It’s not just something that we feel in our minds, being stressed out. Stress is also a biochemical response by the body.
Some stress is good, called eustress.
Like properly scaled exercise (not too muh, not too little) our body responds to some eustress by getting stronger and fitter.
But too much stress, or ‘bad’ stress (distress) overloads our systems and causes them to break down.
We believe that stress is, arguably, as bad as poor food choices in bringing us sickness and poor quality of life.
Getting a handle on your stress, both physical and mental, is one of the most important things you can do to live a happy, healthy life.
And so I present to you, stress and the equation of harm
Stresses – Recovery (Regeneration) = Amount of Harm
So what are stresses? Stresses wear you down and exhaust you.
Physical stress – these include things like:
Too little sleep
Poor blood sugar control
Infections – anywhere in the body, including chronic gut infections (dysbiosis)
Other inflammatory conditions – autoimmunity, food reactions, etc.
Mental stress – anything that gets you worked up. Typical things include:
Time pressure – anytime you feel you don’t have enough time to get something done
Relationship troubles – personal & professional
What are recovery and regeneration?
Recovery builds you back up again.
Food – quality food that keeps blood sugar stable and doesn’t trigger inflammatory reactions
Sleep – most people need 7-9 hours of sleep, with most needing 8-9 hours per night. Ideally you would wake feeling rested
Exercise – restorative exercise often includes things like gentle walking, stretching, light swimming. Things that get your body moving, your circulation flowing, but feel “easy”. If it requires effort or makes you sweat much, it isn’t restorative exercise, it is stressful exercise (and remember some stressful exercise is a GOOD thing, as long as you can recover appropriately from it)
Massage and other rehab techniques
Herbal adaptogens – my favorite class of herbs, these well-researched (in China and the former Soviet Union/Russia) herbal medicines help modulate the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (how the body creates the stress response) and shield the body from some of the negative effects of stress.
Reframing events – mental stress is less about the events themselves and more about our response to them. For one person losing their house is immensely stressful (“the end of the world”) for another they are happy because they hated that darn house anyway. Learning to look for the silver lining in bad events, can help decrease your mental stress.
Getting unplugged – Modern life moves at a pace that we did not evolve to handle, and I think it’s a good thing to periodic unplug. Turn off the internet and the computers and the media and drop out. Get back to a human pace of life, if only for a short while.
Getting out into nature – Most of us find getting out of the concrete jungle into nature to be immensely satisfying. Get your bare feet onto some grace or bare dirt sometime, it does wonders.
Prayer/meditation – research has proven the beneficial effects of a meditative practice. It can be hard to find the time, it’s worth it.
Quiet time – in our American culture, we have a mythology that says that if you’re not working you’re bad. If you take time off to do nothing, you are wasting it. That’s just not true. Life moves in cycles, and there are times to be busy and times to rest. What most truly successful people have found is that if you take the time to rest, it let’s your busy time be more productive. A win-win situation.
If you are overly stressed you are hurting yourself.
What can you do?
You have two choices:
Lower your stress – get physical conditions taken care of, reframe and use meditation or prayer to reduce your mental stress
Increase your recovery – are you eating well, sleeping enough, etc?
But remember, you can only increase your recovery to a point, it’s not an excuse to keep cranking your life higher and higher. If you constantly run your car in the red zone, even if you are scrupulous about maintaining it, you will eventually break something.
Watch your stress and recovery equation.
Keep your stress moderate and your recovery high and chances are you’ll get to 150,000 miles and beyond.
At Aspire Natural Health we are experts at helping people suffering with digestive issues and autoimmunity.
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