By Dr. Sasha Blissett
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is defined as the non-specific response of the body to the demands of change. Stress can be internal or external. Internal stresses include illnesses, injuries, and medical procedures. External stresses include being in uncomfortable social situations, having increased workload, marital problems, and financial constraints. These stresses can set the stage for a vicious chain reaction resulting in feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, nervous, tense, sad, frustrated, and exhausted. When prolonged, stress of any type can contribute to health problems as serious as depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
The acute stress response is necessary to initiate the “fight or flight” reaction to an intense event like being chased by an angry dog. It causes the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine to kick-in and promote the appropriate physical reaction to defend or run.
Under normal conditions cortisol is released from the adrenal glands to allow the body to react and adapt appropriately to stress. On the other hand, the chronic over secretion of cortisol can lead to unhealthy physiological responses, which includes impaired immune response and disruption of hormonal balance. Studies show that stress can have a rather deleterious effect on Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), possibly leading to increased cancer risk. Imbalanced cortisol secretion can lead to poor sleep, under active thyroid function, high blood pressure, poor memory and trigger mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety. It is easy to see the benefits of attacking stress at its knees.
Here are five great ways to help you beat stress:
- Use custom blends of herbs that like Glycyrrhiza, Eleuthrococcus, Schisandra and Ashwaganda. These herbs are known as adaptogens because they nourish and support your stress response. Vitamin B12, Vitamin B5, and Vitamin C help nourish the adrenal glands as well. These are great complements to these herbal formulas.
- Exercise eases tension, promotes relaxation, and boosts your feel good endorphins. These happy brain chemicals are why exercise is associated with less depression and anxiety.
- Start practicing stress relieving techniques such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and other mindfulness based techniques for 10-20 minutes 3-5 days per week.
- Sleep like a Pro! Late night TV, computer, and smart phone use chips away at one’s sleep hours, disrupts normal cortisol balance and inhibits the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn these items off and turn in early to lengthen your sleep hours and to boost your natural production of melatonin.
- Get salivary cortisol testing to determine if the rhythm of your cortisol secretion is disturbed. Identifying the type of imbalance can help determine the best approach to proper balance and adrenal gland function.
In summary, conquering stress helps reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, under active thyroid, cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression. Make sure to make slaying your stress dragons a must in your health maintenance routine.