Eight Simple Solutions to Reduce Your Stress
All stress triggers can lead to adrenal exhaustion, especially acute or chronic illnesses. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn’s, IBS), arthritis (rheumatoid or osteoarthritis), diabetes and many others will put constant demands on cortisol production and eventually exhaust the stress response system (refer to Figure 4 in Appendix A). Foods you eat (or don’t eat) can contribute to an inflammatory environment in your body.
Worrying about your health, or conditions that you might have will also create anxiety. It is important to find a clinician that can help you diagnose and treat the root cause of your health issues. The more you know about your health concerns, the more you will reduce the unpredictability of your symptoms and the associated stress.
Take Control of your Health
- See a doctor for help finding the root cause of your illness
- Consider using natural supplements to control pain and inflammation rather than OTC or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs
- Recognize it will take time to get back to normal again, don’t get anxious, don’t lose hope!
Sleep is your body’s way of resetting itself metabolically and psychologically. You are designed to function optimally on a 24 hour circadian rhythm. Sleep is what helps your body readjust to the stresses placed upon it during the day. If you are not getting the appropriate amount of sleep or keep adjusting your sleep pattern (day shift to night shift etc.) this prevents your natural stress response from functioning properly.
While rebuilding your body’s stress handling system, get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, getting as much as possible before midnight (10 p.m.-12 a.m. is your body’s optimal repair time for the adrenals). If you have trouble relaxing enough to sleep, begin removing stimuli (TV, lights, etc.) and adding relaxation (dim lighting, music, warm tea, hot bath) in the 30-45 minutes before bed. Reading a relaxing novel, devotional. or book of inspirational stories may help. Some find it helpful to write down the next day’s tasks so their mind can relax knowing that all their “worries” will not be forgotten in the morning. Using herbal sleep aids may also be helpful for those who find it difficult to fall asleep.
Take Control of your Sleep
- Address any medical reasons that wake you up at night
- Write down tomorrow’s tasks so you can sleep worry-free (keep a notebook by your bed if necessary
- Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule
- Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep
- Reduce noise and distractions in the hour before bedtime
- Consider using a natural herbal sleep aid
Physical activity is important for proper health and proper stress management. In the right balance it helps maintain insulin sensitivity, blood glucose, muscle mass and also produces body chemicals that can promote relaxation. Strenuous training, however, can add stress to our bodies. Incorporation of light exercise and stretching is ideal for producing the health benefits that result in stress reduction. Overtraining can also be a source of stress! Ask your doctor for the amount and rate of exercise you should incorporate into your daily and weekly routine to optimize your stress recovery.
There are many ways to experience the health benefits of regular exercise. It is recommended for most everyone that you engage in a least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week, and that you try for 30 minutes of activity 5 days each week. Moderate intensity exercise means that you are maintaining a target heart rate. Using a heart rate monitor while exercising is crucial to the healing process. Your daily exercise can be structured to fit your daily routine, but it is considered best to exercise in the morning when your metabolism is ready for greater activity. Some people may find that exercising in the late evening interferes with their sleep. Your doctor can help you work out a plan that best fits your schedule and personal fitness goals. The real key is to get started and commit to sticking with it.
Take Control of your Physical Activity
- Start slow, but start
- Utilize a heart rate monitor
- Build activity or exercise into you routine
- Don’t overdue it- exercise to exhilaration not exhaustion
- Incorporate stretching
- Make it fun (add music or a friend)
Food is information to our body. How much, how often and the types of food you put into your body will determine how your body will respond. One of the most stressful events on the body is constant fluctuations in blood glucose. Low blood sugar triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which stimulates cells to begin producing more glucose. This is important after a night’s sleep and one of the reasons that cortisol is normally high upon waking.
When you eat foods high in carbohydrates (sweets, unrefined sugars, high glycemic index/load foods) you trigger high amounts of insulin production from your pancreas. This overproduction of insulin will help drive glucose levels down quickly and will result in a lower than optimal blood sugar level for a short period of time. This usually occurs a short time after lunch, making you feel sleepy. You may self medicate (chocolate, coffee), but your adrenal cortisol will normalize your blood glucose level in 0-45 minutes. For some, this cycle of glycemic stress comes once or twice every day, placing a constant burden on the adrenal stress response. Keeping a food diary for 7 days may be helpful to objectively assess your food intake.
Controlling glycemic response is critical to help reduce chronic stress. Choosing foods that promote glycemic stability is a foundational stress-relieving life style change. Foods with low glycemic index and high soluble fiber will help ease insulin spikes that drive blood glucose below normal. Breakfast is especially important. Eating a breakfast with proper glycemic balance, which includes good source of both protein and fat, will start your day off right. In addition, eating more fruits and vegetables will help reduce inflammation, a common burden to the stress response system. Consuming higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and reducing omega-6 fatty acids (most oils except canola and olive) will also promote appropriate stress responses. Recognizing that many people simply aren’t able to control their diet to achieve full glycemic control, your adrenal recovery program includes a delicious powdered drink with the nutrients necessary to help establish glycemic control.
Radical diet changes while in the stress recovery program are not recommended. Major alterations in diet can add unnecessary stress. Diets that are excessively low in carbohydrates (ketogenic) will also create some distress and should be considered only with the advice of your healthcare provider after adrenal recovery. Excesses of any type of foods (fats, carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine) should be avoided. As always, a good multivitamin is recommended as a solid supplement to any diet.
- Take Control of your Diet
- Plan to eat breakfast every morning
- Eat protein with each meal (especially breakfast
- Avoid trans-fats and omega 6 fatty acids
- Increase omega-3 fatty acids (fish, fish oil, green leafy vegetables, flaxseed)
- Reduce intake of high glycemic index carbohydrates and sugars. A good online resource can be found at Glycemic Index
- Increase dietary fiber
- Schedule “comfort foods” so you won’t splurge or feel guilty
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, fried foods and sweets
- Take an quality, pharmaceutical-grade multivitamin
When most people think of stress they define it as “too much to do and not enough time to do it.” Perhaps you feel this way about your current job, or are mother with active children and this describes your average day. If you remember the middle-managers mentioned earlier, stress is highest when we are given responsibility (and accountability) without feeling like we have the tools (authority, finances, time skills, etc.) to accomplish the task. Does this sound like your job?
Often a supervisor pushes off their worst tasks, ultimately ending up on your desk. Stress doesn’t just “trickle down,” however. Many senior managers are also under a tremendous amount of stress, from stock holders, from their peers and even from those they employ.
Ask yourself if the amount of stress at your workplace is overwhelming you and how much of this could be relieved. Think about the four traits of common stressors. How can your eliminate the stress of novelty, unpredictability, threatening events and loss of control? Speak with your co-workers or supervisor about the need for adequate warning when new changes are coming or for additional training when new skills are required. Ask for more specifics about what is expected of you so you can feel more control over your job performance.
If all else fails, consider other employment options. With few exceptions, there is no job worth losing your health to maintain. Look for work that provides the right amount of challenge and the level of responsibility you believe you can handle. If you thin this is financially impossible you may need to create a plan to make the transition slowly.
Some of your greatest pleasures in life and some of your worst experiences in life involve relationships. Few things can lift your spirits like being with someone you love. Few things are more damaging to your spirit than relationships that bring constant tension and strife. Below are some simple things you might want to consider to help reduce the stress, or increase the blessing of relationships.
Make a List/Make a Call
Write down a list of the people that you enjoy being with. When was the last time you talked with them? Even if it has been a long time, make a call or schedule a visit. You can find joy in a rekindled friendship
Being thankful and express your appreciation to others is therapeutic. Failing to express genuine thanks to those around you creates a mental “debt of gratitude” that weighs on your mind until it is paid. Sometimes this is more difficult with those we see everyday; our co-workers, our spouses, our children, our parents. When you focus on being grateful for what you have, you will be surprised how rejuvenating it can be.
Resolve your disputes
Anyone in a relationship will eventually experience conflict; some minor and some major. Conflict in a relationship can be extremely stressful. Often, the issue seems to get worse the longer it is left unresolved, turning a minor misunderstanding into a major dispute. If the thought, “so-and-so is going to be at the party,” causes you stress, consider seeking reconciliation. For more resources on resolving conflict go to RealLove.com.
Make a list of individuals you need to resolve disputes with and order them from smallest dispute to largest. Try resolving the smallest one first. Once you get the first one out of the way, move to the next one on the list. Not everyone will want to resolve the conflict, but even in those situations you will have much less stress knowing that you attempted to find restoration.
This is related to resolution but deserves it own heading. Often, there are persons who genuinely hurt us; physically, mentally, emotionally. Regardless of the offense, the unwillingness to forgive them causes bitterness, resentment, and anger that can lead to further stress and further affect your health. If the list you made above includes someone your are unwilling to forgive, you may want to consider seeking out a spiritual leader or counselor to help you work through the issues involved. Conversely, if you have wronged someone and have not sought forgiveness, consider going to that person and asking forgiveness and reconciliation. The release of guilt and the sense of restoration will do wonders for your soul. To address more issues regarding forgiveness visit RealLove.com.
Take Responsibility for your Relationships
- Make a List and Make a Call
- Cultivate an Attitude of Thankfulness
- Restore Your Disputes
- Practice Forgiveness!
Your Rest and Relaxation
If life’s enjoyments seem like a thing of the past, if you find yourself wishing you could go back to the day when (fill in the blank) wasn’t giving your stress; then you need some R&R. Your body requires you to find a place that you can feel relaxed enough to allow yourself to rejuvenate. This place should be free of the four stress characteristics. That is, it should be familiar, relaxing, and guilt-free. Your body requires short daily times like this frequently, but occasionally for extended time. Consider choosing relaxation over adventure on your next vacation. Schedule a 15-minute break every afternoon where you can brew a cup of tea, turn off your computer monitor and cell phone, turn on some music that soothes you and …just relax (at least 5 minutes per day). Get a Whole Body Wellness adjustment that can reset your body’s stress by balancing muscles, joints, decrease allergy symptoms and increase organ function. Schedule a massage and/or acupuncture once a month and budget these items as as health expenses. Write down a list of things that give you guilt-free pleasure and begin finding ways to add them back into your schedule. Taking these steps will help you be more focused, more productive and more in balance.
Take Control of your R&R
- Find enjoyable things (people, movies etc) that make you laugh.
- Create a place you can go (at work and at home) to relax without much preparation
- Find some music that relaxes you and keep it handy
- Schedule relaxing time into all your vacations so you feel rested when you return to work
- Get a Whole Body Wellness adjustment
- Schedule a massage and/or acupuncture once a month
Financial instability creates tremendous anxiety and stress. It can create major friction in a marriage and bring constant worry. While this website isn’t the place to give financial advice, finding a competent advisor to create a plan for financial stability will result in more peace than you can imagine.
Debt is not always about the lack of money, but the lack of proper priorities. The things we think will bring us pleasure often become a noose when we obtain them before we can afford them. Calls from creditors, the embarrassment/frustration of a bounced check or waiting for the credit card bills can all constantly hammer on your already tired adrenals. If you found yourself cringing as you read this paragraph, you may have found a great place to start. Seek out credible financial consultant (there are many free services available) to help you evaluate your financial situation and help design a program to give you financial control once again.
Take Control of your Finances
- Create a plan – (with an advisor if needed) to stabilize your financial situation
- Create a Will – if you haven’t already
- Recognize that it might take time and, with a good plan in place, you can stop worrying about bills or creditor calls