A Different Way to Look at Stress with Dr. G
Dec 1, 2015 by Dr. Jess Goodman | lifestyle
Emotional and physical issues contribute to stress. Long term stress is well known to have negative consequences, leading to fatigue, a decline in mood and impaired physical health. It is important to recognize how short term, minor stress affects many aspects of human life and that there are ways to recognize and manage stress points.
Let's walk through a typical day filled with choices and stress management opportunities. To make it easier to relate let's be a fly on the wall, following our hero Robin through her day. Robin had good stress management habits. Let's learn from her.
Getting A Good Night's Sleep
Robin is sleeping. She was careful to avoid having caffeine after noon and after 10pm she stayed away from watching television or going online and exposing herself to bright light that wound interrupt her body's nightly Melatonin surge. As a result she fell asleep at 11pm, dropping into REM sleep filled with dreams allowing her brain to replenish its neurotransmitter reserves. There is nothing more powerful than sleep to create an energy base supporting daily life.
Robin had been through relationships with partners who stressed her as a result of their ongoing personal issues and emotional needs. She spent years waiting, working on her own personal development and in time found a man who with her created a home suffused with calm, caring and love of life. It was no accident. Robin had experienced stressful relationships and pointed herself towards a peaceful existence. The relationships we share can strengthen or drain us.
Starting Our Day On The Right Foot
Nuzzling up to Robin her dog Bella roused her from a dream. Having a dog has been shown to reduce blood pressure, contribute to a better mood and lead to a longer life with less illness. Robin throws on her jeans and a sweatshirt and heads to the kitchen. She pours out a glass of room temperature filtered water into which she squeezes fresh lemon and drinks a glass over a couple of minutes. Hydration is critically important in allowing our bodies to function. Lemon juice is filled with nutrients that allow our engines to start humming along in the morning.
Going For A Walk
Robin and Bella head out for their morning walk. Walking is an effective and simple exercise. It engages all parts of the body, introduces motion to the spine, stimulates the bones and and enhances internal organ micro-circulation. Being physically strong is an important way to deal with emotional stressors.
Planning Our Day
Getting back home Robin checks her schedule for the day and noted her appointment for a dental cleaning. Oral health is very important to overall health. Inflammatory changes in the oral cavity create low level energy drains and have been shown to, over time, lead to heart disease and other pathology. Self care is a form of self love.
Cleansing Our Body
Robin slips into the shower. She is careful to use soap only for her armpits and 'down below'. She knows that our skin has a layer of fats and oils that protects us from environmental challenges and prevent loss of fluids from the skin. With clean fingers Robin massages her face gently, knowing that there are many facial bones and soft tissue structured that benefit from the gentle stimulation. Later today Robin has a weekly Yoga class and today will as a result will skip her usual morning Yoga exercises.
Taking The Right Vitamins
In the kitchen Robin gathers the supplements that her Naturopath has suggested are appropriate for her age. Robin takes supplements because she is aware that over the course of human history lasting hundred of thousands of years, humans have had an average lifespan of about 36 years. Robin is in her early 30's and recognizes that her body and mind will benefit from a little help. Vitamin D, B12, Omega-3 and other supplements are known to contribute to health and long life.
Taking Control Of Our Day
Robin knows she needs to feel power as an individual to affect and contribute to the society she lives in. Helplessness is a feeling that happens when a person believes they have no influence on the world around them. Helplessness leads to a decline in physical and emotionally supportive personal activities. Robin rides her bike and walks as much as possible to avoid having to use her car. Walking integrates us with the spiritually replenishing world we live in.
Walking down the street towards the bus station Robin says hi to a half dozen people in her neighbourhood. These social interactions are brief but centering. Our minds can get caught up in our internal chatter and simple, pleasant social engagement draws us into the external in a very positive way.
Enjoying Our Surroundings
At work Robin has many pressures and issues to deal with and is happy when lunch time comes. She leaves work and heads to a nearby urban park. She had packed a lunch and watches the squirrels as she munches. It starts to rain lightly and Robin anticipates snow falling in the mountains and a good day snowboarding the coming weekend. Robin has learned not to allow rain or other potentially negative events drag her down for long.
Incremental Changes To Less Stress
Robin was not always so mellow. She changed and changed slowly. It took years and years for the incremental changes to lead her to where she is now. She slowly developed patterns and habits of living that allowed her to feel good about herself and her life. The secret is to be satisfied with slow and incremental change. By pointing yourself in the right direction and moving patiently forward everyone can get to a stable, calm and satisfied place.
It's evening. Robin has unstructured time to spend with her boyfriend and Bella. She takes time to respond to friend's messages and share a few laughs.
There are many potential stresses in Robin's life. She had developed stress balancing social, nutritional, exercise and health habits that involve almost every minute of her day. Everyone has choices. Changing habits is difficult. Essentially it requires rewiring your brain. Your brain is pliable and will change with gentle and repeated introduction of new patterns. Have faith in your goodness and know that you are supported by a caring and loving force that warms your belly and shines from your eyes.
Life Is For Being Kind To Ourselves
We can starve ourselves of the simple and life giving benefits of a walk in the morning or forget to hydrate through the day or make conscious positive choices. At the heart of it is an effort to be kind to ourselves and to know how powerfully we can support health and reduce stress.
Life is for learning. Each day offers lessons we learn by ourselves, by watching others and by listening to wise words. Each of us had one shot at it and the wonder is that it is always the right time to start feeling stronger and managing stress better.
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