Perhaps the most important factor affecting your health is your ability to cope with stress. The way we handle stress effects how we move through life, and is a massive influence on our emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral health. The most effective way to deal with this is to cultivate the proper methods for managing whatever comes our way, and to choose habits that help us thrive. Mindfully addressing and managing stress has the power to change everything.
The effects of stress are sprawling. 95% of illness is worsened by stress, and stress damages the memory center of your brain. Physical signs of stress include weight gain, insomnia, loss of sex drive, frequent illness, and low energy, to name a few. While these may seem like common issues that are typically difficult to deal with, learning how to manage stress and develop coping mechanisms can greatly improve your current state of health and reduce the likelihood that you will develop problems associated with excessive stress in the future.
The best way to approach and manage stress is from a holistic standpoint. This requires us to pinpoint the source, to mentally process it, and to commit to practices that help us nurture our minds and release our stress.
Stress can live quietly in our psyche, affecting our personalities and day-to-day lives. By taking some time to look inward and see what’s causing it, be it relationship issues, tension at work, worry over children, or your health, you can compartmentalize it and look at ways to work through the problems associated with it. This will enable you to take responsibility over your situation, and make changes that need to be made.
When you give your body what it needs, it supports you with the energy and mental space to tackle the demands of life. By identifying weaknesses in your body and strengthening your system with nourishing foods and practices, you’ll create an inner environment that eases your stress and supports a thriving body and mental state.
The body has its own stress relievers, pain killers, and sleep enhancers, all of which are managed by our adrenal glands. Too much stress can cause them to become out of whack, creating imbalances and depleting our natural reserves. This leads many of us to turn to stimulants, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, or prescription pills to help return to a manageable state of mind, providing short term relief but further throwing off our natural reserves.
Whole foods and healthy fats support a well functioning adrenal system that seamlessly regulates our physical, emotional, and mental health. Stimulants, processed food, and sugar all drain the body’s innate power to take care of itself, and put the body into shock increasing stress levels even more. By increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, ethically raised animal protein, and water, you encourage your endocrine system to balance itself and create the natural drugs it needs.
Life is full of beauty and enjoyment, and finding things that make your heart sing is one of the best things you can do for your health. Whether it’s taking a walk at the end of the day, getting a spa treatment, or taking a nap, consciously letting yourself relax and have personal time is critical in reducing stress and strengthening your system. This includes saying no to requests that you don’t feel genuinely happy to do, releasing relationships that do not serve you, and cutting down on obligations. When you take care of your own needs first, you’re better able to show up for others when they need you.
When our bodies are constantly trying to rebalance and heal themselves, it puts them in a non-stop state of stress. Every symptom you experience is a message from your body and is not to be ignored. If you have frequent headaches, stomach issues, chronic fatigue, or any other daily discomforts, you must consider those as warning signals and know that your body is not at its best. See your doctor about allergies, nutrient deficiencies, or gut problems that might be holding you back from feeling your best.
Sleep is one of the most powerful health enhancers out there and should not be taken for granted. Often times drinking water to flush the system and really committing to getting enough sleep will give your body the boost it needs to combat stress and get back on track.
Coping with the news of a serious illness can be difficult, to say the least. Whether it’s you or a family member, priorities shift, and questions, concerns and emotions quickly flood your conscience. While faced with news of a serious illness is disheartening, it does not have to be debilitating.
Dealing with an illness in the family can quickly throw off what would otherwise be a harmonious home environment. Family stress levels can begin to climb, and effect things outside of the household including performance in school and at work.
There are lots of tools at your disposal so that stress and anxiety do not begin to run your life, and you can manage the emotional demands of the situation while still tending to your responsibilities.
The first thing to do to manage stress around an illness is to write down questions or concerns you have and then set up a time to sit down with your doctor and discuss. Having a clear understanding of what you’re dealing with and how it’s affecting your body will be clarifying and empowering. Your doctor can tell you what you need to know and will give you specific steps to optimize your health. After you have a good understanding, taking measures to address what’s in your control can help you relax and ease the burden of your own illness or the illness of another. Besides using the stress management techniques noted above, you can take the following steps to make your situation more manageable and comfortable.
Actively addressing and managing your stress can ultimately change your life. Use the advice tips above to become more aware of where stress is in your life, and give your body the right foundation with clean, whole foods and plenty of sleep.