80% of all diseases are said to be linked to stress. Stress happens on a daily basis in our world today, even with advent of uber- high-tech existence. Stress is defined as an emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences. It triggers a stress response called fight or flight, or General Adaptation Syndrome. We live in a time when survival of the fittest is a must, these evolutionary changes not only impact the world around us but also our internal world. We need to keep up with the chaotic environment we had created as we try to live with expectations that are physically, mentally and emotionally taxing. Our bodies become tense with these expectations and are filled to the maximum with stress hormones. These changes cause oxidative stress, adrenal fatigue, dysbiosis, nervous breakdown and cardiovascular dysfunction.
These are several types of stress that we encounter on a daily basis:
1.Emotional stress- intense emotions like sadness, depression, anxiety
2. Physical stress- working long hours, less rest, sleeplessness, exercise
3. Mental stress- huge workloads, beating deadlines, too many expectations, perfectionism
4. Chemical stress- pollution in environment, toxic chemicals
5. Malnourishment - deficiency of nutrients, addiction to junk food
6. Psycho-spiritual stress- financial hardships, relationship woes, career pressure
Stress happens when we interpret an event in a negative way. Stress then opens a cascade of reactions in the fight of flight response. When the stressor is interpreted as harmful, the body releases certain hormones to prepare us either to attack or defend itself. The cascade starts in the adrenal glands which release adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol that move the blood to the skeletal muscled in preparation for an attack which is helpful in our evolution’s caveman days. We hunt to eat and gather food, as we prepare for attacks and defense. Adrenal levels normalize after the crisis due to negative feedback. Continuous triggers makes cortisol receptors become less sensitive to feedback signals and fail to shut down. Blood pooled in the skeletal muscles causes neglect to other organ systems like digestive, immune and also sex drive.
Adrenaline and nor-adrenaline raises blood pressure, increased heart rate and respiration, reduced stomach activity. Cortisol releases fat and sugar in the body that decreases immune system. These events if encountered in a long time and not addressed properly may cause a lot of chronic diseases like arthritis, cardiovascular disease or even cancer.
Stress management utilizes techniques and practices that help us avoid vicious cycle of stress responses.
STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Healthy Plates- acknowledging we are under stress is the first part of managing it. Understanding the sugar cravings are but a negative response that may eventually fall on a negative depressed loop. Mindful eating a low sugar, whole food full of fruits and veggies are the way to go!
Manage your time- overcommitting to a lot of things drains the energy that may lead to self-shaming and self-sabotage. Learn the power of saying no and not agreeing to do things that you can’t and don’t want to do. Plan your tasks from the most important allowing time for relaxation.
Relaxation techniques- daily relaxation practice have a calming effect on the mind, maintain focus and pacify emotional states. Energy therapy like Reiki, Pranic healing, Hypnotherapy, Meditation, Yoga, Art Therapies produces positive emotions and thoughts and relieve anxiety. Massages in different forms relax our aching muscles and a very effective way of helping us out of a tiring schedule.
Unclutter yourself- Stress makes a lot of cobwebs in our minds that makes everything too much to handle. Learn to prioritize things by listing down all things to accomplish. Observe your own workplace, rearrange furniture, clean your desk, declutter your room, arrange cabinets or delete unused apps in your devices. Most of all, learn to remove the emotional baggages that are creeping deep within you. Let bygones be bygones. Learn to forgive and let go.
Essential oils- EO’s are now a trend but it has been practiced for several thousands of years. Frankincense and myrrh was even a gift to Jesus Christ. Most used are Lavender, chamomile for calming spirit and better sleep; peppermint and eucalyptus for a more focused mind.
Reward yourself- give yourself some self-love even when finishing small tasks. May it be a bite of a bar of dark chocolate or a ten minute call to a love one, rewards are effective ways of stepping stones to achieve and finish more tasks. Staycation or visiting new places are great ways to unwind yourself of stress. Celebrate successes big or small and spend it with your loved ones.
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