what we’re telling ourselves, and it is a wonderful tool to pay attention to, because this could be an easy signal that we’re starting down into a spiral.

Another thing to notice is what’s our joy factor? If we’re depressed, we’re not going to find joy in any aspect of our life. This is a sign we need to find some help and talk with someone. Because when we’re depressed, our brain does not release as much dopamine. So even during a situation that normally feels good to us and normally is joyful, when we’re not getting that regular dose of dopamine, it’s not feeling good to us. And so let’s just notice.

How about are we leaving the house? The isolation due to Covid has had a huge impact on our mental health, but the world is opening up. But if we are still not wanting to go out and engage with others, we are experiencing some degree of depression. And we need to ask ourselves, is there fear? Is there anxiety? Do we not feel safe? Are we staying home to avoid situations? We really need to look at this signal. Are we getting out and being with others? An important factor.

Another thing to look at is how are our interactions with others? Do we find ourselves frustrated and angry? Are we on edge? Chronic stress and worry can impair functioning in our brain that’s responsible for our critical executive functioning. That includes regulating our moods, our emotions. We may be sad, but it’s easier to cover it up and be angry and mad. So let’s check in if we are snapping at others.

Our journey is to pay attention and to see any signs that are changing in our life, because they’re very important and our body is trying to tell us something. We are not alone, and we shouldn’t feel shame or judgment if we need to reach out to get some help.

And so my action item for the week is: let’s check in. Are we displaying any of these signals and if so, let’s find some tools and some help so that we can get it remedied. Because we want a joyful, fun life filled with family and friends. That is the goal. That is the journey.

And so my word of the week, it’s Mood.

The M is to Magnify, to amplify. When we are not mentally feeling well, all life is amplified in the negative and it can be hard to get out of this spiral. Find someone to talk with and use some of the tools that I’ve talked about these many months. Do our tapping. Do our journaling. Get outside to walk. Make sure that we’re eating good food. Make sure that we’re staying hydrated. All tools in our toolbox to help us be in a good mood.

The O is for Onset, because the beginning of something is where we need to have our awareness. If we can be aware of the signals and catch the spiral before it gets too bad, that’s the key. And there’s always, always small signals that things are changing and we need to be aware of. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

The other O is to Observe, this is our greatest gift for our health is to observe. Every moment of every day is different. Think of it as a seesaw. We want to be in the middle. We don’t want our butt on the ground and our friend up in the air. So observing and taking action when we feel the spiral coming on, that helps our seesaw stay in balance.

And the D is to Depend, to lean on and to rely on others to help us. We are never, ever alone in this journey. We should never, ever feel afraid or judged to speak up when we need help. So notice the signs and let’s catch them before they get too bad. And let’s be in a good mood every day as much as possible.
Have a wonderful week everyone!

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