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Today in Health & Wellness
BEYOND BODY

Stress Away, The Natural Way

By: Imelda Edodollon, MD, MT, NMD, GPIStress Away, The Natural Way

WHAT IS NATUROPATHY?

Naturopathy or naturopathic medicine is a method wherein a practitioner utilizes natural remedies to help the body’s ability to heal itself. It is coined from two words: natura (Latin for birth) and pathos (Greek for suffering), meaning ‘natural healing’. Hippocrates, the Greek ‘Father of Medicine’, is believed to be the first to advocate naturopathic medicine.

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not only the absence of disease,” which imbibes well the importance of holistic approach to health. A balance of detoxification and nourishment to counteract toxicity and deficiency brings back the body to a state of wellness.

These are the guiding principles of naturopathic practice:

  • Vis medicatrix naturae (Healing power of nature) – Naturopathic medicine recognizes that the body is organized and is able to recover in its own order holistically.
  • Tolle causam (Identify and treat the cause) – Practitioners should always seek to identify the root cause of the disease and not just suppress the symptoms.
  • Primum non nocere (First do no harm) – Use methods or substances that minimize harmful side effects.
  • Docere (Doctor as a teacher) – Doctors are educators and encouragers of self-empowerment to better health.
  • Treat the whole person – Practitioners should also look into the physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and spiritual factors for better diagnosis and treatment.

ALL ABOUT STRESS

Eighty percent of all diseases are said to be linked to stress. Stress happens on a daily basis in our world today, even with the advent of high technology. Stress is described as an emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition that occurs as a response to unfavorable external factors. It triggers a response called fight or flight or General Adaptation Syndrome.

We live in a time when the survival of the fittest is a must.  These evolutionary changes not only impact the world around us but also our internal world. We need to keep up with the chaotic environment we had created as we try to live with expectations that are physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Our bodies become tense with these expectations and are filled to the maximum with stress hormones. These changes cause oxidative stress, adrenal fatigue, dysbiosis, nervous breakdown, and cardiovascular dysfunction.

These are several types of stress that we encounter on a daily basis:

1. Emotional stress – intense emotions like sadness, depression, anxiety

2. Physical stress – working long hours, less rest, sleeplessness, exercise

3. Mental stress – huge workloads, beating deadlines, too many expectations, perfectionism

4. Chemical stress – pollution in the environment, toxic chemicals

5. Nutritional stress – deficiency of nutrients, addiction to junk food

6. Psycho-spiritual stress – financial hardships, relationship woes, career pressure

STRESS HORMONES

Stress happens when we interpret an event in a negative way, which then opens a cascade of reactions in the fight or flight response. When the stressor is interpreted as harmful, the body releases certain hormones to prepare us to either attack or defend itself. The cascade starts in the adrenal glands, which release adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol that moves the blood to the skeletal muscles in preparation for an attack.  That was helpful in our evolution’s caveman days, as we hunt to gather and eat food before we prepare for attacks and defense. Adrenal levels normalize after the crisis due to negative feedback, but continuous triggers make cortisol receptors become less sensitive to feedback signals and fail to shut down.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline raises blood pressure, increases heart rate and respiration, and reduces stomach activity. Cortisol releases fat and sugar in the body that weakens the immune system. These events, if encountered for a long time and not addressed properly, may cause a lot of chronic diseases like arthritis, cardiovascular disease or even cancer.

Stress management utilizes techniques and practices that help us avoid the vicious cycle of stress responses.

NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO STRESS MANAGEMENT

Healthy food – Acknowledging we are under stress is the first part of managing it. However, understanding the sugar cravings is a negative response that may eventually turn into a depressed loop. Mindful eating of low sugar and whole food full of fruits and veggies are the way to go!

Manage your time – Overcommitting to a lot of things drains the energy that may lead to self-shaming and self-sabotage. Learn the power of saying no and not agreeing to do things that you can’t and don’t want to do. Plan your tasks from the most important to the least, allowing time for relaxation.

Relaxation techniques – Daily relaxation practices have a calming effect on the mind, maintains focus, and pacifies emotional states. Energy therapy like reiki, pranic healing, hypnotherapy, meditation, yoga, and art therapy produces positive emotions and thoughts and relieve anxiety. Massages in different forms relax our aching muscles and is a very effective way of helping us out of a tiring schedule.

Unclutter yourself – Stress makes a lot of cobwebs in our minds that makes everything too much to handle. Learn to prioritize things by listing down all things to accomplish. Observe your own workplace, rearrange furniture, clean your desk, declutter your room or delete unused apps in your devices. Most of all, learn to remove the emotional baggage that is creeping up on you. Let bygones be bygones. Learn to forgive and let go.

Essential oils – EOs are a trend now but it has been used for several thousands of years. Some of them, like frankincense and myrrh, were even gifts to Jesus Christ. The most popular essential oils are lavender and chamomile for calming spirit and better sleep and peppermint and eucalyptus for a more focused mind.

Reward yourself – Give yourself some self-love even when finishing small tasks. May it be a bite of a dark chocolate bar or a ten-minute call to a loved one, rewards are effective ways to achieve and finish more tasks. A staycation or visiting new places are great ways to unwind yourself from stress. Celebrate successes, big or small, and spend it with your loved ones.

As unavoidable as stress is in our day-to-day lives, such is our physiological routine and habits. By managing our lifestyle, we manage our stress levels – through diet, exercise, and pampering ourselves once in a while.

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