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Self-Care is not Selfish! Manage stress, and fix your health.

The most common stress-related factors include work/life balance, relationships, home environment, and health. Daily challenges can be overwhelming, but the part of our brain called the neo-cortex gives us humans the ability to adapt to our environment, giving us the skills to manage challenges as they occur. Studies show that stress management strategies have significant benefits and can fix major health problems.

Modern-day stress may be so compounded, that the symptoms are unrecognized or overlooked. Symptoms of stress develop as, emotional, behavioral, and physical. Chronic stress can depress the immune system, and cause illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and infertility. Though stress symptoms are expansive and differ from person to person, we all suffer from some level of stress in our lives.

It is said that stress is the 'silent killer and the catalyst of all diseases. The complexities between stress and illness vary. And Chronic stress can make an illness worse, such as depression.

Depression can range from mild to severe. Mild depression manifests as temporary episodes of sadness, but when depression is prolonged it transforms into clinical depression, a severe form of depression. Clinical or major depressive disorder can evolve into a psychiatric illness, such as a form of neuroses or schizophrenia.

Good Stress:

A normal level of stress is natural. Healthy stress can help us to, accept change, problem solve, think critically, learn and grow. From a biological point of view, stress helps us to adapt to life's changes. The neurochemicals and hormones produced when the stress response is triggered, prepare us to take action (fight or flight). If this stress response is not activated illnesses or diseases can persist or worsen.

Bad Stress:

The most harmful type of stress is prolonged, persistent, and unmanaged stress, which can cause a lot of damage to the well-being of an individual. Though stress is a fact of life, overwhelming amounts of stress on an individual will negatively affect their emotional and physical health.

Life events, such as death, graduating from college, the birth of a child, or getting married will evoke emotional responses, but if one of these life experiences develops fears or traumas, they can cause bad stress symptoms, and if prolonged the bad stress then becomes Chronic stress.

We never know what will prompt a stress response, but the response will cause the heart to pump faster and trigger the mind to go into fight or flight. If the body is in a state of chronic fight or flight, the sympathetic nervous system begins to take effect and sends a message to the hypothalamus to release CRH(corticotrophin-releasing hormone), which activates the pituitary gland, and releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). This then triggers the adrenal cortex and releases Cortisol to the major organs in the body, heart, lungs, the stomach, the kidney, and the skin. In a stress response, Cortisol increases blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Cortisol is a natural steroid that reduces inflammation. So the body tells itself how much Cortisol is needed.

If the body makes too much Cortisol, your adrenal gland may develop nodules or tumors. These growths on specific glands such as the brain’s pituitary gland can signal the body to make too much cortisol. This can cause a condition called Cushing syndrome. It can lead to rapid weight gain, skin that bruises easily, muscle weakness, diabetes, and many other health problems.

If the body doesn’t make enough Cortisol, you have developed a condition called Addison’s disease; symptoms include, tiredness, diarrhea, nausea, muscle weakness, lack of appetite, weight loss, low blood pressure, changes in your skin (darkened skin or folds in the skin).

The Adrenal cortex is the Adrenal Medulla which releases the fight or flight hormones Epinephrine and Norepinephrine (the fight or flight neurotransmitter) these adrenoceptors continue to supply the blood with cortisol until the body feels it is relieved from the stress response.

For those of us living in the modern world, we can't escape stress, but it can be managed. Here are some practical ways of managing stress.

Practice wellness, and take care of your wellbeing, self-care is not selfish.

Visit the doctor, get your annual check-ups and recommended screenings. Know your health.

It all begins in the mind, create the intention to reduce stress (tell your brain to stop stressing out!).

Use technology, devices such as sound machines, grounding mats, red light therapy, massagers, or weighted blankets are all aids in managing stress.

Grounding Mat

Improve your self-image and hygiene, the belief is... when you look good, you feel good, when you feel good, you act good, when you act good, you attract good things and this creates a chain reaction.

Create a support system, and positive social group, surround yourself with people you trust.

Move your body, a consistent moderate exercise program, such as dancing, yoga, and walking, will not only help with overall health and maintain a healthy weight, but it will also regulate your mood and boost your immune system. It will also help you to look good...

It's okay to be alone, find quiet time, twenty to thirty minutes a day is more than enough time to practice breath work, meditation, prayer, or journaling.

Start knitting, take up a hobby, something you will benefit from, this will keep your mind busy, enhance your creativity, and better your mood.

Practice healthy coping strategies, and stay positive, stress can cause you to adopt unhealthy habits or addictive behaviors (excessive drinking, drug addictions, or eating disorders), which can develop into more significant issues, adopt a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Stay calm and be cool, communicate effectively with others be assertive, not aggressive, 'you get more bees with honey!'.

Practice conflict management techniques, use 'I' messages when confronting someone (I needed you to be on time), this prevents confrontation and invites constructive conversation.

Learn to be okay with the word 'No', and accept the things you can not change, rejection is a part of life. You may not always get your way, the good thing is you can self-regulate and try something new.

Advocate your needs, do not be afraid to stand for your needs and wants, and express yourself diplomatically.

Take a warm bath, soothe your body, relax your muscles and reset your mind. (see our article on spiritual bathes). Water is an agent of relaxation.

Use aromatherapy, scientific evidence shows that scents support, mood and health concerns, lavender and rose oils have positive results specific to destressing the body.

Hands-on healing or energy healing, get a massage or a reiki session, alternative medicine modalities target de-stressing techniques to promote natural healing.

Declutter your mind and environment, write everything down, and organize your time, your priorities, and your environment. Write a to-do list and check off your completed tasks.

Connect with nature, spend time outside, breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sun's healing properties.

Release your thoughts, practice journal writing, get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You can keep a journal or throw it away, just get it out of your head.

Listen to music you love, sounds and music have a direct correlation the mood, emotions, and health. Sound therapy is a powerful way to increase your energy.

Dance, Sing or chant to increase your vibrations, and release emotions.

Practice positive thinking, say or write positive affirmations regularly. Replace negative self-talk. Listen to guided meditations to help in this process.

Eat healthier, reduce the intake of processed foods and lean towards fresher food options. Also, balanced meals help to manage your blood sugar.

Stay hydrated, drink half your body weight in ounces daily, use alkaline water or charged water for optimal absorption. Natural coconut water is a good source of electrolytes.

Get a GOOD night's rest, (6 to 8 hours for the average adult). Sleep is the body's way of restoring itself. A good sleep schedule will improve your overall health.

Talk with a professional, the strategies and techniques used by trained professionals may help you get through difficult times. Talk therapy relieves built-up traumas and allows you to heal emotional pain, in turn, may have a positive effect on any physical pain or illness.

Stretch your body, try yoga, there are countless benefits to stretching your body, each stretch or posture detoxes the muscle tissues, organs, and tendons providing deep relaxation and release of tension.

Manage your anger. Anger is a natural emotion, find healthy ways to release anger, ie. choose your words carefully, stop what you are doing and take deep breaths, take a timeout and think about why you are having this emotion. Remove yourself from the hostile situation.

Stress is one of the important factors in life. Stress management is one of the most important actions you can take for yourself and the people in your life. Stress affects every area of life. Children can live with stress as well as elderly adults. Anything can trigger a stress response, it can not be predicted, but it can be prevented. Pick stress-relieving strategies that work for you and make it a regular practice. Check on your children and the elders in your life and help to incorporate some strategies into their lives.


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