9 Sure Signs You Are Stressed

Over the last several years, the meaning of feeling “stressed” has become all too familiar to many of us as the planet teeters on an unpredictable course of change, along with political division and disenfranchisement has distressed many of us. Even more personal can be the car that cut you off, or braking just in time to not hit a child that darted out into the street. Changes at work, impossible schedules, sleep deprivation… all of these add to the frailty of our exposure and response to life’s stressors.

The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.

Sydney Harris

A body exposed to stress for prolonged amounts of time means an increased level of cortisol, which is an ancient response that prepares us for the proverbial “fight or flight” response. Unfortunately, we carry this heightened sense of “emergency” with us chronically and have become unaware of it. Long term, there are damaging illnesses that come with stress, but today let’s look at the body’s reaction to stress so we can “check in” and become more aware of our own body reactions and indicators we are in a stressed state. Stress impacts all of our being: body, spirit, energy field, and mind.

Cooler hands and feet because blood flow is constricted in a stress response.

Tightening of muscles (neck, shoulders, thighs) as the body readies to fight or escape.

Energy field constriction as focus is heightened, energy focused within body.

Increased heart rate

Breath increasing and shallower

Heightened awareness of surroundings

Increased perspiration

Increased blood pressure

Increased anxiety

These body changes, if chronic, are hardly ever noticed in the person who deals with stress all the time. In this state, the body is prepared for a fight or an escape from harm. It’s ready for shock, trauma, or garnering all the strength it has for danger. In a stressful world, however, we can remain on this “high alert” status when there is no danger, but instead the pressures of life.

It’s known that most of us have little ability or knowledge on how to relax and help dissipate all this stress, and instead we carry it with us.

There are many health conditions associated with chronic stress that can cause disease processes. This is why Nurse Coaches can work with individuals or with groups to teach heightened stress awareness and some easy-to-use interventions that can help dissipate the stress through Relaxation methods. We’ll talk about those in another blog entry.

© Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett

Self Autonomy and Health

Many times we find that “health” seems distant. Everything from severe influenza, to a sudden severe diagnosis, to unanticipated surgery can cause not only limitation of the physical body, but a brooding doubt in the mind that recovery is a distant hope, or worse, hopeless. There are many possibilities, but at some points in life, they are difficult if not impossible to see.
It’s within the purview of the profession nurse coach to listen to the story of what this illness means to the person, to examine the possibilities, and create a conversation wherein the patient or client can envision the possibility of recovery and even new insights and possibilities. Based on the science of neuroplasticity, we know that belief and ideas of a better future can create new connections that can self-limiting beliefs to new possibilities. Possibilities that are achievable and real. When a patient / client has that rekindling of belief and new meanings of an illness and recovery, a sense of control and self-determine might be found.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Practicing nursing based in the sciences of neuroplasticity and grounded in the shared conversation can uncover new insights and beliefs. In today’s world of chronic diseases and shortening life spans, new ways of thought are a basis for increased well-being and health outcomes.

©Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett

Health & Wellbeing?

Professional Nurse Coaching is often the culmination of a RN’s career, after we’ve experienced working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, and other places where clinical knowledge is valued, sharpened, and refined. We were taught in university and measured in hospital work about the golden standard of a time when “patient education” was deemed to necessary.
At this point in time, we know that the United States has a fairly dismal health status compared to the rest of the world.
We don’t value health as a human right, but sell it as a commodity.
We don’t value time away from work, and wear the 1950s value of overwork like a badge.
We don’t seek mental health when we need it.
We don’t even have legislated national paid sick leave standards except certain states have created this.
It all seems so money-driven.
And we’re all paying the price.

Coming around to personal health support and responsibility, we realize that we’re pretty much on our own to not only navigate a very expensive and convoluted health care system (remember nurses in doctor’s offices who could help make appointments and establish care coordination? Medical assistants (MAs) are trying to pick up the slack, but they are not nurses, and most states have care coordination listed as the purview of RNs.) All this sounds great, but what is it that a person is supposed to do? Most people, truthfully, shrug it off and do the best they can or the best they know how to do. But without radical change, we don’t have a bright future. Consider this short statement from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

“Chronic diseases are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (type2)  are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs.

Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors that can be controlled:

  • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. 
  • Poor nutrition, including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Excessive alcohol use.”

Clearly, there is a lack of behavior change. Why is that?
MY OWN OPINION is that change is difficult, and without the support of a professional coach or other professional, we’re unable to make changes that are personally valued and will have permanence to them.
That’s it.

So what is personal health and well-being?
Health promotion is a section of nursing practice where supporting people in health behavior change will give them a better chance at improving current health status, and avoid worsened conditions. We RNs have the clinical knowledge and the expertise in the disease processes – and Professional Nurse Coaches have learned the communcations tools and change support skills that can help you individualize your health planning, reach goals and maintain change.
Well-being is the way you think about your life, feel about your situation, know that you are living a meaningful, reflective, and important life that you are satisfied with. This can include all the domains of living – relationships, spiritual development, social and psychological health, and of course, medical status. Your entire domain of existence, really.
And Professional Nurse Coaches are keenly aware of our nursing history wherein respecting and optimizing our environments (and all they contain) are the biggest keys to health.

What is health? Health is not only to be well, but to use well every power we have.

Florence Nightingale, 1896

© Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett

citation: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/index.htm

Chakra Balancing Angel

While Chakras are widely held to be 7 in number and the spine known as the River of Life in full yoga, there are many more than seven. Now, also yoga means “union with God,” and had nothing to do with blonde women in pony tails bending into awkward shapes. Hatha Yoga is one of the eight paths to Enlightenment, the supreme of them being Raja Yoga.

I pondered this card a long time before presenting it, because it blends the Judeo-Christian ideology of Angels with a portion of Yogic wisdom without homage to either.I do see wisdom here, though. My personal encounter with an Angelic Being at death was a magnificent entree into studying them in all sorts of ancient texts (i.e., real books not electrons) and drawing my own conclusions for my life. Then, my 3 years living in an ashram undergirded my knowledge of Raja Yoga and an introduction into all 8 paths, culminating in 8 hour meditations at Christmas time.

So, here is my wisdom related to this card, as mish-mashed as I had originally judged it to be. Balance can be found, felt, and used at any time, no matter what your beliefs are about the structure of Energy in the human body. Balance isn’t just needed for “energy,” but for many things. The Balance I speak of is for time, work, food, finances, sleep, play, relationships, emotional involvement, learning, giving, sharing, meditating and deciding things. This balance begins with awareness of “enough” and the willingness to trust that enough is, well: enough.
~ stop eating the food when you’re full
~ do the creative work when you feel freshly inspired and able to feel the Joy of the work
~ even if it’s only a little bit, surrender some of the finances for charity. You have enough, and you’ll get more.
~ if you’re emotionally drained and it’s hard to keep up the relationship – let it go for a while. Maybe it isn’t for you.

Just be aware when “enough” happens. Seek your personal peace. Balance is a word that has many meanings, and here with this card, I judge it to mean wisdom to know when to do the thing, and when to stop the thing until next time.

Angel Reading Card Deck, #15
Debbie Malone and Amalia Chitulescu
© Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett

re-beginnings and beginagains

Your trials have not come to punish you, but to awaken you.

Paramhansa Yogananda

Starting a project at a grand age has its merits.

When you’re older, you find yourself giving less thought to what others think about you, and more about how you can help others in life. You look back at events in your life, assess some of them at significant turning points and realize that all the major turning points were (in the retrospect of time and wisdom) didn’t seem particularly momentous or important. And, the events you just knew were going to be life-changers were just “meh,” and really didn’t pan out to be quite so propitious.

So, this will be a meandering sort of blog, some will help, some may not. But, you’ll get to know me, and maybe you’ll comment and we’ll get to know each other along the way.

At this point in life, I’ve faced a diagnosis that quite literally changed my thoughts, body, and life in ways I could never have grasped before. About 11 months ago, on April 8, 2020, I was floored to find out about a diagnosis. I got up that morning in my usual state of excellent health and went to sleep waiting to die.

My usual life is now and has been for decades one of being firmly organic vegetarian or vegan, avoiding alcohol and smoking, choosing natural remedies instead of pharaceuticals, gymming 3 or 4 times a week, and living a life where I worked happily as an RN. On that day of April 8th, 2020, I suddenly felt out of breath, and my heart was racing. I quite literally felt like I could not walk the distance from my car to the elevator up, a distance of about 20 feet or less. Heretofore, I had never experienced anything quite like this. I made it upstairs to my apartment, and sat down at my dining table, with my elbows on the table and breathing quite heavily. It took about 3 minutes to self-assess and ask the question “Okay, Elizabeth… if a patient presented like this, what would you say to them?” Then I realized I was in a classic orthoptic position and called the VA (Veterans’ Administration) intake center. I described my circumstance and was referred to the nearest emergency room.

I got to Tacoma General hospital, and they found in an x-ray series that I had fluid on a lung. How strange, I thought! Well, as the adventure progressed, I had to have a thoracentesis, a procedure I’m sure I never did anything to deserve, where a tube is inserted in your mid-back between ribs into the space between your actual lung and the sac that the lungs live in. If it sounds like it’s painful, well, you are right. A little over two liters of fluid came off my lungs, and I could see the glass container into which it was draining, and it looked like a Hefeweiz beer. I already knew something was up, since a benign pleural effusion would present with a much clearer fluid. After I could breathe again, I was discharged home much later that day.

That night, the online medical records system called “MyChart” sent me an email to sign in. And there, all alone, at about 11pm, I found out that 21% of the cells in the fluid they withdrew were adenocarcinoma cells, Stage 4 cancer.

Things changed that day, and pieces of a broken life started to gel and become clearer. More of the story as we go along, and some new insights along the way. Also, against all this, the backdrop of why I have chosen to finish my life’s work as a counselor and professional RN Coach for Health and Well-Being.

© Three Moons Medicine®
Elizabeth Bennett