Continuing on with my series about the key ways to stay healthy, entitled “How To Prevent…Anything”, in this post I want to talk about what some health experts consider the number one cause of illness and disease: stress.
Types of stress
Usually, when we hear the word “stress”, we think of someone reacting with negative emotions to a situation – anger, frustration, fear, etc. But stress can happen to your body without you experiencing any particular emotion. Following are the three main ways you can experience stress.
- Negative emotions, especially anger and fear;
- toxicity; and
- nutrient deficiency.
The latter two ways you are not going to feel like your stomach is knotting up when you are anxious about something, or your face flushing when you are angry. Nonetheless, they still cause stress to your body.
When you experience a strong negative emotion, your adrenals pump out stress hormones that acidify the body. Toxins, whether in the environment or in the food you eat, acidify the body. Because your cells need a slightly alkaline environment to thrive, your body responds to this acidification by pulling alkalizing minerals from the body’s stores.
When you frequently experience negative emotions or are often exposed to toxins, your body eventually begins to get depleted of the precious minerals, which leads to a further acidic state. In this way, stress can lead to nutrient deficiency.
It works the other way around, as well. If you’re not getting enough of all the nutrients your body needs, the various organs and systems in your body will not function at optimal levels. Your body will lose its efficiency – possibly even its ability – to perform certain of the many metabolic functions required every day for you to stay alive. The body has to work harder to do mundane chores, and/or to compensate for tasks it is unable to do due to malnourishment. This creates stress throughout your body. Applying any of the other ways to be healthy when your body is in this state would act only as a bandage.
All that said, can you see why destressing is such a critical factor in preventing illness and disease? How do you go about reducing your stress levels?
I’m going to start what with the obvious kinds of stress, that caused by negative emotions.
Controlling negative emotions
Following is a non-comprehensive list of ideas on how you can reduce negative emotions.
- Change your perspective. Your boss may have been acting hateful for the past year, and you decide to hate her back. Then you find out that a year ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and has gone through a divorce. You will likely begin to feel a lot more empathy for her.
- Change your circumstances. While many times, negative emotions are all in your head, sometimes certain situations continually provoke them. If you could just avoid those situations, you would have a lot less stress.
- Ask someone to pray with you. I mean, right then, you take hold of someone’s hand while they say a prayer out loud on your behalf.
- Leave the room. If getting rid of your stress is a matter of extricating yourself from the negative energy among a group of people, or taking a break from someone you are in conflict with, excuse yourself to be alone for a while to regroup.
- Exercise regularly. Getting your body in motion for a period of time every day causes your brain to release endorphins, the “feel good” hormones.
- Expose your eyes to sunshine. Not that you want to stare at the sun, but somehow the connection of the eyes between the sun and your brain has a similar effect on your mood as exercise.
- Use essential oils. Several kinds of oils are calming and reduce anxiety, such as lavendar, orange, and frankincense. If the brand is high-quality, a few drops applied on the temple and back of the neck, or taken under the tongue, should alleviate your negative feelings in five to ten minutes.
Reducing toxin levels
Following are ways to be healthy by reducing your stress by reducing your exposure to toxins.
- Use chemical-free personal hygiene products. Your best bet is to find homemade recipes, as even health food store products often contain objectionable ingredients.
- Use chemical-free cleaners. This is so easy. There are many books and blog posts that show you how to use inexpensive, toxin-free ingredients to clean your home.
- Use low-VOC paint in your home. If you have to repaint a wall or a room, make it low-VOC paint. Then air it out for a few days before using the room again.
- Buy hardwood or stainless steel furniture. Cheap furniture contains fake wood that contains glue and other chemicals that offgas for a long while.
- Wash non-organic clothing and linens ten times before using them. This will get most of the chemicals out.
- Quit smoking and/or using drugs. Need I say more?
- Research alternative remedies to prescription medication. Regular use of synthetic drugs leads to toxin build up in your body. Experiment with diet changes and natural remedies such as essential oils or homeopathy to help with your medical condition.
Increasing your body’s nutrition
Reducing stress is one of the prime ways to be healthy. So go have a long, hot bath with quiet music in the background while your spouse takes the kids to a movie.