Stress happens. Often. Luckily, the body’s designed to deal with it and then return to the status quo.
Danger, both real and imagined, sends the body into General Adaptation Syndrome. The Alarm Stage heightens the body into fight or flight mode. The Resistance Stage lets the body adapt and return to homeostasis, allowing it to recover. If it can’t, the last step occurs, Exhaustion.
Chronic stress puts the body in crisis mode. The autonomic systems that are in place to help in times of trouble don’t know how to stop. They get stuck in cascades that act like runaway trains sending you down the wrong track. If it keeps up for too long, illness, depression, disease and severe system deterioration are the outcome.
What can be broken can also be healed.
Jump start replenishment mode
Heal the body
When you’re exhausted, it’s easiest to grab ‘quick fix’ foods like processed meals, snacks and sweets. This only exacerbates the vitamin and mineral deficiencies that happen when your system gets out of whack. If you want to heal, eat the healthiest, freshest foods you can find to replenish your body’s nutrient deficiencies. Load up on whole grains that provide long-lasting energy, amino acid-rich plant proteins from nuts, beans and seeds, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits to introduce high levels of antioxidants to counteract the cell-damaging oxidative stress done to the body.
Couple this with lots of water since it’s essential for oxygenation as well as the functioning of your tissues, cells and organs, joint lubrication and multitudes of other functions such as waste removal. Not sure how much water to drink? Start by taking your weight, divide it in half, and then drink that number of ounces each day.
When in doubt, turn to sleep. Sleep is your body’s regeneration process. Allow yourself time to rest. Turn off devices a few hours before bed, soften the lighting and create a space that is free of distractions to ease yourself to sleep.
The body also needs exercise to heal. Regular activity does everything from boost your immune system, to strengthen your cardiovascular system and musculature, to improve your digestion and help you sleep. But it’s hard to feel motivated when you’re exhausted and depressed. Start small with short daily activities such as stretching, walking, yoga and swimming then build up both your endurance and strength as you move on to longer and more challenging exercises.
Explore the benefits of healing modalities like acupuncture, massage, chiropractic and reflexology to restore the body to equilibrium.
If you’re dealing with chronic stress, nutritional supplementation can make a difference.
Magnesium is the homeostasis curative that, unfortunately, becomes drained in times of prolonged stress. Eat magnesium-rich foods and cut down on alcohol, salt, soda and antibiotics that deplete magnesium. In times of stress, magnesium’s released from the blood cells and urinated out of the body. This creates magnesium deficiencies that then harm our ability to deal with stress making the cycle continue. Supplementation of this mineral is essential to stop the cycle. Absorbable forms are magnesium malate and magnesium glycinate.†
Also beneficial is vitamin B6, which can support magnesium’s absorption rate as well as being essential to brain and nervous system health and in the formation of stress-reducing hormones serotonin, norepinephrine and sleep hormone melatonin.
Neurotransmitter building amino acid formulas including tyrosine and phenylalanine for focus and energy, tryptophan and theanine for mood and sleep and l-glutamine for muscle recovery, gut, and brain health.
Heal the mind
Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices. Together they’ll shift your way of thinking and quiet stress thoughts and mental chatter.
Release your hold on material outcomes. People who get their happy feelings from the material aspects heal more slowly. Instead, focus on the moment, on your connections and on opportunities to help others.
When in doubt, see a counselor as another good way to speed the recovery process. Just as you’d go to a nutritionist or chiropractor to adjust facets of your body, these mental health specialists are trained to ask the right questions and guide you to deeper understandings that can cause a release of trauma you’re holding on to.
Be gentle with yourself as you undergo the healing process. Give yourself a break, there is no rush, you’ll get there. Guilt and impatience only compound the problem. Instead, let yourself move into a state of allowing where you are at each moment, knowing that the cruddy way you’re feeling isn’t permanent.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.