After my last post, Stress and the Body: Good Stress and Bad Stress, I want to continue talking about stress and its effect on the body. Stress that is not dealt with can be harmful, so it is important to recognize the source of stress and address it.
Is stress good or bad for us?
Well, that depends. An event or situation that challenges us to grow and develop in a positive way is good stress. When we find meaning in an experience and can maintain an optimistic outlook, the body will resolve the stress leaving us in a balanced and healthy state.
Bad stress, on the other hand, is stress that leaves us feeling “stressed out”. We’re unhappy, we can feel “stuck”, unmotivated to make necessary changes, and feel angry and/or excessively worried and preoccupied. We often feel like victims. These hopeless and helpless feelings can make us feel exhausted.
Chronic Stress and Its Impact
It’s this chronic stress that negatively impacts our immune system, our digestive system and our cardiovascular system. In addition to stressing ourselves physically through poor diet, we stress ourselves emotionally through negative thinking. When we feel threatened – whether real or imagined, our amygdala, part of the primitive part of our brain, triggers our fight, flight or freeze response.
The hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, shoot up to prepare us to deal with the threat. Heart rate increases, we become hyper alert, our muscles tense and blood flow is diverted away from non-essential functions like digestion; after all, who wants to use up energy digesting when you need to run away from a tiger!
Rebalancing After Stress
In a healthy individual, the body will cope and rebalance in a few minutes. In a person who has lost this ability to rebalance quickly, adrenalin and cortisol stay elevated causing a host of symptoms. A chronically stressed person may experience insomnia and mood changes. They may overreact and become impatient and critical. The immune system is impaired and this is where chronic disease begins to take hold.
Behaviors and Substances
People who are chronically stressed may try to control their uncomfortable feelings through behaviors and substances that will calm their anxiety, at least temporarily, such as alcohol, drugs, overeating and computer games etc. This is how addictions develop.
Usually doctors will prescribe medication to help a person feel better. However, this can make matters worse by presenting the patient with another means of escape. It also doesn’t address the cause of their symptoms so true healing cannot take place.
Finding the Source of Stress
In my more than 35 years of practicing medicine, I have found that the most effective means of treating stress is to find the source. Even when the cause of the stress is one of the six most stressful events in a person’s life:
- Death of a loved one
- Moving to another locale
- Loss of a job
- Major illness
- Having a baby
- Getting divorced
Even these stressful events can usually be eased without medications.
More Views on Stress Treatments
Underlying Genetics of Stress
One exciting approach is looking at the underlying genetics that may be predisposing you to feeling stressed. The genetic condition called MTHFR deficiency results in a decrease of an enzyme that is responsible for the manufacture of serotonin and dopamine – the 2 neurotransmitters that help us feel calm and focused.
If you have this deficiency, and many people do, then you will be lacking in serotonin and dopamine, so when the going gets tough, you get stressed out. By taking a few natural supplements, such as methyl B12 and methyl B9 (methyl folate), you can boost your natural production of serotonin and raise your tolerance to stress dramatically. For more information see this article on MTHFR on VitaBens.com (I work with VitaBens).
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Another highly effective approach to reducing chronic stress is EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. By tapping on specific points along with saying certain phrases, an overactive amygdala will calm down and you can break through emotional blockages and embrace new perspectives. There are many good Youtube videos that demonstrate the technique.
Treating Stress Caused by Pain
Being in physical pain is a tremendous stressor in a person’s life. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment can do wonders to rebalance your body and relieve stress and pain. Myofascial release, cranial – sacral technique can literally undo the stress patterns in the body so a person feels much more at ease.
Solution for Immediate Intervention
Someone who is in a crisis state and needs immediate intervention may do well with a product called GH3 – Gerovital H3. This is a procaine product that takes the nervous system from a “scream” down to a “hum”. It is non-addicting and very safe, but if you are taking other medication please consult with someone who is familiar with this product to make sure it is right for you.
Other Solutions to Beat the Stress
Feeling chronically stressed is not the way nature intended us to live. Finding a way to reduce this negative stress is imperative if we want to live happy, healthy lives. Keep searching for what works for you.
There are many wonderful avenues to explore in your journey to better health. Some others to explore include:
- Sugar-free, nutrient-rich diet
- Tai chi
- MTHFR deficiency
- Rebalancing with Osteopathic treatment
Thank you so much for joining. Wishing you the best luck for addressing any stress that you may be going through in your life,