"It's not the load that breaks you, it's the way you carry it." Lou Holtz
Our modern lives can connect us to people, places and things all around the world that previous generations never imagined. This can be fantastic but also stressful and have negative consequences on our health.
When we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system creates the famous “fight or flight” response where your whole body shifts all your energy into either fighting off an enemy or running away from it. Adrenalin and cortisol are released, the heart beats faster, you breathe faster, blood vessels in your extremities dilate, digestion changes to release more glucose in order to deal with the threat. That’s a lot.
If you live in a chronic stress state, all of those things are continuous and create wear and tear on your body. You may gain weight from too much cortisol production, your skin may dry out or become oily, your bowels can’t properly regulate digestion and you may become constipated or have diarrhea, you may experience tension or migraine headaches…the list can go on. Stress is bad for you. So, how do we deal with it?
First, your nutrition can be an easy place to begin. Eating wholesome, healthy foods to give your body the proper nutrients that you need will be critical to reducing stress. Your body uses a lot of energy when stressed and you need to repair that damage from the inside out. Reducing any allergens you have and cutting down on processed foods in favor of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean meats will help your body begin to recover.
Sleeping restfully is also central to our overall wellbeing and lowering our stress levels. Be sure you get in enough z's during the night so you are refreshed and ready to go upon awakening. If you need some tips for sleep, please see my two articles on sleep.
Beginning a meditation and or yoga practice can help your response to stress. Meditation can be as short as a ten-minute session before you begin your day to set your intentions. You can also use mindfulness while going for a walk. This helps reduce cortisol... that dreaded stress-related hormone that can have a negative impact on your weight and mental state.
Any condition that's caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation, says cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD of Harvard Medial School, well known for four decades of research into the health effects of meditation. (I have had the opportunity to study with Dr. Benson at Harvard Medical School in 2008 and again in 2018.)
In a nutshell... at least try to practice the 80/20 Rule and be a player in your wellbeing...not just a spectator.
*Eat wholesome foods
*Get your Z's
*Meditate, do yoga, walk in nature.
And enjoy love and laughter with family and friends!
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INHALE EXHALE SMILE® / LIFESTYLE MEDICINE
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.