I often wonder what is really happening to us. Why are we as a country getting bigger? Can we blame it solely on fast foods and processed diets? How about video games and lack of exercise – sure. But what is really behind this epidemic? Are we lazy or are we just stressed out?
According to Brad King, M.S., MFS “When we constantly stress over things—many of which we have no control over, we end up elevating the powerful stress hormone cortisol. Perception equals reality in the face of stress. During stress, cortisol can easily become more important to your body than other hormones, and since it is produced along the same biochemical pathway as your sex hormones, it usually ends robbing the body of the very substances needed to keep these hormones in abundance. The byproduct of this hormonal imbalance is weight gain, premature aging and loss of libido (just to name a few).”
This rise in cortisol is also what is keeping you up at night and craving sugars and caffeine to get you through the day.
I think stress does play a major role. Gone are the days where women stay home and tend to the house and kids. Both parents are usually off to work and left trying to juggle everything else from laundry to lunches, soccer to parent teacher interviews. Too much has got them running on empty. Don’t get me wrong here, I work full-time and like it that way, all I am saying is that life is busier now. Even our children are under more stress. Changes in the educational system have them bringing far more projects and work home which limits their down time. If they are also into any extra curricular activity which most kids are, that leaves them even less time to just “be a kid”. Times have changed and we need to do a “Stress Makeover” or we’ll all see the ugly side of burn out real fast.
So how do we get less stressed and back on the road to health?
- Exercise – lowers stress by lowering cortisol, increases endorphins (feel good brain chemicals) and elevates mood. Go for a walk each day on your lunch; join a class with a friend. Get your body moving!
- Meditation/Prayer – Set aside some time each day to de-stress. If you have difficulty turning off your brain, try listening to a guided meditation. Cozy up with a book or if you are spiritual spend some quiet time in prayer.
- Go on a Media Diet – I got this tip recently on Dr. Whitaker’s website www.drwhitaker.com Exposing ourselves to all the horrendous events that are detailed in the news and in the papers has a profound effect on our stress levels. Refrain from watching the news or reading the paper for 3 weeks and see how you feel.
- Evaluate – Scale back on the things you can, stop spreading yourself so thin. Make a list of your obligations and weed out the “must dos” from the “should dos”.
- Diet – Carefully choose what you put in your mouth. Have healthy snacks ready for the times you know you’ll be pressed for time. Prepare healthy meals ahead of time for evenings that you have a lot going on. Pack a lunch. This will keep you from choosing foods to fill the hunger gap that are full of empty calories and do nothing to help your stress level.
- Supplementation – there are many supplements that can help combat stress. One of my favorites is Brad King’s Ultimate Anti-Stress . This product works to lower cortisol, help the body adapt to stress and helps to bring your re-balance your hormines. I have often taken this product in the evening after a stressful day at work and find that I am able to relax and drift off to sleep quicker. Visit Brad King at http://www.awakenyourbody.com/ I also like Gaba and l-theanine for their calming properties and find that they are helpful during times of heightened stress/anxiety. These products can be found at your local health food store.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed these days, do yourself a favor and start taking care of yourself. Reevalute your life and clear out the stressful clutter. You deserve it!