ositive stress management is one of the most important things you can do to manage your health. If you are experiencing chronic stress you may be at risk of developing serious conditions such as heart disease, even if you exercise and eat well.
Stress is a factor in fertility challenges as well as general health and the progression of ill health so it’s well worth making some time to relax and unwind.
The stress response is our personal reaction to the stressors we encounter. For instance, one individual may react to overcrowding or loud noises, while another person may find computer work very stressful.
For this reason, finding positive ways to manage our own unique response to our stressors may help us to reduce our overall burden and improve our resilience.
1) External causes of stress and finding calm amid the chaos.
With a little thought, we can all recognise the areas of our life causing us stress. A stressor is anything that causes the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, putting your body into fight or flight. This can be beneficial, as when excited by a new project, or may tip over depending on our response and the quantity of stress we are experiencing.
External sources of chronic stress can be a combination of juggling overly full schedules, commutes, relationship problems at home or at work, illness, money, housing, family, even emails or social media.
Issues may arise when we are dealing with too many of these at once, or something unavoidable happens to greatly increase our stress levels.
Because our response to stress is the most important factor, managing external stress involves changing your personal response to the demands of modern life.
Try: mindfulness, meditation, yoga, schedule free time, listen to relaxing music while you drive, learn to detach from drama, make a change, say no, discover the foods that are good for your body, go to bed slightly earlier, turn off your phone notifications and switch to airplane mode while you sleep.
2) Long term changes and taking small steps
Effective stress management can be one of the most difficult challenges of all. Sometimes, to meaningfully combat stress we may need to change a job or career, move out of the city or make a deep change in our personal relationships. It’s a process that takes sustained time, willpower and commitment.
One small step each day can add up over the years. What could you do today to take you one step further towards where you want to be?
Try: Research a job, look for a new home or tidy a small corner of your own, cultivate new friendships, join a group, sign up for a course, step away from a relationship, prioritise time for family and loved ones and spend time planning, thinking, dreaming.
Because these long-term changes take time, it’s important to find ways of positively managing our response to stress in our daily life.
3) Remove exposure to modifiable sources of stress
There are some things in life we cannot control, however, there are significant sources of stress that we can learn to successfully manage. Stressors we may be unaware of include a high sugar diet reliant on refined carbohydrates, chronic illness, issues with digestion, reactions to gluten, and environmental triggers including chemicals, pollution, alcohol and cigarette smoke.
All of these stressors can trigger the adrenal glands to produce more stress hormones. Over time, and with constant repeated exposure to stressors, we are at risk of the resulting imbalances in almost every system in the body.
Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates.
If digestive symptoms are present request a stool analysis or see a nutritional therapist to address the causes.
If you suspect food intolerances or reactions to food try a removal diet under the guidance of a nutritional therapist.
Consider removing chemical cleaners, perfumes, make up, reduce exposure to pollution and include plenty of antioxidants in your diet.
Reduce or ideally eliminate reliance upon caffeine, alcohol, smoking or recreational drugs as an outlet for stress as these may all impact on your fertility and on your general nutritional status.
4) Find what works for you
For effective stress reduction and management, it’s important that you find the ‘right’ outlet for you. Different approaches suit different people. The key is to do something you really enjoy.
Stress may affect your blood sugar and cardiac fitness, and negatively impact your gastrointestinal and reproductive health. So whether your focus is preconception care or optimising your health or the health of your family, it’s vital to find a regular form of positive stress management that really appeals to you personally.
Try: Mindfulness practice, meditation or Qigong may suit some, while gardening, a regular walk in nature, exercise or a quiet read of a book, may be preferable to others. If driving to yoga stresses you out, try finding a YouTube home practice or walk to a nearby center.
For further information on working with Eli Sarre or booking a consultation please contact us
Eli Sarre MA MA DipNT mBANT CNHC
Founder of Wildfare and Nutritional Therapist