Your temple needs care…
What is your body doing?
The biochemistry of the stress response:
Some people handle stress well. Others can be adversely affected by it, suffering from such symptoms as fatigue, teeth grinding, Trans Mandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), loss of appetite, skin disorders, low sex drive, low self esteem, cold hands, shallow breathing, constipation, high blood pressure, insomnia, depression, and the list goes on.
While stress is often viewed as mental or psychological, it has very real physical effects. The body responds to stress with a series of “fight or flight” biochemical changes including:
– Increased secretion of adrenaline.
– Elevated blood pressure.
– Activation of secretion of cortisol (the immune-suppressing hormone).
– Accelerated heart beat.
– Muscle tension.
– Slow or sluggish digestion. (The body does not absorb nutrients well under stress. Such disorders as bleeding ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome are not uncommon with either long term or acute stress).
– Increased secretion on blood sugar and blood fat resulting in negative cholesterol.
– Shrinkage of the Thymus gland caused by stress and trauma. This is the gland that is responsible for regulating our immune system and our T-cell counts. When this decreases, so does our ability to easily fight off illness.
All of the “fight or flight” biochemical changes mentioned above, are meant for situations when we are presented with imminent danger. But today, most of our stresses are not the result of physical threats, but the body still responds as if we were in the middle of a physical threat. We have the instinct to run or to fight, but we don’t do either. We can’t scream at the top of our lungs at the office, we can’t punch out our friend, boss or whomever – so what we don’t express, we repress. It all becomes lodged in the body in the form of energetic and physical blockages.
Key Vitamins for Stress Busting
Many of the disorders that arise from stress are the result of nutritional deficiencies. Below is a list of some of the key vitamins for stress busting:
– B complex: 100mg daily for healthy nervous system.
– Vitamin C with bioflavanoids: 3000mg -10000 mg daily. Essential to adrenal gland function. Stress depletes the adrenal gland hormones, and the anti stress hormones.
– L-Lysine: As directed on label. Good for cold sores which are often are an early indicator of stress. (Caution, do not take longer than 6 months)
– Vitamin E: 400 iu-600 iu daily with meals. Acts as a powerful immune boost and anti oxidant.
– Zinc: 50 mg daily. Good for immune function.
– Vitamin B6: 100-400mg daily assists with PMS.
– Fish Oil: Take between 2000mg to 4000mg for mental/emotional relaxation, heart heath, Cholesterol and blood pressure reduction
– A multivitamin with high enough doses of the full range.
– Melatonin, a natural sleep aid for insomnia. Start with 1.5 mg daily taken 2 hours or less before bedtime and only gradually increase to a maximum of 5 mg daily of the lesser dose is not working.
Key Herbs for Stress Busting
– Kava Kava: relaxes the mind as well as the entire body.
– Taumeel: excellent for relaxing the body from trauma or high stress situations. Contains a variety of calming herbs including Arnica, Belladonna, Echinacea, and Calendula.
– Valerian: Keeps the nervous system from being overwhelmed. Also a powerful sleep aid when taken at bedtime and helps ease stress related headaches.
– Passionflower: Extremely calming.
– Hops: Helps to relieve nervousness, restlessness, and decreases the desire for alcohol.
– Chamomile: A gentle relaxant and good nerve tonic.
– Lavender: Excellent to calm the nervous system when diffused on used in massage. Caution: Not to be used if pregnant unless in the final few weeks.
Supplements for Seasonal Depression:
– Fish Oil 2000-4000mg
– 5HTP 100 – 200 mg at night for sleep disturbances or in the morning for mood elevation (Cannot be taken if you are taking anti-depressants)
– IP6 (Inositol, B8) 1000mg -4000mg for nerve relaxation. combats anxiety and depression (Very high orthomolecular doses such as 12g daily has been shown to significantly and positively impact major depression and panic disorders)
– Vitamin D Sunshine in a bottle! 1000-3000 IU daily
Get a light box and spend 20 to 30 minutes daily with it during the fall and winter months.
Practice deep breathing. Allow yourself to breath in deeply though your nose and exhale very slowly through your mouth with your tongue placed at the roof of your mouth next to the gum line. Do this exercise four or five times until the tension passes.
– Monitor your internal self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves indicates how we feel about our environment and ourselves. Words have power! Talk to yourself with kindness and gentleness. Say “Correct and Cancel” when a negative thought comes into your mind and replace with a positive thought. Fill your own cup first and give to others from the overflow. Giving of yourself when you are depleted only causes more stress to you and others.
Repeat these positive affirmations throughout the day:
The more I take good care of myself, the more people around me benefit.
All is well. All is well.
I accept and approve of myself just the way I am.
I have faith and confidence in my future. I am secure.
I am safe. I trust in the process of life.
The Universe is conspiring in my favour at all times.
– Take a day off and go on a date with yourself. This kind of leisure activity takes the edge off of your tension and allows the body to relax.
– Do not deny or repress your emotions. This compounds your stress levels. Find a safe person or environment to share your feelings. Crying is an excellent release for bottled up emotions.
– Draw a warm and soothing bath. Add drops of lavender and chamomile oil. Light some aromatic candles for a soothing light atmosphere. This is very calming to the nervous system.
– Write in a journal. This allows you to create perspective and provides an opportunity for learning after the stress has passed.
– Colours impact how we feel within our environment. Use shades of blues and violets to create a peaceful environment.
– Pursue a hobby. Take time for yourself and do something that makes you happy. Avoid any guilt. You deserve to do something good for you.
– Give yourself extra time. Avoid rushing around. This only creates more toxic stress biochemicals in your body.
– Have relaxing music, or a book on tape handy for when you are stuck in traffic.
– Don’t sweat the small stuff! Stop taking life so seriously. Learn to let go and laugh.!
– Meditate – click here for some help.
By Victoria Lorient-Faibish MEd, CCC, BCPP, RPE