You have two choices when it comes to stress…
1. Deal with it
2. Let it deal with you.
Most of us accept choice two by default and we may even wear our stress like a badge of honor, bragging to our friends about how two hours of sleep really isn’t that bad because Kevin’s science fair project looks Ahh-mazing!
The most annoying sentence out of a doctor’s mouth is, “You need to start managing your stress better.” What’s a girl to do when you are doing your very best and life comes at you fast? Let’s be honest, stuffing a handful of Kale in your mouth as you shove a van sized, gaggle of kids out the door for dance, soccer and piano, is not managing anything. And when your boss stacks up the work of three on your desk at 4:45, expletives under your breath is also not managing anything.
Let’s be real. Living a stress free life happened about 4 decades ago and is extinct and it really doesn’t matter what phase of life you are in, old or young, healthy or otherwise, life is stressful. How it looks is different for everyone, but the side effects are the same ravaging ones if you aren’t careful.
Here’s an interesting thing about stress…It is accumulative. Stressful events you experienced 10 years ago change you physiologically and those negative changes remain in your cells. Our adrenals are the organs designed to handle the stress but even they can only handle so much before they burn out, if we aren’t careful.
This is what happens when you are exposed to chronic stress…
- Cortisol, a hormone made in the adrenals, increases.
- You decide if you’re going to fight or flee.
- Even if you aren’t being chased by a bear, your body is going to think you are and it will respond accordingly…your heart rate will increase, your blood pressure will go up, breathing will become fast, and your muscles will tighten.
- Cortisol will tap into your protein stores in the liver and convert it to glucose to give you a shot of quick energy.
In a normal, healthy person, the stressful moment will end and your body will return to it’s normal, resting state, but imagine if all day, every day, you were being chased by a bear? Your body can’t keep engaging in this process to keep you alive, without long term damage and effects. What results from chronic stress is…
- Weight gain
- Brain Fog
- Decreased B Vitamins
- Impaired immune system
- Hormonal imbalance
- Obsessive thinking
- Muscle cramps
The list goes on and long my friend and many of you know what we are talking about here, firsthand. Here are some realistic and helpful ways to start managing your stress before it manages you.
- Sleep. It’s the number one, most important thing you can do for your body. Get 7-8 hours of natural sleep. At first that may not be possible due to the stress load on your adrenals so nap when you can.
- Restore nutrition. We say it all the time but nutrition is the basis of good health. Eat foods high in B Vitamins and Potassium. Unfortified Nutritional Yeast is a good source of B Vitamins.
- Ask your doctor about Magnesium and Calcium supplements…these are calming minerals and relax the muscles
- Acupressure. One of the best methods to release built up stress in the body is Acupressure. Certain pressure points in the body release the unhealthy tension.
- Connect with people, devices and social media…actually spend time with people…in person.
- Create pockets of space in a day to breathe deeply and take a walk. Walking outside is one of the best exercises a stressed person can engage in.
When our providers at Madison Women’s Clinic suggest we get our stress under control, they mean business! Take their advice to heart, for the sake of your good health and sanity. If you aren’t sure where to start or what that looks like, let them know! Madison Women’s Clinic is here for you!