Nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver explains why the answer to beating stress once and for all is actually pretty simple.
Apart from the extra stress 2020 has brought, would you consider yourself a pretty stressed person in general? For example, does change bring anxiety? Do you fear what others think of you? Are you a ‘people-pleaser’? Does your brain run at a million miles per hour when you’re trying to fall asleep? Do you examine every situation and replay it in your mind over and over again? Are you not completely happy with the person you see in the mirror?
If you can relate to any of the above, then you my friend, need to take advice from Dr Libby.
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In Healthy-ish episode ‘Dr Libby on why you (probably) can’t lose weight’, the nutritional biochemist explains why you need to reassess what she calls your “forehead words”.
“It’s as if some people have words written across their forehead and they’re the traits other people need to see in them,” Dr Libby tells Healthy-ish host Aliso Izzo.
“So a really good process to go through is to take pen and paper and ask yourself ‘how do I need other people to see me?’ And quite often the answers comes out as ‘kind’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘intelligent’, ‘creative’, ‘hilarious’, ‘perfect’, ‘the biggest ray of sunshine that ever walked into a room’.
“The next time you’re stressed, pause and consider ‘am I perceiving someone is seeing me in the opposite way to one of my forehead words?’. Most of the time the answer will be yes because we can’t bear to be seen in a disapproving way.”
Dr Libby explains why in most cases, the cause of your stress is an internal problem with your own perception that can be identified and stopped, so it’s not actually an external factor.
“It is hardwired into us when we’re born that love is essential for our survival and we don’t understand, until we start to examine this and look at this, we don’t realise that that runs our life until we actually explore it,” she explains. “So diving in and having a look at what I’ve come to call forehead words, can be a really great step to seeing that sometimes it’s the fear of the disapproval of someone that is at the heart of a stressful experience for us.”
Of course there are factors out of our control (ahem, hello coronavirus pandemic), “but there’s also a huge amount of stress we create for ourselves because that’s how we think and that’s the part we can change. So when we see those things outside of us, we blame that for our stress.
“What we’ve lost sight of is it’s actually our response to those things that determine if it’s stressful or not.”
By dealing with your internal stress, your body will begin to regulate your hormones more smoothly, your body will be able to burn fat easier, you won’t be so moody, and falling – and staying – asleep won’t be as difficult. Here’s the science behind it:
“The ultimate control switch is the hypothalamus that is forever asking ‘am I safe?’ It’s looking into your blood, at all your levels of everything. It’s looking into your environment – is there food available? Is there water? And the hypothalamus then says when it asks ‘am I safe?’ If the answer’s ‘no’ because you’ve got bucket loads of adrenaline in your blood because you’ve had loads of caffeine or you’re worrying about what your neighbour thinks of you, then when the hypothalamus says ‘am I safe?’, it says to the pituitary gland ‘we’re not safe, go to town’,” Dr Libby says.
“The pituitary then talks to the ovaries, to the adrenals, to the thyroid. It then communicates information to all the other endocrine glands that make your hormones and they respond as if your life is in danger. And that’s the essence of rushing hormone syndrome – it’s as if our body is getting the message 24/7 that our body is in danger so everything is responding from that place.”
And this only messes with your hormones, body fat and everything in between.
So, bottom line?
“So much of our stress comes from our perception that we’re being disapproved of even though we can’t see that on the surface,” Dr Libby adds.
The key is to drill down on how you think and shift your perception. Try it and you just might thank us… or Dr Libby.
Follow Dr Libby on Instagram @drlibby.