What a Natural Lifestyle Could be Costing You {and what you can do about it}

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Over the course of the last year, I've journeyed into the world of natural health. It's been a long learning process, and my family is much healthier for it. We've implemented so many changes like switching from chemical cleaners {I had WHAT in my house?? } to natural ones, getting rid of chemical based soaps for natural ones, drastically reducing our processed food intake, studying natural remedies, and so much more.

Our lifestyle looks SO much different today than it did two years ago, or even just a year ago!  I never thought I'd be one to take on the crunchy lifestyle, but at this point, I suppose you could label me a semi-crunchy mom {and my 18 year old self just dropped her jaw at my current self ;-) }.

And you know what? While we've learned so much and implemented so many great changes in our lives, there is one word that stands out to me the most throughout this journey: overwhelming.

Overwhelming because there is so much I need to do, and still so much I ought to change.

Overwhelming because I feel so much pressure for what I haven't changed yet.

Overwhelming because the dos & don'ts vary from place to place.

Overwhelming because the health of my family is a huge burden to bear.

And linked arm-in-arm with that overwhelming feeling is stress.

There is stress because I'm a busy mom and I feel a burden to change more things for my children's health and well-being.

There is stress because quite frankly, I don't have enough time and energy to do all that I ought to be doing in the natural realm.

There is stress because our budget just isn't always able to swing all the natural stuff I'd love to implement.

Yes, I said it. I find the crunchy lifestyle to be overwhelming and stressful . . . and stress isn't healthy my friend.

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The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as the brain's response to a demand (source). Taken a step further, stress is our response to environmental demands and/or pressures when we feel strained, inadequate, or threatened (source).

According to WebMD, 43% of adults are suffering the effects of stress--effects including headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, heart problems, asthma, insomnia, arthritis, diabetes, skin conditions, depression & anxiety.

These effects aren't exactly what we are looking to get out of our natural lifestyles . . . Who wants to waste time making healthy decisions only have have those same decisions cost you your health?

So what can you do if you're finding yourself overwhelmed and stressed by a crunchy lifestyle? Here's what I'm doing:

I'm focusing on what is realistic. I'm a busy woman, wife, and mom--I just can't do it all! Rather than focusing on doing everything or allowing the undone to undo me, I'm looking at what is realistic and focusing on that. I can prepare the majority of our dinners from scratch, but when life is busy I don't always make bread because that stresses me out. I love making baby food, but when life is crazy I buy the best option from the store. My boys want to snack all day long--there is no way I can keep up with baking snack crackers and puffs without going insane, so I buy organic, minimally processed brands. It's all about finding a healthy balance.

I'm focusing on being happy. "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"--it's true, isn't it? There are a lot of crunchy decisions and changes I could make, but not all of them will actually benefit my family because I'll be one stressed out, miserable mom. I enjoy making homemade, natural cleaners and I'm happy to do it! But cloth diapering at this point in my life? Nope. I prepare most of our meals from scratch, but we eat {gasp!} frozen pizza for lunch after church on Sunday. Yes, I could prepare something ahead of time, but I'm just not that ahead of the game right now! So, I enjoy a break rather than stressing.

I'm recognizing that sometimes, healthy decisions mean choosing the option that won't stress me out. Have you ever noticed that stress is contagious? If I'm stressed, my husband is stressed. If we are stressed, our children are stressed. You could almost say, "If momma is stressed, everybody is stressed!" Like I said, I'm purchasing bread from the store right now because it doesn't stress me out. We eat frozen pizza on Sundays because it allows me to relax. We went out over the weekend for frozen yogurt because it helped us to unwind and laugh together as a family. These are healthy decisions too!

I'm not going to set myself up for failure. Nothing is more discouraging than implementing a healthy change only to discover you just can't maintain it. I attempted making sourdough bread while in the thick of dealing with my infant's severe food intolerance. It was just to much work during an already stressful season of life--and I should have known that. I set myself up for failure here, but I also learned that I need to be more conscious of the season of life we are in as I make healthy changes. I still want to transition to sourdough bread, but I'm waiting on that until I know I can maintain the change.

I'm putting my crunchy knowledge to use when I do get stressed.I love my essential oils and I know that aromatherapy can be beneficial in helping one to reduce stress and anxiety. When life is busy and I get stressed, I diffuse a homemade blend of organic lavender & bergamot essential oil. Breathe in, relax, and enjoy a minute to myself.

I focus on making one change at a time. There are sooooo many changes that I want to make for the good of my family. But, I can't make all of those changes overnight--we'd all go crazy! So rather than try to do everything all at once, I research as I have time and take baby steps to implement healthy changes as we are ready for them. 

{Post linked at A Mama's Story, The Deliberate Mom, Mom's Morning Coffee}