Millions of people are daily dealing with this MONSTER called STRESS! And as calm, cool, and collected as I try to stay on a regular basis (I really try hard not to let things affect me), I recently have had a drag out battle with this enemy of our health! My family of five moved out of a 3500 square foot house into a 2500 square foot house, and my mother who had been living with us for the last three years also moved into her own apartment. Coordinating one move is challenging enough, but two moves? Between the late night/early morning packing sessions, disagreements, long work hours, and over spending, I was ready to go over the edge into insanity!
Before I share how I handled the crazy, let’s first talk a little about how stress affects the body.
CRAVINGS….Cortisol is a hormone released during times of stress, and it has been linked to sugar and fat cravings. So this is the reason I reach for the chocolate and the ice cream when things get crazy in my life! This hormone is also believed to increase the amount of fat tissue your body holds onto and enlarge the size of fat cells. So this is why I should stop reaching for the chocolate and the ice cream!
SLEEPLESSNESS….Overthinking situations, worry, and anxiety go hand and hand with stress, and they keep our minds busy and unable to settle down for a good nights rest. Many struggle with this problem, so much so it has become an epidemic in this country. If you can’t get a good nights rest your body doesn’t get the time to heal and repair itself.
SKIN BREAKOUTS….Stress increases oil production in skin glands which leads to acne. And for those with more serious skin allergies, flare ups of ezcema and psorasis. This is why my freshman year at Berkeley was spent soaking in oatmeal baths trying to relieve my ezcema breakouts. Hard core academic stress is tough on the skin!
WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM….Cortisol, the same hormone that can make you fat when you get stressed, also prevents the release of chemicals that strengthen your immune system. This suppression of the immune system leaves you vulnerable and unable to fight off viruses, bacteria, and a host of other illnesses that can be serious like heart disease and cancer. During my move even though the weather was in the 80s and 90s half my household was fighting colds!
Now for my favorite STRESS BUSTERS!
DRINK JUICE….Now I’m not just saying this because I make smoothies for a living. Juices are medicinal. Drinking lots of fresh fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies will keep that immune system strong, give you energy, and help fight skin break out problems. I call the produce section of the store “Nature’s Pharmacy”, because the foods there are rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and minerals that create and restore health to the body without dangerous side effects that are indicitive of pharmaceuticals. Ice cream and chocolate may still happen (just being real!) so at least you are feeding your body the nutients it needs to stay healthy.
POMEGRANATE….My secret to making sure I get good sleep during stressful times is drinking 4 to 6 ounces of pomegranate juice before going to bed. The antioxidants clean the waste from the cells while you sleep giving you an energetic and refreshed start in the morning. I averaged about 5 hours of sleep during the move, but the pomegranate juice made it feel like a full nights rest. This is how I got through the early months of when my babies were born.
The powerful health benefits of this fruit go way beyond good sleep. A compound found only in pomegranates called punicalagin has been found to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce arterial plaque. I’ve met quadruple bypass survivors whose doctors put them on it, and they swear by it!
CRY AND PRAY!….Sometimes you just have to let it out! There was a pivotal moment during the move where everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. I had put up a brave front for as long as I could. And then I just lost it! I cried all the way to work and asked God to step in. I couldn’t fix it, I didn’t know how to make things work, or make them easier. I just needed him to do it! And he did.
MEDITATE….Spend quality time away from the noise, the problems, the people and get in a quiet place. When I meditate it’s usually on an encouraging scripture, an attribute of God, or positive quote that focuses my mind on those things that are good. I imagine the good that’s waiting at the end of my situation. I take slow deep breaths. I liken the situation to child birth. We want to tense up, bear down and stop the pain. But the secret is relaxing and breathing, and we ride the wave through the pain over to the other side where joy is.
INTIMACY….For those of you who are married. I don’t really need to explain….but just in case. When times are stressful, especially for both of you it’s time to get your groove on! Now truth be told, because of the stress you won’t be in the mood. You’ll have to push through it! Sex releases the feel good hormones oxytocin and endorphins. For certain my husband is more agrreable, gentle, and less angry when we have sex. For women it’s a huge emotional release just like crying. So light some candles, put on some music, and start melting that stress away!
Hope you liked my stress busters, feel free to leave your comments and share your favorites!