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

Headaches/migraines

Shortness of breath

Mouth ulsers

Tinnitus

Decreased appetite

Excessive irritability

Palpitations/chest pain

Memory Loss

Indigestion

Stomach ulsers

Constipation or diarrhea

IBS

Insomnia

Acne

Back pain

Neck pain

Hip pain

Shoulder pain

Increased alcohol consumption

Increased anxiety

Tearfulness

Short temper

Muscle ticks

Binge eating

Eczma or psoriasis

Loss of Sex Drive

Angry Outbursts

Fatique

Hives/rashes

Panic Attacks

Amenorrhea (periods stop)

Impotence

Effects of Chronic Stress:

  • Lowered immunity

  • 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.

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