In August, I wrote separate posts about the first two pillars of health: Nutrition and Toxin Removal. Now that kids are back in school (whew!), let’s talk about the next pillar of good health: Stress Management.
Stress is on the rise for many, but I would venture that this is especially true for women. Child-bearing, motherhood, careers, home care, volunteer work, and financial concerns all add to our stress levels and chip away at our health and mental reserves.
The beginning of the school year is a great example of how stress creeps into our lives. During the summer months while trying to keep children from boredom and assault, I try to eliminate all lessons and most appointments. I do this so our calendars can be free to go on trips and wander through our days without any need to rush to be somewhere else. My favorite days are the ones that have nothing, zero, zip, nada on the calendar. When I see a day like that, my heart sings. I know I can be blissfully unstructured for a whole day.
Once school starts however, that all changes. There are no empty days. Kid’s school drop-off and pick-up, extra-curriculars and doctor appointments, along with my work tasks and house responsibilities (why does something always need fixing that requires a four-hour waiting period?) mean that stress creeps in faster and faster each new school year.
For those of you who work full-time, I know that an empty day is about as rare as a unicorn sighting. If you do get a day off of work, you usually have to cram it full of home-care tasks or doctor appointments. And that’s if you have enough free brain-space to remember to schedule those appointments in advance in the first place.
A sick family member, work travel, mounting bills, health issues, relationship problems, long commutes, and inflexible work schedules are just some of the many things that we stress over every day. Some people seem to handle these stresses with ease while others crumble under the least amount of duress. Why is this and how can we better manage the unavoidable stresses in our lives?
The truth is that some people are genetically wired to handle and recover from stress better than others. In the same way that gifted runners or dancers seem to be born with these natural talents, some of us are wired to deal with stress more efficiently. As long as these stress-masters take care of themselves and their God-given gifts, these people can manage hedge funds, work long hours, and incorporate family life with ease. For the rest of us, however, the following tips can help to reduce and redirect the stress in our lives:
- CONNECT – Having a strong support system is crucial to being able to combat stress. Expressing your concerns to others is like opening a pressure-release valve. By talking about the things that weigh us down, we are often able to reframe the situation and take appropriate action.
- BREATHE – Teaching your body to relax after periods of intense stress is a sure-fire way to enhance your health and sense of well-being. Try this simple technique to restore peace and calm: breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- SUPPLEMENT – During times of intense stress, your body will burn through reserve nutrients held in cells throughout the body. After repeated bouts of high-stress situations, you may find you have depleted these reserves as your health takes a turn for the worse. By taking a high-quality multivitamin which has ample amounts of B vitamins and easily assimilated Vitamin A, and taking magnesium supplements separately, you can invoke your own insurance policy on your good health. This is, of course, assuming you already eat a healthy diet. If during periods of high stress, you (like most of us) find your diet leaning towards comfort foods, make sure to take slightly higher doses of daily nutrient supplementation to assist your body in its war on stress.
Eventually, may we all reach a place of stress-free nirvana. Until then, I hope these tips will help you combat and protect yourself from the intense bouts of stress we inevitably experience.
Our next post will cover the Fourth and final Pillar of Health. Stay tuned!