Because I want to help you manage stress in as many ways as possible, this post contains affiliate links.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt more than a little stressed these days. Like everyone else, the pandemic and political unrest has me on edge. Ensuring my patients and staff are safe at my busy chiropractic practice has added an extra level of stress to my work life, and like everyone else, I’m constantly worrying about the health and safety of my family.
I had a big setback right before launching this blog. I was stressed about going live and worrying about what people would think. And of course, I decided to take a class on top of everything else. Does anybody else do that to themselves?
All the stress has done a number on my skin.
Unfortunately, I really struggle with stress management. You probably know that if you don’t get a handle on your stress, you will not see the progress that you want, even if you are doing everything else right.
Cortisol, the master stress hormone.
Our bodies are made to deal with short term stressful situations, like running from a bear. We are not built to handle the chronic stress that comes with living in a modern world. Everything from the alarm clock in the morning, to paying bills, to cleaning your house can be stress triggers.
When cortisol is released the body goes into survival mode (remember we are running from a bear). The cortisol redirects bodily resources to the organs that need it most, like the brain – to help you decide if you should run up a tree or off a cliff to get away from the bear – and the muscles, to fuel the running.
This means that it suppresses the digestive system, reproductive system, growth, and others. The fuel that feeds the stress response is glucose from fatty acids and amino acids in the liver. Normally, glucose would assist in the release of insulin, but cortisol suppresses this release so that the glucose my be used for quick energy for the body.
Chronic stress is known to result in the dysregulation of cortisol.
When this happens, proteins from muscle tissue are broken down, causing muscle wasting. This creates insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Depression is also common. In addition, an imbalance in cortisol can cause the accumulation of abdominal fat, leaky gut, inflammation, and immune system dysfunction.
What should we do to help manage all this stress?
1. SELF-CARE: Probably one of the most important things you can do is to take care of yourself. Unfortunately, when stress levels rise, self-care often gets put on the back burner. But giving yourself a few moments to relax and unwind is crucial for your physical and mental health.
Just going for a walk can be a great stress reliever. If you don’t have time for that, even taking a few minutes to do some deep breathing exercises can be helpful. I like doing something called “square breathing.” It’s a simple exercise where you breath in for a four count and out for a four count. Also carving out time to get a massage or see your chiropractor are great choices too. Touch can be an immensely powerful healing tool.
2. HAVE FUN: We get so caught up in all the “work” that needs to get done that we sometimes forget to take a play break. Whether this is a small dance party in your living room, or playing soccer with your kids, make sure to make time for fun.
3. GET OUTSIDE: Taking in some fresh air and the sights, sounds, and smells of nature can have a powerful impact on your mood.
4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE: The number one way to reduce stress is to count your blessings. Practicing gratitude is one I could work on myself. My goal is to start a gratitude journal. In addition, I’m starting a new dinnertime tradition where we as a family talk about our reasons to be thankful each day. Despite all the challenges we face during these difficult times, there is still so much to be grateful for.
The good news is that I am following my own advice and my skin is healing up quickly! I know that when I focus on prioritizing my mental health, in addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a natural skin-care routine, I feel far more equipped to tackle whatever life throws my way.
Need a little extra help managing your stress?
Try Integrative Therapeutic’s cortisol manager, or HPD adapt, or Badger’s stress soothing rub. These are available in the 406gratitude store by calling 406-535-6768.
Ballantyne, Sarah. The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Media Alternatives, Incorporated. 2014.
Trescott Mickey, Angie Alt The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, Rodale Books 2016
Hi! I am Ammie Chapman, mother, wife, chiropractor and clean living fan. I have had my struggles with health issues that I have been able to treat with diet and lifestyle changes. I am hoping it may help you too.
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