Holistic Health Collective

Stress Reduction

Is stress good for us? The answer is – it depends…. There are several forms of stress: hypostress, eustress, and hyperstress. Hypostress is not having enough to stimulate or inspire you to perform at your best. Hyperstress is having too much pressure to a point you are no longer able to perform the best you can because there’s too much happening too quickly. Eustress is the happy medium (like Goldilocks and the Three Bears); it’s just the right amount of pressure to get you into your peak performance.

Another way of looking at stress is the cycle of stress. Look at the diagram below and consider how often you find yourself experiencing some of the symptoms described and consider whether some of your symptoms may be associated with stress or anxiety.

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When we start to experience stress our sympathetic nervous system begins to kick in and we experience changes in our body including an increase in heart rate, sweating, slowed digestion, and even increased blood glucose levels. This is called the fight or flight response. Evolutionarily when we were exposed to life threatening stressors like a large bear or an animal chasing us, we set aside all our day to day metabolic processes and honed in on securing our physical safety. We either got ready for a fight or ready to run!

However, in our day to day realities these stressful situations are less likely to be a big bear or mountain lions. They may be work related, family stressors, a major pandemic, or other emotional or physical challenges unique to our lives. If our stress response remains constant in light of these environmental triggers there are long term consequences on our bodies, when the sympathetic nervous system is up-regulated.

This can lead to long term affects of increased blood pressure, elevated cortisol levels, and a suppressed immune system. It can also manifest into medical issues such as insomnia, depression, weight gain, physical pain, and metabolic syndrome just to name a few changes that occur in the body.

Just because you are experiencing stress this doesn’t mean that you necessarily are bound to suffer from persistence of the above medical ailments. Some of the effects of an increased sympathetic nervous system response can be reversed with changes in habits and lifestyle. Some more serious health conditions may need to involve support by a therapist or physician to make changes in your stress response happen.

Below is list of daily activities you can explore to help rebalance your sympathetic and parasympathetic response to day to day stressors.

Stress Relief Tips:

  1. Try regular technology free days.
  2. Go for a brisk walk for 20-30minutes, three to four times per week.
  3. Just sit in nature with no distractions for 15-20mins every week
  4. Write down 5 affirmations per day
  5. Create a quiet corner or sanctuary in the home
  6. Practice a breathing exercise like the 4-6-8 breath
    • Breathe in for 4 counts
    • Hold your breath for 6 counts
    • Breath out for 8 counts
    • Repeat and do a total of 3 cycles every morning
  7. Mindfulness Based Activities
    1. Practicing utilizing all 5 senses while doing a daily activity: smell, taste, hearing, touch, sight
    2. Peeling an orange, brushing teeth, eating a meal
  8. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  9. Acupuncture, Massage, Osteopathic Manipulation, Hypnosis

Herbal Supplements:

  1. Herbal supplements for sleep, melatonin 1mg QHS.  Can be used with other antidepressants may also benefit GERD.  Avoid in pregnancy, take care in those using a blood thinner such as Coumadin.
  2. Herbal supplement for anxiety and or sleep.  Valerian root tablet or capsule 250mg with meals up to three times daily or use before bedtime.  Look for 0.8% valeric acid on the label.  Can be used safely with other antidepressants.  Taper upwards as needed and watch for sedation.
  3. Herbal supplement for anti-anxiety as needed use.  Kava, use as a tea for anxiety, or supplement 100-200mg two to three times daily PRN.   It can also benefit as a muscle relaxant.  It is not to be used continually for long periods of time.  Not to be used with anyone with liver disorder.
  4. Chamomile Tea, use for sleep, anxiety, GERD.   Drinking a large cup 3x per day.

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