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17 Jan 2022

You: “Just relax. Everything is cool.” Stress: “Hold my beer.”

Exhausted from being exhausted all of the time? Are you 97% stress and 3% human? We get it; life comes at you fast (maybe just as fast as the Bills came at the Patriots over the weekend…). And since 2020, the world’s been, well, a bit different. How can we adapt to an ever-changing world when there seem to be no constants? Add to that all of the demands of work, family, social life… yikes! While some stress is natural and some is even good for you (i.e., fight or flight), chronic, unmanageable stress is more harmful than you might think.

Stress impacts all systems of your body: everything from physical - check out the graphic below - (gastrointestinal, endocrine, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive), to emotional (phycological, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc.)  and even your behavior (loss of interest in activities, lashing out, changes in appetite, etc.). Some symptoms you may experience are obvious and some are not, but all symptoms are connected.

When we stress, the hormone cortisol is released by our adrenal glands. This immediately signals your body to secrete glucose, which gives you energy. In moments of danger, this is a good thing as it prompts the “fight or flight” reaction so you can quickly respond to the perceived threat. Overtime, however, with chronic stress, your body is constantly pumping cortisol, which leads to your body’s inability to convert the secreted glucose to energy (high blood sugar levels), leaving your cells screaming for energy that they need. It also causes your body to shut down, or give less attention to other critical functions to prioritize its response to the stress (like digestion, nervous system support, cardiovascular, etc.).

Ever notice you’re more exhausted and aren’t functioning well when you’re stressed? That’s because your body has no idea what’s going on, it’s just like, “Oh hey, cortisol! What’s up? Let’s party! We’ll get to adulting later.” Let’s take a look at some of the more common symptoms of stress that are experienced when our bodies aren’t adulting.

 

See this chart from the Mayo Clinic:

Common effects of stress

On your body

On your mood

On your behavior

Headache

Anxiety

Overeating or undereating

Muscle tension or pain

Restlessness

Angry outbursts

Chest pain

Lack of motivation or focus

Drug or alcohol misuse

Fatigue

Feeling overwhelmed

Tobacco use

Change in sex drive

Irritability or anger

Social withdrawal

Stomach upset

Sadness or depression

Exercising less often

Sleep problems

 

 

Add to that list: ulcers, bloating, reproductive system shut down, other hormone levels tanking or spiking, skin problems and so much more. Maybe you’ve experienced some of these symptoms and didn’t know what the cause was or attributed them to another illness. Ask yourself, “Was I under stress? What was I going through when I had these symptoms?” “Could I have managed my stress better to avoid these reactions?”

So, what can we do to help manage our stress?

  1. The obvious: relaxation techniques. Try some daily meditation (yoga isn’t for everyone). There are tons of mindfulness apps that give you guidance for the time you may have available in your schedule from 1 minute to 30 minutes.
  2. Physical exercise. The RIGHT amount of exercise reduces cortisol and releases feel-good neurotransmitters. The WRONG amount of exercise (too much) will release more and more cortisol because your body perceives a persistent threat from constant movement.
  3. Supporting your body with supplementation. Honestly, whether you’re under stress, or not, you need supplementation because our bodies do not receive everything they need to thrive. Ashwagandha is the rockstar for adrenal health (remember, our adrenals secrete cortisol); Rhodiola is a go-to for combating fatigue and resisting physical and chemical stress; Adaptogens like Reishi have stress-reducing and calming properties.
    1. Try any of these products:
      1. Lifeseasons Adrenal-T
      2. Gaia Adrenal Nightly Restore
      3. New Chapter One Daily Multiherbal Stress
  1. Give your body the nourishment it needs to function. Stop drinking and smoking and find magnesium-rich, omega-3-packed and vitamin c-loaded foods like seeds, spinach, avocados, salmon, dark chocolate, nuts and citrus fruits.
  2. Dedicating time to yourself to do something you enjoy. Slow down, get outside, read a book, soak in a bath (try this bath soak), listen to music, spend time with friends or family and enjoy life!

 

Now that you have an action plan, let’s get to it! We’re here to support you and help you find a routine that’ll work with your lifestyle to make reducing stress non-stressful. Come see us or contact us ([email protected]) with any questions or to set up your custom fill-the-gaps protocol.

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:

While we are here as your holistic health experts and can offer solutions that support your body, we cannot diagnose more serious illnesses. If you’ve tried to manage your stress but are still having difficulty, it may be time to consult a medical professional. Seek emergency help if you have onset of chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, sweating, dizziness, or nausea. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptoms.

 

 

 

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