Chronic Stress Part III : Solutions
Today’s post is full of butterflies, kittens🐱, and unicorns (Literally!). That’s a welcome change, I’m sure, considering the sobering long term ramifications of unmitigated chronic stress we’ve talked about these past few weeks. Chronic stress usually creeps in on very soft feet, so consider taking a few minutes to answer this simple yes/no “day to day stress assessment”:
Coping with stress involves two steps:
1️⃣Recognizing the signs and symptoms of EARLY burnout and stress (you’ve got the tools now!)
2️⃣Activating any or all of the self care tools below.
Now, here’s the fun part….. Giving yourself some self care time by mixing and matching ways to “de-stress” on the regular. This is not a “once and done” experience. These are lifestyle changes for life!
👉Get regular exercise!
👉Engage in self care activities (ex: a long soaking bath or a massage)
👉Prayer, meditation, and/or quiet time with no electronic or television distractions
👉Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (aka CBT) . This can be a very valuable tool, especially if you find yourself trending in negative thinking patterns. I would really recommend picking up Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book and workbook, “Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling toxic thoughts and emotions” to begin diving deeper into this subject.
👉Journal. Write out your thoughts instead of letting them fester in your mind. Create a gratitude journal, write a letter you’ll never send to someone, or begin success journaling)
👉Turn off social media and electronics as often as your day allows.
👉Limit scrolling time
👉Get outside as much as possible and connect with nature. Go barefoot or get your hands on plants and in soil. (Grounding! ….. We’ve talked about this in previous posts)
👉Read something relaxing and nontriggering (ex: a work of fiction). Allow your brain to wander within the pages of the book.
👉Engage in Yoga, pilates, Tai Chi (soooo many health benefits!)
👉Practice breathing exercises ( left nostril breathing or box breathing are both excellent breathing patterns to quiet the mind)
Improve your sleep in both quality and quantity (we talked about that last week)
👉Try salt water floatation therapy for deep relaxation
👉Listen to 432 Hz frequency healing music ( check out the company WholeTones for more info!)
👉Laugh! It releases endorphins.
👉Spend time with a pet. Did you know that a cat’s purring frequency corresponds with established healing frequencies in therapeutic medicine for humans?
👉Practice saying no to the things that bring stress, and saying yes to the things that will bring joy.
👉Avoid procrastination and just do the thing. Learn time management techniques and goal setting.
👉Eat healthy nourishing foods
👉Engage in a hobby
👉Connect with actual people in a community….. In person. We are not created to be an island.
👉Examine your values and beliefs and then live by them. An enormous amount of internal stress comes from living differently from your beliefs and values.
👉Oils and Supplements. We have so many amazing tools to help us navigate stress:
🌿Lavender, Vetiver (Yes, it doesn’t smell great, so apply to bottoms of feet!), Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Orange, and Geranium are just a few oils known for their calming qualities.
🌿Young Living has created an amazing array of perfectly blended oils to help add to the peace and tranquility in our lives: StressAway, Tranquil, RutaVala, Peace and Calming, and Valor are just a few that come to mind.
🌿An herb called Ashwagandha is known for its beautiful ability to lower symptoms of stress in the body. It is one of the important ingredients in Young Living’s EndoGize (typically for women) and PowerGize (formulated for men).
🌿Young Living’s Calm CBD Roll-on is another fantastic tool to help relax and quiet the mind. Have you tried it yet? Be sure to find and follow Dr. Oliver Wenker MD, DEAA, ABAARM, FAARFM, MBA on his website and social media to learn in depth information on all things CBD.
Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recommend steps to help mitigate stress in a patient’s life. Nearly 20% of adults age 18 or older are on medication💊 for symptoms related to stress. A patient may present with anxiety, depression, or any of the other stress related clues we’ve talked about, and a prescription is written without any further discussion (and often, without comprehensive lab work being ordered to ensure there’s not also an imbalance somewhere in the body causing the symptoms). There will always be a time and a place for medication as a final option, but patients need to be fully aware of the problems that lie with using medication long term as a coping mechanism.
💊Many of the medications used to treat symptoms of stress are highly addictive. Additionally, these medications have the capacity to impact brain function when taken over extended periods of time.
💊According to a study published in 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the most common classes of drugs (SSRI’s) used to treat mild to moderate anxiety and depression was “unable to outperform placebos for moderate symptoms of depression”. So…. there’s that.
💊All of the medications used to mediate stress symptoms have side effect profiles that may well require a 2nd or 3rd medication to help manage the side effects of the initial medication.
💊Very few studies on the effects of a polypharmacy (using multiple medications concurrently) lifestyle exist, yet we know that prescription drugs are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA (after heart disease and cancer)…… (Don’t let anyone tell you that essential oils and herbs are dangerous!😉).
💊There is no way of measuring serotonin (the primary “happy” neurotransmitter) in the brain of a living person, nor is there a “normal level” of serotonin we should all have to be emotionally healthy. People with high serotonin levels can still be depressed, and people with low serotonin levels can still be happy and joy filled. Indeed, we are largely the masters of our own emotional state.
💊Many medications used to treat symptoms of stress should be used in caution with people who have preexisting extreme mood disorders, diabetes, kidney, liver, or heart disease, or pregnancy (due to risk of miscarriage, congenital heart disease, or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the baby).
We have so many low cost (to free!) tools available to us when it comes to how we choose to deal with stress, and as you’ve hopefully seen, most are very pleasant options with no icky side effects.
Use the two stress surveys📊 you now have on hand to check yourself periodically, and then evaluate your self care / fun quotient. Your future self will thank you!
(PS: if anyone needs a stress relieving kitten, I’ve got 4 fosters looking for a home! )