If there's a phrase we hear in the office every day, it's, "I'm stressed." This can manifest itself in many different ways in each patient. Regardless of the cause or effect in each individual body, the truth of the matter is that stress takes a toll on your body. It's not all in your head - this picture sums up well the connection between our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing and the physical:
Our society and lifestyles can place significant stress on us. It can be of great benefit to assess those stresses, and eliminate any that are unnecessary.
If that's not possible, there are tips and tricks to dealing with stress well, so that it doesn't consume your life and negatively impact your health.
The following article by Dr. Moleski offers some insight into stress and some good coping mechanisms.
If you would like to delve deeper into your struggles with stress and how it affects your body, call us at 850-878-5636 to set up an appointment.
Until next time,
Stress Less With a Few Simple Changes
The chronic stress many Americans are living in may be costing them more than they realize. Stress is adaptive in times of unusual pressures, demands, and scheduling, but when sympathetic stimulation continues over long periods of time, it can contribute to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, cancer, high blood pressure, and anxiety disorders – to name a few. Stress is what you experience when your sympathetic nervous system is firing. We often call it “fight or flight” vs the “rest and digest” of the parasympathetic system. Eliminating the source of stress is ideal, but here are some ways to help you deal with stress you can’t simply walk away from.
If the sympathetic system (“fight or flight”) is over-firing, you can help balance it by stimulating the parasympathetic system. This can be as simple as gargling, singing loudly, and humming. Remind yourself to do this by pairing it with a daily activity like eating, driving, or brushing your teeth. Other calming methods include laughing, exercising, retreating into nature, petting animals, getting massages, and drinking herbal tea.
Everyone loves to laugh – that good, genuine, belly laugh that makes you forget about your surroundings. Find who/what makes you laugh like that, and put laughter into your schedule. Make sure it happens. The health benefits are numerous.
Daily movement and exercise is essential. We were not made to spend our days sitting indoors, with the greatest exertion being the walk to your car or through the grocery store! 50 minutes of sweat-inducing exercise releases endocannabinoids (the actual substance responsible for the “runner’s high”). The more you move, the better, but at least go for a 30 minute walk or bike ride daily. The necessity of getting your body moving cannot be overemphasized.
Walking in nature has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and dampen sympathetic nerve activity. A half hour helps, but a whole day out is better. Consider it a “prescription for retreat.”
Mother Nature provides herbs and foods that help reduce stress. There are several good brands offering “stress reducing” or “calming” teas. These should include ingredients like valerian, chamomile, passionflower, kava, etc. Just make sure your tea is organic to avoid toxic pesticide exposure. Essential oils such as grapefruit, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lavender, bergamot, clary sage, frankincense, sandalwood, rose, or vetiver can help calm and improve mood (ask for these if you go in for a Swedish Massage!). You should eat foods high in protein and good fats (grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, sardines, avocados, coconut oil) with a good amount of organic green, leafy vegetables. The nutrients in these contribute to proper neurotransmitter and hormone function. Avoid processed foods, and high-sugar foods (this includes many fruits!) – these can take your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride which won’t end well for your cortisol levels.
Don’t be afraid to prioritize your health by implementing some of these strategies, and be sure to check with your doctor to rule out contraindications. If you’re looking for a more thorough workup on adrenal function, you can contact us at Infinity Health.