Stress is characterized by feelings of fear, dread, and anxiety, accompanied by a variety of physical side effects, including muscle tension; changes in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, hormonal balance, metabolism, and immune function; and in elevations of adrenaline and norepinephrine. Chronic stress can cause numerous mental and physical disorders, including anxiety, depression, dyspepsia, palpitations, muscular aches and pains, depressed immune response, hormonal imbalance, and kidney disease.
What is Stress?
Stress is another word for fear, often a low-level fear maintained chronically over time. Stress causes the instinctual flight-or-fight response, but in modern society neither of these options is always possible in the face of a stressful event. Very often, people feel they must endure situations without being able to fight or flee.
Many life-altering events, such as violence, internal conflicts, divorce, the loss of a job, the birth of a baby, or a change in residence can be stressful and sometimes lead to chronic stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a physiological response to an especially stressful event.
Food to Eat
- Whole grains promote the production of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, which increases your sense of well-being
- Green, yellow, and orange vegetables are all rich in minerals, vitamins, and phytochemcials, which boost immune response and protect against disease
Foods to Avoid
- Coffee and other caffeinated beverages: if you are currently addicted to coffee, drink black tea; it has less than a third of the caffeine of coffee, and none of the harmful oils
- Fried foods and foods rich in fat are very immune-depressing, especially when stress is doing that, as well
- Reduce animal foods. High-protein foods elevate brain levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, both of which are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress.
- Aerobic exercise daily
- Walking in the woods, at the beach, or in a park
- Participate in a sporting event, such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, racquetball, softball, and many others
- Ride a bicycle
- Tai chi chuan or some other forms of martial arts
Warm baths relax the muscles and slightly heat the brain. Soak for no more than 15 minutes in water between 100° and 102°F.
Therapeutic massage, acupressure, shiatsu, or some other forms of healing touch all reduce stress.
The following list of supplements will help deal with the results of stress, and if taken in conjunction with efforts to deal with the cause, will be instrumental in the overall therapy:
- Beta-carotene: 15 – 30 mg daily
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 1.5 mg per day
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 1.8 mg per day
- Niacin: 20 mg per day
- Vitamin B6: 2 – 10 mg per day
- Vitamin B12: 2 – 10 mcg per day
- Vitamin C: 100 – 500 mg per day
- Calcium: 1200 mg per day
- Magnesium: 400 mg per day
- Zinc: 15 mg per day
Herbs for Treating Stress
Drink chamomile tea often.
- Exhale and breathe deeply
- Drop your shoulders, relax, and rotate shoulders in small circle. Breathe deeply and exhale.
- Pray, mediate, and surrender
- See a comedy and laugh
- Adopt a pet
- Listen to calm, peaceful music
- Take a walk
- Do progressive relaxation routines and meditations described in Part III
- Talk to friend or counselor
- Do yoga
- Tai chi chuan
- Go fishing guaranteed peace of mind
Smell all the following aromatherapies and choose the one or combination of aromas that appeal to you most:
- Lavender relaxes and relives stress
- Rosemary stimulates and sharpens the mind
- Geranium reduces stress
- Chamomile reduces stress
- Juniper berry
- Sweet marjoram