by Nina Lane
In fact, realizing that you’re in control of your life is the base of stress management.
After dragging yourself out of bed, you busily hurry throughout your day, moving from one task to another—squeezing in that morning run on the treadmill, then gulping down your breakfast on the way to work, powering through your workday on caffeine and carbs, all the while thinking about what’s for supper and what the kids are doing tonight. Then, after rushing here and there, you get home to collapse on the couch exhausted. So after a bit of vegetating, you get ready for bed, leaving that pile of dishes and climbing into that comfy haven AND your mind starts racing! You can’t sleep! You’re not tired! What is going on?
The simple answer is you are stressed!
Stress is natural and beneficial to physical and psychological demand, in the right situation. We naturally have a “fight or flight” reaction in an acute situation. The body releases hormones, re-routes blood supply to our muscles and mobilizes stored sugars so we can deal with the threat of the moment. However, when we live in a constant state of stress, the way our body responds to stress goes haywire. With the increasingly busy pace of modern life, stress is becoming an epidemic.
Chronic stress can stem from physical sources, like infections, trauma, or disease, or psychological sources, like mental or emotional stress. While your brain is racing, it is sending signals and releasing hormones throughout your body. With over-exposure, normally beneficial hormones like cortisol and adrenalin start to wreak havoc on your body. Prolonged stress can also have a toll emotionally, leading to depression and anxiety. Unaddressed chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune function. Stress can also contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression, and obesity. Because the body can only sustain a stress response for so long, eventually it can lead to burnout. A climatic event may be a mental or emotional breakdown or a physical crisis.
In order to avoid burnout, we can utilize various strategies to help us reduce and cope with the stress. Now, you might be thinking there’s nothing you can do about stress. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, realizing that you’re in control of your life is the base of stress management. Take charge of your stress: your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems.
- Reduce your stress. Try to say “No,” ask for help or delegate, and eliminate stressful people, if possible.
- Get organized. Make lists, plan out your goals, and make better use of your time. Write things down and do not rely on your memory.
- Eat well. A balanced diet full of whole unprocessed food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and quality protein will the give your body the fuel it needs to keep up.
- Eliminate unhealthy foods and habits. Avoid sugary and caffeinated food and drink that will only make you crash. Cut out smoking and alcohol, which can contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Exercise regularly. Even a short walk at break-time can reduce stress, improve blood flow, and release your feel-good hormones to improve your mood.
- Get adequate rest. While everyone has different sleep needs, it is best to aim for 7 to 8 hours sleep a night. Even take short breaks throughout the day to improve concentration and productivity.
- Take time to relax. Scheduling leisure time, whatever that may be—meditation, progressive relaxation, exercise, listening to relaxing music, or communicating with friends and loved ones—will give you something to look forward to and the break will help take your mind off the stress.
If, after utilizing proper stress management techniques, you are still struggling, you may want to consider supportive supplements. With the aid of a natural health professional, you can develop a program that can be supportive to your unique situation. There are numerous options to choose from to help reduce stress. Below are a few safe and effective supplements that have been proven to help you control your stress.
B Vitamins work together to promote healthy stress levels and the proper functioning of the nervous system. They are water-based coenzymes that assist the process of energy production throughout the entire body and help maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver, mouth, muscle tone, and gastrointestinal tract.
GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is a major neurotransmitter used in the human brain that leads to relaxation, and the induction and improvement of sleep.
l-Theanine is a amino acid known to be found in green tea and has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier. It is associated with the relaxation responses without drowsiness. l-Theanine has also been shown to reduce cortisol production and carbohydrate cravings.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is derived from the seed of Griffonia simplicifolia and is able to cross our blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, 5-HTP is used as a precursor for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, as well as for the neurohormone melatonin. Serotonin plays a role in regulating mood, sleep, appetite, sexuality, body temperature, and aggression, while melatonin is involved in regulating sleep.
Nina Lane has her Master’s of Science in Physiology and has been combining knowledge from natural and scientific fields to better her practice. Now working at Lifeline Health Services, she has been serving Saskatoon and area with integrity since 2011. Nina specializes in live blood analysis, diet and lifestyle counselling, and a variety of analytical tests to help you on your path to health. If you would like to contact her please call (306) 244-4821 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.