A couple of years ago my husband told me that he was concerned. Over the past few years I have become increasingly stressed and anxiety-ridden, even though nothing has significantly changed for the worse. In fact, some things have actually changed for the better. What gives?
Several studies over recent years highlight the physical effects of chronic stress. Adrenal fatigue is one result. What is the end result of too much stress and fatigue? More stress and fatigue, courtesy of your overworked body.
We thinking moms know too much! We know about the effects of toxins in our environment and food supply. We know all about the damage that has been done to our children. And we know all about the never-ending battle to heal their ravaged bodies. We also know all about those feelings of helplessness when it comes to preventing all of this from happening to others. Sometimes it is just too much!
According to an article in Natural Health magazine, an Ohio State University study showed that caregivers of family members with dementia had fewer defenses against viruses, more inflammation and accelerated cellular aging as compared with those who are not caregivers.
And striking even closer to home was a 2004 study of middle-aged mothers. This study looked at telomeres, which are DNA proteins that are markers of biological aging. 39 of the moms were caring for an ill child while 19 cared for a well one. The chronically stressed mothers with sick children had shorter telomeres than the moms of healthy kids. Researchers surmised that this was about a decade’s difference in terms of aging. I believe it because I can feel it.
Chronic stress accelerates inflammation, which is the root of most chronic disease. It has to be addressed, but how? I am trying to focus in on this, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of my whole family. I so feel the effects of years of stress — physically, mentally and spiritually. I feel it in my weary soul and I need relief. Living with peace, living in the moment, experiencing JOY every day rather than feeling crushing anxiety that I am not doing enough — that’s what I long for.
I just finished a booked called ‘One Thousand Gifts,’ in which the author chooses to focus on thankfulness, even in the midst of chaos and grief. Her sister was killed when a farm vehicle crushed her. Cancer invaded her life. She is no stranger to pain and suffering. But she is making a daily, conscious choice to find what brings joy and what she can express thanks to the Creator for. She began a journal chronicling one thousand such small moments of joy and grace. She recounts that she began to have more joy due to this choice to view her world through a lens of gratitude.
Inspired by this, I have begun my own gratitude journal of one thousand gifts:
- Dappled sunlight coming in through windows.
- Watching a thunderstorm on my screened-in porch.
- Watching episodes of The Office BEFORE Steve Carell left.
And so on. It seems so simple. It certainly can’t hurt, can it?
I would love to hear your secrets for accomplishing what sometimes seems elusive. I had it once, I was a pretty footloose and fancy free gal… how about you, Thinking Moms?
Sassy transitioned from Sheeple to Thinking Mom when her youngest was vaccine-injured in 2002. She lives on an animal rescue ranch in Texas and home schools that same son, now a thriving 5th-grader and talented actor. Sassy is in remission from Lupus, is a former teacher, reads voraciously and enjoys gardening and foraging for wild foods. A Science Gal, she always preferred botany to toxicology, biochemistry and immunology, but Thinking Moms learn what is necessary, don’t we? My most fervent hope is that we Thinking Moms will turn the tide in my lifetime, so people become as aware of vaccine dangers as they are of the dangers of tobacco. https://www.facebook.com/
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I am finally ‘treating’ myself the way my son is being treated….essentially as an autoimmune disease mimicing CFS…antivirals, antifungals, and a little SSRI along with a clean diet. After 6 years at this, I am finally feeling better. I always said I couldn’t afford to treat both of us, and although I really can’t, I found a doctor who takes my insurance who believes in this protocol and does it for me. My son still sees ‘the expert’, but so does her (my doctor’s) son…win win!
Thank you for this! The tide MUST turn in our lifetime!!
This sounds like me. I had a dis functional business rather than a sick child. Do you have amalgam in your mouth?
Rebecca, I had one amalgam, but had it removed a few years ago. I do have Lupus, which is not great for the ol’ energy levels:) Not sure what toxins my body has accumulated over my lifetime, but now that I know more, certainly trying to avoid adding more as best I can. Best wishes to you!:)
What timing! I’ve just been figuring out that adrenal fatigue might be what’s wrong with me. Thanks Maria Rickert Hong for the link. Extreme stress for too long can’t be good for anyone.
P.S. FB and this Blog have helped my stress level a lot…thanks you guys 🙂
I occasionally race (once or twice a year) – when you are mostly old, frumpy, brainless, and out-of-shape, a half-ironman can guarantee you a good 7+ hours of “alone time” where you can focus on nothing more monumental than your own breathing, placing one arm (pedal, or foot) in front of the other, and marvel at the bounty of Nature as she slowly (and I emphasize SLOWLY) passes by…And I sometimes get out for a rare hour where I do the above, though not nearly as rejuvenating, the shorter time-frame requires siignificantly less recuperating 😉
I have been hospitalized quite a bit this last year (released yesterday from another 5 day stint) and it has taught me to focus on the good things. Our life is beyond our control much of the time and I feel better giving up that control. I would rather see the good in life than to dwell on the bad. Caring for a child with autism is extremely stressful, but seeing miracles on a regular basis as he accomplishes something new is extraordinary. I will heal his body because I refuse to give up!
Thank you so much for writing about this.
I have looked up adrenal fatigue to see if it could apply to my son. Never dreamed of looking into it for myself.
And you are right: we need to find the joy in everything. I have lost the ability and I want it back.
Thank you, Thinking Moms (and Dads). I wish I could have found you earlier!
But I am so thankful I found you!
I don’t have any words of wisdom at the moment, but just wanted to thank you for writing this. I read it at the perfect moment- when I needed to know I wasn’t alone in this!
I’m so glad, Andrea! Knowing we have a caring community of support is certainly a blessing!
Fascinating stuff! This may be worth me checking into. I simply write off my fatigue as being a busy mom of three kids; two of whom have special needs. Thank you for doing your research and sharing this valuable information with the rest of us!
Loved this post; it’s very timely for me. I’m feeling very weary today from trying to hint to a mom of a newly diagnosed child that a look at biomed and the dangers of further vaccinating would be worth a look. She shut the door on that, which made me feel disheartened. I struggle, too, with the regret for past mistakes, the frequent indecision about what to do next for my son, and the wisdom and patience it takes to find the right tweak when something isn’t going well. I love Ann Vosakmp’s book, and I love the way seeking a thankful perspective really can change how we feel. I’ve also been treating my adrenal fatigue, which helps. Worship always helps, refocusing me and giving me comfort and hope to keep on working and THINKING! Thanks for the encouragement!
Ugh. Did I EVER need to read this right now.
My son may or may not be on the spectrum . . . I don’t know yet. We finally got referred to a behavioral health specialist (after three or four MDs, two allergists and a dermitologist) and it only took–*drumroll!* three years!
Being pregnant and trying to navigate insurance, Drs visits with my little monster, the constant ‘what the *blankety-blank* are we supposed to FEED him’ question, analyzing poopy diapers and attempting to sleep are all making me crazy.
Thanks for the reminder to take care of me. Because if *I* get sick, oh Lordy! I don’t want to think of what a state the house will get into.
“We thinking moms know too much!”…ain’t that the truth. Sometimes I wish I was as ignorant as I was before.
Oh to be an ostrich again, with my head in the sand…blissful, no?:)
Great post. I too remember a former life when I would wake up in the morning and think ,”I have nothing to do today?” Wow! That place seems far away. Today, my To Do lists overwhelm me on a regular basis. I listen to The Power of Now CDs in my car quite often and try to focus on all of the things I am grateful for. I told my son about Helen Keller a few weeks ago and ever since he has been saying things to me such as, “Mom, I am glad that I am alive. I am glad that I can see and hear.” Boy! I sure am too! For my birthday this past week, I finally asked for a day to do nothing. I went for an 80 minute massage (to get out all of the stress in my poor weary body), bought a picnic lunch (with wine!), sat on the beach reading a non ASD magazine (I almost bought the Autism File but then pulled my hand away), and let myself relax!! I was so happy to see my son when I got home at the end of the day. Perfect!
Wow, loved this post, it really resounded with me! Thanks for sharing this 🙂
Ah, yes, I feel your pain. I agree that moms of special-needs kids are super stressed. Check out this blog I wrote about recovering myself from adrenal fatigue.
I LOVE your blog, Maria! I have pinned it to one of my Pinterest boards to look back as I have time- so much great info…and recipes! When I was tested for adrenal issues a few years ago, I was expecting dysfunction, but at that time anyway, tests seemed normal. My thryroid definitely struggles, though.
I have been struggling with this for a long time. I recently tested positive for adrenal fatigue – surprise, surprise. And I too am trying to make a conscience effort to really live my life because it is the only one I get and I deserve a good life too!
You couldn’t me more dead on…I’ve seen this personally in my own home. This year I finally prioritized my life and health instead of just my children and I took the time to see my son’s functional medicine doctor. Surprise…the source of my ailments? Adrenal fatigue. The physical improvements I’ve seen since prioritizing myself are amazing…part of it is healthy eating, taking my supplements, and turning things over to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in what has become a relationship that is deeper than I ever thought possible…even though I was born and raised a Christian. We must find a way to lessen the physical and emotional burdens that are killing us as stressed out moms…because let’s face it….the world needs us Thinking Moms!!!