In the pursuit of getting healthy we all tend to be aware of the negative foods we need to eliminate that I have covered so far in this series. However there is a silent enemy that is causing as much damage to your healt as all those detrimental foods: stress.
At the moment 43% of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and the American Medical Association has observed that stress is the cause of 60% of all illnesses and disease.
Stress makes up a very large part of our lives and it has evolved over the centuries from stress over not having adequate shelter to me worrying about not getting caught up on MadMen in time for the newest episode.
Our stresses today range from significant to trivial but they can all have the same effects in our body. There are good kinds of stress, ones that can keep us alert and help us avoid danger. Then there are ones that continually challenge us without allowing us breaks or relaxation in between.
What Actually is stress?
Stress is how your body reacts to potentially harmful situations, and it does not matter if it is a real or a perceived stress, your body reacts the same way. When stress hits your body releases chemicals and hormones that are helping you to prevent injury or trauma, your fight or flight response more or less.
This is helpful for jumping out of the way of a car running a red light but gradual, long term stress can have some serious effects on the body. Ready for a long list? Here it goes…
headaches & dizziness
irritability and anger
grinding teeth and tension in the jaw
increased heart rate
Diabetes type I & II
weight gain and obesity
lack of energy
immune system dysfunction
This list can keep going but it gives you an idea of just how detrimental stress can be.
The big 3 things that put stress on the body are:
Psychologists say one of the first things you need to do when dealing with stress is to find out where the stress is coming from. This will allow you to take the step of realizing what stress is in or out of your control.
Simply getting into the mind frame of realizing that there are things out of your control can put yourself at ease in a kind of understanding way.
This mind set can make a world of difference according to the American Heart Association. They state that changing your thought process can have real stress management benefits. Simply getting in the habit of saying “I can’t do this” to “i’ll do the best I can” can set yourself up for success.
Other mind set changes can be instead of thinking “everything is going wrong” to thinking I can take things one step at a time.
The thought process may seem simple however it is more about getting in the habit which can set yourself to gradually have your mind be put at ease more and more.
Here are 5 practical things you can do to cope with stress:
count to ten before reacting
deep breathing- inhale for a count of 4, hold it for a 2 count and slowly exhale- repeat 4-5 times
long walks/exercise are incredibly effective
Don’t be afraid to vent to someone who is willing to listen
SLEEP- sleeping helps metabolize those stress hormones. So do not deprive yourself during times of stress, in fact make it a point to get even more sleep
With this the last of the 5 part ‘Start Getting Healthy Nutrition Series’ I wanted to finish with something that is often overlooked in the pursuit of health and wellness. Managing stress is going to be as critical as what you feed your body and when you can get a good handle on all of these variables you set yourself up for success in the pursuit of great overall health!