Up to 80 percent of all doctor visits are due to health conditions caused by stress, which is not surprising since, according to researchers such as Dr. Bruce Lipton of Stanford University, stress is the single most important cause of more than 95 percent of all disease. However, it is more accurate to say that it is not stress itself that causes illness so much as it is ourreactions to stress.
In its broadest sense, stress refers to any stimulus—external or internal—that creates pressure. Not all stress is detrimental. In some cases, stress can be positive, such as the stress produced during weight training that builds muscle, or the stress inherent to the creative process that results in greater levels of productivity and innovative breakthroughs. Such healthy types of stress enable us to thrive and feel more invigorated. Unhealthy stress, by contrast, can lead to impaired immune function, emotional distress, and eventually, illness of a physical and/or psychological nature.
Any type of stimulus that upsets the normal functioning of the body and/or disturbs one’s mood, can be considered unhealthy. Such stress can occur as a result of one’s diet or environment, or arise from various daily life experiences, such as conflict with loved ones or co-workers, money problems, or the death of someone close to you. Positive life experiences can also trigger unhealthy stress. In fact, stress researchers have identified marriage, the birth of a child, financial achievement, and job advancements as being among the top experiences that can lead to a negative impact on health. Again, however, it needs to be pointed out that it is not the experience, per se, that causes stress, but how a person reacts to the experience. For example, some people can face illness with equanimity and therefore heal from it more quickly than normal; whereas some people, in the face of normally positive life experiences, such as getting married or being hired for a desired job, can become overly worried about what such events portend for their future, thus creating unhealthy stress.
When unhealthy stress becomes prolonged or chronic, it creates biochemical imbalances in the body that can compromise immune function and metabolism, trigger headaches, create or exacerbate pain, sleep disorders, digestive problems, affect brain chemistry and brain wave patterns, and lead to hypertension and heart problems, including heart attack and stroke. Learning to manage and properly respond to stress is therefore a central tenet of natural, holistic approaches to healing and something that alternative health practitioners take time to outline for their patients.
How Chronic Stress Can Negatively Affect Your Health
What follows are some of the ways that chronic stress can create health problems:
- Diminished immune function
- Increased susceptibility to and likelihood of various diseases due to infection
- Exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions by further compromising the immune system
- Increased susceptibility to developing hormonal imbalances and diminished function of the adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and other endocrine glands
- Increased need for oxygen and glucose, which can result in biochemical and metabolic disturbances
- Increased susceptibility to anxiety
- Increased tendency to experience depression and mood swings
- Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
- Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions
- Increased susceptibility to allergies
- Increased susceptibility to developing asthma and other respiratory conditions
There are four main categories of unhealthy stress—physical, psychological, psychosocial, and psycho-spiritual, all of which can be caused by numerous factors.
Physical Stress: Physical stress affects the body and one’s immediate home and work environment. It can be caused by infection, injuries, overwork, excessive or lack of exercise, environmental toxins, dietary and environmental substances that trigger allergies, noise, poor lighting, electromagnetic fields, geopathic stress, chronic fatigue, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, biochemical and/or hormonal imbalances, chronic dehydration, musculoskeletal disorders, dental problems, poor oxygen supply, smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, and blood sugar problems, such as hypoglycemia.
Psychological Stress: Psychological stress refers to stress of a mental or emotional nature. Unresolved or improperly expressed emotions such as anger, fear, grief, guilt, shame, sorrow, and mental conditions such as anxiety, information overload, jealousy, loss of control, perfectionism, self-criticism, and excessive worry are common triggers of psychological stress. Unhealthy or limiting beliefs, attitudes, and personal disposition (psychological worldview) are other significant causes of psychological stress.
Psychosocial Stress: Psychosocial stress is primarily caused by relationship problems with family members, co-workers, employers, neighbors, and one’s spouse or children. Lonely people who live their lives in isolation and lack support of family and other loved ones are also very apt to suffer from psychological stress.
Psycho-spiritual Stress: Psycho-spiritual stress refers to stress that is caused by a crisis in one’s personal values and/or sense of life purpose. People prone to suffer from stress in this category often feel as if their lives have little or no meaning and/or find themselves in jobs or other situations they do not like, rather than involved in joyful, meaningful work. Living dishonestly, meaning in a way that does not honor one’s core personal beliefs and sense of ethics, can also cause significant psycho-spiritual stress and feelings of emptiness and unhappiness.
Poor diet can cause stress and worsen symptoms of allergies (both food and environmental), anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity, all of which, in turn, can create additional feelings of stress, setting a vicious cycle in motion. To combat stress, your diet needs to be free of all foods you may be allergic or sensitive to.
If you suffer from low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), you may be particularly prone to stress due to the low energy levels and muddled thinking problems that blood sugar fluctuations can cause. Hypoglycemia can be resolved by following a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. In addition, eat five smaller meals per day instead of the tradition three meals. If you feel hungry between meals, you can snack on high quality protein bars. Restrict your fruit intake, and follow the above dietary guidelines for best results.
Stick to the following principles to avoid adding stress into your system:
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame.
- Avoid food additives.
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Cut down on sugar and simple carbohydrates.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Cut down alcohol intake, have no more than one glass of red wine or beer per day.
Emphasize fresh, organic foods, with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Eat complex carbohydrates.
Eat free-range, organic meats and poultry. The best beef is organic grass fed beefwww.grasslandbeef.com/StoreFront.bok?affld=104400
Eat wild caught fish that are rich in essential fatty acids, such as sardines and salmon.
Drink plenty of pure, filtered water
Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast can add to stress levels by making you more tired and irritable.
- Take Vitamin D3 50,000-100,000 International Units a day http:/// for periods of four weeks at a time.
- Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met. The best we know on the market is Kevin Trudeau’s “KT Daily” product. You can find more details herekevintrudeaudailylifesessentials.com/
- Take an Omega 3 supplement:
- If you suffer from hypoglycemia, add chromium and the amino acid glutamine (1000 mg take three times per day, half an hour before each meal).
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually dis-ease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Stephen Lewis, founder of the Aim Program. Find out more by clicking here.
- . Find out more by clicking here.
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go to www.thetappingsolution.com or www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
- Guided Imagery and Visualization: Guided imagery and visualization techniques are an easy way to learn how to enhance your ability to relax. You can use the following exercise to quickly shift away from feelings of stress to feelings of relaxation. Sit comfortably in an easy chair and close your eyes. Take a few gentle, deep breaths, and imagine yourself becoming increasingly relaxed with each breath you take. Feel relaxation spreading over your entire body like waves of peace. Now recall a time from your past when you were truly happy and at ease. Imagine yourself back within that moment as if it is actually happening now in the present. Use all of your senses to make the scene real. Hear the sounds, smell the scents, and see everything about you in full color. As you relive this experience, notice how relaxed, happy, and at peace you feel. By taking a few moments to imagine this scene whenever you feel stress building up, you will be able to quickly release your tension and reclaim the positive mood you were in when you first experienced the scene you are recalling.In addition to helping you relax and release stress, guided imagery can also be used to improve other aspects of your health, such as enhancing your immunity, relieving pain, and improving your digestion. By regularly visualizing your health goals, such as losing weight or exercising more often, you will also improve your ability to stay focused and achieve your health aims. In addition, guided imagery and visualization can be used to help you explore your beliefs and attitudes, and to change them when necessary to beliefs and attitudes that are more in alignment with optimal health.
- Meditation: Meditation has been scientifically shown to relieve stress, as well as to improve overall health and immune function, and to reduce the pain and suffering caused by chronic disease. In fact, in 1984, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended meditation as the more appropriate and effective choice for treating mild cases of high blood pressure, instead of commonly prescribed blood pressure medications. Meditation can offer new insights and improved coping strategies, better enabling you to meet the challenges of the day. Some types of meditation, such as Transcendental Meditation (TM), have even been shown to produce deeper states of physical relaxation than ordinary sleep.Although there are many types of meditation practices to choose from, all of them have one thing in common: focused attention on the breath. If you are new to meditation, you can begin by sitting up straight yet comfortably and closing your eyes. Place your attention on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. Each time you find your attention starting to wander, simply refocus on your breath. Though doing so may seem difficult initially, with practice it will become easier and easier, and you will easily spend 20 to 30 minutes meditating in this manner. The key is to be gentle with yourself and not force. At first, you may find yourself unable to sit still for more than a few minutes. If that is the case, don’t continue. Instead, each day seek to add to the length of your meditation practice until you reach your goal of 20 to 30 minutes per session.
- Relaxation Exercises: Practicing exercises that help your body and mind to relax can quickly release feelings of stress and tension. Here is an example of a relaxation exercise that you can easily make part of your daily health routine:
- Sit in a quiet room with dim lighting, with your feet flat on the ground.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Gently begin to breathe deeply in and out from your belly.
- Each time you exhale, mentally tell yourself “Relax.” Do this for a few moments, until you feel a wave of relaxation starting to move through your body.
- Now place your attention on your head, jaw, and face. As you continue breathing, direct the wave of relaxation throughout all the muscles of your face and jaw, including the eyes, then over your scalp and along your head, down to the base of your neck.
- Now tense your facial, jaw, and eye muscles for a few seconds, before relaxing them.
- Repeat this process with each remaining part of your body, beginning with your shoulders, back, arms, and hands, then moving down to your chest, abdomen, pelvis, thighs and upper legs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes. Be sure each area of your body becomes more relaxed before you move your attention to the next area.
- Once you have proceeded all the way to your toes, continue to sit with your eyes closed for a few more minutes, still breathing gently in and out of your belly, allowing your feelings of relaxation to deepen.
- Just before opening your eyes, allow your breathing to become deeper and fuller, feeling a wave of energy passing through you. Once you feel vitalized, open your eyes and return to your daily activities.
Can marital strain really damage your heart NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
What you gonna eat – stress busting foods NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Stress in the workplace NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Alexander Technique for stress NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Flower Power – Bach essences for stress NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Hello Alphabiotics Goodbye Stress NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Become Master of Your Mind – taking charge of your reaction to stress NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Jump for Joy – Rebounding is a great stress busting workout NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Sophie’s Natural Story – Reiki relieves stress from trauma NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
Spike That Stress – Spikenard Aromatherapy Oil NC_Newsletter_12-10.pdf
A Natural Way to Wash Away Stress by David Spector – Part 1www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/a_natural_way_to_wash_away_stress._part_one.php
Part 2 www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/a_natural_way_to_wash_away_stress_part_two.php
Childhood Patterns of Stress by Mary Millerhttp://www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/childhood_patterns.php
YIN and Stress – Women and Mental Health by Mary Millerwww.naturalcures.com/healthblog/yin_and_stress.php
Heal Your Body and Raise Your Consciousness – Qigong NC_Newsletter_12-08.pdf
Eliminate Stress Through Transcending -When “Stress-Relief Tips” Are Not Enoughhttp://www.naturalcures.com/healthblog/eliminate_stress_by_transcending_thinking.php
When in Doubt Laugh NC_Newsletter_12-06.pdf
Breathe Better Live Well NC_Newsletter_12-06.pdf
Health Care that Won’t Cost You a Single Penny – EFT for stress NC_Newsletter_12-06.pdf
EFT Clearing Stress and Constrictive Breathing www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfftfkVqw4Q
Stress Relief using Qigong www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCPi-92pBsM
EFT and psychological changes in veterans after 6 sessionswww.lifescriptcounseling.com/research/eft_vets_study.pdf
Meditation and relaxation relieves stress www.springerlink.com/content/3223g473406619q7/fulltext.pdf
The effect of Transcendental Meditation on Chronic Stress home.swipnet.se/tmdoctors/eng/chronstress.htm
Qigong for stress management www.degoudendraak.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Qigong-for-Stress-Management.pdf
Further Information (links and books)
Ask and It Is Given by Jerry and Esther Hicks
Wired for Joy by Laurel Mellin
Stress-Free (Audio Book) by Louise L Hay
Stress Free Forever Meditation CD by Kelly Howell
Lower stress with Hearthmath
Callahan Techniques, Thought Field Therapy
www.tftrx.com (760) 564-1008
Dianetics, Dianetics Technology
www.dianetics.com (800) 367-8788
Meditation, Insight Meditation Society
www.dharma.org (978) 355-4378
Stress Reduction, Transformational Breath Work
www.transformationalbreathing.com (866) 515-4040
Super Balanced Neurotransmitter Complex
www.painstresscenter.com (800) 669-2256
Andrea Butje | Aromahead firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt email@example.com – organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA firstname.lastname@example.org – meditation, stress
judith hoad email@example.com – herbalist.
Kath May firstname.lastname@example.org – reiki, tai chi.
Lillian Bridges email@example.com – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika firstname.lastname@example.org – aromatherapy.
Rakesh GAC@AyurvedicLifeStyles.com – Ayurvedic Practitioner.
Panax ginseng, Dragon Herbs www.dragonherbs.com (888) 558-6642
Jing formulas, Dragon herbs.com www.dragonherbs.com (888) 558-6642
Amino Acids, BAM www.metabolicmaintenance.com (800) 772-7873
Dietary Supplement, Perfect Defense, eAntiAging Inc. www.eantiaging.com (909) 971-9999