Reblogged from SomeLettersToMyChildren.
Stress can take our joy away. It can make us sick, keep us from sleeping restfully. Stress can be a huge strain on relationships. It can even kill. And it causes many more symptoms as well – constant fatigue, fat gain around the abdomen, overeating because of low blood sugar episodes, inability to lose weight, feeling light-headed, body pain for no apparent reason, gut symptoms, irritable bowel, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, loss of sex drive, increased PMS or menopausal symptoms, allergic reactions, skin problems and sensitivities, acid reflux, frequent colds, flu and lowered immunity….it’s not fun!
There is much written about adrenal stress and cortisone – an anti-stress hormone. It’s worth reading about on the internet.
Some causes are physical – low blood sugar, chronic illness, late hours, jammed schedules, chronic pain, sleep deprivation, excessive exercise, excessive stimulants (to keep you going), eating a poor diet – too much sugars, especially sugar substitutes, processed foods, environmental toxins…
Other causes of stress can be constant worry, our inability to handle uncertainty, pessimism, trying to “do it all”, emotional trauma and ongoing strain, perfectionism, negative self talk, unrealistic expectations, lack of asserting ourselves, continual anger, pushing yourself when you know you need to rest…
We need to take personal responsibility for our health – physical and emotional. Taking medication for stress and depression is an interim solution but not a cure – should be used only when absolutely necessary while we are working on the real cause. I was the Queen of Stress and anxiety over this last year, (WAS – past tense, thank God!) and it caused so many problems that it got my full attention – physically, spiritually and emotionally. I’ve studied in detail. I’ve learned so much. So thought I’d pass on some things I’ve learned – some simple and healthy ways to deal with stress…
- Breathing exercises. Learning to breathe properly and consciously has been a miracle for me. Breathing can reduce stress, help maintain focus, increase energy, calm mind and body, and help with sleep. Exhaling completely is easy to learn – it will improve health. Take a deep breath through your nose, exhale naturally through your mouth – and then squeeze out a little more. It’s the old smell a rose – blow out a candle exercise. Do it regularly and it will become a body habit with time. Try to concentrate only on your breathing out – exhaling – and saying “relax” to yourself while you’re exhaling. Let go of all of your worries by breathing them out.
- Exercise – Morning is better but anytime works! Other than within four hours of bedtime – it may keep you from sleeping.
- Quit all stimulants – caffeine and any type of energy drink, chocolate and teas for starters.
- Diet is huge in managing stress. And it’s effects are nearly immediately – good and bad. Cut sugar and sugar substitutes, starches and processed foods out of your diet.
- Eat tons of fruit and veggies. 1/3 protein, 2/3 steamed veggies and fresh fruit that is in season.
- Stress and adrenal stress makes us crave salty foods. A signal?
- Always eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of getting up. It will give you energy, better brain function and help keep your blood sugar stable during the day. You can’t drive a car without gas and you can’t function efficiently without good nutritious food in your beautiful body!
- Eat something, a healthy snack, every three hours – every two hours if you’re really stressed. But keep them healthy. Remember – protein is brain food. If you’re craving sweets, eat some protein. It helps take away the craving. You don’t have to eat a lot when it’s nutritious – a good combination of lean or plant-based protein and healthy carbs. Consider a high nutrition-low calorie way of eating.
- Get rid of boxed, processed and man-made food! It’s toxic.
- Drink plenty of water – it cleans and detoxifies your body.
- Don’t eat late at night but a small protein-high fiber carb at night just before bedtime helps you fall asleep and keeps your blood sugar level stable throughout the night so that you don’t wake up. A few pumpkin seeds or a tablespoon of almond butter is a great bedtime snack – full of magnesium.
- Take a good whole food multivitamin every day.
- B-complex. B vitamins can help calm and balance your mood.
- Omega-3 (fish oil) supplement. Either from molecularly distilled fish oil or from krill. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency has been associated with increased anxiety and depression.
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). An extract from the root of this flowering perennial contains essential oils that have been shown to help some people more effectively deal with stress. Don’t mix this with prescription drugs. Ask a pharmacist before you use any medication or mix medications – or herbs for that matter. Ask about the half-life of a medication that you’ve been taking to determine how long you need to be off of it before mixing with another herb or medication.
- Calcium and magnesium. These can help a lot with muscle relaxation and healthy sleep.
- Take vitamin supplements in the morning. They help wake-up your brain. Taking them too late in the day may keep you awake.
- Sleep Sleep Sleep – and I know this is a tuff one when you’re under a lot of stress. It takes a lot of meditation, planning and maybe sometimes a little help. I prefer herbal sleep aids – melatonin, valerian, hops, passion flower – there are many combinations available and pretty inexpensive. But don’t mix them with any other sleep medication and be sure to check with your pharmacist before you mix them with any medication that you’re taking.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink at dinnertime and later. Avoid sodas (horrible! Anytime!), overeating, chocolate, tea, coffee, and excessive sugar and salt.
- Plan your evening carefully. Create a relaxing sleep routine. Think about how we put our babies to bed – we rub their backs, read them a book, turn down the lights. To this for yourself. We need a “turn-off” period so our brains know it’s time for sleep.
- You may be photosensitive so avoid working on a computer or looking at a bright cell phone before bedtime. Try setting an 8 pm limit on visual stimuli. Reading may or may not help you fall asleep.
- Make a To-Do List for the net day and then let it go. It will get done.
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. Tell your body that it will sleep restfully and deeply for 8 hours. I’ve read where it’s very important to go to prepare to fall asleep before 10 pm, that sleep before 2 am is the most beneficial.
- Keep everything out of your bedroom that keeps you awake – TV, animals…
- Keep your room cool and uncluttered. Keep it clean, organized and the bed made daily.
- Make your bedroom your sleep retreat. Make it your haven. Don’t watch TV (especially the news), check email or eat in bed. Bed is for sleep. Don’t confuse yourself.
- Have a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime. (I know – I said no tea or coffee. But chamomile?….
- And take calcium and magnesium in the evening or at bedtime with your snack.
- Snuggle in bed. Close your eyes, consciously rest your mind and every part of your body. Breathe deeply. Meditate. There are great free and inexpensive apps for your phone to guide you thru relaxation.
- Put lavender in or around your pillow to help calm and relax you.
- Most importantly, start working on yourself. Start identifying problems and situations that cause stress in your life.
- Say no to at least as many things as you say yes to
- Don’t worry about other peoples’ problems – you have enough of your own.
- Exercise. It’s the only way to balance your brain and your body – a great way to “burn off your stress”
- Eat lean protein with every meal – preferably before you eat the carbs. No carb-only meals. Ever. Proteins build healthy brain chemicals.
- Manage your hormones. Get tested to see if you have too much estrogen in your body. It can be balanced. Small amounts of natural bio-identical hormones that perfectly match the body’s molecular structure make a huge difference!
- Get rid of the toxic people in your life. Surround yourself with more people who make you laugh and smile, who have positive energy, who help you be a better person.
- Brush off emotional baggage – literally. Therapeutic touch, energy fields – our entire body and world is energy. I read this and I like it…”If you have left a conversation, a meeting, or a negative encounter with anyone – even yourself; if an encounter leaves you feeling drained, irritable, angry, exhausted or totally wiped out, try this. Use your hand to brush your arms, legs, head and back as if you’re wiping them and removing a layer of bad emotional residue. Do it outside if you can and imagine yourself removing everything you no longer need – irritation, anger, bitterness, jealousy, sadness, fear, etc. And keep what you want – love, compassion, empathy, calmness and peace.”
- Shrug your shoulders. “If you can’t get outside, or you want to switch the negative energy coming in, consider the simple act of shrugging your shoulders.” We carry emotional stress in our shoulders. So shrug them and tell yourself that you don’t need to carry resentment or other peoples’ problems. If you have to be around negative energy, when you leave, shrug your shoulders to symbolically remove the negativity when you leave their presence Don’t take it with you.
- Blow off your negative feelings, energy, emotions and irritability. Yep – that works too! Breathe deeply and exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth. When you’re by yourself, make a loud sound – “ahhhh” – when you exhale. Try it daily after work or at the end of the day before bed. Visualize getting rid of or blowing out everything that is no longer serving you.
- Re-fuel. Make positive statements to yourself. Put affirmations on your phone reminders – every hour if you need them. I do. Make sticky notes and put them on your mirror. Make a positive statement and memorize it. Say it out loud. Every day. Flood your mind with positive thoughts. It it’s true that you are your thoughts, think what you can do with this one! You are in control of your destiny by changing your thoughts. Keep them positive even if you don’t believe them right now. Keep your eyes on what you want and where you want to be and you can’t help but get there.
- Schedule time for you. Do something that you just love to do as often as possible – where you lose track of time, forget to eat…. Find ways to help others – every day. It doesn’t have to be huge. Senseless acts of kindness…
- Remember how much you are cherished! My world lights up just thinking about you!