Once you get into the habit of exercising, it becomes much easier to keep it up. After all, it feels incredibly awesome to master something that was once a big challenge, or to simply enjoy more energy, be more fit and in better overall health. But after awhile, if you stick to the same old routine, you might start to get bored and quit, or hit a plateau and stop reaping all of the benefits you once were. [Read more…]
While we all have bad days and stress is a normal part of life, when we’re overstressed it can wreak havoc in a number of ways, resulting in all sorts of physical and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, when we’re under chronic stress, those symptoms are more subtle, but if they aren’t addressed it can lead to more serious issues from depression to heart problems.
These signs say that your body is trying to tell you that you’re under too much stress, and it’s time to make an effort to change things now.
If you’re suffering from a lack of sleep, it could be due to high cortisol levels caused by stress. This “stress hormone” as its often called, is supposed to decrease at night to allow your body to rest and recharge. But if the stress response is constantly “on,” your going to have a hard time sleeping.
When you’re stressed, all of that tension tends to build up, resulting in a tension or a stress headache. You know that dull, aching pain that feels like it’s wrapped around your head? If you’ve been getting these type of headaches frequently, you’re probably pretty stressed.
Your Jaw is Sore
If your jaw is sore, it’s probably because you’ve been grinding your teeth, something that’s common when you’re stressed out
Stress tends to increase inflammation, which can lead to breakouts and acne. If your skin frequently breaks out, or you develop a skin rash like eczema, it’s a sign that you’re under a lot of stress.
Your Hair is Thinning or You Have Bald Patches
If you notice that you’re hair is falling out more often, it’s thinning, or worse, you have small bald patches, it could be due to excess stress. While it may be related to a particularly stressful event, alopecia can also be the result of chronic stress, which is when the immune system starts to attack hair follicles, causing hair loss.
If you don’t have insomnia and your fatigue isn’t connected to something obvious, like running a marathon or staying up too late, it could be the result of stress.
Everyone experiences some anxiety now and again, but if you’re anxious all the time, it could be that you’re overstressed. Anxiety is just one of the many ways your body reacts to stress.
Digestive Problems or Frequent Bellyaches
If you frequently suffer from digestive woes, it could very well be due to stress. Stress can actually cause a bellyache, constipation or diarrhea. Medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina Kenneth Koch, MD told Everyday Health, “Stress can affect every part of the digestive system,” adding, “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German writer, and philosopher, believed that the gut was the seat of all human emotions.”
Koch further added, “Although stress may not cause stomach ulcers, celiac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, it can make these and other diseases of digestion worse.”
In a 2002 study reported by Prevention magazine researchers found that of the nearly 2,000 participants, those who experienced the highest levels of stress were over three times as likely to have abdominal pain as compared to their counterparts who were more relaxed. While the reason behind it isn’t totally clear, some experts believe that it’s because the intestines and the brain share nerve pathways. When your mind reacts to stress, your intestines are getting that same signal.
How to Fix It Now
If you’re seeing yourself among these signs, it’s important to address it as soon as possible. Here’s how you can fix it now.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Do the best you can to let worries roll off your back. Don’t let those inevitable little things like traffic or a grumpy grocery store clerk get to you. Remember, in the scheme of things, it’s all the small stuff that adds up, building and building until you feel like your head is going to explode. Instead of worrying about everything, make the changes you’re able to and then make a decision to accept that you won’t be able to change everything. If there is nothing you can do about a perceived problem, let it go.
Focus on what’s happening right now, this very minute, and not what happened yesterday, last week or last year, or what might happen tomorrow or the next day. By concentrating on the present moment, it can dramatically reduce stress.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing offers immediate stress relief. Multiple studies have found that the practice of deeply inhaling, holding your breath and then slowly exhaling, to a count of five for each, can active lower cortisol levels which helps to reduce stress. Researchers have found that it can even lower blood pressure too.
In 2014 research reported in Frontiers in Psychology, volunteers were asked to count nine breaths in sequence. They used a keyboard to tap one key for each breath, and a different key for the last breath in each sequence, causing them to be more aware of their breath. At the end, the experts found that it resulted in a more positive mood in all the participants.
Just about any type of physical activity helps to relieve stress, but walking can be done pretty much anytime, anywhere. Even if you’re at the office, you can get up out of your chair and walk around the building or up and down the halls. At home, you can walk around the house or even up and down the stairs if the weather isn’t cooperating. Whenever you can, aim to get outside as the fresh air combined with exercise serves as kind of a “double whammy” for battling stress.
Exercise in Shorter Periods
If the thought of exercising for long periods is stressing you out, or causing you to skip it altogether, you should know that it can be just as beneficial to workout in shorter periods. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, but you can accomplish that by doing it 10 minutes (or more) at a time, for example, walking after each meal.
Get Sufficient Sleep
A lack of sleep contributes to stress, actually causing cortisol levels to rise. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night as often as you can. If you struggle, make it a point to change things by creating a more conducive environment, such as avoiding your cell phone, tablet or laptop about an hour before bedtime, and making sure all those little lights from your electronics are shut off. Wearing earplugs can be a big help if noise is preventing you from sleeping or waking you up at night too.
Did you know that Epsom salt is not really a salt at all? It is actually a mineral compound comprised of magnesium and sulfate and gets its name from a saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England. Epsom salt is nothing new and has been used as a natural remedy for a number of different ailments for many years also has its place in the garden and around the house.
What are magnesium and sulfate good for?
Both magnesium and sulfate are readily absorbed into the skin which makes the health benefits readily accessible. Over 325 enzymes in the body are regulated by magnesium which also helps reduce inflammation, alleviates hardening of the arteries and improves muscle and nerve function. Sulfates improve the rate at which nutrients are absorbed and help to flush out toxins.
Here are 7 ways you can use Epsom salt for your health, beauty, and home:
Eliminate toxins: The sulfates in Epsom salt draw heavy metals and other toxins from cells which can ease muscle pain and improve cellular function. Adding Epsom salt to your bathwater pulls salt out of your body along with harmful toxins. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath once a week and soak for at least 10 minutes for detoxification.
Ease stress: If you are stressed, you may be deficient in magnesium and you may have elevated adrenaline. When Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water it is absorbed through the skin and can naturally replenish lost magnesium. This magnesium helps the body produce serotonin, which is a mood elevating chemical in the brain.
Magnesium also increases energy and stamina by encouraging the production of ATP – the energy powerhouse of the cell. Bathing in Epsom salt three times a week can help increase your energy, improve your mood and reduce the negative impacts of elevated adrenaline. Use 2 cups of Epsom salt in each full bath.
Relieve muscle pain: If you have sore muscles, migraine headaches or bronchial asthma, you may want to try an Epsom salt bath. It can relieve both pain and inflammation. If you are on your feet all day you may want to soak them in warm Epsom salt. It can also help neutralize foot odor.
Beautify skin: I use this mask once a week and my skin always looks fresh and clear. For normal to oily skin, mix 1 tablespoon of cognac, 1 organic egg, 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk, the juice of one lemon and half a teaspoon of Epsom salt together. Dampen your skin and place the mixture on your face – avoiding the eye area. Allow the mask to harden and set for about ten minutes – rinse and pat dry.
Clean tiles in your bathroom: Get those dim and dirty tiles in your bathroom clean by mixing equal parts of Epsom salt with liquid dish detergent. Scrub tiles with the mixture and rinse well.
Fertilize plants: Plants need nutrients including magnesium and sulfur in order to look their best. Sprinkling Epsom salt once a week on houseplants, flowers and vegetables will provide them with the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus they need to thrive.
Greener Grass: Magnesium is necessary for seed germination and is vital for the production of chlorophyll which plants use to change sunlight into food and helps the soil absorb phosphorus and nitrogen.
Sulfur also contributes to chlorophyll production and, as mentioned above, makes nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium found in fertilizers more effective. To help your grass be as healthy as it can, apply 3 pounds of Epsom Salts for every 1,250 square feet of lawn using a spreader. You can also dilute it in water and apply with a sprayer.
You may have heard the word adrenal fatigue thrown around but are not sure what it is or if you might have adrenal fatigue. Many people don’t recognize the symptoms of poor adrenal function and end up feeling lousy for far too long.
Before I talk about adrenal fatigue, it is important to understand what the adrenal glands are and what they do:
What are the adrenals?
The health of your adrenal glands is paramount to overall health and well being. These essential glands sit right above the kidney, and there is one gland per kidney and are integrally related to kidney function. In fact,the word adrenal comes from the Latin word ‘ad renes.’ which means near the kidney.
There are three layers to the adrenals, the capsule, the cortex and the medulla. The capsule is a protective layer of fat that is around the gland. The cortex has three parts in itself – one part produces DHEA and other sex hormones, one part produces corticosteroids which help to regulate our sleep/waking cycle, keep inflammation at bay, help us generate energy from non-carbohydrate foods and also regulate blood pressure. The cortex also produces mineral corticoids including aldosterone, which helps regulate fluid and mineral excretion. The medulla is at the center of the gland and secretes epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine. These stress hormones are also known as neurotransmitters that generate our primitive response to stress – the one that keeps us alive in times of trauma or danger.
What do the adrenals do when we are stressed?
When the body comes under stress, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal glands which respond by releasing stress hormones. These hormones do things like slow down our digestion, make us more alert and drive blood to critical areas including the brain and muscles.
What is adrenal fatigue?
When we have been under stress for some time, the body begins to run out of what is needed to make certain hormones. When this happens, it becomes difficult for your body to keep up with the production of stress hormones, sex hormones, and neurotransmitters. Adrenal fatigue can also develop from lack of sleep, poor diet or lack of exercise, negative thinking, exposure to toxins an and pollution and trauma.
How do I know if I have adrenal fatigue?
It gets a little tricky to diagnose adrenal fatigue based solely on symptoms because you can easily attribute most, if not all symptoms of something else. However here is a list of the common symptoms associated with the condition:
- Hard time getting up in the morning
- High energy in the evening
- Constant fatigue
- Inability to handle stress
- Strong cravings for salty foods
- Too much dependence on stimulants like caffeine
- Weak immune system
You may also notice:
- Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dry skin
- Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
- Frequent urination
- Joint pain
- Lines in your fingertips
- Loss of muscle tone
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Low sex drive
- Lower back pain
- Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
- Weight gain
It may be possible that if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, you have had a long history of stressful events that have sent you into a whirlwind.
Even though you may feel like you are just lazy, it may be that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue. By making the proper nutrition and lifestyle choices, your health can turn around rapidly.
How to test for adrenal fatigue
One of the best ways to check for sure for adrenal fatigue is through your saliva. Saliva is a very non-invasive way to look at the adrenal hormones, mainly cortisol and how it fluctuates during the day. If you are concerned that you might have adrenal fatigue, be sure that you see a practitioner that can diagnose you appropriately.
What you can do
Diet: Improving your diet can make a tremendous difference in the health of your adrenals. Eating a diet comprised of whole foods and eliminating fast and junk food is necessary for healing. Some very good foods to eat include coconut, olives, avocados, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, nuts including walnuts and almonds, fatty fish, seeds such as pumpkin, chia and flax and free range (organic) chicken and turkey.
Supplements: In addition to eating well, there are a number of supplements that you can take that will help support adrenal health. Remember to always take a whole food form of these supplements when you can:
- Holy basil
- Fish oil (EPA/DHA)
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
Stress Management: It is imperative to rest your mind and body when you are suffering from adrenal fatigue. Try to get at least 8-10 hours of sleep per night, avoid staying up late – try to be in bed by 10 p.m, do something fun each day, minimize work and relationship stress as much as possible and exercise moderately daily. Also, avoid negative people and negative self-talk, make time to do things you love and things that relax you and seek good counsel to help with recovery from trauma.
It is possible to recover from adrenal fatigue but it does not happen overnight. Be persistent and patient and you will feel better.
Your heart is pounding like it is going to jump out of your chest, you are sweaty and feeling kind of numb and strange. Perhaps you are being chased by an angry bear protecting her cubs or maybe you are just at the end of a very crazy, very stressed week.
I would say that your body is having a proper and useful response if you are indeed being chased by a bear. Under such stressful situations, the body has an amazing ability to launch into something known as a “fight or flight” response. Your brain stimulates your autonomic nervous system and triggers a hormonal response. Two stress hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline are released. These hormones can help you escape your close encounter with mama bear but when we are exposed to chronic stress overstimulation of the nervous system occurs and this can have a devastating impact on your health.
Did you know that over 60 percent of all illness and disease is stress related – and therefore, preventable? Three out of every four doctor’s visits have something to do with chronic stress. Stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40 percent, heart disease by 25 percent and stroke by 50 percent. With these staggering truths, it makes getting a handle on chronic stress critical.
How do you know if you are stressed?
The human body is very good at giving signs that it is having trouble “keeping up” with the pace of your life. It is important to not brush these signs, no matter how subtle, away. Here are some things to be aware of:
- Dry skin
- Strange dreams
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Hair loss
- Lowered immunity – you get sick a lot
When stress becomes part of your life and doesn’t leave you may also start to do the following:
- Retreat from social functions
- Feel depressed
- Feel alone
- Feel out of control
- Avoid dealing with difficult personal situations
- Lose your sense of humor
We live in a go-go culture
Our culture promotes and encourages high achievement and that is often marked by doing really well in your job or being a supermom or dad. When societal pressures collide with high standards of living and personal achieving, things can go very wrong.
What can I do about stress?
Here are a few things that have worked for me when it comes to stress management. I suggest that you experiment to find what works best for you. Remember, the key to minimizing the devastating impact of stress on your health and life is to acknowledge it exists in the first place!
Identify priorities and set boundaries – For me, stress begins a lot of the time and builds up because I don’t do well at setting boundaries. I have a hard time saying NO. If this sounds like you, it is time to learn that saying no is something the best option. Help those that you can, but never forget to help yourself!
Breathe – Many people breathe far too shallow. Take five minutes to breathe deeply, from your belly. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Breathing like this will relax your mind and body. Do this several times a day.
Take a break from electronics – We are constantly plugged in and it is very healthy to unplug from time to time. Take at least thirty minutes a day to stop texting, chatting, checking emails and scrolling through your feeds. Your mind and body will thank you.
Eat more garlic – The main ingredient in garlic, when digested, triggers your blood vessels to relax. Garlic is very good for your heart and your brain.
Exercise – Moderate exercise daily such as walking is a great way to manage stress. Take time daily to get outdoors, get a healthy dose of sunshine and nature and just enjoy time breathing fresh air.
Journal or draw – Unloading your thoughts on paper either in print or image form helps your mind and body relax. Get out that paper and pen and give it a try.