Mar 182013

stressedYou have heard of the expression, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”. Well, it’s just the opposite when it comes to stress. Actually, what you don’t know is already hurting you.

Most of us only know stress as something we are under when we worry about situations that we are involved in. But, what most people are unaware of is that stress comes in different forms. To better clarify what stress actually is and how it affects us, here is what the term stress refers to. “Stress refers to any reaction to a physical, mental, social, or emotional stimulus that requires a response or alteration to the way we perform, think, or feel”.

Now taking the above into consideration, we can see that at any given time, we can be surrounded with a stressful situation as any change can be considered stressful, whether the change is good or bad.

Stress can come in the form of worrying about a test, pressure in meeting deadlines, problems with loved ones, problems in meeting financial responsibilities and preparing for holidays, just to name a few. Other forms of stress that are less obvious to us can be situations such as everyday encounters with crowds, noise, traffic, physical pain, extremes in temperatures, starting a new job, weddings, moving to a new location and even purchasing a new home.

What makes matters worse is, stress not only affects us emotionally but can also affect us physically if not handled properly. This can evolve into a downward spiral developing into disorders or disease.

Overwork, lack of sleep and physical illness can also put stress on the body. Alcohol consumption and smoking are usually increased as a reaction to stress with some individuals creating more stress to the body.

Some repercussions of stress are fatigue, chronic headaches, irritability, appetite changes, memory loss, low self-esteem, withdrawal, tooth-grinding, coldness in the extremities, high blood pressure, nervousness, gastrointestinal disorders and more. Stress also promotes the formation of free radicals that can become oxidized and damage body tissues, especially the cell membranes.

Because stress depletes the body of many nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and many of the B vitamins, this can create a breeding ground for disease. Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as many as 80 percent of all major illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, endocrine and metabolic disease, skin disorders and infectious ailments of all kinds. Many practitioners believe that a majority of back problems are caused by stress. Stress is also a precursor for psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

Since stress is seemingly something that cannot always be avoided, we need to take all measures in learning how to deal with it efficiently. Some measures that can be taken to combat stress are as follows.

  • Proper nutrition as it is important. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good start as they are abundant in vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in flavonoids which scavenge and neutralize dangerous free radicals.
  • Some form of meditation such as yoga or tai chi.
  • Exercise has been well established in relieving stress from the body. It helps you clear your mind and keep stress under control. Something as simple as walking on a regular basis can be of great value.
  • Getting quality sleep as the body needs sufficient time to recuperate and repair itself.
  • Try and identify your source of stress as this may help you understand and manage your situation better.

Foods you should avoid that may add stress or work against you are as follows.

  • Avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, foods containing preservatives, heavy spices and chips and similar snack foods as they create stress on the system.
  • Eliminate dairy products for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce them back in watching for any nervous conditions to appear.
  • Eliminate all caffeinated products as they create nervousness and disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and other mood altering substances as they do nothing to address the real problem.

Well, this is a good place to start and always seek guidance from a qualified holistic health practitioner who can guide you through a natural balance towards good health.