Stress Management

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Stress Management Published in the South African Journal of Natural Medicine in 2012

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I watched a movie the other night which made me feel rather anxious and stressed. It was a movie about a soldier in Iraq, whose job it was to detonate bombs. I couldn’t help thinking to myself what a stressful day that guy must be having. I tried to imagine the rush of adrenaline pounding through his veins, his heart beating furiously, and the sweat draining out of his body. This is very similar to what a lot of us go through on a day to day basis. In the past, when people would go through a snap of stress, they would either fight or run. In medical terms they call it 'fight or flight'. Now days, we can't unfortunately pull out our spears and throw them at our bosses or customers every time they make us angry. It's against the law. The problem we are faced with is that we internalize everything. We bottle up our emotions, our fears our anger. And the person that gets hurt the most is you. People are struggling every day to deal with and manage stress. And it’s making them ill. What is stress? The term, stress, refers to a physical reaction to a physical, mental or emotional stimulus that requires a response or alteration to the way we think, perform or feel. Change is stressful; whether the change is good or bad. Stress is caused by work related problems, family problems, financial problems, death, violence, traffic, extreme weather etc. Over work, lack of sleep and physical illness put stress on the body. Stress causes many physical illnesses such as chronic fatigue, headaches, memory loss, high blood pressure, Irritable bowel syndrome, change in sleep and many others. Researchers estimate that stress contributes to as much as 80% of all major illnesses. Stress is viewed as a psychological problem, but it has very real physical effects. The body responds to stress with a series of physiological changes that include secretion of adrenaline, elevation of blood pressure, acceleration of heart beat and greater tension of muscles. Stress also impacts the immune system negatively as stress increases the release of free radicals. A compromised immune system leaves the door wide open for further illness. So, in a nut shell, it seems that we choose how to handle stress. Some people get carried by stress into a web of chaos, and others handle it like a cool ocean breeze. People seem to underestimate the impact that stress has on their bodies. Stress plays a huge role in the contribution to many ailments, as people allow themselves to become susceptible to illness. In other words, it's like leaving the front door of your house open so that bandits can steel all your furniture. Now, if stress is an open front door, then if you don’t handle it correctly, you are allowing baddies into your house. Another example is two friends at a rugby match. They are both dressed in the same Lion's rugby jersey, wearing the same Lion's scarf and wearing the same Lion's rugby beanie. Both friends had exactly the same amount of beer to drink and they both bought their boerewors rolls from the same boerewors stand. The spectator behind them sneezes on both of them. Only one gets a cold. Why does only one get a cold? Well the answer is that his immune system was susceptible to the sneezer's virus (who was more than likely a Blue Bulls supporter). How do we deal with stress? Stress affects the mind, body and the soul. We therefore need to find ways and means that look after all these aspects, because if the mind is not in a good place, it affects the body, and if the body is not well it affects the mind. When the mind and body are not in balance, it affects the soul. The beauty about natural medicine is that a holistic approach is almost always considered in healing. Here are some tips using natural methods and therapies that may help: Meditation Meditation is always a great place to start as it is a means to calm and relax the mind. There are many different forms of meditation, so do some research to see which form suits you. Not only is meditation great to calm the mind but it also has many benefits to help aid the body. It slows heart rate, lowers blood pressure. Meditation is definitely an ingredient to add to your stress management regime as this is a wonderful way to feed the soul. Nutrition Eating a healthy diet is very important while going through periods of stress. Avoid acid causing foods as your acidity levels increase under periods of stress. Acid causing foods are: refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, chocolates, wheat, red meat, flour etc. - Increase your intake of whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, brown rice, millet etc. These foods may also help alkalinize the system. - Increase your intake of coloured fruit and vegetables such as carrots, gems, pumpkin, apricots, mangos etc. These foods are rich in antioxidants which will help neutralize free radicals. - Complex carbohydrates will also help with energy levels during a stressful time. Homoeopathy Homoeopathic medicines are safe and effective means to help deal with stress. Homoeopathic medicines are also a good option to consider for children who are going through periods of stress. Reiki Reiki is a form of energy healing which helps balance the flow of energy in the body. Reiki helps remove blockages so that the body is able to heal itself. A Reiki session may be very relaxing and is a wonderful opportunity for an individual to take some time to 'switch off'. Supplementation Supplementation may also be beneficial during times of stress. - Vitamin B complex is great to help balance the nervous system and help boost energy. Take a B complex with 50mg of Vitamin B5, as Vitamin B5 is great to help balance the adrenal glands. Vitamin B5 is sometimes considered the 'Anti-stress' vitamin. - Vitamin C is also great to consider, as it also helps support the adrenal glands, neutralizes free radicals and helps boost the immune system. It may be recommended that taking between 1000mg and 3000mg tablet or powder form per day may be beneficial. - A general multivitamin is always recommended as it replaces all the nutrients we may not be getting from our diets. - Chamomile is a gentle relaxant and may help calm the nervous. It also may help sooth the digestive tract. Use Chamomile as a tea. 3 cups a day may be beneficial. Socializing Socializing with friends and family is always a great way to help “fight” stress. It’s important to share you feelings and emotions with others because it’s an opportunity for you to dump your stresses. These are just a few tips on how to handle stress. It is important to be aware that if stress persists for a period of time, and it is starting to affect you in a more severe way, you should then consider seeing a health care practitioner. Too much of anything is bad for you. Too much stress is very bad for you. Always make an effort during the day to relax and try to enjoy each moment of your day. Stress is with out a doubt a complete waste of time, so make a conscious decision to live without stress. Reference 1. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Third Edition. Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. James F. Balch, M.D.2000

Author - Damian Wood

Published - 2014-12-09