Stress - we deal with it on a regular basis and hear about it all the time. Your doctor may even have talked with you about controlling your stress. But, is it really such a big deal?
So what is stress anyway? The Miriam Webster dictionary defines stress as “a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation.”
The long-term activation of the stress-response system - and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones - can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
• Digestive problems
• Heart disease
• Sleep problems
• Weight gain
• Memory and concentration impairment
Source: Mayo Clinic
Common causes of stress are: relationships, finances, career, health, home environment, diet and lifestyle. Each of my clients starts their session by filling out a “Life Balance” worksheet, which addresses each area. Then, we review it and see where the most attention is needed. I explain to him/her that, in order to improve their health, it is just as important to reduce stress, as it is to focus on diet and exercise.
It’s not realistic to eliminate all stress from our lives, of course, but there are plenty of things we can do to minimize it and keep our bodies healthy.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep: Inadequate sleep may interfere with immune function, concentration and hormone regulation. I have found that diffusing lavender essential oil every night helps me to unwind and get a nice deep sleep.
- Take control of your schedule: Are you running your schedule or is your schedule running you? This is your life and you are the one in control of your day. Sometimes we let other people dictate our schedule. Take back control of your time.
- Ask for help: It’s okay to ask for some assistance. Back in the day, they used to have whole villages that worked together to get everything done. You don’t have to be perfect and asking for help shows that you are wise not that you are weak.
- A little self-care goes a long way: You only have one body. Take good care of it so that it can support you for a long time. Drink plenty of water, practice breathing exercises, meditate, stretch, get a massage, take a nice long bath with Epsom salt and your favorite essential oil, take your vitamins, eat at regular intervals.
- Laugh more: The physical act of laughing stimulates many organs, relieves your stress response, soothes tension, improves immunity, relieves pain and improves mood.
- Exercise: Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
- Focus on the positive: Instead of focusing on everything that still needs to get done, focus on what you have already accomplished. Give yourself credit for all that you get done in a day.
- Listen to music: Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet classical music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones.
- List all your commitments and responsibilities: Figure out your biggest causes of stress and look for ways you can reduce it.
- Find support: Whether it is a friend, counselor or Health Coach. Just the act of talking to someone about the areas in your life that you would like to change will relieve some tension. Furthermore, having someone to help you work through each area and hold you accountable to the changes you want to make is even better.
Your Fabulous Health Coach,
Stacie Gavin CHHC, AADP