By Vanita Dahia
Assess your Type of Stress and Naturally Manage Stress
Lifestyle, physical and psychological stresses put constant demands on the adrenal glands. If they get depleted, adrenal fatigue or adrenal insufficiency may be experienced.
In fact, stress related problems are the root cause of approximately 90 percent of doctor visits.
Most stressed people associate stress with worry. Stress therefore may be the precursor to more severe mental health conditions.
Any kind of change, whether it be emotional, physical, environmental, hormonal or illness-related can be stressful to your body.
What does Stress do to the body?
A busy lifestyle plays a heavy physiological toll on the body. Stress in turn weakens the immune system, changes sleep patterns. The body compensates to “deal with stress” by depleting essential nutrients making the brain feel depleted. This triggers an appetite for sweet and salty foods.
It’s no wonder stress triggers weight gain.
Stress stimulates breakdown of muscle tissue by a process called gluconeogenesis weakening the muscles.
It’s no wonder stress triggers pain and fatigue.
If you’re continually sick with infections or sensitivities to smells, you are likely experiencing long-term stress. Stress affects the whole body and the immune system is particularly affected by chronic low-grade stress which may manifest as food allergies or food intolerances.1
It’s no wonder stress triggers food allergies.
Psychological stress alters the immune activity of proteins like cytokines and interleukins. Immune cell generated cytokines become pro-inflammatory with for example, raised levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, severe infections and certain cancers.(2)
It’s no wonder that stress promotes ageing.
Stress delays wound healing. In a study(3) of stressed mice, wound healing was delays by 30% and after 5 days, they showed 100,000 times more opportunistic bacteria in their wounds than the non-stressed mice. Stress disrupts the body’s equilibrium, which significantly impairs its ability to control and eradicate bacterial infection during wound healing. The body is vulnerable to invasion by opportunistic germs such as fungi, viruses and bacteria without a properly functioning immune system.
It’s no wonder that stress slows down would healing and eradication of infections.
Stress get your heart thumping, increasing blood flow to the heart and builds up a sweat. In most cases it’s empowering like when you’re exercising or in love. Chronic and prolonged stress will eventually stimulate Adrenalin driving down neurotransmitters making you anxious or sad. Chronic stress will raise blood pressure by causing the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow.(4)
It’s no wonder that chronic stress drives cardiovascular disease and raise blood pressure.
The stress response system is vital for surviving an immediate crisis, maintaining a physiologic state of balance, and ultimately for restoring optimal health.
Assessment of Stress
Assessment of stress hormones allows for establishment of what stage of stress you are at.
Take Adrenal Stress questionnaire to identify if you are stressed. There are a number of ways to test stress hormones.
Cortisol is released naturally in a diurnal pattern. The level of Cortisol varies throughout the day. Cortisol can be measured in blood, the conventional way, or can be measured taking into account the diurnal pattern with a saliva or urine sample. Testing for stress and adrenal fatigue can be measured in serum, saliva or urine.
Professional assistance in interpreting the results is necessary to guide you to targeted management and alleviation of stress.
Here are some tips for Stress management:
- Identify the cause of stress and change the situation
- Change your attitude to the stressor
- Accept the things you cannot change
- Eat a wholesome diet
- Improve your lifestyle. Use psychotherapy if needed
- Sleep well, improve sleep hygeine
Consult with a health practitioner who can tailor a natural management approach using nutritional medicine, herbs and homoeopathic medicines to manage stress naturally
- Maes M, Song C, Lin A, De Jongh R, Van Gastel A, Kenis G, Bosmans E, De Meester I, Benoy I, Neels H, Demedts P, Janca A, Scharpé S, Smith RS. The effects of psychological stress on humans: increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and a Th1-like response in stress-induced anxiety. Cytokine. 1998 Apr;10(4):313-8. doi: 10.1006/cyto.1997.0290. PMID: 9617578.
- Lavretsky H, Newhouse PA. Stress, inflammation, and aging. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2012;20(9):729-733. doi:10.1097/JGP.0b013e31826573cf
- Gouin JP, Kiecolt-Glaser JK. The impact of psychological stress on wound healing: methods and mechanisms. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2011;31(1):81-93. doi:10.1016/j.iac.2010.09.010
- Spruill TM. Chronic psychosocial stress and hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2010;12(1):10-16. doi:10.1007/s11906-009-0084-8