Stress Management: Practical Solutions to Staying Healthy during Stressful Times
It is generally accepted that excessive stress is associated with a wide variety of health problems. The stress response is a normal physiological response to danger; it is part of our physiology because we need it to survive. Respiration and pulse rates increase, blood pressure increases and blood is pumped to the muscles; this coordinated effort enables us to fight or run away. After the threat has passed, we should return to a calmer resting state ~ until the next crisis arises. The problem most of us face is that our stress response is triggered too often and we are unable to return back to a calmer more balanced state of being. This stresses the adrenals, over-stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and disrupts the endocrine system. As stress is prolonged, this can impair detoxification, digestion and the immune system.
Are you feeling stressed?
Take the Stress Self test: if you checked 5 or more symptoms, stress is having a significant effect on your health and improved stress management may help.
- Feeling wound up, with trouble calming down
- Feel driven and burned out and exhausted at the same time
- Easily overwhelmed
- Easily angered or upset
- Inability to stop worrying
- Feeling depressed or apathetic
- Difficulty with concentration or focus
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Feeling dizzy when standing
- Waking feeling un-refreshed
- Trouble loosing weight
- Catch colds easily
- Problems with digestion
The underlying causes of stress are numerous; allergies, poor nutrition, and toxins, and unhealthy lifestyle practices such as insufficient sleep/rest, excessive work, excessive worry or fear, and lack of proper exercise.
A comprehensive physical exam is performed, blood tests and advanced diagnostic tests such as: salivary hormone tests, neurotransmitter tests, allergy tests or hair analysis are often suggested to determine the underlying cause of the problems. Salivary hormone tests are preferred because this measures free/biologically active levels hormone levels. Cortisol is measured for those patients with excessive fatigue or those who are “wired and tired”; melatonin is assessed for those with sleep difficulties. Hormonal testing is useful for women experiencing PMS or menopausal symptoms and for men suffering from andropause or issues with sexual dysfunction. Neurotransmitter imbalances can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia and difficulty concentrating.
It is best to eat regularly scheduled meals and snacks that will provide your body with all the nutrients you need and to focus on foods that will keep your blood sugar stable. Skipping meals or consuming excessive amounts of sugar or carbs causes fluctuations in blood sugar; this can lead to fatigue, food cravings, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and irritability. Protein, fiber and healthy fat will keep your blood sugar stable, this will in turn help keep your energy stable your mood stable and help you attain a healthy weight and body composition.
Nutritional supplements: Vitamins, Minerals, Fish oil
Herbal medicines: Adaptogens like Ginseng, Calming herbs like Chamomile, Wild Oats, Skullcap, Lavender
Acupuncture ~ helps on the physical, mental/emotional and energetic level to correct imbalances in the body
Homeopathy ~ great for helping with physical, mental/emotional issues – this is an excellent way to go for those taking prescroption medications because the homeopathic remedies do not interact adversely with any prescription drugs.