Coping with Stress

More then 7 million working days are lost each year through stress in the UK. Although stress can keep you sharp and alert, in the long run it can cause a host of illnesses and problems.

Thousands of years ago, when our ancestors were faced with life or death situations Adrenalin and Cortisol would be released by the Endocrine system to make the heart pump faster. This “fight or flight response” gave an instant energy boost, the muscles tensed, the blood got thicker and our natural pain killers “endorphins ” would kick in. These responses allowed us to run away from predators or fight back against invaders.

However, today our automatic response to stress is still very efficient and results in heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and stomach ulcers to name but a few diseases that result from stress. Why? Because if we do not disperse the stress hormones by running from predators as we did before through regular exercise or relaxation, in the long term these good stress hormones become toxic and begin to damage all the organs, and set up inflammatory responses in the body. Imagine putting rocket fuel in a scooter, eventually you burn out the engine.

These days alas, instead of going for a walk or taking some deep breaths to calm down, or getting enough sleep to help the body recover, we tend to GO for coffee based drinks and sugar to help us keep going. This triggers more Adrenalin setting off a downward spiral of despair. Make no mistake stress can kill you.

The first signs of stress usually show up as behavioural changes: Irritability, sense of humour failure, anger, tears and insomnia.

Then come the physical symptoms: Palpitations, headaches, lack of appetite, cravings for sugar, dry mouth, sweating.

Then the mental symptoms arise: Forgetfulness, paranoia, Shouting for no reason etc.

If any or all of the above signs sound familiar, you need to stop, rest and look after yourself. The next stage otherwise may be total burn out leading to heart attacks and strokes. Whatever the cause of your stress; relationships, work, lack of money etc, one must find time to make space and time between what is stressing you and your reaction to it. Time must be found for exercise, rest and relaxation a good diet and even counselling if necessary to help us cope with the stress in our lives.

Below are a few of the many things you can do to help yourself cope with the stresses that we all endure, but must do what we can to over come.

FOODS TO AVOID

  • Never underestimate just how much your diet can affect your stress levels and your ability to cope with stress. Avoid any foods or drinks containing alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine.
  • Reduce processed and refined foods. They tend to be high in additives and sugars and low in nutrients. The more refined the foods, the greater the strain on the liver and the adrenal glands.
  • Cut down on heavy meals, especially red meat which is hard to digest.  Stress affects your digestion so eat SLOWLY.

FRIENDLY FOODS

  • Stress breaks down protein in the body, which is why we tend to lose weight. Eat good quality protein such as organic chicken, turkey, oily fish, or soya. These break down slowly and help to keep your blood sugar levels even.
  • Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa, oats and lentils are all calming for the nervous system and slow burning forms of energy.
  • Avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, ginger, leafy vegetables are all helpful in de – stressing us.
  • Liquorice tea helps to support adrenal function, Echinacea tea the immune function, and valerian or chamomile teas help to calm us down.
  • Eat small meals regularly; low blood sugar is common when we are stressed.

USEFUL REMEDIES

  • Multigenics – is a great vitamin, mineral and antioxidant formula. (2 tablets a day with food).
  • Adrenomax – This nourishes the adrenal system and is great for long term use. (2 capsules a day with food).
  • Siberian Ginseng & Liquorice Tincture – A herbal formula providing support to the nervous system. ( 20 drops in water 3 times a day).
  • Somnolin – This blend features 5 HTP, Theanine and targeted B vitamins, it will calm you down and helps restful sleep. (2 tablets 1 hour before bed).

These are all available from NUTRI : 0800 212 742

HELPFUL HINTS FOR DEALING WITH STRESS

  • Take stock of your life and identify the causes of your stress so that you can start to address them.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. No sleep is the worst way to deal with stress.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Laugh and do things you enjoy where possible.
  • About 85% of things we worry about never actually happen. Trust that things will turn out ok.
  • Get plenty of exercise and plenty of rest. If you can’t, then do the best you can.
  • Breath, breath and breath again. We tend to stop breathing when we get stressed. Deep slow breaths will help to calm us down.
  • Cranial Osteopath, Meditation and Hypnotherapy can all be a great  help.

If it all gets too much and you are unable to cope, get your GP to medicate you for a short while. This is NOT a solution, but it can help you get the right perspective on your life and afford you the mental space to make the changes you need to move forward.

This article is by no means definitive. It is designed to give you some helpful tips and pointers that is all. I hope it helps.

  • Dr Marc Farah