“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom” quote by Viktor Frankl
Doesn’t this quote just give you Goosebumps?
We definitely have a lot of different stimuli coming in right now, but it’s up to us how we react to it. Its proven that continuous exposure to stress creates a wear and tear on all systems of our body when combined with negative thoughts or if we think and feel we can’t cope with it. I encourage you right now to reframe your story about stress, meaning step outside of your usual way of thinking for a moment and think of a new story about how you could respond to stress that creates a feeling of positivity in you. By redirecting your thoughts and feelings about stress you will generate a new way of emotional response.
Only when we find ourselves primarily responding via the Parasympathetic nervous system, which is all about “rest & digest,” all of our body systems behave as they should. Short term stress is helping us to focus and perform with higher efficiency, but when it turns to long term stress, we are in trouble.
Our digestion takes a back seat, our blood sugar levels increase, our acid reflux acts up, we get indigestion, one of the stress hormones cortisol (adrenal hormone) gets released and stays to give you that nice cushy visceral abdominal fat which further leads to inflammation. Not to mention an increase in heart and vascular disease, dementia, and insulin resistance, which creates the perfect storm. And because the elevated cortisol is now your new friend, it sticks around to remind you that YOU NEED TO EAT MORE. So be aware of what you are feeding yourself right now mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
You may want to consider one of the following herbs to support your immune system:
This is considered a lung tonic in Chinese medicine. It improves the function of the immune system so that the body can better defend itself against pathogens – especially viruses. It is a great herb to try if you feel run down and tired. Its commonly used to raise overall vitality and energy. If you decide to take it as a supplement, follow the instructions of the manufacturer, but no more 7g of dried root per day. Because of its resistance boosting effects, it may help reduce the side effects of immunosuppressive treatments, like radiation or chemo, but if used this way, you should only do so in agreement you’re your doctor!
Holy Basil or Tulsi
This is not the same as the culinary basil. Holy Basil or Tulsi appears to help lower stress and reduce elevated cortisol levels. Additionally, some literature suggests it leaves you more resilient. Its an antioxidant and is full of Vitamin C.
And then we have the non-negotiables we definitely should implement in times of ongoing stress:
Get sufficient sleep each night and keep to a regular schedule. If you find it hard to fall asleep, explore implementing aromatherapy, like chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, or lavender.
Get regular exercise. Any type of exercise will help. The point is to make it part of your daily routine. Ideally, we want to engage in some sort of exercise for at least 30 – 45 minutes per day. I personally do a fast pace walk for 45 minutes daily, followed by a jam dance session in my living room for at least another 30 minutes.
Avoid or limit your intake of mood-altering foods and beverages like caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and processed foods. This includes foods that play havoc on your body and mind, like artificial sweeteners, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, pork, white flour, sugar, and foods with preservatives in it.
Last but not least – BREATHE by practicing deep breathing throughout the day. Even holding your breath for a few seconds is good for relieving stress. Inhale deeply through your nose (with your mouth closed) for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth counting 8 seconds with your tongue placed at the top of your teeth, next to the gum line.
I am sure you have heard all this already a hundred times, but we all need reminders once in a while and I would like to remind you that you can make a CHOICE about how you feel, think, and react in times of seemingly unmanageable stress.