G.R.O.W. | My Story of Anxiety, Stress and Somatic Symptoms
somatic, somatization, somatic symptoms, anxiety, stress, worry, sadness, feelings, depression, mental health, mind-body, health, wellness, therapy, psychotherapy, gillian reid, grow, holistic, integrative
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We All Have A Story. Here’s Mine.

We All Have A Story. Here’s Mine.

I’m like many of you. Working extremely hard for years to create a life I was passionate about. Taking extra gigs  on evenings and weekends for extra money. Exercising often to stay healthy and project an image I resonated with. Eating healthfully as often as I could because I truly wanted to. Keeping up a social schedule. Watching people around me have everything I wanted while all I seemed to do was work harder and struggle more.

 

Slowly and invisibly, I became stressed and overwhelmed. 

 

It started as difficulty concentrating and lack of motivation. Exercising which I used to love was a struggle. I was irritable with people. My friends and family stopped inviting me out because I either always said no or when I did force myself, told them how tired I was. My workouts were waning and my diet was suffering.  I had headaches and an upset stomach constantly.

 

It started digging in deeper and taking up more space in my life. I had anxiety. I had somatic symptoms. 

 

I became unable to sleep at night worrying about everything. What would happen if I lost my job? What if people judged me for how my body looked now compared to 5 years ago? What if I did something wrong with a client? What if I didn’t get everything done? How could I do better? What could I do different?  I was jittery, burned out, completely overwhelmed and caught in a vicious cycle of not sleeping well, waking up tired with extreme nausea and abdominal pain, and feeling physically and mentally drained. When I felt physically unwell and drained, my outlook on life was not good. This was not a healthy place for me to be in.

 

I was not in control of my thoughts, they were in control of me. I was suffering more than I needed to because of stress and self-limiting beliefs that I was not effectively managing. I was telling myself a story about myself and my life that wasn’t really the truth.

 

So I turned what I know about the mind-body connection and my years working as a social worker therapist, and worked on myself. I practiced specific psychotherapy techniques on myself because I knew it started with the health of my mind. I took up mindfulness daily because this was the gateway to my psychotherapy strategies having more impact. I adjusted my exercise regime to be more restorative and my diet to be more nourishing – specifically in areas that would support my nervous system, hormones and the gut-brain connection. Over time, my headaches disappeared and stomach pain stopped. I found sleep again. Now, I get cranky at people far less and people want to be around me again because I don’t have stress radiating out of me, in fact, I have energy and motivation flowing out instead. I am rested, and wake with inspiration, positivity and drive. People would be surprised to know that I used to be so different.

 

Even better than all of my stress symptoms being gone, by changing my mind I’ve changed my biology.

 

This is where things really get amazing.

 

I learned techniques for slowing my nervous system response which results less stress hormones flowing through the body. Over time, stress hormones become replaced by feel-good hormones that open areas in your brain that are used for focus, problem-solving, creativity and innovation. Those places in the brain literally cannot be accessed when we are stressed. Not only can we access these areas, we can make them our automatic response. Imagine the next time something stressful happens, your brain automatically reroutes it so you stay calm, deal with the situation, and move on without wavering. Imagine the next time something hard happens, you bounce back five times faster, without skipping a beat in your day to day life. Imagine living a life that isn’t defined by stress, overwhelm, worry or sadness.

 

I’ve repeated this system of mind-body mental health over and over. With the hardest cases of people in a hospital,  in my own private practice and with myself.

 

The way to the outside can only be through the inside, so GROW was built for you. The professionals, the stay-at-home Moms, the kids at school and the everyday change-makers among us who want to get out from underneath this unhealthy cycle so they can show up for life as their most authentic, most present and most healthy self.

 

With big love,

Gillian

#growmindful

 

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