I think it is fair to say we have all experienced some sort of stress during these past few months. From hearing words on TV, like “national pandemic” to “quarantine,” to “face masks” we are experiencing stress. Suddenly the new norm became quite different than what we are used to. How did each one of us process and deal with these recent stressful times? It is evident that the general population was overwhelmed with these unforeseen circumstances. Some had outlets to exercise and eat healthy and others overate and overindulged. We are still learning about COVID-19, but what we do know is that people are more at risk that suffered from underlying health issues. It is evident that stress in any case exasperates any situation but will in fact enhance someone’s underlying conditions. One of the recent phrases we have heard was “flatten the curve,” but people are learning to deal with stress more productively and “flattening their own curve.” Stress is the body’s natural response to change and is an unavoidable part of life. This response may be triggered by emotions, day-to-day situations or environmental factors. While you cannot eliminate stress from your life, you can mitigate its effects on your physical and mental health by using stress management techniques. Continue reading to learn more about stress and which evidence-based natural interventions can help to reduce the effects of stress.
There are different kinds of stress that I would like to focus on, Acute stress, episodic acute stress and chronic stress. Of the three types of stress, acute stress is the most common form. It is your body’s immediate reaction to something new triggering your fight-or-flight response. When acute stress happens frequently, it is called episodic acute stress. They may take on too many responsibilities at one time and may struggle with organization and time management. If acute stress is not managed well and occurs for an extended period it becomes chronic stress.
Examples of physical stress are fatigue, headaches, jitters, muscle pain or tension, including neck or back pain, rapid heartbeat and trouble sleeping.
Examples of mental and emotional stress are anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, forgetfulness, lack of focus, lack of motivation, restlessness, sadness or depression.
Examples of behavioral stress are drugs or alcohol abuse, excessive eating, lack of appetite, reduced engagement in physical activity and social withdrawal.
Stress affects your health in several ways. There is a good chance stress is affecting your health in ways you do not realize. You may think decreased productivity at work, trouble sleeping, anger and headaches. Over time, chronic stress can lead to serious health issues, including depression, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Stress can also impair functions of the gastrointestinal system, leading to poor mobility and increased gut permeability.
There are many natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Eating fruits and vegetables and an adequate amount of protein as well as avoiding sugary foods and simple carbohydrates. Modalities such as meditation, walking, yoga and adding a fitness routine into your daily schedule is a always beneficial for reducing stress. And take time to unplug from your devices.
These foods may help you combat stress. Herbal tea (chamomile tea, lavender tea), dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, brown rice, avocados, wild fish, nuts, citrus fruits, cherries, yogurt, high-fiber foods and dark green leafy vegetables.
Please note when making dietary and exercise changes, always check with your doctor.
Maria Dello is a nutritionist at Dellonutritionals. Her office is located in Manhasset at 75 Plandome Rd.