Stress and Wellness: My Story by Kristin SchuchmannJul 7th, 2009 | By Sharon Graham | Category: Wellness Coaching Guest Posts
Taking Control of Stress: A Personal Story
This is a guest post by Kristin Schuchmann of http://CharisChildbirth.org
I have always believed that in order to experience true wellness in one’s life, it must be approached holistically, which includes a low-stress lifestyle. I didn’t fully understand what it means to control the stress in one’s life, however, until a few years ago when I crashed. What I experienced has been called burn out, adrenal fatigue, or adrenal depletion.
Although I have been wholeheartedly committed to eating and living healthfully for nearly 20 years and have been the picture of health my entire life, in 2006 I began experiencing depression-like symptoms, weight gain, and fatigue. I would wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep and feel as if I had not slept at all. I had a hard time regulating my body temperature and almost always felt cold. Since I have always handled stress well, it was very strange when little things began to stress me out and make me cry. These “symptoms” appeared gradually over time, so it is hard to pinpoint exactly when it all began.
My husband eventually had to take over the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and more, while I managed only to minimally homeschool my children and keep Charis Childbirth afloat. I had to let another small business go under because I just couldn’t do it.
After about 9 months of trying to figure out what was wrong with me, it became clear that I was experiencing burnout; my adrenal glands had had enough. You see, I had been abusing my adrenal glands my entire life without realizing it. Some say I am hyper-positive and full of energy. The truth is that I thoroughly enjoy life. My love for adventure has helped me to be successful in so many areas of life, from homeschooling my children and staying up all night with a laboring mother, to ministry and entrepreneurial ventures. My friends and family noticed my accomplishments and were a constant source of encouragement, which made me enjoy it all the more. That enjoyment, however, was deceiving. Everything felt so positive that it never crossed my mind that it was “stress” and that my health was suffering as a result.
At the beginning of 2007, I asked God to help me change and heal. The first step He led me to take was to set aside a day for a true Sabbath rest each week. Having been in ministry for so long, church day was not restful. I can’t remember a time when I really had a day of rest. After cutting out everything from my life that wasn’t essential and carefully structuring the rest, I have successfully had a weekly Sabbath for the past two years. It has made such a huge difference in my life that I don’t ever want to go back to the way things were.
The next step was to learn how to relax. I know that may seem silly, but I really didn’t know how to turn off my mind enough to benefit physically from any down-time I had. I have now learned to enjoy just “being”-to be okay with not accomplishing anything for a little while. I now enjoy times of quiet relaxation with no agenda on a regular basis.
In addition, I have had to be even more careful to include the foods that will help my body recover and to eliminate the foods that hinder that process. I am careful to eat lots of good quality proteins from plant sources, include mostly raw vegetables and fruits so that I get the most nutritional benefit, and avoid things such as refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and other toxins.
Thankfully, about the time I began making significant changes in my life, we were moving from fast-paced Tidewater Virginia, to slow-paced southwest Florida. That move was one of the best things in the world for my health. I still have to guard my rest, but it is much easier when the world around me is not so hustle bustle.
God has been faithful to me and blessed my efforts to work with Him toward recovery. I was told that this journey back to wellness may take a while, and it has; but I am feeling more and more back to normal each day. I have a positive outlook on life once again, am back to a comfortable 97 pounds (don’t gasp, I’m only 5 feet tall), wake up feeling rested, have the energy I need to get through the day, can even sit through a movie in the well-air-conditioned movie theater without needing a sweater, and even my children have noticed that I am not stressed out like I was a few years ago.
Now when coaching others who desire wellness, I ask about their stress levels, both bad and good, and encourage them to evaluate the quality of rest and the margins in their lives. Way too many “healthy” people are burning out or experiencing declining health as a result of stress. My hope is that my story will encourage others to make positive changes in their lives before they suffer like I did.
In addition to being a coach, consultant, motivational & pro-life speaker, childbirth educator, and doula, Kristin Schuchmann is the founder and executive director of Charis Childbirth, an international school for birth professionals. She and her family live in southwest Florida where they pastor New Life Church of North Port.