What are your hidden stressors?

You know that moment when you’re literally running on stress hormones…that go, go, go moment??

Stress and our stress hormones (i.e. cortisol) aren’t considered “good” or “bad”.  It’s getting stuck and overwhelmed in the stress response is what can be “bad” and detrimental to health.

Cortisol is an amazing hormone that begins to elevate the moment we wake up and should peak two hours after waking. Then, it should slowly decline in the afternoon and further decline in the evening. That is the pattern of a healthy circadian rhythm. Cortisol will spike in acutely stressful situations, which helps us manage.  But, if stress doesn’t resolve and becomes chronic, the body burns out.  Burnout is due to the catabolic effects of cortisol.

It’s important to remember stress isn’t just mental or emotional.  We initially think of it in relation to work, relationships or traumatic events.  But stress is much more than that.


Stress is anything that places a burden on the body.

Whether it’s inflammatory foods such as gluten, a lack of adequate rest or sleep, over-exercising when your body is already fatigued or not getting enough exercise, toxins in your environment, or physical ailments from misalignments in bones and muscles – bodily stress comes in many forms.

When I went through my Functional Diagnostic Nutrition training program, we were taught to identify H.I.D.D.E.N. stressors, or malfunctions in the following systems: 

  • Hormone
  • Immune
  • Digestion
  • Detoxification
  • Energy Production
  • Nervous System


Looking at these different systems of the body and recognizing malfunction helps me to also identify healing opportunities.

In order to help someone heal and restore health to these systems of the body, I always have to address the factor that’s causing the malfunction in the first place – STRESS!

To alleviate stress, I guide my clients in “coaching down contributors to stress, and coaching up function of the body” as my mentor Reed Davis says.

In all of the work that I do, my underlying message for you is…


“I want you to be able to recognize the burden of stress on your body at any point in time and to know what to do about it in order to resolve it and come back to balance.”

I believe that the secret to optimal health is to first gain a better understanding of what’s behind the stress burdens on your body that cause system dysfunction- and then taking action to mitigate the stress.

In this blog, I talk more about the different types of stressors, as well as how to “coach down” the contributors and “coach up” function.

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Our bodies are a miracle. Consider all that your body does on a daily basis without you even having to think about it: pumping blood and oxygen, breaking down and rebuilding cells, breathing, and giving you the ability to be mobile.

What we don’t realize is that those daily functions require a lot of work and energy from our body.  We tend to pile on additional tasks, toxins, and responsibilities which force our body to work even harder.

Our body will essentially do anything we ask it to, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to the messages to slow down.

It’s rare that your body will tell you ‘no’ before reaching a state of complete burnout.  It will climb to the top of mountain peaks, work through the night to meet a deadline, and consent to eat almost anything we feed it.

That doesn’t mean we should keep pushing our bodies in this way.

Remember, your body’s symptoms are its intelligent way of expressing that something is wrong.  They are the check engine light, the red flag, or the fire alarms of the body.   The truth is that we can only ignore these “warnings” for so long.

How many times in your life have you ignored these warnings and continued “normally” through your fast-paced day? Eventually our bodies will demand attention as these dysfunctions begin to cascade upon each other and create an overall state of chaos.

Trust me, I have been there! And, I only wish I took steps earlier to listen to my body and give it what it needed to heal before things got worse.

Hidden stressors can be…

  • Eating foods that are not in alignment with our nutritional needs

  • Staying up late at night consistently or not getting enough sleep

  • Exercising at a high intensity or for long durations when the body is tired

  • Perceived mental or emotional stress from work, relationships, and traumatic events

  • Underlying gut infections that impair your ability to digest foods

  • Environmental toxins which burden the liver, alter cells, and disrupt hormones


…And there are many more

Using functional lab testing, I’m able to help clients identify where dysfunction exists in the hormone, immune, digestive, detoxification, energy production and nervous systems- BUT the more important question is how to address the dysfunction.

The secret to restoring balance and health is working towards eliminating the things that are causing stress on the body and giving it the support it needs to function at a higher level.

Addressing your diet alone won’t do it. Nutrition is one aspect of healing, but it’s not the catch-all solution many hope (and many claim!) it to be.

“Coaching up” function in the body and achieving optimal health requires a multifaceted approach, one that involves:

  • Diet
  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Stress Reduction (of all kinds)
  • Supplementation (to support and restore bodily functions while you eliminate stressors)

In doing this work, I have found that addressing mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of health is just as critical as addressing the physical aspects.  One will only reach a limited level of optimal health without considering all forms of stress.

Rebuilding the relationship with your body by taking responsibility, listening to its messages, and treating it with respect will help you forge forward with the proper tools to care for yourself.  If you don’t change your mindset and the relationship with your body, you’ll continue to run it down and suffer the consequences.

 I’ll leave you with this: consider the amount of stress on your body at this very moment…

  • Is there a toxin burden in your environment?

  • Did you get a poor night’s sleep?

  • What was the last thing you ate? Was it nutritious?

  • Did you force yourself to workout today or push yourself too hard?

  • Are you stressed at work or in your relationships?

  • Are you experiencing any sort of mental or emotional stress?

  • Are you suffering from digestive distress?

Remember to weigh your stress burden daily and so that you can quickly take action to reduce it before it reduces your health.

If you are interested in customized lab tests and other health resources that can help you clearly detect your hidden stressors as well as discover your unique path to living your fullest life, book a complimentary Strategy Session with me today!

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