I'm seeing increased stress in my patients lately, and we all know why of course. It's a high stress atmosphere lately, but it's also important to remember the power and autonomy you have over yourself and in how you feel and react.
Stress is your individual response to the varied demands of life. In a biological sense, some stress is helpful and enhances survival, while too much stress can be harmful and impair survival. We all experience stress mentally, emotionally, and physically, and it can be triggered by both internal and external causes.
Your body reacts to stress in the same general way regardless of what is causing the stress. Intense or prolonged stress produces changes in the nervous system, which cause the endocrine glands to release hormones that can negatively affect different tissues throughout your body.
Since stress can affect all parts of our bodies and lives, it is important to address the whole body when treating stress. Reactions to stressful events also impacts all facets of life. Emotional stress can induce physical problems, just as physical stress can lead to mental or emotional changes.
Stress Management is Key and You Are In Charge, Here are Some Tips:
- Try to identify major sources of stress in your life, both pleasant and unpleasant. How do they affect you? Be aware.
- Say something positive or uplifting at least once daily, especially when you are under stress. Say it out loud to yourself or to someone else.
- Don’t dwell on the past. Change the subject from the old, stressful thought and find a new response to past ways of dealing with problems.
- Get adequate sleep. Your body does a lot of repair work while sleeping.
- Deep breathing. Taking 3 deep, slow breaths causes the body to relax. Regular repetition has a cumulative beneficial effect.
- Get aerobic exercise. Any exercise that increases the pulse rate can be called “aerobic.” This is one of the most powerful tools to combat stress. Some examples of exercises that can be done aerobically are: walking uphill, jogging, swimming, bicycling, sports, climbing stairs.
- Eat in a relaxed frame of mind. Chew thoroughly.
- Drink adequate liquids. You need 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water fluids daily. Some relaxing drinks include herb teas like alfalfa, peppermint, or chamomile. And also vegetable juices.
- Eat a diet high in fiber. Fiber is important in keeping the intestinal tract moving and preventing constipation, toxic buildup and lowered nutrient absorption. Foods rich in fiber include raw vegetables, whole grains, and psyllium seeds.
- Eat foods high in B vitamins. B vitamins are called the stress vitamins because they are used as coenzymes in reactions throughout the body, but especially in the nervous system. Examples include whole grains, meats, eggs, nuts, beans, fish, poultry and green leafy vegetables.
- Limit sugar intake to keep the body in equilibrium. Even "natural" sugars like honey, raisins and preserves can impede stable blood sugar and balanced mental and emotional responses. Watch for foods with added sweeteners like corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, etc.
- Engage in any relaxation activities that you enjoy - i.e. hot baths, saunas, hot-tubs, massage, bodywork, dance, yoga, qi gong, meditation, breathing, music, visualization, etc. What relaxes you? Take the time for it!