Uncertain times make people feel ill-equipped to manage stress. Anxiety about uncertain situations causes us to be fearful for our future, whether it is the economy, jobs, racial violence, or even our health. We all had a time like this in 2020 when the global pandemic hit, and many of us still struggle with our mental health and uncertainty, be it because of the scars Covid left or more recent personal events in our lives.
Stress is a major energy zapper. It twists your neck and back into knots and makes you feel overwhelmed, irritable, and unable to focus or concentrate. Relaxing can be difficult when you experience stress and anxiety from life’s unknowns. In fact, sitting alone in your house may increase stress levels if you feel anxious.
Some stress can be good. Acute stress can be adaptive and protective, like alerting us to danger when there is a real or perceived threat or meeting specific deadlines at work or school. Being in stressful situations now and again is fine — and your body can benefit from this. However, chronic stress will affect our hormone levels and interrupt our activities of daily living, fuel self-indulgence (stress eating), cause sleep disturbances, make us gain weight even without significant diet changes, and can even cause us to self-isolate.
Chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation and progression to chronic disease. This can have adverse effects on your health. Numerous studies link anxiety and stress to increasing the risk factors of an adverse cardiovascular event (stroke or heart attack). Even among patients who have not experienced these events, the prevalence of anxiety is between 20- 25%. Psychological stress causes immune dysregulation and increases pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-6. This means that it’s more likely that you will get an illness and feel under the weather when you feel chronically stressed.
Anxiety about unknowns in your future will only exacerbate the chronic stress you’re dealing with. Some people can struggle with anxiety disorders like social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and many others. People suffering from these issues always feel immense anxiety and excessive worry, even when there’s no actual danger.
However, the emotion of anxiety is something everyone goes through. Treating general anxiety and anxiety disorders looks completely different. So how do we get out of this sympathetic nervous system overdrive mode created by stress and anxiety and activate our parasympathetic nervous system to rest, digest, and heal?
Go hiking with your family or friends, plant an organic garden of herbs and veggies, or walk barefoot on the grass or sand. Get outside each day, even just for a few minutes. Look at the plant and animal life and appreciate the natural beauty that comes from it all. The flowers, trees, and bushes also release fresh oxygen that helps calm your mind. The best part is that it is simple and easy to do. Walk to a nearby park or one of your favorite local hikes. Get outside!
BREATHE… Breathe deeply, getting your belly muscles to move in and out. Shallow breathing causes anxiety and fatigue, among other things. Belly breathing activates our vagus nerve, which brings us out of the fight or flight response and helps us rest, digest, and heal. It also lowers cortisol, increases our heart rate variability, makes us more alert, and less anxious and depressed.
Singing or humming is another excellent way to activate our vagus nerve and helps lower anxiety, and even improves our gut and lung function! Go ahead and hum or sing in the shower or anywhere else you desire!
People suffering from chronic stress or anxiety are likely to have trouble sleeping. If you’re worried about your future, your mind may be screaming at you to get up and do something. However, this sleep is incredibly important. When you’re having trouble sleeping, taking action to help manage stress is essential.
When we sleep, our bodies can restore, detoxify, and heal. As we age, we don’t produce enough melatonin, and sleep ensures adequate secretion of melatonin, which is neuroprotective. Ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Having the right setting to fall asleep in will make good sleep easier.
Another technique that can directly help your sleep quality is ensuring you give yourself enough time to wind down before trying to sleep. To wind down, you can turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime to even out your brain. If you find yourself too wired at night to sleep despite lifestyle adjustments, many natural and safe treatments assist you in getting rest, like melatonin gummies.
Doing regular exercise is one of the best ways to create a positive attitude within yourself. Exercising releases endorphins into the bloodstream that make us feel calm and happy. Exercising regularly also has a direct impact on how well you sleep. Doing this simple thing will help you manage stress and calm your mind so you can take on whatever comes your way.
Aside from the many tips given last week, herbal supplements can also help to support your adrenal glands. My favorite herbal supplement is ashwagandha, or “Indian ginseng.” It helps to strengthen, restore, and rejuvenate our bodies. It’s famous for reducing inflammation, promoting clarity, and creating a calming energy boost. Other adaptogens (adrenal support herbs) include lemon balm, passionflower, and l-theanine.
Avoid starving yourself of the peace and contentedness that awaits you. Turn off the TV and computer and get outside and breathe! Set a good bedtime routine that ensures a good night’s rest, and add a good adrenal support supplement. These are easy things to do and can significantly impact physical health conditions and how you feel.
Take time to rest, relax, and practice GRATITUDE! It is easy to get caught up in what is wrong with the world, but there is also so much that is beautiful and wonderful. Spend time focusing on the amazing things around you and think of ways to improve your life and those around you. Using complementary and integrative health techniques for a complete stress management plan is the best way to remove the emotional and physical symptoms of this problem.
It is truly your choice –– do you choose the path of sickness, fatigue, chest pain, and anxiety, or do you choose the path of wellness, happiness, and peace? What steps will you take to go down the path you desire to be on? An Optimal You is California’s #1 hormone, anti-aging, and holistic health care provider! The intense anxiety you feel due to your uncertain circumstances is natural, and our expert team can help you reduce stress levels within yourself. If you are dealing with any emotional symptoms of stress and anxiety, we can help. Here’s to a healthier YOU!