How to Decrease the Negative Effects of Stress in Your Life
We live in a world of deadlines, job searches, traffic and relationship stress. We get our kids to school and ourselves to work and then make sure everyone is fed and homework is done. As parents, our needs come last and many times they aren’t met at all.
There is sometimes a price to pay. If we live in continual stress for long periods of time, our bodies start to malfunction. We start to experience high blood pressure, difficulties sleeping and digestive disorders. Continual stress can create a change in our mental health, which can result in anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, irritable, angry, sad or depressed.
If you are experiencing high levels of stress in your life, here are a few ideas of how to make your life easier:
Get help if life is overwhelming
If you find that life is getting away from you, seek help. Talk to your medical doctor. Make an appointment with a therapist or psychologist. Many times we need an experienced third person who is not involved in our stories to help us figure out what is best for us.
Move your body regularly
Exercise doesn’t just improve your muscle health, it improves your brain function. Rhythmic movement of arms and legs increases blood flow, produces endorphins (the hormones that help us to feel good), decreases stress levels naturally and stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain, which is in charge of rational thinking and cooperation.
Regular exercise helps you feel better and live longer – choose fun things to do like going for a walk, dancing, bowling, or bike riding. You might also like to consider tai chi or yoga, as their gentle movements help you to feel grounded and relieve stress as you flow from movement to movement.
Chiropractic adjustments help to improve the movement of your spine and the ability of your brain and body to talk to each other without interference. Adjustments help to improve your posture and reduce stress on your body.
As a practicing chiropractor, I see stressed out people in my office every day. They are worn down and beat up and I am usually their last resort to feeling better. When we start to improve the alignment of their spine and their overall posture, they feel better throughout their day and sometimes notice better sleep as they can more easily relax into their sleep position.
If you have a chiropractor, up your visit frequency. If you don’t have a chiropractor in your life, get one.
Consider trying a ketogenic diet
It’s hard for people under stress to create enough energy to get through their day, so they naturally crave foods that have a big energy bang – foods full of sugar and salt. Basically fast food. These quick energy choices have a cost to their overall health because there is little nutritive value and they create inflammation in the body.
Inflammatory foods make you tired and puffy, you don’t think straight. You become moody and then crave more sugar and salt. It’s an endless loop.
That person used to be me.
The turning point for me was when I discovered that my body does not process carbohydrates well. Once I started a ketogenic diet, my life changed within a week:
I am not tired and puffy any more.
I have endless energy throughout my day.
I am clear thinking and my hormones are behaving like they should.
I don’t check out of my life at home, I participate in it.
I am getting so much done in my day without trying, it is almost a miracle.
If you want to learn about a ketogenic diet, please go to www.cerealkillersmovie.com and rent it. You won’t regret the hour of your time, and it will be the best $5 you’ve ever spent. Also, check out Leanne Vogel’s website www.healthfulpursuit.com. She has a great new cookbook for you that explains keto eating and everything you need to get started.
Turn off the TV and do more things that you love to do
Television does not promote healthy brain function. Think about it: television shows are mostly negative and/or violent. Garbage in equals garbage out. Additionally, excessive television watching promotes an unhealthy lifestyle because people who sit for hours each day tend to snack on too many unhealthy foods.
What if you decided to turn off your TV and go out and live your life?
When we do the things we love, we stimulate the right part of our brains – the creative, joyful, big picture part of our brains. Creativity is a great way to feel great and improve your health. You can call a friend, take a class, go for a walk, go for a swim with your family, garden, play games, do a puzzle, your choices are endless.
Sit quietly for 15 minutes each day
If you are experiencing excess stress in your life, it can be difficult to quiet your body and your mind.
One easy way to improve your health is to sit quietly in a comfortable spot and just simply relax and breathe for 15 minutes. Sitting quietly is a simple form of meditation, where all you do is focus on your breathing in and out. If you find your mind wanders, gently let go of your thought and re-focus on your breathing. As you practice, you will find it easier and easier to sit quietly.
If you find that sitting quietly is difficult for you, there are many apps available that offer 15 minute guided meditations to help you to calm your mind and your body. It just takes a few minutes of online searching to find one that you like and get started!
If you can find a way to bring that 15 minute meditation into your daily life, your body will learn to activate the calming part of your nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system), which helps you to rest, digest your food and repair damaged cells. This creates a counterbalancing effect to increased stress in your body.
I get that most of us are stressed. Life can be difficult for us all. However, if you can take a step back and look at your life from a big picture point of view, I’m sure that you will see a few areas that you can tweak just a bit.
Can you add some exercise to your day?
Can you find 15 minutes for yourself?
Can you change your diet just a bit to improve your nutrition?
Can you reach out to a friend?
Start with one small change and go from there. Small changes over time can make a huge difference to improve your overall health, and your needs are important too!
Dr. Melanie Beingessner is a pregnancy and pediatric-focused chiropractor, a breastfeeding counselor, an infant massage instructor and a mom of three awesome kids.