STRESS! The word just makes us cringe. We all know it. The horrible feeling of sinking slowly with no room to breathe. Or maybe for you, it’s the feeling of exploding anger, fear or another strong emotion. Stress is harmful to us. It feels awful and it is awful for our bodies.
Stress and how we deal with it varies from person to person. Each of us has different skill sets to handle different potentially stressful life situations. Stress can lead to chronic disease itself but can worsen or flare existing chronic disease. The fact you (or your child) is living with chronic disease might be stress enough to cause a flare of symptoms.
How does stress affect immunity?
A recent Carnegie Mellon study found stress causes the body to lose its control over inflammation regulation. This response causes and promotes disease. Inflammation is regulated by cortisol and when it can’t work properly, inflammation gets out of control.
Inflammation is the biggest enemy of those with auto-inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. It’s what we work so hard to control and avoid. What this means is un-regulated stress increases our inflammatory response causing more problems in our body. That means flares if you live with a disorder like lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or something similar.
Man this is a tough one today, isn’t it? We are SUPER busy, often feel like we are overloading with media and thoughts and schedules and work. It’s a never-ending ride. Here are a few tips to get you thinking about preventing or lowering stress. (Stress is unavoidable so it’s more about managing quickly and effectively).
Tip 1: Identify triggers that appear to cause stress.
Identifying stressors are important in learning how to control them. If we don’t know where or what causes the stress we can’t hit the source with all we got! Here are a few things to consider.
Trigger 1: Lack of adequate sleep.
Our brains need a chance to shut off and recharge. No devices, no TVs, no interruptions. We need to get between 7-9 hours of sleep as adults, and even more, if you are reading this for your children. Setting a sleep time and wake up time each day with consistency makes a big difference. If you are a person living with an autoimmune disorder check out our upcoming Energize & Feel Alive program, and if you are a person just trying to deal with stress – check out our upcoming FREE 7 Day Challenge. Stress is one of the days!
Trigger 2: Too many activities in a day or weekend.
There have been days or weeks where everyone we know planned some type of get together. We used to try to do it all. We learned this wasn’t possible. Both myself and my son would flare from being overactive and too tired. We would get home late and bedtime didn’t go well. Everyone fell behind on sleep and everyone felt overwhelmed without downtime at home.
Trigger 3: Not enough planning
Without a meal plan, shopping, plan, schedule for bedtime or downtime things fall apart fast. We quickly lose track of what is going on and we often make poorer health decisions when we are overwhelmed. We choose fast food because it’s fast and easy, we don’t make proper nutritious meals leading to consumption of refined foods that may cause even more inflammation and it just keeps going. We don’t fit in our daily physical activity without a plan and we get stiff and our joints are feeling lousy again. Planning is key to health success.
Other possible stressors and inflammatory agents include things like certain types of foods or meals, staying out too late at night and not sleeping long enough overnight, lack of physical exercise, lack of social contact, or the opposite, too much social contact and you need a break.
Tip 2: Determine methods to lower stress more quickly
Sometimes as adults, we feel the need to keep up with the fast-going pace of the world. We don’t want to give up the fun cookouts and gatherings we are invited to. We don’t want to say no to all the social activity. However, it can easily become overwhelming. We have to balance our life and time.
To relieve the trigger 1 think about your sleeping environment, bedtime and wake time. Make a consistent time and stick with it. Look at the number of devices in your room, think about getting rid of them. Think about how long you need away from them to release your mind before bed.
Trigger 2 is the hardest to let go of sometimes. It is beneficial to not overschedule yourself and family. Keep in mind that one event a weekend might be more than enough for everyone’s social needs. During the week, perhaps only one night out for sports or other events is all everyone can handle without becoming stressed or tired. Set a schedule and make a plan and it is OK to say no.
Trigger 3 if often the HARDEST and will continue to be tough. Planning is an art and you have to work at it. Even for those of us type A people, there are times when making the planning and following through becomes overwhelming. But you are much more likely to follow a plan if you put it in place. That means better health decisions for yourself and your family.
If you want specific tips, tools and information about stress – check out the upcoming programs we have going on. (See below).
6 Week Online Program that helps you adjust your sleep environment, rituals and more to fall asleep and stay asleep. You also get 3 weeks of stress management techniques, one of which is PROVEN to change and strengthen your wellbeing and peace area of your brain!
Check it out here.
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