Balance with Stress management
Stress and disease
Disease is information, according to Christina Ross, PhD, author of Etiology (2013). It is a signal that change is needed. Disease is an opportunity for growth. The food you eat, the lifestyle you live, the thoughts you think and the emotions you feel all affect how you manifest disease in your body. Each of these things affect your body's immune system by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar. They impact your body's response to acute illness which can eventually led to chronic disease if not properly addressed. Reducing stress can change your emotional and physical responses in your body, mind and spirit. Stress reduction can be attained through practices such as healthy eating, positive thinking, slow breathing, meditation and yoga. These practices promote health and wellness instead of sickness and disease.
Stressful environments activate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) while peaceful environments encourage regeneration through parasympathetic nervous system responses (rest and digest). Serenity promotes health and wellness while stress causes dis-ease which leads to disease. Your ability to deal with internal and external stress makes a difference in which nervous system is activated.
It is important to understand that both good stress and bad stress respond the same way in your body. Getting married, having a baby, moving to a new house or getting a promotion can be very exciting, but can cause as much stress and anxiety as getting divorced, having a miscarriage, filing for bankruptcy, losing a job, suffering from illness or experiencing the death of a loved one. Good stress can be just as detrimental to our health as bad stress.
Stress is a normal part of life. How you handle that stress impacts your health and wellness. Disease is an opportunity for growth. You have a wide range of resources available to make a positive impact on your health. Which resources will you choose?
Sympathetic vs parasympathetic
Pay attention to changes in your body caused by stress which activates the sympathetic nervous system's fight or flight response. Changes caused by stress may include muscle tension, headaches, difficulty breathing, sleeplessness or digestive issues. The sympathetic nervous system can become constantly on alert mode with repeated stress, which can lead to long term problems and chronic pain.
Relaxation techniques activate your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your body's rest and digest response. This can break the fight or flight response that continually triggers with constant stress. When the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, your muscles relax, your breathing and heart rate slows, your blood pressure decreases and your digestive system begins to gurgle and resume digestion. In this state, your body is best prepared for healing, which impacts your overall health and wellness.
Get enough sleep each night to help your body recover from the continuous sympathetic nervous system response which can cause you to walk around in a mild state of shock and nervous system overload during the day. Sleep will also help you increase productivity at work and also boost your immune system health. To find your ideal sleep cycle, go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you naturally wake up without an alarm clock.
Support your spine and keep it straight while sleeping to decrease low back pain and avoid reinforcing poor postures. When sleeping on your back, use pillows under your knees to slightly tilt your pelvis and support your low back. Use a small pillow under your neck. Use enough pillows to position your neck and hips in a straight alignment when lying on your side. You may need an additional pillow to keep your neck in straight alignment with your spine.
A firm mattress is best for your back, but may cause hip and shoulder pain when side-lying. To make the bed more comfortable, try using a one or two inch memory foam topper on your mattress. This will still give enough support for your back and will also relieve the pressure on your hips and shoulders.