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Stress is a powerful energy that can help and harm us. Stress can serve to motivate us to take action and complete tasks but it also can place great pressure on our mind and body with negative consequences. Stress affects every part of our body and often triggers or exacerbates symptoms and diseases. Find a full description of the effects of stress on the body here.
With small amounts of stress, I notice the inconvenient, annoying symptoms of muscle tension, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. However, when I have intense stress the symptoms worsen and in addition I experience increased degenerative joint pain, sadness, often have crying spells, and my SBS symptoms worsen. The combination of inadequate sleep and stress sends my SBS symptoms into hyper drive. I'm unable to tolerate foods, even liquids, and any movement becomes unbearable. Ingestion increases the amount of waste produced to be expelled at a rapid rate and movement further increases the frequency of those restroom trips. The ongoing barrage of this cycle results in pain and soreness that spreads to my entire body. Sitting and lying down are even difficult as my body struggles to slow down the SBS.
From the onset of this cycle, I know my stress is out of control and I'm walking a thin line; I need to check my stress immediately.
We all experience and manage stress differently. I'm very Type A Personality, I'm a planner and a problem solver. For me, I have to tackle the problem and find a resolution. However, once I've hit the boiling point the first thing I must do is cease ingestion and find time and space away from everything - work and activity - so that I may allow my body to begin to relax. Once I secure this, I can begin resolving the source of stress. Identifying and establishing a game plan is a must for me followed by expressing my feelings through verbal or written word and utilizing a sounding board.
There are many options available though to help manage day-to-day and chronic stress to protect our bodies and prevent reaching the boiling point. Consider the following in your own regiment for stress management:
- Stress Management Diet - food plays a vital role in our health and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals that promote healthy brain chemicals can help lower stress hormones. Participating in cooking classes can provide an additional benefit for learning new ways to create healthy and tasty meals incorporating such ingredients. Cooking classes may even double as a stress relieving activity. Communities often have various cooking classes available, such as the one offered by Chef Alex Friedman Master Class.
- Meditations - the different types of meditations are endless. Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and Qigong are great individual or group exercises that include meditation. Guided meditations are also incredibly useful and can be learned to be used on your own in any situation.
- Breathing - although breathing is used in meditation, there are different exercises for focused breathing that are very helpful.
- Sleep Well - getting adequate and restful sleep is a key factor to protecting one's physical and mental health. This can be quite challenging when we are feeling stressed or anxious.
- Activity - engaging in activities of enjoyment, socialization, relaxation, distraction, and exercise all serve to reduce anxiety and stress. Get back to a hobby or try a new one out, spend time with a loved one, pamper yourself with a massage, hot bath, skin detox, watching a sunset, music or books, and get some physical activity.
- Support - we can't go about life on our own. We all need someone to lean on for support. Utilize that person(s), that's what friends and family are for - to help one another. Reach out and find more individuals to add to your support system.
- Take Time For You - everyone needs downtime to relax. Sometimes it's hard to make time for this, but it is important. This time allows for decompression and recharging - both needed for tackling the next task you have.