Gift wrapping of plenty,
And overcooked turkey,
Long lines of toys,
Distant thoughts of joy.
If the holiday rush
Increases your pulse,
And impairs your brain… You’re not alone.
A reported one-third of Americans are living with intense stress that is having a negative effect on their health, work productivity, and relationships. In October 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) released a survey indicating 48 percent of Americans believe their stress has increased in the past five years. Seventy-five percent of Americans associate their stress with money and work, while the recent increase in rent and mortgage costs has negatively impacted 51 percent of Americans. Nearly one-third of Americans have a difficult time managing work and family, while 54 percent of individuals claim stress leads to arguments among their closest relationships.
As stress increases, our physical health suffers. Stress impairs the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off colds and viruses. Chronic stress can even be associated with multiple illnesses: heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, allergies, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome, endocrine and autoimmune diseases, etc. APA has reported that when the immune system is stressed, it is unable to respond to gluocorticoid hormones that prevent inflammation associated with infections or injuries.
“We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact, however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease.” Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA Executive Director for Professional Practice.
How do you recognize and deal with stress?
The most common symptoms and behaviors among Americans are listed below.
Signs of Stress: Fatigue, insomnia (leading to fatigue), muscle tension, headache, backache, upset stomach and indigestion, rapid heartbeat, change in appetite, irritability and anger, feeling nervous, or lack of energy.
Unhealthy Behaviors for Stress Management: Overeating or eating unhealthy foods, drinking or smoking cigarettes, watching TV for more than two hours per day, playing video games or surfing the internet.
Healthy Behaviors for Stress Management: exercising, walking, yoga, praying and meditating, listening to music, reading, spending time with family and friends.
Nearly one-third of Americans have a difficult time managing work and family, while 54 percent of individuals claim stress leads to arguments among their closest relationships.
Though lifestyle habits and reactions to stress can vary among individuals, there are nutritional ways to manage and increase your body’s resilience to daily or traumatic stress.
Eat Nutrient-Dense Food – “Beware the temptations”
As cortisol (the stress hormone) levels rise, people tend to crave foods high in fat, sugar, or salt. Yet, processed, artificial, or fried foods put more stress on the body.
Instead of giving in to “sweet-something” cravings, implement a diet rich in fresh, whole foods (complex carbohydrates, moderate protein, low in fat) to replenish the body from the nutrient-draining consequences of stress.
Eat more antioxidant-rich fruits – strengthen immunity and combat stress:
* Berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc.), Grapes, Kiwi, Citrus, etc.
Eat more dark green vegetables – relaxes the nervous system:
* Kale, broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, etc.
Limit refined carbohydrates – fluctuating blood sugar leads to anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. Avoid:
* Refined sugars (soft drinks, fruit juice, processed foods, etc.)
* Simple carbs (white bread, pasta)
* Starchy veggies (potatoes, French fries, corn).
Avoid caffeine “foods” – leading to poor concentration, nervousness and sleep disturbances:
* Chocolate, soft drinks, coffee, tea, etc.
Vitamin B – “B-resilient, be very resilient”
High Potency B-Complex: Total stress support
Reduce the effects stress has on your body, while you increase energy and immunity. Every B-vitamin is essential to health. During physical and emotional stress, B vitamins are quickly depleted. These nutrients need to be replenished in order to keep immunity and energy strong.
Applied Health’s (AHS) High Potency B-Complex offers a comprehensive formula of B-complex vitamins, including active forms of folic acid and B12 for optimum absorption.
Preferred Sublingual Methyl-B12 – “An added boost”
Vitamin B12 is important for the central nervous system and cardiovascular health. This essential B-vitamin provides mental clarity and increases energy to get you through a stressful day.
Specifically, take methylcobalamin, a form of vitamin B-12 that actively works throughout your central nervous system. For vitamin B-12 to be effective, it must be converted into its active form, methylcobalamin. Most B-12’s contain cyanocobalamin, which slows assimilation, because the liver converts it into methylcobalamin.
AHS Preferred Sublingual Methyl-B12, composed of methylcobalamin, offers maximum B-12 benefits by directly entering the bloodstream for faster absorption.
Calcium/Magnesium – “Calming Effect”
Calcium and Magnesium are readily depleted when stress is present. Deficiency can lead to anxiety, fear, even hallucinations. These minerals are essential to strong bones and the nervous system.
AHS Cal-Mag D is a highly absorbable and balanced ratio of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Cal-Mag D strengthens and supports healthy bones, while it relaxes the nervous system.
FOUNDATION (Blue-Green Algae) – “Combat stress signals”
AHS FOUNDATION keeps your immune system strong and energy balanced to combat your busy schedule. This comprehensive supplement is a valuable source to fight off several symptoms associated with stress: decreased immunity, fatigue, allergies, unbalanced blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, cravings or addictions.
For more information on managing stress, visit www.apahelpcenter.org
APA Press Release (2007, October 24). Stress a Major Health Problem in the U.S. Retrieved on November 15, 2007 from http://www.apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=165
Balch, J. F. & Balch, P. A. (1997). Prescription for nutritional healing. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group.
Karren, K. J., Hafen, B. O., Smith, N. L., Frandsen, K. J. (2006). Mind, body, health: The effects of attitudes, emotions, and relationships. San Francisco, CA: Pearson – Benjamin Cummings.
Miller, G. E., Cohen, S., & Ritchey, A. K. (2002). Chronic Psychological Stress and the Regulation of Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Glucocorticoid-Resistance Model. Health Psychology, 21(6), 521-541.
[reprinted from Applied Health Journal No.109]