Stress - Identify, Understand, Address
We all experience differing levels of stress at different stages in our lives. Doses of stress hormones are actually essential for basic human functions such as regulating blood pressure. The primary stress hormone, Cortisol, can be toxic though when delivered in high amounts over time attributing to “Chronic” stress. (Chronic is thought to be more than 3 months)
Possible Signs of Stress
You may experience some, all or none of these signs
Shortness of breath
Constipation or diarrhea
Increased alcohol consumption
Eczma or psoriasis
Loss of Sex Drive
Amenorrhea (periods stop)
Effects of Chronic Stress:
Impaired cognitive performance
Suppressed thyroid function (slowing metabolism and leaving us feeling low on energy)
Blood sugar imbalances
Decreased bone density
Decrease in muscle tissue
Higher blood pressure
Inflammatory responses in the body
Decreased recruitment of Type 1 fibers
Slowed healing Increased abdominal fat Metabolic syndrome
Ways to Reduce Stress (using Yoga Principles):
1) Focus entirely on what you are doing at this moment. When you wash your dishes, focus only on washing your dishes, try not to think about anything else, like what to have for dinner.
2) Try to perceive the beauty and worth in everything (and everyone) around you, and in everything you do, no matter how mundane a task.
3) Accept the way you are feeling without judgement (once you learn to recognise how you are feeling you can avoid reacting negatively to everyday situations).
4) Maintain a sense of balance (multitask to ensure you don't develop an unhealthily preoccupation with one area of your life)
5) Establish and maintain a routine (but not too ridged, such that you feel trapped or inflexible)
6) Meditate to help calm the mind whilst awake, withdrawing from the bustle of human activity. Simply gazing out of a window or at a flame whilst letting the mind wander until you start to settle, is a big step forward to soothing a frenetic mind. (see my blogs on mediations)
7) Rest completely and often (8.5hours per night if possible)
8) Eat simple, fresh and energy giving food (see my other blogs in the nutrition category). Avoid alcohol, which is both a poison and a depressant.
9) Be wary of attachment to material things like possessions. Letting go of attachment liberates you. 10) You will never have enough, but being grateful for what you have will help releave you of wanting more.