This is a guide to help you into a plan of self-care, by equipping you with the tools to balance stress levels. This is a multi-layered approach of managing stressors and actively seeking to recover from chronic stress conditions. The goal is to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system which inhibits the body from overworking and restores the body to a calm and composed state. Many of us operate in the sympathetic nervous system which leads to stressed fight or flight responses. This is an unhealthy state to live in. Let’s find balance!
Stress defined + triggers
How stress affects hormones
How to balance & manage stress
Diet & supplements
Other lifestyles changes (exercise, meditation/deep breathing, social connection, nature/grounding, massage)
Topic 1: Stress defined + triggers
Stress defined: It is our response to stressors. When we respond to stimuli, the body releases a cascade of hormone sin order to try and adapt to the situation, usually resulting in a fight or flight response.
Triggers: Release of adrenaline and cortisol hormones.
Toxic diet: High in process foods, refined sugars, MSG, Aspartame, Artificial colors & flavors, and Trans fats.
Lack of hydration.
Acidic diet (regular consumption of sugar, white/refined carbohydrates, meat, processed foods, fast foods, soda, energy drinks, coffee drinks).
Traumatic situations and memories/flashbacks.
Lack of sleep.
Other lifestyle factors such as family, work, finances, etc.
Topic 2: Stress-related conditions
Blood sugar imbalance
Irritable bowel syndrome
Memory problems/foggy thinking
Angina (chest pain/pressure)
Nervous ticks & muscle spasms
Anxiety disorders. Note on Anxiety: It is the state of being “uneasy, chronic nervous discomfort, often worried about what may happen”. It usually presents itself as chronic apprehensiveness. Uninterrupted cases of anxiety can develop into psychological disorder with fear and emotional isolation (i.e. Panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, or post traumatic stress disorder).
Topic 3: How stress affects hormones
Goal: To be in the Parasympathetic versus the Sympathetic. Sympathetic Nervous system encourages the release of harmful hormones (putting us in a fight or flight state). We heal and recover in the Parasympathetic state. We shift into the Parasympathetic nervous system when we healthy balance stress.
The Hypothalamus gland (also known as the ‘circuit breaker’ thyroid gland) can be effected by chronic/extreme stress, and therefore potentially cause thyroid imbalances such as Hyper or Hypothyroidism.
Over exertion of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands can cause adrenal exhaustion. This results in a person experiencing chronic low energy and fatigue and sometimes accompanied with weight gain. The adrenals are small glands and need time to rest and replenish.
Melatonin and serotonin can also be compromised with significant stress, and result in sleep disruption and mood imbalances.
Topic 4: How to balance & manage stress
Diet & supplements:
- Eat clean and as wholesome as you can!
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoid/cut out all sugars, refined carbohydrates (examples: sweets, candy, soda, white flour, chips, pastries, cookies, breads, fast foods, etc). Find healthy replacements! Examples: Spritzer water vs soda. Veggie sticks vs chips.
- B vitamins are catalysts for energy production. Be sure to obtain enough from your diet or take a vitamin B complex. Food sources: fish, poultry, meat, eggs and dairy products, leafy green vegetables, seeds and legumes/beans. B12 is a common deficiency. Labs can reveal of you are truly lacking in B12 or not. If you are, an easy supplement to take is Garden of Life's B12 Spray: https://bit.ly/3N8hAgF
- Consume natural nervines (these are herbs that promote relaxation and calming the nervous system). Nervines are offten found is herbal teas and supplements. Examples: Valerian, Chamomile, Passionflower, Oat straw, Lemon Balm
- Consume natural adaptogens (these are herbs that help the body to adapt and rebound from stress). Examples: Maca, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Ginseng. See my follow-up post to learn more about Adaptogens!
- Magnesium: Natural muscle relaxant, decreases tension. Food sources of magnesium: dark chocolate, avocados, spinach, almonds, beans & legumes.
Other lifestyles changes:
Stay hydrated with pure water.
Get your rest for tissue repair (7 to 10 hours is best).
Deep breathing & meditation.
Social connection. We all need support.
Professional therapy. Connect with your work’s EAP.
Nature & grounding (walking barefoot in nature)
Gentle massage. Find a practitioner you are comfortable with and ask questions as to what is the best modality for you (Swedish massage, Trigger point therapy, Deep tissue, Reflexology, etc.).
Aromatherapy. Use soothing essential oils to help the body relax. Calming pure oils are: lavender, cedar wood, sandalwood, neroli, chamomile.
Topic 5: Resources
Calm is a product that is powder based magnesium. Find out more at https://www.naturalvitality.com
For therapeutic herbs, check out: https://us.foursigmatic.com/
If you are having a difficult time consuming B vitamin sources, try supplementing, such as Dr. Axe’s B Complex: https://store.draxe.com/products/ancient-nutrients-vitamin-b-complex or Garden of Life's B12 Spray https://bit.ly/3N8hAgF
Book: Hormone Harmony, by Alicia Stanton M.D. & Vera Tweed
Get good sleep (the best recovery). Ways to do this:
Set a standard schedule of when you go to bed and when you awake.
Have a bedtime routine. Example: Stretch, drink tea and read before bed.
Turn off all electric, wi-fi devices. These give off blu light and disruptive electromagnetic waves that steal from a healthy sleep cycle.
Do not eat before bed. Give your digestive system a minimum of 2 hours before laying down. A full stomach is stressful to the body while resting.
Find a mattress that suits you. New hybrids offer technologies, such as cooling memory foam and mineral infusions to help with comfort levels and body recovery. Example: Copper infused mattress, such as Layla Mattress https://laylasleep.com/
➽Disclaimer: This information is intended for educational purposes only, and NOT intended as medical health care claims, cures, or therapies. Please consult with your doctor/specialist if you have any health concerns or questions about herbal medicine.
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