With everything that is going on at the moment, I thought to change gears, so to speak, and talk about stress. Most importantly; how to deal with it and keep yourself calm and healthy during times of stress. Stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” This can be external (coming from the environment, psychological, for example death of a loved one, or social situations). It can also be internal (an illness or a medical procedure).
When stress kicks in, it initiates the “fight or flight- “response; a complex reaction of endocrinologic and neurologic systems. It is the way our bodies respond to any kind of demand.
Stress is not always harmful. For example, when we need to learn for an exam, or go for an interview, the body excretes adrenalin (a chemical that can make your heartrate go up). This makes you more alert, helps you to concentrate and have clear, sharp focus and thoughts.
Stress, however, can become a problem and can cause harm (more in that in a minute), if we don’t get rid of our stress. When we “bottle our feelings” up, or don’t take “time out” to relax after a busy day / week at work or school, then the body starts to break down its own immune system to try and cope.
When this happens, and your immune system is low, you are not only more prone to illness and disease, but you will become more and more irritable, angry, tired and even tearful. What is disease? Dis-ease is when the body is not happy with how its functioning; there is a dis-ease somewhere in the body. And the only way, for our bodies to cope, is to let you know (sending out a signal/s) like tiredness, sleepiness, and so on. When we ignore the signs, then the immune system kicks in. Alas, when we have depleted our bodies’ reserves, nothing is left for the body but to become ill, in order to not only heal itself, but also to give us a wake-up call, so to speak, to slow down, rest, recover / recouperate and get rid of our stress.
I am sure many of you know that exercise is one of the many ways to help you get rid of stress. Deep breathing is another wonderful way; when you focus on inhaling for 8 – 10 counts, deeply and slowly, and then exhaling the same way, you not only slow down your heartrate (which spikes when you stress or get angry), but you also calm the mind. As more oxygen can now flow in and out of the body, your whole body starts to relax; your muscles relax, the areas where you normally carry your stress relax, and you can “think before you speak,” become calm and focused.
It is important to maintain a strong immune system, whether or not you are under severe stress or not. The stronger the immune system, the better chance you have of either not getting ill, or, if you do, to get over it far quicker.
Vitamins, minerals, omega oil, the type of food you eat and drink, all play an important role.
Vitamin C (found in citrus fruit, parsley, and so forth), Vitamin D (direct sunlight or tablet-form), Vitamin A (yellow and orange fruit and vegetables), Zinc (supplements), and Vitamin B6 & B12 (found in meats or supplement if you are vegetarian), are all important. Vitamin 12, for example, plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and it is the first vitamin that the body uses when under stress!
Food sources like Red and Yellow bell peppers, Broccoli, Garlic, Spinach, Yoghurt, Almonds and other nuts, Seeds (linseed, sunflower seed, and so forth), Papaya, Bone broth, Poultry (think of your gran’s or mom’s homemade Chicken soup), Green tea (preferably the organic tea), and spices like Turmeric, Oregano, Garlic, and Ginger, can all help to maintain a healthy immune system.
Staying hydrated by drinking enough water is important, as well as getting enough sleep. Do make sure that you sleep enough hours, in a dark room, without any lights (natural and artificial), in order to give your body and mind time to replenish, renew, rebuild and heal. If you have your cell phone next to your bed, or the television is on “sleep,” that can also disturb your sleep, because the brain cannot “switch off” completely. It is important to “switch off” as this is the only time that your body has to renew and heal itself!
Another tip, which I mentioned in previous blogs, is to maintain a healthy gut. When the pH-level in your gut is too acidic, it creates a wonderful place for germs and viruses to breed. If, however, your pH-level is alkaline, the chance of something breeding is minimal; if not zero.
All in all, I would like to mention and even stress, that “that which you fear you attract.” Instead of “going crazy” take a step back, take a deep breath, go outside if it is possible, and know that, “this too shall pass.” When you don’t take care of yourself, get rid of your stress either by meditating, exercising, journaling, or relaxing in a hot tub, not only will your body suffer, but also the people around you.
My late grandfather always said “if you worry, you die, if you don’t worry, you might also die…so why worry?”