With 1,410,000,000 stress-related sites on Google and 5.1 million posts under #stress plus the 1.9 million #stressed on Instagram, not including the 2.3 million posts under #stressrelief, and all the lesser hashtags concerning stress, one would surmise–we, the human race, have a problem.
What is it, really?
The definition, according to dictionary.com, is simply:
Stress can be noticeable or hidden.Either way, it is a real thing and it is affecting us all greatly.
Studies have shown that 80%, to 90% and, according to, Dr. Alexander Loyd, PhD, ND, the author of “The Healing Code,” even 95% of aches, pains and illnesses today are caused by stress which increases the production of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Our heart rate is increased and our blood pressure rises, when adrenaline is boosted, not to mention plaque build up in our arteries when cortisol is escalated. In addition, our brains, gut, and our overall lives are affected in a negative manner.
Furthermore, stress is directly related to the number six killer in the USA, heart disease, and is a big factor in creating ongoing self-medicating, which promotes substance abuses including but not limited to alcohol and opioids. Stress has become a trillion-dollar epidemic says a recent article in the Huffington Post.
Stress is the #1 cause of illness in the USA – Dr. Alexander Loyd
We all have those days that we exhibit some of the many symptoms of stress:
- chest pain
- loss of appetite (or in my case, overeating)
- stomach ache
- acid reflux
The list is long.
Then there are days when we don’t actually feel it, but our bodies are secretly in war mode attempting to covertly fight off hidden culprits found all around us, every day, the kind that homestead in our cells and wreaks havoc. Our environment is loaded; from our cell phones to the media; from relational conflicts to side effects from the medication we ingest to the food we eat, and on and on. We are being bombarded.
With all the evidence that stress causes illness at a cellular level, the big question is this: how do we rise above all of it and be unaffected?
The answer. There is no solid answer that will work for everyone all of the time. However, I have included nine of my favorite stress defusers below.
- Be still. Meditation is an ancient practice of focusing on a single point of reference. With all the chatter that is constantly dive-bombing my brain, I like to take some time in the morning to find that secret place of peace that can only be found when we intentionally set time aside.
- Breathe. We know that stress can cause shortness of breath, anxiety and other health-related issues. Again, taking time to breathe deeply during meditation or otherwise, increases calmness as well as much-needed oxygen in our body. Recently I was introduced to an exercise in which I put my hands together at my chest and at the same time breathe in and out deeply and quickly for about 30 seconds. If I were to wear a stress monitor, my stress levels would be visibly lowered very quickly. Try it wherever you are when feeling stressed, see what happens.
- Healthy diet. Eating healthy has improved my demeanor tremendously over the last decade. Even with my occasional bouts of comfort food stress eating, I find eating green and clean assists in obtaining an overall sense of well being.
- Hydrate. Drink clean water. We have a Berkey Water Purifier that has kept us feeling good about the water we drink. Because the system can purify even lake water, we add a few minerals back into the water, like Celtic Sea Salt. Just a pinch will add much-needed sodium to the water which assists in nerve & muscle function while promoting a healthy blood pressure level. We also add lemon whenever possible to increase the alkalinity of the water. It tastes good too.
- Walk. I have friends that walk 13,000 to 15,000 steps per day and I applaud their effort. But for me, walking on the treadmill for several miles about three times a week and taking the time to walk briskly around town a couple of times a week seems to increase energy and decrease stress. Walking gives me time to think, listen to audio teachings or sing along with my favorite tunes on Pandora. I take my dog, Koda, with me for added adventure. Walking/running a marathon is on my list of wanna do’s. When I begin training for a 5k, my steps will increase significantly.
- Sleep. I love my sleep and go to bed early so I can get up early. I set my clock to chime when it’s time for bed and have a wonderfully peaceful jingle wake me up eight hours later. Before bed, I like to drink Sleepy Time Tea with Valarian to increase a sense of restfulness and sometimes, if I wake up in the night, I eat a banana too, which is a wonderful sleep aid. (Read my blog on “Bananas for Bananas” for more benefits) I also like to wind down by picking up a book and reading until drowsiness sets in, which is oftentimes only two paragraphs. (Studies show that falling asleep to the TV or other electronics can actually deter sleep)
- Guard my heart. Personally, I do not watch the news any longer and find my life is much more peaceful. In addition, I have not subscribed to the newspaper or to regular television since 2010 and am no longer subject to mind-numbing advertisements, though, sadly, YouTube and the internet at large is becoming increasingly saturated with ads as well.
- Forgive. Holding on to bitterness increases stress internally which adds to the problem. (Read more in my recent blog on forgiveness.)
- Pray. Prayer has been a part of my life for decades and I find when I bring things that are bothering me, situations that are potentially stress-causing, before God and surrender them as quickly as I can, life is simply more peaceful and productive.
In closing, there are more adverse effects of stress that are not mentioned and there are many more ways of defusing a stressful life. My hope is that we all examine our days at least to some extent and make adjustments where needed.
Change our mind,
change our words,
change our habits,
change our life.