Stress Management and Overall Health
Stress management is vital for your overall health because stress has such a powerful impact on your well-being.
When you let stress get the better of you, you put yourself at a higher risk of getting sick, which could be anything from the common cold to chronic heart disease.
Learning to manage and reduce the stress in your everyday life is paramount for improving your mood, boosting your immunity, promoting longevity and enabling you to be more productive.
Stress causes both chemical and physical changes in your brain which has a severe impact on your overall functioning. During periods of high-stress chemicals such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine begin to rise which causes larger amounts of hormones such as adrenaline to be released by your adrenal glands.
The release of these chemicals contributes to many physiological effects in your body such as an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Without conscious stress management, chronic stress develops which can lead to some serious problems such as stomach ulcers, asthma, heart disease and strokes. Many health care professionals consider chronic stress to be a significant risk factor for Cancer and heart attacks.
While you think you may be building a tolerance to your stress, your nervous system may in fact just be dealing with the overload – for the time being. A common physical reaction to stress is tensing of muscles, which can trigger tension headaches, migraines and other musculoskeletal conditions. Stress also causes disruption to your digestive system which brings on nausea, pain, vomiting, heartburn, constipation, acid reflux and diarrhoea.
Mental and emotional disorders are often also a result of stress - depression, anxiety, phobias and panic attacks. Emotional stress clouds judgement makes it hard to focus and often makes a person irritable, impatient and easily frustrated.
Stress Management - Taking back Control
If you’ve just realised that your stress is definitely not under control, here’s what you can do to shift yourself into a healthier pattern to reduce your stress.
Meditation – Encourages you to relax your mind and examine yourself with a sense of honesty and compassion. The process can inspire you to find a deeper source of motivation to make the necessary changes to your life. Committing to 15 minutes of daily meditation and relaxing breathing will have profound benefits on your overall health.
Exercise – Walking, swimming and yoga are exercises that have proven stress-reducing benefits. Regular exercise also helps to improve your sleep which has no doubt been compromised by the effects of stress.
Eat healthy – Eating a whole food diet rich in dark greens is helpful for stress management as it replaces essential B vitamins, magnesium and calcium. If you just can’t cut them out altogether, definitely slow down on stimulants such as caffeine and sugar.
Sleep – Ja right! Seriously though, getting enough sleep is imperative to reducing the toll stress takes on your body. Learning to relax your mind and body through the above suggestions is a good start to helping you get the rest you need. There are also natural supplements (botanical remedies) such as valerian root which have been proven to curb anxiety, relax muscles and better aid the onset of sleep, without the groggy side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Think differently – A more positive outlook on life goes a long way in helping you to cope with stressful situations. Learn to take each moment as it comes, dealing with the here and now, rather than the ‘what if’s’ that are not necessarily guaranteed to happen anyway. Let go of things that are not important and start to supervise your thought processes to curb worrying about things you cannot change anyway.
Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified doctor with additional qualifications in Naturopathy and is passionate about finding natural solutions to stress management to boost your overall health. Talk to him today about taking control of your stress.