How to Cope with the Stress of Making Healthier Lifestyle Changes
Reducing your toxic chemical exposures can be a very emotional and challenging process. The realization that the products we trust and use daily could be harmful is not easy to accept. It's even more difficult when we consider that governing bodies that should protect us from these hazards allow such products to be sold. Swapping out personal care products we love and making lifestyle changes can be difficult. It's like going through a breakup. We must grieve our habits and favorite products, take what we've learned from this experience, and integrate those lessons into a newer, healthier us. Extensive research indicates that individuals typically traverse through five stages of grief when they initiate changes that significantly affect their health and daily routines. These stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are a part of the emotional journey toward adapting to new habits and lifestyle adjustments. Here's how!
Denial: At first, it might be hard to believe that the foods and personal care products you love and trust could be detrimental to your health. You might think, "How can something I use every day be harmful?" This disbelief is completely normal. You're not alone.
To deal with denial, you must first get over the mindset that something isn't possible. This part of the process is coming to terms with what is "reality," which is the fact that toxic chemicals are present in personal care products, cleaning supplies, and even food.
Knowledge is power. The more informed you are about the potential harm caused by certain products or habits, the ha rder it will be to ignore the facts. Read up on the subject, watch documentaries, listen to podcasts, or attend webinars.
If the idea of a complete lifestyle change feels overwhelming, start with small steps. Starting small is STILL starting!
As the reality sinks in, feelings of anger and betrayal may surface. "Why would companies do this? Why did the government allow it?" These are valid questions, and it's natural to feel upset.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. It allows you to express your emotions freely and gain clarity. Channel these writings into something positive. Write to your state representative about stricter regulations on toxic chemicals in water and personal care products.
Also, tend to your mental health. Practice deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, yoga, and meditation.
In an attempt to hold onto our comfort zone, many of us might try to negotiate. Perhaps we'll consider using the products less frequently instead of entirely discarding them.
That's fine. This is all part of the "small steps" process. Replace things as they become worn out, or the product is empty.
However, don't lose sight of the bigger picture and fall into old habits by using bargaining as a scapegoat. Bargaining is a transition, not an end destination.
Instead of trying to change everything at once, set small, achievable goals. Gradual changes can lead to big results over time.
Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. This can motivate you to keep going!
Coming to terms with the extent of changes required can be overwhelming. Humans are creatures of habit. We find comfort in routines and familiar items.
Even positive change can cause stress. It requires adaptation, learning new things, and stepping out of your comfort zone, all of which can be mentally and emotionally challenging.
Recognize your feelings and understand that it's okay to grieve. This is the first step to dealing with your emotions. Make sure you find time to do things you love, like playing a certain game, spending time with loved ones, or enjoying the outdoors. Remind yourself about the reasons for these changes and the benefits they'll bring to your health in the long run.
When we accept something, it brings a sense of tranquility, understanding, and relief. It's the moment when we stop fighting against the tide and start flowing with it.
Acceptance also means reflecting on what you've learned and integrating these lessons into your routine. At first, this might seem overwhelming. However, like any new skill, the more we practice, the easier it becomes. Reading labels, researching ingredients, and making informed decisions will become second nature over time!
As we grow more confident and knowledgeable, we feel empowered. This newfound power doesn't just stop with us. It propels us to share our knowledge, inspire others, and create a ripple effect of positive change. Through acceptance, we not only transform our lives, but potentially the lives of those around us as well.
You are Doing a Great Job
It's perfectly okay to feel scared, shocked, and even angry when making significant lifestyle changes. These emotions are all part of the natural process of adapting to change, and they do not reflect weakness.
Instead, they show your commitment to making a substantial shift in your life, which is never easy. Remember, you're not alone in this journey. It's okay to lean on others for support, seek guidance, and share your experiences.
The emotional stages of habit change are not a straightforward, linear process. As you embark on this journey, you'll likely experience a variety of feelings at different times. One day, you might feel motivated and confident, and the next, you could be grappling with doubt or frustration. Remember, these shifts are a part of the change process.
Every change you make, no matter how small, is a victory worth celebrating. Embrace the process, trust the journey, and know that you're making strides towards a healthier, happier you.