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Living With Stress

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Times are really tough these days. I know for myself, I struggle everyday to stay focused on what is most important.  The stress in our lives can play havoc on our wellbeing…physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Holistic wellness encompasses all three states of wellbeing.

To promote physical wellbeing, we need to nourish our bodies with good nutrient-dense whole foods.  I know this is difficult because the cost of non-GMO, organic produce, grains and protein sources is enormous.  I practically go into shock every week at the grocery store check-out line.  I look at what is in my bags and then look at the bill…how can this be right?  It would be twice as high if I bought 100% organic but that is just not possible on my income.  I pick and choose my organics carefully.  For certain, apples must be organic.  Non-organic apples are sprayed with chemicals more than most other produce.  All non-organic produce needs to be washed thoroughly to remove the chemicals.  I will choose organic bananas mostly because they taste so much better that the non-organic.  They seem to last longer too, I just don’t like mushy bananas.  But I digress.

Having adequate protein in the diet is paramount.  Protein provides the amino acid, Tryptophan, which can affect serotonin in a positive way.  Good sources of Tryptophan are in beef, turkey, and cheese; fish contains omega-3 fatty acids also known to lower stress by inhibiting increases in cortisol.  For vegetarians, try almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Beans contain magnesium which is known for a calming effect.  Another amino acid is Theanine, found in Green and Black Teas, which also is known to help with stress.  The B vitamins are strongly recommended for their positive effects on the nervous system. Vitamin B12 and folate are two of these, Thiamine also supports the nervous system.  There is abundant research readily available on the web that shows these stress-relieving effects.

Strong bodies handle stress much better than weakened or tired bodies.  Adequate sleep and exercise are important too.  Something that I do not get as I should.  Working fulltime affords me the “excuse” not to exercise.  But not exercising prolongs the agony of my stress.  Just going for a nice walk out in the fresh air will level out most frazzled nerves.  Yoga classes relax muscles groups but also strengthen the inner core.  For those ambitious folks, Zumba is fun and exhilarating.

 I have noticed that if I don’t eat well,  my stress level seems worse.  Skipping meals is not an option; blood sugar drops then watch out; the monster within emerges.  Just ask my husband.  Emotions can flare when stress is not kept in check.  One blames the other for what is not right in their lives.  Angry feelings kept deep inside slowly deteriorate the wellbeing of our bodies.  The immune system suffers from emotional issues that are not resolved.  Once the immune functions are stymied, our cells start to change, thus, autoimmune responses begin to take over.  Our body begins to attack itself.  Without getting too technical, this has to do with T-cells which are partly responsible for regulating the immune system.  There are studies that suggest that Cancer is actually an autoimmune response.  Other known autoimmune diseases are thought to be Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes Mellitus type 1, Graves Disease and Addison’s Disease.

Another response to stress is the famous “fight or flight” response.  Been there many times in my life.  Living in a state of fear…not good for our wellbeing.  According to Christina Samyan, MSW, LCSW of Joyful Restoration,  “our bodies are not designed to live in a fearful state; …we’re designed to live and thrive in a peaceful state because it is only there where we have the ability to love, create and become all that we are designed to be”.*   Christina advises, “to recognize your fear, become still, become aware that God absolutely wants to help you out of that fear…trust that He will deliver you”.*

So as you can see, our Holistic Wellness is completely dependent on our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.  Each one is just as important as the other.  If we nourish our bodies and pay attention to our emotional and spiritual needs, then we will be able to conquer stress and live a life filled with joy.

Below are some nutritional resources to explore by clicking on the banners.  Some herbs/supplements that I use are Valerian at bedtime, along with Melatonin.  Other good supplements are St. John’s Wort that is said to help mild depression; 5-HTP increases the body’s level of serotonin; ginseng is an adaptogen to help balance out the system; and one of my favorite adaptogens for stress is Ashwagandha.  Be sure to discuss with your personal Healthcare Provider before starting any new supplements.  You may find that he/she has little or no knowledge of natural alternatives to medications.  It does not mean that medications are safer than alternative supplements, it just means that he/she has only kept up with the traditional pharmaceutical studies and not the many studies out there on natural alternatives.

*Visit Christina Samyan MSW, LCSW at Joyful Restoration https://www.joyfulrestoration.org

                                                                     

 

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