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Jane's Blog Chronic Stress

Posted by Jane Jansen on

The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. Constant worry wears down your body, making you feel tired and anxious. You may be working harder than ever to make ends meet and make unhealthy choices about food and exercise, which can make you feel even worse. This can lead to serious depression. Chronic stress is often related to work. Many jobs require a lot out from us, and it can often feel like you never get a break or are always under pressure to perform.

The overlap of anxiety, depression, and pain is particularly evident in chronic and sometimes disabling pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, headaches, and nerve pain. Chronic pain causes stress and more pain! It activates the nervous system and the persistently stressed nervous system leads to chronic muscle tension, which becomes painful in and of itself. As a result of persistent stress, the brain comes to process pain information with greater and greater sensitivity and as a result less and less stimuli are required to experience pain

The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems.

Some types of stress can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias and even sudden death, particularly in people who already have cardiovascular disease. Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Stress not only amplifies anxiety and depression it also weakens the immune system. A weaker immune system increases the risk of becoming sick or accentuates the health problems that you already have. For instance, with stress you are more likely to catch a cold / sinus infection or develop shingles. Autoimmune symptoms will get worse. Stress can even cause a heart attack!

When stress is all around you there are lots of things you can do naturally without side effects to tone down the over reactions.

First of all, significantly reduce or totally eliminate caffeine. It does not help the situation. Ween off slowly! Don’t skip meals and don’t gorge on sugary foods including alcohol and fruits. High and low blood sugar levels affect your moods and stress levels. Drink a calming tea with meals!

Exercise regularly even for just 10-15 minutes to burn excess negative energy. Remember to do deep breathing exercises daily and try relaxation yoga. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably do, pace yourself and remember to have fun. All work and no play are not a good recipe for your mental health.

Helpful Supplements:

  1. Calm & Calmer (Lifetime Vitamins) is a supplement that contains L-Theanine which is an amino acid found in green tea and extracted out. It helps to calm the mind of racing or worrying thoughts without making you sleepy. In fact, it actually helps to make you more focused, less distracted and overwhelmed. Relora is an herbal combination of magnolia and phellodenron which have a calming effect on the adrenal glands (which activate the fight or flight hormones). This adrenaline rush often precipitates panic attacks. Relora helps to keep the adrenals from overreacting in stressful situations without making you sleepy. If you tend to have just worrisome thoughts, you can purchase Theanine separately or if you are prone to anxiety attacks (fight or flight feeling) then plain Relora may be a better choice for you.
  1. American Skullcap herb has a long history of use in Western herbalism, especially in women. Skullcap is a stress neutralizer that can help calm and center people that deal with high stress on a daily basis. That’s most of us today! As an anti-spasmodic, it soothes muscle tension caused by long days sitting at a desk. As a nervine, it supports nervous system health and can even decrease nerve pain. Skullcap refreshes the mind and body from being both overstimulated and exhausted.
  2. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen herb, it helps you adapt in the face of stress. When your body is stressed, the immune and nervous systems can be affected, leaving you depleted.  Ashwagandha can help nourish and restore optimal nervous and immune system health by normalizing mood, energy levels, hormones and overall immune function. Cortisol is the stress hormone that goes up when we are stressed out. Cortisol also creates longer-term fatigue and mental fogginess, and brain structures for emotion and memory are damaged when cortisol is too high. Most notably a 2012 study showed serum cortisol levels were substantially reduced in the participants taking ashwagandha. 
  3. Relax-o-zyme (Enzymatic Therapy) is a somewhat more potent natural relaxer which contains premium extracts of valerian, passion flower, and hops. These herbs are combined with nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which are important for proper nervous system function. It is particularly beneficial for stress that causes neck and back tension/tightness or tension headaches.

If you need further assistance in-office or telephone appointments are available. You can also call Holistic Healthline Radio every Saturday 8am-10am EST toll free 1-866-920-9455.

Jane Jansen  Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center  508-336-4242

Host Holistic Healthline Radio

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