The management of stressors in the body is probably the most important factor to consider when improving your health and wellbeing. There are many forms of stress but its important to understand that they are all recognized by the body as a combination of stresses and are not treated individually. What this means is that if physical, mental and environmental stressors are not managed effectively they accumulate in a combined effort and eventually reach a level whereby the body cannot cope and poor health, sickness and disease follows.
Not all stress is bad certain levels of stress are necessary for bodily functions to operate optimally. Its only when the level of stress is at such a high level the body is not able to cope and diverts energy from other bodily processes to deal with the stress. When the body uses or requires extra energy to deal with high levels of stress and toxins your bodily functions are impaired such as the ability to absorb vital minerals and vitamins, digest and eliminate food effectively, which all impact your physical and mental state.
It’s important to note that an individual’s attitude towards the stress makes a huge difference to the affect it will have on ones health and well-being. For example someone who adopts a positive mental attitude will be able to cope with external stress such as money and relationships much better that someone who develops a habit of a negative mental attitude.
Becoming more aware of our bodies and having a better understanding of how they work is a good start to managing stress. There are four simple areas in our lives that need to be addressed which allare critical to the management of stressors in our body. These areas are:
Addressing only one or a couple of these areas without taking all of them into consideration will only lead to disappointing results in terms of health and well being. Below I will discuss each area in more detail and most of the information will be drawn from my own experiences, which I have found to be important to my health.
Below are some very simple guidelines that you can follow that will improve your health over time. These guidelines will also help reduce the amount of stress put on your body because these days its our diet that puts a high stress demand on our body. The below guidelines are things that I personally incorporate into my lifestyle and have seen improvements in my health fromdoing so.
Dietary Guidelines to Reduce Stress on Your Body:
1. Consume Adequate Amounts of Water
The only liquid you should be consuming is water and this doesn’t include the vitamin waters and flavored juices you can buy form the supermarket that contain additives and preservatives that are stressful to the body. If you are even slightly dehydrated your cells cannot function optimally and your bodily systems will be compromised.
2. Consume a Variety of Foods
It’s very important that you eat a variety of foods and don’t eat the same foods over and over again. If you consume the same foods everyday there is no way that your body will be getting all the vitamins and minerals needed to create an environment to build health upon. An easy way to do this is to rotate your foods on a daily basis, at first it may seem a little overwhelming but like anything the more you do it the easier it becomes.
3. Limit/eliminate your grains (gluten)
A large percentage of the population is gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive. When we eat foods that we are intolerant too it causes inflammation in certain organs especially the colon. The inflammation causes an immune response and the function of that organ is impaired adding further stress that your body needs to deal with.
To clarify gluten is found in most processed wheat products like bread, pasta, muffins, breakfast cereals etc.. so pretty much all the good stuff. From my own experience cutting out gluten gave me the most immediate improvements in my health. Through high school and my early twenties I was always tired I’d fall asleep in the car on the way home every day without fail and head-butting the table at work was common occurrence. Eliminating gluten or reducing my consumption to very low levels I noticed a dramatic increase in my energy levels throughout the day.
However, whole grains containing gluten can have many health benefits and can be incorporated into a healthy diet if used in the right moderation. Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal can increase the fiber intake in your diet, which will improve bowel conditions but understand increasing fiber alone will not automatically, make you healthier there is lot of other factors to consider. Also understand that some people can tolerate grains much better than others so if you are gluten sensitive you may need to eliminate grains all together.
4. Eliminate Pasteurized Dairy From Your Diet
Majority of dairy that is sold these days has little to none nutritional value and this is because of the manufacturing processes that the dairy goes through such as pasteurization and homogenization. Pasteurization involves heating the dairy to levels whereby any bad bacteria is destroyed. The problem with this is that in the process the good bacteria and enzymes in the dairy are also destroyed leaving nothing more than a sugary liquid that has little health benefits. Homogenization is another process where the milk is spurt out of tiny nozzles that break down the protein molecule in the dairy to a size so small that the molecules aren’t digested properly causing an immune response. Like gluten a lot of people are intolerant and sensitive to dairy products and this is another reason they should be avoiding because of the inflammatory response they cause.
If milk and dairy products are a large part of your diet I recommend trying raw milk. Raw cows and goats milk can be bought and taste so much better than your average bottle of milk purchased from the local store. The raw milk is much healthier and provides much more nutritional value as the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are still alive and will help in balancing your gut flora. The raw goats milk is an even a healthier alternative, as the bacteria and enzymes are more compatible to the human stomach.
5. Eliminate Sugar
Its no secret that sugar is badfor us but eliminating it can be extremely difficult. The reason is because its addictive you need to think of sugar as a drug because it is, just like caffeine, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. It is arguably the most widespread and produces the most detrimental health affects out of all the drugs known to man. There are no beneficial elements to sugar that we cannot get from other foods simply put our bodies do not require the consumption of sugar.
Exercise should be part of your daily routine even if it is simply walking or doing some sort of stretching (walking and stretching coupled with deep breathing are examples of cultivating energy exercises). Exercise helps stimulate detoxification, which is essential to your health. If you don’t exercise the toxins that we consume from the foods we eat and the environment we live in become stagnant, exercising pumps the blood throughout the body and helps stimulate digestion and eliminating processes that further aid detoxification.
Too much of anything can be bad for you and the same goes for exercise. Duration and intensity needs to be monitored to ensure you don’t over train and cause an imbalance in your nervous system. A good analogy is to think of exercise as medicine you have to take the right prescription and dosage to ensure optimal health.
This is where listening to your body becomes extremely important I personally know when I need to back off my training regimen when either I begin to lose strength, feel fatigued and my elbow tendonitis begins to flare up. The symptoms you experience may be different to mine but the point I’m trying to make is that you need to listen to your body. This doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising all together there are other forms of exercise that are less strenuous on your body and will help stimulate the parasympathetic branch like walking and stretching.
Sleep is extremely important to your health especially the quality of sleep that you have. Everybody is different and depending on the amount of physical activity you do you should be getting 7-8 hrs sleep every night. Your body naturally releases hormones at specific times of the day that work in sequence with the sun rising and sun setting. For this reason its important to understand that its best to eat your fruits and complex carbohydrates earlier on in the day as this will aid you getting better quality sleep. For all you coffee lovers out there it would be a good idea to try and keep your consumption of coffee in the morning and early afternoon as caffeine is a powerful stimulant that will affect your sleep.
A lot of people struggle to get quality sleep but by addressing the other areas of your life like diet, exercise and relaxation/breathing your quality of sleep will improve.
A lot of people don’t know how to breathe properly as they use shallow breaths from the chest. Breathing deep through the nose and expanding the belly not only oxygenates the body it also stimulates digestion and elimination processes, which are essential for health and well-being. Breathing and Meditation can be used in conjunction with each other to reduce stress.
Majority of people have what you can call monkey mind which is the constant stream of thoughts generated by our minds. It’s these thoughts that we repetitively think over and over again that transcend into our anxieties and feed our fears. We analyze past events and worry about the future for things that have not even happened yet creating a stressful environment for our bodies. We need to find outlets to release this stress that comes from our own thoughts and external stressors like work and relationships.
One of the essential ways to manage stress is listening to your body. Our bodies hold a large amount of intelligence throughout and the fact that they digest our food and grow babies without us actually doing anything is quite astonishing in itself. So when you notice certain symptoms like fatigue, cramping, constipation etc (the list is endless) this is your body trying to communicate with you and let you know something is not quite right. The more aware you become of these symptoms your body expresses through you will make it easier for you to correctly identify the problem and change your lifestyle to improve your health.
Addressing the four areas of your life diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation will ultimately lead to a better quality of life. Majority of people have never experienced true health and wellbeing and it’s for this reason they don’t understand or strive to improve their lives because they are use too to feeling tired and sick. Health and wellbeing is a journey and should not be a short-term goal, I have been actively trying to improve my health for a number of years now and feel like I am only just starting to scratch the surface.
I leave you with this question:
How can you expect to make good decisions if the blood feeding your brain is toxic due to the lifestyle you lead?