Helping the body: Stress management

Stress is defined as any condition that places undue strain on the body.

Stress can be physical (stress of exercise, or stress after hard disease), or emotional (separating from your partners, loosing job, paying bills, etc.).  Some people handle stress well, while the others get frustrated, and depressed.


Common symptoms of stress:


           Palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain and other signs of heart disease (don’t assume it’s a stress, check with the doctor!);

          Light-headedness, dizziness;

          Backache (might be chronic as wee as recurring);

          Tingling sensations in the fingers or toes;


          Digestive problems.


         Sleep problems;

          Problems with concentration;

          Fatigue even after rest;

          Change in appetite, and reliance on stimulants (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes);

          Feeling of anxiety;

          Decreased enjoyment of usually pleasurable things;

          Increased irritability.

80 percent of all major illnesses might be related to stress such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, endocrine and metabolic disease, skin disorders, infections, back problems, blood pressure, increased blood sugar.

When one experiences stress, his or her body reacts immediately by increasing secretion of adrenalin, elevation of blood pressure, acceleration of heartbeat, and greater tension in the muscles. As a result, digestion slows or even stops, fats and sugars are released from stores in the body, cholesterol levels rises and even the blood changes to more prone to clotting which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. These responses are made by body to react on stress and called “fight or flight” reaction, and they suppose to prepare one to face an immediate danger.  It’s the same reaction our ancestors had while living in caves, hunting for food, and running from danger.

Most of the symptoms correlated with stress are the result of increased production of hormone called adrenalin. Increased adrenalin level causes the body to step up its metabolism of proteins, fat and carbohydrates to quickly produce energy. As a result, amino acids, potassium and phosphorus are excreted, magnesium stored in muscle tissue is depleted, and not enough calcium is stored in the body. Stress triggers the release of cortisol, as well, an adrenal hormone that regulates carbohydrate metabolism and blood pressure. It also ages brain cells, and builds fat around the body’s midsection.  Also stress increases the level of interleukin-6 – immune system protein, which has direct effects on most of the cells in the body and therefore associated with many disorders like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer, periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease.  As a result of stress especially a long-term stress, the body experiences the nutrients deficiency and needs help. A long-term stress wears out the body.


Nutrients your body needs

while you are stressed out:


         Gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) acts as a tranquilizer. Important for brain function.

          Glutathione is an antioxidant that protects the cells against damage.

          Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) is important in the creation and transfer of chemical energy during breathing.

•         Taurine is essential for brain and heart protection.

•          Vitamin B complex is necessary for health of the nervous system.

          Vitamin C is essential for adrenal gland function.

          Anti-Stress enzymes remove toxic wastes and restore balance in the system.

          Calcium and magnesium are lost during stress which can lead to anxiety, fear, and hallucinations.

          Zink is needed for immune function and to protect the cells from free radical damage.


Some herbs are helpful during stress:

Bilberry (prevents distraction, mutation, and premature death of cells of the body), ginkgo biloba (helps brain function and good circulation), milk thistle (protects the liver), catnip in moderation (can cause drowsiness), chamomile (good relaxant and nerve tonic), hopes (easy nervousness, restlessness, decreases the desire for alcohol), passionflower (calming effect), skullcap (helpful for headaches), valerian (for nervous system and good sleep).


Eating tips during stressful periods:


          Your diet should be composed of 50-75 percent of raw food. Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich on minerals and vitamins, as well as on flavonoids many of which neutralize dangerous free radicals. Don’t deprive yourself from food. Changing eating habits is stressful by itself.

•          Eat breakfast. If you skip it, the stress is more difficult to handle.

•          Eat slowly. Stress slows down the digestion, so by eating fast you will make food even more difficult to digest.

•          Eat regular. Six small meals a day will do better that three regular big.

•          Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Mood-altering substances may bring temporarily relief from stress, but they do nothing to address the problem.

•         Avoid processed foods and foods that create stress on the system like an artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, eggs, chocolate, fried food, junk food, pork, red meat, sugar, products from refined white flour, food that contain hot spices, chips.

•          Eliminate dairy products for three weeks. Then reintroduce them slowly watching for returning symptoms of your “nervous” condition.

          Listen to your body and avoid foods that cause you discomfort.


If you want to deal with the stress,

you better do some changes to your life style:


•         Exercise regularly to increase the production of endorphins, brain chemicals that lift the mood. Any type of exercise will work as long as they are regular.

•         Learn to relax. For a few minutes each day sit quietly with your eyes closed. Learn a relaxation technique, such as yoga, meditation.  Meditation doesn’t have to have a religious connotation. You can meditate on a pleasant person, event, place, idea. It works the best when done regularly on a daily basis.

•          Practice deep breathing which is good for relieving your stress. Inhale deeply with your mouth closed, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth with your tongue touching the top of your tips next to the gum line. Do this for few times until the tension passes.

•          Listen to your favorite music. It increases the endorphin level as well.

•          Try to control your internal conversations. The way we talk to ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves and our environment. The words like “I should have done it better”, “It’s always my fault” are not helping the stress.

•          Identify the reason of your stress and try to view it as positive as you can.

•          Find a hobby, or do the things you enjoy. Don’t feel guilty when doing something for yourself. Your health is worth it.

•         Do not deny your emotions. Trying to repress them just compounds the stress. Keeping strong feelings bottled up causes them to resurface later as illness.  Don’t be afraid of cry.

•          Learn to laugh. Try to take the life easier.

•          Consider having a pet. Stroking an animal can help you relax.

•          Share your problems with the family member or friend.

•          If you feel you cannot handle your stress seek the help of a qualified practitioner.

Stress in young people should never be underestimated.

Young people have fewer mechanisms to deal with the stress situations.