“De-Stress for the Holidays… and Life”

Stress is a part of everyday life!  It has its ebb and flow and it affects how we think, feel, act, react, and handle life in general.  It can even drive a lot of our health concerns into a whirlwind of disorder and chaos.

It’s funny, or maybe sad, that the holidays tend to drive stress up in our lives, rather than bring joy and peace.  There are a lot of “stressful” reasons that the holiday season can create more problems than bringing happiness into our lives.   Whatever the reason, for the stressful holiday season, there is still hope for you!

Let’s take a brief look into how stressors wreak havoc in our lives.  Remember, stressors are not merely mental or emotional, but are also physical, environmental, chemical (think: what you breathe, eat and drink), spiritual, and much more.  Stress comes in many shapes, sizes, and varieties.  That’s why we don’t always know when we are “stressed out”!

Here are some brief descriptions of how “Stress” may affect your life:

Exhausted:  This person may be exposed to multiple stressors, remain “symptom-free”, but functions below normal capacity.  You may tire easily, struggle with coping, feel restless, have difficulty with cognitive tasks, have restless sleep, battle with gastrointestinal issues, or have difficulty with carbs.

Anxious:  This person may feel agitated or irritable when stressed.  You may have restless sleep, increased cholesterol, increased blood pressure, and reduced libido.  Anxiety may come in the form of heart palpitations, feeling overwhelmed, nervous, tense, jittery, shaky, hypersensitive or hyperactive, difficulty with making decisions, hot, dry, stiff, flushed, thirsty, or hypoglycemic if you miss a meal.

Fatigue:  This person may struggle with fatigue, depression, or impaired memory/learning with stress.  You may have increased cholesterol, insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), gastrointestinal disorders, central obesity, neurologic disorders, loss of muscle tone, decreased growth, protein wasting, bone loss, reduced sex hormone levels, reduced reproductive function, and functional renal (kidney) problems.

Indicators for the stressed and fatigued individuals are:

  • Pale appearance
  • Feeling cold and weak
  • Lingering fatigue after exertion
  • Weakness
  • Spontaneous sweating
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Fluid retention
  • Frequent urination
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of libido
  • Reproductive failure
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Edema (fluid retention)
  • Cold extremities
  • Easily sick
  • Low or High blood pressure
  • Inflammation (I will not “stress you out” with all of the symptoms that inflammation brings.)

The above list is not comprehensive, but part of a long process of how stress affects your life in many ways.  That’s why stress is called the “Silent Killer”, it progressively breaks down many pathways in which all your organ systems need to function properly.

Where to start?  Let’s begin with simple first!  Identify stressors in your life and remove those that you can.  Things like: poor eating, drinking, and thinking habits.  Increase your rest, relaxation, and sleeping time.  Try some deep diaphragm breathing to relax instantly.  Exercise and stretching are also extremely beneficial for reducing stress.

These are simple things you can start today.  Great health is something you need to be tenacious about.  If you are passive, you get passive results!  Remember, at least 75% of ALL physician visits are related to stress!

There are many natural approaches to help you with stressors as well, like adaptogenic herbs.  As the word indicates, herbs such as, Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Bacopa, and Ginseng can help the body “adapt” and normalize the response to stressors.  Certain nutrients, like B vitamins, are also helpful to take in natural and supplement form as they are needed to help certain processes in the body fight against stressors.

The overall key is to look at how stressors are affecting YOUR life and deal with each area in which they manifest: physically, chemically, mentally/emotionally, environmentally, spiritually and so on.  That is the Synapse Way!

So, begin with the simple things, and when you need a helping hand, Synapse will be here to help you along your journey back to wellness!

Dr. Chad J. Harrison