Flow Space’s mission is to elevate your daily life. We believe a necessary component to improving the quality of your days is movement. That is why we offer fitness classes! It is truly our passion. However, there seems to be a trend on going harder and faster no matter your situation or no matter the cost to your body. I’ve learned firsthand that you must tune into your body to see the desired results of increased energy, reduced inflammation, weight loss, stress relief, increased strength and more.
Why is that?
The body needs rest and recovery too. There are times in your life when you are very stressed, physically and/or mentally. Maybe it wasn’t the worst stress of your life, but there is a cumulative effect of multiple stressors that happen over time. When this happens, your body is being flooded with stress hormones, and it may be stuck in a constant state of “fight or flight” mode. This can lead to depression, anxiety, increased inflammation, and a compromised immune system that leads to sickness.
I’ve experienced this many times in my life, but the one time I can recall the most clearly was when I was going on month 12 of sleep deprivation from having my second child. The child is beautiful and happy and joyful, but wasn’t a fan of sleeping for the first 18 months of her life.
I felt exhaustion like I’ve never felt before. Even when I started getting more sleep, it was like my body was stuck in a state of depression or fatigue. I was going hard, working, caring for my girls, exercising, trying my best to be healthy and didn’t think about my body needing a reset from all those months of sleep deprivation. Not to mention the hormonal changes I was going through.
Since I started talking to moms, mostly newer moms like me, I realized there is a common question…how do I feel better? They tell me they’re exhausted, but what’s more scary is that they feel like they can’t think straight. It’s a feeling I know very well.
What I learned was this:
It’s helpful to educate yourself about Adrenal Fatigue: Check out this very on point and informative article on what this is. https://www.drnorthrup.com/adrenal-exhaustion/
I was never clinically diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, so if you feel you need a doctor’s opinion because of other health issues you have, please get one. The things you can do to address adrenal fatigue are all great treatments and practices generally, so it doesn’t hurt to try the below suggestions even if you’re not sure that you have this exact situation. I did my own research on this, but to start, my symptoms were brain fog, lightheadedness, inability to focus, depressed mood, fatigue even after a full night’s rest, and just general achiness. I came to the conclusion my body was stuck. It was depressed and tired and I had to make significant adjustments to get out of this state.
To feel better I began to do several things:
Slower, Gentler Exercise: I still would do my toning barre exercises and yoga, but I’d probably take a child’s pose when I started feeling my limit in yoga class or focus more on posture and core and lengthening. Moving slower, stretching more and breathing. I dialed back my cardio and high-intensity. I took breaks during runs or just walked. This is needed to avoid placing more stress on your body and allow it to reset. If you go to a barre class or yoga class, know that it is perfectly acceptable to pause when your teacher is asking for 10 more reps. The body ebbs and flows and honoring that is half the battle.
Herbal Supplement: I took an Adrenal support supplement that contained Ashwagandha. It is an adaptogen used in Ayurvedic or Traditional Chinese Medicine proven to help the body regulate stress. I took my vitamin religiously and felt no side effects. I was trying to give my body as much support as possible, and this was part of the plan. How much it helped? I’m not sure, but I still turn to it when I’m feeling extra-fatigued and it seems to help.
Recognize that Stress created a physical response and make changes to counteract it. I began to accept that I felt like crap because I was stressed. I did go to the doctor for blood tests on my thyroid about 1 year after having my daughter, right around the time these symptoms could not be avoided any longer, and she said, “Everything looks great! You’re healthy.” I was happy to hear that, but it didn’t explain how I felt. I wanted to fix this so badly, but a pill wasn’t the answer. After this realization, I consciously took on less. Less obligations meant letting myself sit down instead of requiring myself to maintain the cleanest house, taking a nap, focusing on my breath, not rushing, and being ok with life not being perfect. I did things that women often don’t do because they’re trying to keep everything in peak condition. Let it fall to the wayside, fill your cup, and you’ll be back at it in no time. But if you keep on the path of “doing it all”, it will wear you down.
Relaxation Mode: I learned in yoga recently about how your body’s stress response and relaxation response are like the gas and brakes on a car. You can’t experience both at the same time. Our bodies react to real or perceived stress just as it did thousands of years ago- because our bodies needed to run from a lion or tiger. Hence, the flood of cortisol (stress hormone) or adrenaline needed to motivate us to act and protect ourselves. However, our bodies can also be told that everything is ok and we can engage a relaxation response. This response would induce a calm, relaxed feeling from the flood of endorphins or feel good hormones. If you voluntarily breathe in a relaxing, slow way, by breathing fully into your belly, your body reads this as a signal that “everything is ok.” This can be achieved by 3 Part Belly Breathing. It is very simple and goes like this. You sit in a comfortable position. You start by inhaling and breathe in fully to fill up your belly, your ribcage and your chest. You then exhale slowly by exhaling and lowering your chest, ribcage and belly. It is helpful to place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly to feel the rise and release.