Recently, I began the stress elimination diet. I left a toxic job that caused me much emotional stress, anger, frustration, worry, and powerlessness. It affected my sleep and I came home every day emotionally drained and mentally exhausted. My head and brow felt heavy because of the near-constant frowning I must have been doing. The stresses from this job left me wound up, all the time. It would take me weeks of a holiday to unwind, and despite following a Mark Sisson primal diet 95% of the time, I was starting to feel worn down again and ill more often. There is something vastly wrong with all of that.
We associate a well-formulated Paleo diet with the expression ‘elimination diet,’ however, while the food you eat is still very important there are other areas of your life that can drastically affect your overall health and well-being.
In the years I spent working for my previous employer, I inadvertently followed primal stress management techniques, first adapting to the situation, then accepting the things I couldn’t change, and finally changing my thinking about certain issues at work.1 After another particularly awful day at work, recognising that I had been feeling like this for the greater part of a year, I realised I had a choice in this matter. I was actively choosing to stay in a job that affected me emotionally and physically, and I didn’t need to do it anymore. So, I chose to take a step forward and take care of my quality of life: I chose to apply for a new job.
I was successful with that application, and have since left the toxic environment in which I worked. On my last day of work, I came across this quote by Charles F. Glassman:
“The elimination diet: Remove anger, regret, resentment, guilt, blame and worry. Then, watch your health, and life, improve.”2
This was a sign that I made the right choice to rid myself of the emotional stress, the anger, the daily frustration, the heart-pounding worry and the powerlessness I felt – sometimes on a daily basis. This was the start of improving my quality of life.
We associate a well-formulated Paleo diet with the expression ‘elimination diet,’ however, while the food you eat is still very important there are other areas of your life that can drastically affect your overall health and well-being. While I identified many negative emotions I experienced at my last job, all can be lumped into ‘emotional stress.’ By allowing stress, which results in lack of sleep, to flourish, and thus overwhelm your body and mind, diet alone will never be enough. You must employ this same elimination strategy to the aspects in your life that are getting you down and wearing you out.
Prolonged periods of stress can contribute to many health issues; numerous serious diseases, fatigue, bacterial and viral infections, inflammatory illness, issues with blood glucose regulation, weight gain, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, and headaches.3 This is already on top of the emotional wearing away you experience on a daily basis.
How should you then adopt this elimination diet for your mind?
It first starts with understanding that things need to change, and that you have a choice in the matter.
That in itself is very difficult because too many people seem to be set in their ways, assuming they don’t have the power to change the life they currently have – the same life that is potentially making them miserable. I realise in the grand scheme of things that not everyone has a choice in their life, but those of us living in the developed world, where we let first world problems get us down, do have that choice of an emotional cleanse on the path to a better quality of life.
You must believe you are worth the change…
Otherwise what’s the point of all of this? Have the self-confidence and self-worth to take the initial steps to bettering your life. If you believe you can make that change, then you’re already more likely to have success with said change. On the other hand, if you don’t feel worthy of it, despite wanting to change, then you are sabotaging yourself before you’ve even begun.4
Identify your sources of emotional stress.
Even make a list.3 Writing down everything that causes you any negative emotion is the first step towards eliminating stress. Although I didn’t write a physical list, I performed a mental inventory of the controllable aspects of my life, separating it into categories; work, running, Paleo diet, money, blogging, writing for this magazine, family, my marriage, friendships. Then, I analysed each one and determined whether they brought me joy and positive feelings, or anger, frustration, annoyance, and other negative emotions. My job was the only category in which I felt deep-seeded negativity that ate away at me, and caused an ongoing feeling of emotional rumination, despite the amount of times I vented to colleagues (or anyone that would listen!).
While I was lucky that my job was the only negative, others might not be so lucky. If you’ve identified several controllable areas of emotional stress, I would urge you to work on one at a time rather than tackling the entire lot. By reducing emotional stress, one area at a time, you will be better able to handle the other stresses life throws at you.3
Don’t fear the change.
Easier said than done because change is very difficult for most, no matter how well-adjusted. Take comfort in knowing that you are controlling and initiating this change; how quickly you do it, and your approach is totally up to you. And just remember: in order to get the life you truly want, change needs to occur.
Since I started my new job, my stress levels have dramatically decreased. I sleep better at night, and for the first time in years I’m able to have a lie-in on the weekend. I have physical energy at the end of the day, my brain isn’t overtired, and my head is light again. The elimination diet for your mind is about taking the initial steps towards adopting a holistic Paleo lifestyle, but also improved quality of life and vitality.
- Field, R. (2015). A Primal Approach to Stress. In Primal Eye Magazine. Retrieved 15 November, 2015 from http://primaleye.uk/a-primal-approach-to-stress/
- C.F. (2009). Brain Drain – The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life. Dayton, USA: RTS Publishing.
- Maffetone, P. (2015). Simplifying Stress. In MAF. Retrieved 15 November, 2015 from http://philmaffetone.com/stress/
- Sisson, M. (2014). Do You Really Believe You Can Change. In Mark’s Daily Apple. Retrieved 15 November, 2015 from http://www.marksdailyapple.com/do-you-really-believe-you-can-change/#ixzz3rZdKdxS6