Don’t tell a stressed person to relax

After my daughter was born, I rested, I did, I stopped, listened to my body and did all the things new moms are “suppose” to do.  Yes for approximately 15 days, I listened to my body, then I got antsy.

I knew running was out of the question and was not going to risk my recovery as well as I knew I would pee my pants if I tried to go for a run. I did, however, have the green light to walk, so 2 weeks postpartum I wrapped my daughter in her baby carrier and out we went for 3 hours of daily walking in the woods.  

I would come back exhilarated and ready to clean the closets or refinish the coffee table, only to crash a few hours later. This was not new mom fatigue, no, I now know in hindsight, that what I was experiencing was adrenal exhaustion. I was doing too much with not enough sleep, hydration and nutrients. Somewhere around the 16-week mark, things really started to break down. I started getting cold sore after cold sore, my hair started falling out and I could not stop crying.

My body was giving me very clear messages that I was doing too much. I was in overdrive, my adrenal glands pumping out excessive cortisol and my nervous system in reactive mode. I recognized this but I could not stop. So began a cycle of shaming and guilt about not listening to my body. With the kindest of intentions and care for me, my husband, family and friends would tell me I needed to slow down. This only made me feel more isolated and shameful for not being able to. I would wake up and think okay I am going to “take it easy today” only to sneak in an extra hour of work. Like an addict, I would lie to my husband about what I did through the day for fear of judgement.

Then compassion came to visit, though therapy I began to see that my tendency for the unhealthy drive are my wounds of not doing and being enough, so begin the journey towards healing and self-love. What I also understand now, is that the state of my physical body was playing in my daily choices. I was making muffins, doing online yoga and responding to patient emails instead of resting with a good book because the was what my body was primed to do.

You see friends, your body will respond to the volume of your nervous system, if it is on high then your choices will be reflective of that. For many of us, self-care and learning to rest will require behaviour modification, wound healing and unpacking negative belief systems. I also whole heartily know that to truly access relaxation, we have to teach our nervous system how to let go and stay in relaxation mode. I was so fired up and I could not just snap my fingers and choose to slow down, I had to teach my body with love and kindness what relaxation felt like and from that place is where I began to make the little and the bid decisions for my life.