Alternative Medicine - - News - BY JA­SON HEL­FRICH, DC

Stress is an un­for­tu­nate side ef­fect of life, but you don’t have to suf­fer through it ev­ery day. Ja­son Hel­frich, DC, gives five sim­ple tips to help you re­lax.

No mat­ter what we do or how much we try to avoid it, it seems as though stress has be­come a con­stant fix­ture in many of our lives. How­ever, while many of us know­ingly live with stress, one of the big­gest is­sues with this con­di­tion is that most peo­ple don’t re­al­ize just how se­ri­ous it is.

Just be­cause stress is com­mon doesn’t mean it isn’t harm­ful and we should just ac­cept it as part of life. Many peo­ple only as­so­ciate stress with the men­tal and emo­tional toll that it can take, but stress is able to elicit many phys­i­cal re­sponses as well. Mi­graines, joint pain, fa­tigue, weight loss, lack of sleep, and com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tems are all real and se­ri­ous side ef­fects of stress. Get rid of the stress and you can eas­ily get rid of some of th­ese se­ri­ous phys­i­cal ef­fects. How­ever, elim­i­nat­ing, or at least re­duc­ing, stress is of­ten eas­ier said than done. Af­ter all, if it were sim­ple to elim­i­nate stress, most of us wouldn’t be so tense and over­whelmed all of the time.

Un­for­tu­nately, most peo­ple will never be able to com­pletely erad­i­cate stress from their lives—it’s just not how peo­ple are wired. But the good news is there are sim­ple ways to man­age stress when it does oc­cur, so that it isn’t as con­sum­ing and doesn’t lead to se­ri­ous phys­i­cal side ef­fects.

I have found there are five main ap­proaches to man­ag­ing stress that al­le­vi­ate the sever­ity of this con­di­tion and help us deal with ev­ery­day stres­sors. Here is a break­down of th­ese sim­ple stress man­age­ment tips.

1. Med­i­ta­tion

Prac­tic­ing med­i­ta­tion is like ex­er­cis­ing your mind. If you take the time to re­ally fo­cus on med­i­tat­ing and put ef­fort into this process, you can start train­ing your mind to be stronger and bet­ter equipped to han­dle stress. By work­ing the “mus­cles” of your mind you can also de­velop the pow­er­ful men­tal “mus­cles” of calm­ness and in­sight.

When you in­cor­po­rate med­i­ta­tion into your stress re­lief rou­tine, you are giv­ing your­self an op­por­tu­nity to find calm, peace, and bal­ance and can im­prove both your over­all health and your emo­tional well-be­ing.

For those who are un­fa­mil­iar with med­i­ta­tion, the prac­tice is sim­ple. You need to find a space alone, in peace and quiet. Sit in a com­fort­able but up­right po­si­tion and fo­cus on let­ting your mind wan­der un­til you find that in­ner peace. Take deep breaths in and out as you do this to help your mind reach a calm state.

If you are new to med­i­ta­tion, there are count­less books, videos, au­dio tapes, and even YouTube clips de­signed to help peo­ple learn the art of re­lax­ation and med­i­ta­tion. Over time, if done cor­rectly, med­i­ta­tion can help your mind not only re­lax, but grow stronger so it can take on the chal­lenge of over­com­ing stress.

2. Fresh Air

Spend­ing time out­doors may sound like an over­whelm­ingly sim­ple ap­proach to man­ag­ing stress, but it is an ef­fec­tive one. In fact, one of the great­est things about sim­ply go­ing out­side to man­age stress is that it re­ally works and you can do it vir­tu­ally any time you need.

When you feel the pres­sures of stress over­whelm­ing you, step out­side. Al­low your­self to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the out­side world. Take a deep breath in and al­low your­self to soak in the world around you. This will help re­di­rect your fo­cus from your wor­ries.

The boost of vi­ta­min D that you get from the sun’s UVB rays (avail­able be­tween 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for about half the year in North Amer­ica) in­creases the sero­tonin pro­duced by your body as well. This is the hap­pi­ness hor­mone that helps put you in a bet­ter mood. Step­ping out­side is a great start to man­ag­ing your stress, but if you want to in­crease its ef­fec­tive­ness, try tak­ing a short walk out­doors. The sim­ple act of walk­ing will help your mind wan­der away from your stress, while you get the added ben­e­fits of ex­er­cise and all the beauty the world has to of­fer.

3. Ex­er­cise

Speak­ing of ex­er­cise, it is, with­out a doubt, one of the best ways to re­lieve stress and to work off the pent up wor­ries you have in your body. So many peo­ple find that work­ing out, work­ing hard, and build­ing up a good sweat are some of the best ways to han­dle stress when it creeps into their lives. The act of work­ing out not only lets you get out your frus­tra­tions in strong bursts of ac­tion, but ex­er­cise also has some sci­en­tif­i­cally proven ef­fects that can help boost your mood as well.

When you ex­er­cise, your body pro­duces feel-good en­dor­phins that put you in a great mood post-work­out. Th­ese are the en­dor­phins that re­lease the “run­ner’s high” ev­ery­one talks about. How­ever, th­ese en­dor­phins do more than just make you feel good, they ac­tu­ally give you a boost of en­ergy and help reg­u­late your sleep.

Loss of sleep is a se­ri­ous side ef­fect of stress, as is fa­tigue. Imag­ine how much more equipped you would feel to han­dle the stress in your life if you were in a bet­ter mood, had more en­ergy, and got more sleep. Plus, when you re­lease en­ergy through ex­er­cise, it leaves you in a state of calm and fo­cus. Try ex­er­cis­ing 3 to 5 times a week if you can to keep stress at bay. If your sched­ule is any­thing but rou­tine, try to hit the gym when­ever you feel as though your daily stress is get­ting to be too much to han­dle.

4. Healthy Eat­ing

There are so many of us who feel stressed or over­whelmed and au­to­mat­i­cally reach for some un­healthy food. Per­haps the rush of sugar makes

us feel bet­ter or gives us more en­ergy, or per­haps we jus­tify go­ing through the drive-thru as a time saver that will re­duce some of the stress we have that day. Un­for­tu­nately, this is one of the most com­mon ways that peo­ple deal with stress—and one of the worst.

Main­tain­ing a healthy, well-bal­anced diet that in­cludes plenty of fruits and veg­eta­bles means that you will not only feel sat­is­fied all day long and have a con­stant stream of nat­u­ral en­ergy, but you will also keep your im­mune sys­tem up and run­ning. Eat­ing health­ful foods can pro­vide fo­cus and will have you feel­ing so good, your body won’t be craving that mid-af­ter­noon sugar binge.

Plus, with a bet­ter im­mune sys­tem, you are de­creas­ing your chances of get­ting sick. So many peo­ple get sick dur­ing or right af­ter the most stress­ful ex­pe­ri­ences of their lives. This is be­cause their im­mune sys­tems are nat­u­rally weak­ened from the stress. If you get sick and have to miss work due to stress, chances are that stress will only in­crease. Do your body a fa­vor and give it the nu­tri­ents it needs to stay as healthy as pos­si­ble so you can fight off the side ef­fects of stress.

5. Chi­ro­prac­tic Ad­just­ments

While chi­ro­prac­tic care is un­able to min­i­mize the stres­sors of the world, it can do a lot to help the body man­age and process stress in a healthy way. Put sim­ply, a chi­ro­prac­tic ad­just­ment nor­mal­izes the ner­vous sys­tem by re­mov­ing harm­ful sub­lux­a­tions that pre­vent the ner­vous sys­tem from func­tion­ing prop­erly. When the ner­vous sys­tem is work­ing as it should, the whole body is able to work as it should. The ner­vous sys­tem is then able to reg­u­late the lev­els of adren­a­line and cor­ti­sol (the stress hor­mones) in the body, so you no longer feel that pres­sure from stress nat­u­rally for­mu­lat­ing in your body.

Ad­just­ments can also boost your en­ergy and help al­le­vi­ate stress and fa­tigue by re­mov­ing nerve ir­ri­ta­tion and help­ing to man­age the pain, dis­com­fort, and headaches that of­ten ac­com­pany stress.

While stress may in­evitably be all around us, the im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber is if you want to put your­self in a bet­ter po­si­tion to han­dle stress and keep it from tak­ing a toll on your health, then you need to start tak­ing care of your body. The more you care for your body and your mind, the bet­ter pre­pared you will be to man­age and han­dle stress when­ever it arises.

Ad­just­ments can also boost your en­ergy and help al­le­vi­ate stress and fa­tigue

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