Lifestyle Nutrition

Eat Well & Thrive

Continuing Education

Toxic Stress

Posted on March 30, 2016 at 12:05 AM

 

While we try to work on strategies to address specific stress triggers, beware that it is not an easy task to reprogram your psyche.

Stress can mean different things to different people. Some of you will manufacture stress because you thrive on chaos. Some can navigate through extremely challenges events without any outward appearance of being overwhelmed, while others have outward meltdowns over seemingly trivial events. No matter how you deal with or demonstrate your stress to others, here is a reminder that there are negative, biological changes that occur with stress that often leads to excess fat stores. The chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol leads to increased intra-abdominal fat, which is linked to increased risks for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Stress leads to a decline in sex hormones, which can also pack on the pounds. Stress increases lethargy;depression and anxiety. Stress has been cited as an underlying culprit for an increased probability of non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome, Finally, stress interferes with sleep and poor sleep can result in lower energy or motivation to exercise and care for yourself. Stress can become an integral part of your psyche and behavior.

Living a healthier, more productive life is all about striving for a mind-body balance every day. Yes, life is stressful and stress can be related to negative things and good things alike. For some watching the 6'o'clock news, or a football game where your team is playing like a the 4th floor occupants of the local nursing home can cause the adrenaline to flow and the cortisol to produce fat. For some of us a simple change in our routine can disturb our sleep and often our digestion. That delightful house guest or that weekend visit to family or friends can bring about what I call “good stress.”

Some experts believe that over the last decade we have increased our inactivity and tend to “ingest” way too much negativity via television and other electronic venues. Throughout the USA, 68 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, with the likelihood greater for men (72 percent) than for women (68 percent). Here’s a statistic you may relate to: Over 65 percent of this group listens to and/or watches at least 2 hours of negative news or some sort of disturbing programing or video games every day, and those that did were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.

I love this quote by Charles Darwin because it sums up the mantra of the successful Lifestyle Nutrition member “It’s not the smartest who survive, nor the strongest. It’s those who can adapt who survive.”

 

How can you support your body's survival code without self-destruction?

First, don't manufacture chaos and crisis. Learn to step back from any situation that makes you feel stressed/or anxious- yes – even those “good stress things we often talked about”. Take a breath, remove yourself from the situation to evaluate the challenge. Are you creating this chaos, are you playing a part in this chaos or are you truly just a bystander within the situation? If this stress is caused by a situations outside of yourself, then is there anything you can do or say to help resolve the issue or are you convinced that you are only a victim of the situation?

We always come back to this simple question: Are you a victim or a champion? Every choice you make and every strategy for a solution depends on how you see yourself in the situation. If you can do nothing to change it, then walk away. If you can offer something constructive and positive to resolve the situation then step up and take charge. Trying to manage other people's lives and/or decisions will leave you exasperated and exhausted. Take responsibility for your actions and allow others to take responsibility for theirs. You need to find smart ways to get by without spending all your energy on self-destructive behavior. Adapting means wrapping your head around a tough reality, and adjusting means creating a strategy to manage the toxic stress in your life that could be truly killing you physically and emotionally.

What can you do to manage Toxic Stress?

Medicate with movement.

Medical studies have shown, one of the best ways to DE-stress mentally and physically is through physical movement. It’s better than a pill and certainly better than numbing yourself with alcohol or food. Any movement is good movement. Bending, stretching, pushing, lifting and walking. No excuses even at work. Quietly get up 5 minutes out of every hour and find that staircase or walk around the building. Bring your lunch to work and during your break go outside and walk after you’ve eaten. This is a no cost, easy way to neutralize the high levels of stress hormone with the endorphins of physical activity.

Pack your lunch and snacks with stress-reducing foods, including combinations of protein and fiber to mediate sugar. Reduced fat peanut butter on a high fiber slice of bread or Metamucil cookie works as does low-fat string cheese with a little fruit, lean protein and veggies.

Limit negativity.

Participate in joyful activities. Dance, Yoga, walk or bike ride ( yes- stationary is good too!) Avoid toxic people and embrace those who prioritize their health high on their lifestyle list. Develop outside interests to distract you from your job stresses. These are some good starting places to cultivate balance in your life.

Establish a support system.

It’s so stress relieving to just have someone there to listen to you when you need to vent about dealing with Illness, work or family issues. Depression, isolation and loneliness lead to self destructive behavior. Reach out and make friends with people who embrace a positive, healthy lifestyle. Distance yourself from those who disrespect and/or sabotage your goals. You teach people how to treat you! If family or friends are not providing what you need to promote a healthier you, let them know the rules have changed.

Negativity invites Toxic Stress-You and your body do not deserve abuse!

Use your head.

Learning how to meditate and to calm down are essential to de-stressing mentally. Go to a quiet place and practice your breathing exercises. Do some gentle yoga stretches, close your eyes and move your brain to a quiet walk on the beach, All of these simple things can help relieve stress.

Get counseling if you need it.

If you’re really having a hard time, seek out counselors (licensed social workers are great) who specialize in stress management. Get the help you need – it may be life-saving.

 

 

This information is solely provided to assist you in a conversation with your physician. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any information provided to your symptoms or medical condition. Only your physician is qualified to determine what is right for you and your specific health concerns

My Lifestyle Nutrition Program has one central purpose. To teach, encourage and support a mental, nutritional, and physical transformation for life.

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