Having worked with many people in my career has shown me that no one escapes hard times in this life.
Difficulties like prolonged illness, death, and loss of job, divorce, or legal issues eventually touch everyone’s life.
If I am wrong and your life is perfect, then the following information is not for you.
There are different levels of stress. There is actually “good” stress often called butterfly stress, or stress that motivates you to achieve a goal. This stress may be before a performance, before a final test, or before a first date.
This is still stress, however, it is typically short-lived, and usually for a positive event or to reach an objective you may have.
But then there is bad stress – stress that can kill you. That is correct, kill as in dead. But how can stress kill us?
First, we should look at what stress does to us physically. When we are stressed, the first thing that is pulled out of our body is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient, that helps our body do many things, including absorb iron correctly, and as an antioxidant to prevent the harmful effects of oxidation. Vitamin C is utilized quickly the minute we are stressed.
Next, the body uses up any store of B Vitamins, and then any trace minerals. Having a good supply of all these nutrients within our body will help keep us on an “even keel”. If you do not eat well, you won’t have these nutrients to pull from, which can not only damage your existing cells by pulling needed nutrients from them, but also prevents new healthy cells from being made.
After we have depleted these important nutrients several other dreadful things happen.
The adrenal glands are where we store our “flight or fight” response. When the adrenals are depleted of nutrients, we become exhausted, or irritable. This is apparent when we are extremely fatigued but cannot relax or get the rest we so desperately need. We also lose the ability to think clearly or coherently.
Stress causes our autonomic nervous system (the sympathetic in particular) to release hormones known as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and corticosteroids, such as cortisol. As these hormonal levels increase, this causes our body to become more acidic.
Too much acid changes the way the protein receptor sites react to the cell, which causes our blood to thicken.
Also, these hormones destroy the elasticity of the blood vessels making them weak, narrow, and susceptible to disease.
In addition, our stomach suffers as well. In Chinese medicine, there is an emotion tied to each organ and the emotion for the stomach is worry or stress. When we are stressed, we usually eat the wrong foods, and often also eat too fast, not chewing our food well, preventing our stomach from digesting properly. Having these poor eating habits can lead to a hiatal hernia, where a portion of the stomach comes up through the diaphragm muscle into the upper chest cavity. This is your stomach trying to talk to you to tell you to stop doing these bad things! If you do not digest your food properly – how is anything else supposed to work well in your body?
Finally, the next organ affected is the colon. The feeling associated to the colon is control, and when we are stressed we often are trying to control someone or something, which is usually impossible, or we become aware that we can’t control something and we internalize this. This may cause symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating. All these issues prevent us from absorbing nutrients that we need to help keep our body in a balanced state.
These issues can also cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, pulse rate, skin conductivity (becoming too sensitive to touch), respiration, and other health issues. The body, in particular the heart, is working harder which affects the viscosity of the blood.
Stress is a major part of illnesses. Many of us take on so much responsibility that they neglect taking care of themselves. The body is a machine like your car, and if you keep your car running at the pace some of us run at each day, the car will eventually burn out. It is sad that some people take better care of their car, then they do their body!
How can I tell if I am stressed?
Some people know when they are stressed, but other times it may be harder to pinpoint it as we are caught up in the drama of the situation. Check your blood pressure or your breathing. Are you breathing correctly? Many people breathe too fast or shallow which results in them not getting enough oxygen to feed their cells. they are not getting the necessary nutrients they would get if they were breathing correctly. Other symptoms may be eating too much, not eating at all, sleep disturbances, memory loss, or illness in an otherwise normal healthy person.
What can I do to be less stressed?
One of the first things I do when I am experiencing stressful times is to just stop what I am doing and breathe. Taking a few minutes for yourself is important. I remind myself that I am not currently being chased by lions and that no one is currently breaking down my door. Many stressful situations occur when we are caught up in the drama of an issue.
Taking time to calm down, breath, and look at the situation, and how we are taking part in the situation can be helpful. Is this a situation I can learn from? Did I create this situation out of a need of mine? (wanting to be heard, seen, or controlled?) Or is someone else dumping this stress on me? Is it possible you do not need to accept it?
When we are stressed it is usually very hard to stop and take time to see what is happening from a third parties’ point of view but doing so can help immensely.
Unfortunately, this is not most people’s first instinct when we are feeling stress. Most of us want to drown our sorrows or eat our stress away.
Some turn to alcohol and drugs, and others turn to sugar and junk food to bury the emotional pain and to hopefully lift our spirits. The problem with these coping mechanisms is they add stress to the organs and give us even less able to cope physically.
3 Tools for Stress
In addition to eating correctly, there are nutritional products you may find some relief with – supplements are a good way to get high concentrations of nutrients in small dosages.
First, taking Vitamin C and/or the B Vitamins mentioned above are a good start. When your body has nutrients to utilize during times of stress, the body doesn’t panic as much. There are many choices to choose from. Recommend doing your research or check with your health professional to find the best solution for you.
Second, investigate adaptogenic herbs. There are several on the market, Astragalus, Eleuthero, Suma, Holy Basil, and Ashwagandha are just a few. I have found that people typically have one or two that work best for them. You can often find these in herbal combinations also. Suma Combination is one of my favorites. My customers call it their “happy pills”. You still have stress, but you don’t care about it so much. Here is a list of Nature’s Sunshine products mentioned above for your review. Check with your natural health professional to find the best products for your body.
Just remember that these will not compensate for poor nutrition forever or make up for lost rest.
Third, there are also many services and techniques to help people become less stressed. The best tools I have found cost nothing. As mentioned above, try breathing. Sit down in a quiet place, the bathroom if necessary, and just breathe for 5 minutes. Nice deep breaths from your belly. You will be shocked at how much this will help you. You can do this easily in your car as well. Another idea is to take a bath, when time permits, especially before bed as it can help your body rest. Light some candles, use some fun bubble bath or oils and just relax. Let go, let the universe take over your problems. It is amazing what happens when you let this happen. It may seem that the worst will happen, but things usually work out the way they are supposed to, and usually, it is for the best. I can guarantee that making yourself sick in the process will not fix anything.