Feb. 14, 2013

The Role Of Stress In Health & Well-being

We now come to the second corridor of my ministry which is health, nutrition, & fitness.  However this topic will only be touched upon briefly and as it relates to stress.  At a later time, I will introduce a new blog on this topic on this site.


What and how we eat plays an essential role in stress management.   Feeling stressed out may cause one to eat too quickly, thus place a strain on the digestive system, or to overeat and gain unwanted, unhealthy weight.  Contrarily, some people may respond to stress by not eating resulting in loss of weight and strength. 


Certain foods, most certainly excess coffee and sugar, place added strain on the body thus directly increase stress.  As one consumes sugar the body interprets the increased blood sugar as fight or flight which triggers stress that has no release.   Continued consumption beyond a moderate level over a prolonged period puts you at risk for stress that can lead to disorders such as anxiety and depression.  It should be noted that honey or brown sugar are not healthy substitutes and also trigger stress.


Alcohol can produce stress despite making you feel relaxed as it puts a burden on the detoxification system, the kidneys and liver thus should be used in moderation.   The same is true of nicotine, a chemical stimulant that should be avoided altogether.


Too much salt in the diet produces stress by maintaining dangerous fluid in the body and crippling the vascular system, among other things, thus triggering hypertension and other disorders.  


The best diet for stress relief seems to be a whole food diet that avoids processed foods, food additives, preservatives, and over refinement.   The diet should be low in animal fat.   Although changes to a healthier diet may take some time, some healthy food is better than none.


Exercise is important in the reduction of stress as well as for good overall health.  It tones muscles, strengthens the heart, clears the lungs, and regulates weight.    Exercise has more far reaching effects than physical benefits.  It tends to promote more flexibility in thinking and beliefs.  There is a stronger sense of self-sufficiency, self-acceptance, and less depression.   It also teaches one to pay attention to the body’s needs and helps one to see the body as a friend versus nuisance, deserving the utmost attention.


In conclusion, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and daily practice of stress management and relaxation will greatly improve the quality of your life.  I personally am beginning to feel the effects already with the change in my thinking pattern and the motivation I feel to change my lifestyle.   Furthermore, one may notice improvement in memory and concentration, which I especially look forward to, and need less sleep—another bonus—yet sleep more deeply and wake up feeling more refreshed.


You may also find that as you become more relaxed, your work improves and likewise with your interpersonal relationships especially in regards to the change of thinking habits and decreased irritability and impatience.


I always say that practice makes better, not perfect, as there is always room for change and growth.


See Are You Stressed?