Updated: Apr 5
Many things can cause us stress, from an accident or injury, to work and family pressure. Our body reacts to stress whether it is real or perceived. That means our stress response will get activated whether we worry about a situation or get into a conflict. The mind and body are connected!
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, n.d.), our stress response to danger includes rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. This is so we can either stay and fight or run away.
This is a normal fight-or-flight response and is lifesaving, but chronic stress can cause long-term health problems.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress Can Include:
Aches & Pains
Suppressed Immune System
Reproductive & Sexual Issues
(NIMH, n.d.), (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.)
Prolonged or chronic stress is also linked to chronic diseases. This is because the stress response puts a heavy burden on the immune system, adrenal glands, heart, blood vessels, and other organ systems in the body (Murray & Pizzorno, 2012).
According to Murray & Pizzorno (2012) in The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, these chronic diseases are directly linked to long-term stress. But, you can learn healthy ways to manage stress!
Download your free deep breathing exercise at the bottom of the blog!
Improve your overall health and well-being by using these four pillars for wellness.
A holistic and nourishing diet starts with a plant-based whole foods diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and good sources of protein like chicken, fish, beans or tofu. A healthy diet supports stress management and psychological and physiological processes in the body (Murray & Pizzorno, 2012).
Deep breathing promotes relaxation, so does meditation, yoga or tai chi. Take a walk in nature or get a massage. Meditation helps focus your mind and breath. Deep breathing from the diaphragm helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system or PNS (Murray & Pizzorno, 2012). When the PNS is activated the body can rest, restore and digest.
Exercise and movement are so important to maintain a healthy body and cardiovascular system. It will also help reduce stress. 30 minutes a day of walking will not only reduce stress but improve mood (NIMH, n.d.).
Self-care is so important for emotional well-being. Take a walk, draw or color, have a cup of chamomile tea. Manage negative thought by practicing positive self-talk (talk to your self as you would a precious friend). Practice good sleep hygiene by keeping your bedroom a comfortable temperature and relaxing, go to sleep and wake up at the same time, avoid electronics (e.g., cell phone, computer, TV), avoid alcohol before bed, avoid caffeine in the afternoon, do not exercise in the late evening, and avoid any undue stress (Petersen, 2018).
Here are 8 healthy ways to help you incorporate stress management techniques into your life.
Try a new fruit or vegetable every week and include whole grains into your diet instead of processed grains (e.g., white flour, white rice).
Drink more water and have a water bottle handy to take with you wherever you go.
Practice deep breathing once a day.
Take a yoga or exercise class in person or online in your living room. Doyogawithme.com is an amazing yoga website that has a large number of free classes and yoga programs from beginner to advanced.
Take a bath and add a few drops of essential oil right before you get in or give yourself a foot massage with some lotion and/or essential oils.
Spend time with trusted friends and family and connect with your support system.
Practice good sleep hygiene.
Focus on things that inspire you!
In Health & Wellness,
Tracie Lee Cleavelin
Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Diaphragmatic breathing. [Image]. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9445-diaphragmatic-breathing
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Stress. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress
Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Atria
National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). 5 things you should know about stress. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
Petersen, D. (2018). NAT 210: Anatomy & physiology I (17th ed.). Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.