When we think of stress, we generally think of mental or emotional stress. Such as conflicts in relationships, being stuck in traffic every morning, work deadlines or dealing with financial debt. And as if those sources of stress weren’t enough to make us chronically ill, tired and moody, here’s the catch: there’s way more you’re probably overlooking and it’s wreaking havoc on your health, mood and physical and mental performance.
Here are the five types of stress that all create the exact same physiological stress response in the body:
- Physical stress: Whenever we move or exercise, our bodies are managing a form of natural stress that keeps us strong and fit. Too much physical stress; however, can cause immune system suppression, poor performance and increase the incidence of injury.
- Chemical stress: The body naturally manages chemical stress daily when it manufactures a variety of chemicals that are essential for our health such as hormones and Vitamin D production. However, we are exposed daily to chemicals and toxins that our bodies have a difficult time neutralizing. Over time, repeated exposure to harmful chemicals can lead to disease.
- Electromagnetic stress: In nature, this comes in the form of sunlight and the Earth’s electromagnetic field. Man-made forms include medical x-rays, high-voltage electrical lines and electronic devices. Electromagnetic pollution from man-made sources can cause dysfunction in the body’s hormonal and autonomic nervous system.
- Psychic or Mental stress: Planning, problem-solving and overcoming challenges are all forms of positive mental stress. Unwanted mental stress includes abusive relationships, financial worries and “stinking thinking.”
- Nutritional stress: Digestion and assimilation of foods are forms of nutritional stress that are necessary for survival. Eating too little or too much in a given day and/or consuming foods with toxins are examples of bad nutritional stress.
When we are chronically exposed to these collective sources of stress, our body has to keep up with the adaptation responses. Over time, normal functions begin to drop. See image for examples of how the body’s stress responses begin to manifest chronic health problems as a result.
We cannot avoid all stress in our lives day to day. But we can take actionable steps to address and manage most of them. But, what’s important is knowing WHAT is creating stress because only you are able to determine what you can eliminate completely from your life.
Some things you may not be able to avoid. But there are many stressors you can eliminate right away and then make a list of stress you will begin to eliminate step by step… without causing yourself stress in doing so. Here are some tips:
- Get a professional postural assessment and incorporate manual therapy, corrective exercise
- Increase postural awareness
- Incorporate appropriate exercise/movement into your daily routine
- Go for a walk every day, preferably outside first thing in the morning or during sunset
- If overtraining, reduce exercise to be appropriate for your stress level
- Reduce inflammation via dietary changes, possible supplementation – turmeric, curcumin, proteolytic enzymes, boswellia, etc.
- Increase breathing awareness – practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing
- Undergo a comprehensive gut healing protocol/program
- Switch to clean products for home use
- Switch to clean cosmetic/personal care products
- Filter drinking and shower water – chlorine, fluoride, metals, chemicals, etc…
- Switch to essential oils vs. perfume or air fresheners
- Avoid chlorinated swimming pools and steam rooms
- Avoid plastic food containers, water bottles, etc… as much as possible – there is no safe plastic
- Use clean insect repellent and sunscreen
- Eat organic, wild-caught, pastured, grass-fed, etc… foods as much as possible
- Follow toxic home checklist and resources for your product safety ratings
Electromagnetic (EMF) Stress
- Turn off cell phone, or put it on airplane mode, as much as possible
- Avoid using Bluetooth gadgets
- Reduce screen time (TV, computers, phones) as much as possible
- Turn off WiFi in your house whenever possible – use hard wire to internet if possible
- Avoid unnecessary x-rays, MRI’s, CT scans, etc…
- Skip the body scanner at the airport and opt for the pat down
- Remove smart meter from your home and pay the small fee for a monthly manual reading
- Grounding mats, pads, bedding, sheets
Psychic (Fear) Stress
- Work with a professional therapist, coach, or counselor that you feel comfortable with
- Identify your core values and create alignment between your life and your beliefs
- Step away from unhealthy/toxic relationships, friendships, etc…
- Talk to yourself in a way that you would talk to yourself as a little child
- Turn off the TV, don’t watch the news, limit exposure to advertising
- Work towards a fulfilling or rewarding job that excites you, aligns with your passion
- Begin a daily meditation practice (see guided meditations in the Resources Section)
- Sensory Deprivation Tank / Floating
- Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi
- Find a supportive tribe, community, partner, etc
- Move towards a real food diet, away from processed/industrial
- Avoid extreme caloric restriction or overeating/binge-eating
- Limit intake of processed sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Try an elimination diet to identify food sensitivities/inflammatory foods
- Drink plenty of clean water daily – Appx. 1⁄2 bodyweight in ounces – make sure it contains minerals
- Listen to your body’s signals
- Avoid chemical preservatives, additives, flavorings, and food coloring
- Avoid conventionally/industrially raised animal foods (hormones, steroids)
- Skip the sweetened soft drinks and sports drinks
For a great (and short) video on stress, check out this video by Paul Chek