7 Stress Relief Tips

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Kristin Kons- "Eating with Purpose.com"

Kristin Kons is a personal friend of mine and is a nutritionist with Godly inspiration always mixed into whatever she teaches.  I trust her immensely because of her spiritual inspiration being a big part of who she is and what she teaches.  Enjoy her article and may you learn something to bless your life. Here is her website: eatingwithpurpose.com

I actually had to laugh when I saw my topic for this month, natural stress relief. At the exact second I received the e-mail for this topic, I was completely stressing out about all I had to do for that day! I almost e-mailed Doug back to tell him maybe Kyle would be better equipped to write on this topic.

I really did have a good laugh, took a deep breath, and said a prayer. I could feel the stress melting away, at least for a little while, anyway. It seems these days we all experience quite a bit of stress in our daily lives. How powerful are the effects of stress on the body? And, does stress really impact our health?

Chronic stress is so powerful that it is like poison to the body. Our thoughts trigger a cascade of physical reactions that extend throughout the body. This means that our emotions and thoughts (positive or negative) actually alter the chemicals in our body, creating balance or imbalance. So, if we are upset and stressed, our body is physically weakened.

Does Stress Impact Our Health?

The idea that emotions impact health in regards to the development of disease is nothing new. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that at least 85% of all diseases appear to have an emotional element.

What we need to be aware of is that stress is not just emotional in origin. The body does not differentiate between emotional stress and other kinds of stress, such as physical (pain, injuries, health issues), dietary (the food we eat), or chemical (environmental toxins, personal care products, etc.). Yes, eating the wrong foods creates added stress to the body. So while you are mentally relaxing and unwinding with that piece of cake, your body is under stress trying to deal with this unhealthy, un-natural food.

It’s now easy to see how our body is constantly under stress, and it is not just major stressors that cause problems. Although, these usually tip our health over the edge, and this is why it often seems to be the case that health issues manifest during difficult times. But, it is the little daily stressors like poor diet, not enough sleep, etc., that add up and have an impact on health over time, and how we handle these stressors makes all the difference.

Does Stress Cause Certain Health Issues?

During times of heightened stress, hormones such as cortisol protect us, at first. But, when these same protective hormones are produced repeatedly or in excess, they create a gradual and steady cascade of harmful changes in the body’s chemistry, leaving it weak and vulnerable for fungus to invade. As Doug has taught us, fungus is an opportunistic parasite of man. When our body is weakened, it takes full advantage of overpowering the good guys, contributing to various health issues ranging from things as simple as headaches to diseases as serious as cancer and everything in-between.

      Hypothyroidism
      Heart disease
      Prostate and breast cancer
      Menstrual irregularities
      Osteoporosis
      Autoimmune disorders such as lupus
      Hormonal imbalances
      Weight issues
      Diabetes, blood sugar imbalances
      Weakened immune system
      Inflammation
      Rheumatoid arthritis
      Headaches
      High blood pressure
      Skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, anxiety, etc…

Stress is a normal part of life, but it is how we manage it that makes the difference on the impact it has on our health. No need to stress, small changes make a big difference!

7 Tips to Combat Stress

Diet:
I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed I often grab the wrong foods to comfort me, leading to more stress, depression, anxiety and tight pants!

A healthy, whole foods based diet is essential in helping the body combat stress. Foods like salmon, avocados, eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds are just a few foods that help to support the body while under stress. And guess what? These are all on the Phase 1 diet. Did Doug know what he was doing or what?

Not only does the Phase 1 diet have foods that help with stress, but it also gets to the root cause of health issues, and dealing with health issues is definitely stressful. So by making the Phase 1 diet a lifestyle you will be improving your health and nourishing the body to keep it strong to support our jam-packed, stressful lives.

I came across a very interesting study that shows just how powerful food can be at supporting the body during stress. In Belgium, researchers treated pigs with a variety of nutrients just before putting them in a transportation simulator (basically a vibrating crate). After 2 hours of simulation, only those pigs treated with tryptophan and vitamin E had non-elevated levels of stress hormones! Nuts and seeds are a great source of tryptophan and vitamin E.

Planning: Changing over to a healthy diet often creates added stress until we get into the groove of things. The #1 tip to make healthy eating easy and stress-free is to plan.

Stock your pantry and freezer with key ingredients, so you can always whip up a quick healthy meal. My favorite meal I always have stocked (in case I don’t have time to get to the grocery store or if it was just a crazy day) is my Easy Quinoa Dinner. Click here for the link to that recipe, as well as the other recipes that were on the Phase 1 Food Special in case you missed it. This will help to give you ideas on easy recipes and key foods to have stocked in your pantry.

Supplements: I always start with diet as the foundation, but supplements do just that; they supplement or fill in the gaps for what our body needs in order to bring it back into balance. In last month’s article I told you about one of my favorite supplements, maca, that balances hormones and supports the adrenals, helping the body to cope with daily stress. Other herbs that help with this as well are rhodiola, holy basil, ashwagandha and schisandra berry. You can find all these herbs in a product called Adrenal Health by Gaia Herbs, which I love to take daily.

If you experience anxiety or panic attacks or need to naturally calm down a bit during a stressful situation, kava kava is another wonderful herb. When my brother was in law school he started to experience anxiety attacks before his exams. He started to take kava kava before each exam and his panic attacks disappeared; he swears by this stuff! I love Gaia Herbs brand of kava kava as well.

Always check with your doctor and do your own research to make sure these herbs would be a good fit for you.

Exercise: If you’re feeling too stressed and busy for exercise, think again! Study after study confirms exercise is one of the best ways to help the body combat stress. Not only does it increase your overall sense of well being, but it bumps up the production of endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals produced by the brain. When I was dealing with depression, I always noticed that when I exercised the depression went away. That is how I fell in love with my daily run or walk. It gave me a high I just couldn’t live without!

Laughing: We’ve heard that laughing is the best medicine… and science actually backs that up! One study showed that laughing increased blood flow as much as a 15-30 minute workout.

Past studies on laughing have found that stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, which are released when a person is stressed, may harm the body by suppressing the immune system and constricting blood vessels. But the researchers believe laughing causes the body to release beneficial chemicals, like endorphins (just like with exercise), which may counteract the effects of stress hormones and cause blood vessels to dilate.

Laughing may also boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, which is another plus. So laugh a lot; this is an easy one!

Positive Attitude: Research has proven that negative emotions absolutely impact physical well-being. A negative attitude is mainly just a bad habit. You need to retrain the brain to be more positive. One of the most impacting studies/programs I have ever done for my health and attitude (and I’ve done a lot of programs) is Benay Behnke’s, “Think Well Live Well Now”. She was on Know The Cause last year talking about how stress and poor attitudes impact health in a big way. Her program is very intense and in-depth, but my husband and I both went through it, and it was life changing for us both! In a nutshell, the program explains the science behind our toxic thoughts and positive thinking, and then shows how these scientific findings supports what the Bible has said all along. Truly eye opening!

In her book, she says, “Unforgiveness, bitterness, anger and resentment cause chemicals (acids) which eat away at the heart, leaving physical scar tissue that hardens the heart.” That was mind blowing to me, our thoughts and attitude are so powerful that it can physically cause scar tissue to develop, leading to heart disease. Wow!

Prayer: This, in my opinion, is the most important ingredient of all in handling stress, and life for that matter. I know the mornings are usually crazy for most of us, but setting some time aside first thing to do a daily devotional, pray and hear how God wants to prioritize your day has helped me to keep God’s agenda first in my life. This renewed perspective relieves stress for me in a big way. I find when I get out of the habit of doing this daily quiet time, I am more stressed and my life seems much more chaotic. One of my favorite devotionals is “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby.

A combination of these 7 stress-busting tips will help your mind, body and spirit to deal with the daily stressors of life. Life isn’t always easy, but I find when I am following these principles I am much more grounded and content.

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2 Responses to 7 Stress Relief Tips
  1. Elizabeth
    March 7, 2012 | 10:05 pm

    If people have stress, they are activating the stress response, and so learning and activating the relaxation response can and will replace the stress response, which is a great stress relief tip as well, wouldn’t you agree?

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