Four Pillars of Health - Part 1: Stress

woman looking stressed

If you want to be in your best health you need to consider four areas of your life: Stress, Diet, Exercise and Toxins. These areas are connected and will often overlap with each other. This will be the first of a four-part series, starting with Stress.

Who’s not stressed? Our daily lives are full of it from work, school, time, money, parenting, looking after parents, our health, our family’s health, relationships and hey let’s throw a pandemic in there! Although stress is a normal part of life, too much stress isn’t good for you. Stress triggers the fight or flight response to help us face or escape danger. Adrenaline is released, our heart rate increases, blood flow is increased to the brain and muscles, breathing rate increases, we start to sweat, digestion is slowed and blood sugar levels rise (Murray, 2012). This phase is short and it’s then replaced by a release of cortisol which converts protein to energy and retains sodium to keep blood pressure elevated. In early human history this response was occasionally triggered and helped us survive being chased or attacked by animals. However, these days our fight or flight response is triggered so frequently (by traffic, a speeding ticket, trouble with the boss, working overtime, too many responsibilities, a big expense, etc.) that it’s turned on all the time and this can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and exhaustion. A number of other diseases have a strong link to stress as well.

Although we’re tempted to drink, smoke, eat and watch tv more, these will only do us more harm. In order to deal with our stress effectively and healthily, we need to calm our minds, Exercise and eat a healthy Diet. But that’s not all. We need to remove the cause of the stress if possible. Okay, how many of you are thinking of getting your spouse out of the house for the evening? LOL. Sure, not every stressor can be reduced or removed but you can work with what you can control. Is money tight? See a financial planner to give you peace of mind. Is your job stressing you out with no foreseeable change? Consider looking for a different job. Is time the issue? Prioritize your day with realistic expectations and delegate. Is it health? See your doctor. If your doctor can’t help you, see an alternative healthcare practitioner. Relationship problem? Talk with this person or see a counsellor. Yes, these things can be scary and/or a lot of work, but do you really want to keep going the way you are? Take the leap and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

In the meantime, find ways to relax and calm your mind (meditation, yoga, a bath, etc.), Exercise (Exercise also calms your mind – it’s two for the price of one!) and stick to a healthy Diet (reduce or eliminate caffeine, alcohol and processed foods). Essential oils can also help. Put a few drops of basil, bergamot (one of the best!), cedarwood, chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, mandarin/tangerine, patchouli, pine, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, orange or ylang ylang in a diffuser or on a tissue. Or mix it with some bubble bath for a doubly relaxing whammy! Or try our Serenity Essential Oil Blend, made with bergamot, lavender and ylang ylang.

Join us next month for Part 2: Diet.

Murray, Michael, ND and Pizzorno, Joseph, ND, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition, 2012.

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