Living the WELL Life

How to Manage Stress

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I was recently interviewed by one of the health magazines about my ‘take’ on stress and what I feel is causing more and more people to be on medication. The number of antidepressants prescribed by the NHS has almost doubled in the last decade, and rose sharply last year as the recession hit, figures reveal. The health service issued 39.1m prescriptions for drugs to tackle depression in England alone in 2009, compared with 20.1m in 1999 – a 95% jump. Wow!

My wildest dream would be to see a 95% increase in programmes educating people on how to DE stress... naturally don’t be fooled by quick fixes to stress: learning to manage stress and maintain balance is an on-going process throughout one's life. Think of it as nurturing yourself in the same way a gardener would tend to a special plant.

What happens when we're stressed?
Stress interferes with homeostasis, the self-regulating process by which the body maintains a stable, constant internal environment. When the body is subject to a 'stressor' (something which provokes a stress response, whether this is the sound of a starting pistol or a swirl of thoughts about all the things you need to do), its first reaction is to prepare for danger. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol and adrenaline until a state of physiological arousal is reached whereby the person can fight with or flight from the perceived danger. Pupils dilate breathing and heart rates rise, and digestion stops. This response was helpful back when humans spent much of their time hiding from wild animals, but perhaps less so when we're stuck in traffic in 2013. 

Nowadays stress is widely recognised as weakening the immune system, decreasing fertility and in the long term it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, digestive conditions and ulcers. People with a whole host of conditions, from psoriasis to angina to PMT, notice that their symptoms are worse when they are stressed.

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress that are health-promoting rather than health-destroying. Below are some ideas that may prove helpful to those of you who feel overwhelmed at times!  My work is geared towards reducing or removing stress from my client’s lives, as I do believe stress is an energy imbalance that is the primary cause of disease.  Nutritional stress creates havoc with our body and mind alike.

The positive feedback I receive from clients when they follow my dietary and lifestyle programmes and dump sugar from their diet is incredible.  They start to reduce their medication (anti-depressants) and successfully remove these drugs from their lives.  It makes my heart sing when that happens.  I do love it when folks decide to take responsibility.  We all know that the sugar highs and lows create mood swings, right? 
Here is a list of the worst stress foods;

  • Sugar  Cause Blood Sugar Imbalances & Hyperactivity
  • Honey - Overwork Spleen, Pancreas, Liver & Intestines
  • Molasses - Cause Mood Swings, Irritability & Fatigue
  • Corn Syrup - Lower Resistance To Infection
  • Artificial Sweets
  • Chocolate

  • Dairy Food- Harden Arteries
  • Fatty Meats - Form Excess Mucus
  • Fried Foods - Cloud Thinking
  • Nuts etc. - Congest & Impede Function of Heart, Liver, Gall Bladder, Lungs, Intestines & Sexual Organs

  • Red Meat - Toxify & Acidify Blood
  • Pork - Deplete Supply of Calcium
  • Eggs etc. - Overwork Kidney & Liver
                   - Stagnate in Intestines, Killing Intestinal Flora

1. How does stress affect us?
One of the main effects of stress is that it affects our adrenal glands. These glands produce the hormones adrenaline, norepinephrine, DHEA and cortisol. When we go through life in a state of emergency the adrenals become overworked and we become prone to anxiety and stress responses. 

2. What is the difference between stress and burnout?
When the adrenals become over-worked they eventually cannot produce hormones in sufficient amounts or cannot utilize the hormones they do produce, basically the adrenals get wiped out. This is called adrenal exhaustion (burnout). This state of exhaustion is emotional, mental and physical.

3. Do you think people are becoming more stressed?
In this 24/7 busy, busy, busy existence people become more stressed due to the increased reliance on caffeine containing products like coffee and fizzy drinks, as well as chemicals in foods and excess sugar. When health is not good we become less adaptable. The over-use of mobile phones and computers, lack of being in an outdoor environment and not getting enough physical exercise also contribute.

4. How can we learn to manage our stress?
Adopting a wholefoods natural diet can make the biggest impact on stress. When we eat food it should energize us, and create vitality and adaptability. What we eat today is who we are tomorrow. Removing processed and fast food from our diets will make the biggest impact on stress at a cellular level. We do not hear about nutritional stress but it is very real.

5. Why do people seem to be more reluctant to deal with their stress, or admit it’s a problem?
We live in a world where it seems the more stress you have to deal with the more important you are, it’s almost like wearing a ‘badge of courage’ kids even talk about being ‘stressed out’. We are setting ourselves up for illness if we do not address these issues. When the body becomes overwhelmed (stressed) it’s a signal to take stock and listen to the message.  We are miraculous in our design; the body is a self-healing organism so when we eat in a way that nourishes us from the inside out we are better geared up to deal with life on a daily basis. 

6. How can food help us de-stress?
Natural un-processed foods in their whole-form are packed with every vitamin and mineral to create a healthy equilibrium that does not cause stress to the body. The modern diet is a strange mix of chemical additives and the excessive use of fats, protein and sugars. This mix puts the body under a constant pressure to either store or detoxify acids and fats. This is a constant battle within us to achieve the constant state of chemical balance that keeps us alive – we are fighting ourselves. When we treat the body kindly and only eat foods that are easy to digest and metabolize, it is like tuning in a clear channel on the radio and getting rid of the static.

7. What do you do to combat stress?
A completely stress-free life is impossible and undesirable. Indeed, a little stress can be positive and motivates us to achieve goals and change parts of our lives we don't like. However too much is certainly not a good thing!

Stress kills us, robs us of good health. It is easy to deal with it in such a simple way.  I work hard, play hard, but rest also and give myself lots of T.L.C. Balance is the key to a healthy and happy life. Eating delicious healthy food is of paramount importance, participating in some form of daily exercise, taking a short 5-minute session of deep breathing and relaxation/mediation every day keep the stress to a minimum. If you create healthy habits stress is not an issue. On top of all that my delightful hubby and I exchange massage treatments with each other, we soak in a seaweed bath couple of times a week, and laugh every day, even at ourselves! 

Take a look at the lists below and gauge where you are in your life in terms of stress.  Aim to be in the top category because that’s where you deserve to be.  We all deserve the best of health and we are the ones that can make it happen.

Health is a state of dynamic balance between the individual and the environment they inhabit. This balance creates particular qualities of awareness and behavior.
    ◦ Compassion
    ◦ Good Memory
    ◦ Flexibility
    ◦ Curiosity
    ◦ Appreciation
    ◦ Joy
    ◦ Energy

Sickness is a product of progressive levels of stress. This stress is expressed in physical as well as mental and emotional functions following general stages:
    ◦ Tiredness 
    ◦ Muscle and Joint pain 
    ◦ Superficial Discharge
    ◦ Emotional Disharmony
    ◦ Degenerative Process 
    ◦ Mental and Perceptual Disorders
    ◦ Isolation

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” This has been my mantra for over 2 decades; please make it yours!

In good health

Marlene x 


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