By Joyce Reyes-Aguila
The immutable truth is that none of us can escape stress. “We are exposed to stress every day in many ways,” affirms naturopathic doctor, certified nutrition specialist, and best-selling author Dr. Donielle “Doni” Wilson. “Stress is part of life. We cannot control (all) things. There are parts of our life than can be stressful like work, relationships, financial (matters), and to-do lists. Think about stress as anything that requires your body to respond. Even the change in temperature or time zones,the toxins in some skin care products, or lack of sleep is stressful because… (it challenges)our system.”
But the good news, according to Wilson, is that we can be healthy even as we’re stressed. During the most recent staging of Health Options Talks 2018, the author of The Stress Remedy: Master Your Body’s Synergy & Optimize Your Health encouraged the audience to actually embrace stress and understand that there is a certain amount of stress that we actually need to thrive. “Turn around and look at stress,” said Wilson, who 18 years ago spent a month at the Fabella Hospital in Manila as part of her training to be a midwife. “If we ignore it, it can have a negative effect on our health. (The goal) is to achieve that perfect place in the middle to be healthy while stressed.” Instead of ignoring stress or pretending it does not affect us, Dr. Wilson provided tips to deal with it and maintain optimal health.
01.Identify what stresses you.
Understanding one’s stress symptoms allows an individual to remove the causes of stress. “Some common signs include fatigue, anxiety or worry, hypochondria, or (having a) mind that is very stimulated,” Dr. Wilson enumerated. “It can also be weight gain, or if your brain feels foggy or slow.” Persons who have allergies can halt the dietary stresses from common food allergens like gluten, dairy, or soy. “And they may not be actual allergies like when we think of someone allergic to shrimp and they end up in the emergency room. There are also more delayed responses to food that could be affecting your brain and your immune system. If you eliminate these food from your diet, it will decrease your stress, inflammation, and allow your body to heal.”
02.Do not blame your genes.
“Our genes definitely have (a bearing on our) health condition, but that’s not the whole story,” she explained. “Stress affects how our genes ‘play out.’ We can’t change our genes but we can change the influence of how our genes affect our health.” Dr. Wilsonsaid, and added that modifying the stress exposure of our bodies can modify the outcome our current state of health. Taking charge of one’s lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions is a major part of stress management.
03.Maintain a healthy amount of cortisol.
Our body’s stress hormones, also called cortisol, allows us to respond to stress. “The issue is when we are exposed to stress over and over again and our body does not get to recover,” underscored Dr. Wilson. “What should happen is that the cortisol should send a signal back to the brain and tell the brain, ‘Okay, I dealt with the stress, the stress is over, don’t worry. Everything’s okay now.’ But if we don’t give our body a break, the brain never gets our signal. The body gets stuck with a stress signal. Cortisol is thrown off the curve.” When this happens, a person’s energy, feelings, mood, focus, hormones, and digestion, among others, are thrown off kilter. Along with a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep, supplements like glutamine, Vitamin C, B Complex, and magnesium can be taken to help lower cortisol.
04.Let your body rest
At the forum hosted by all-natural products store Healthy Options, Wilson revealed her concern about Filipinos not getting enough sleep. At least seven and a half hours of sleep is needed, according to her. “If you are getting less, that’s also a cause of stress for your body. When we sleep, our bodies recover from stress. While you’re sleeping, your body is actually very busy. Your brain is doing a whole clean-out process which is essential for our brain function. If our brain does not get that every night, it predisposes us to memory loss and dementia later in life. We really need to give our body that time to do their busy work. When we sleep, our body is cleaning our tissues and helping us recover from stress.” Wilson suggested drinking chamomile tea, having lavender essential oils in the home, or doing different forms of mindfulness techniques to help calm the nervous system.
Dr. Wilson warned about skipping meals. “Our body needs the nutrients and calories,” she told forum attendees. “If we go too long without eating, that will be stressful, too. We want to have small amounts (of food) every four hours or so through the day.” She emphasized the importance of having balanced snacks that do not consist heavily of just protein or carbohydrates. “We should go for snacks that will be better for our blood sugar levels and less stressful for our bodies.”
06.Address your “leaky gut.”
Wilson explained the concept of a leaky gut, a result of an unhealthy diet and stress that affects the body’s digestion and causes imbalance in its sugar levels. “When we’re stressed, our cells (that absorb nutrients)have a hard time staying healthy. They are not doing their job to just let the nutrients through; theymight let even food that is not digested or bacteria in,” she explained.A leaky gut condition creates a lot of inflammation in the body and an inflammatory immune response in our digestion. It can result in weight gain, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions.
07.Take breaks often.
“Making time for self-care and breaks is not a luxury,” Wilson clarified. “It’s a necessity. Do not wait for the weekend or vacation. Your body needs it. Even taking a one-minute break to stand up from your desk and stretch, then walk around the room will give you a chance to recover from stress. Studies show that if we take breaks during the day, we actually increase our productivity.”
08.Don’t stress about stressing.
“Choose something you might enjoy,” Wilson suggested. “Or try new things that you may find new to enjoy. Simple activities like drinking a cup of tea, gardening, keeping a journal – things you already do in your day-to-day life that helpyou relax and bring you joy. That’s your stress remedy, and I encourage you to do it every day.”
The book The Stress Remedy: Master Your Body’s Synergy & Optimize Your Health is available in all branches of all-natural retail chain Healthy Options.