Author: Dr. Angeli Chitale, BSc ND
When you are feeling good, in control of your life and the world is smiling back at you – you are in your happy zone. POP! Suddenly you realize you have missed an important meeting or deadline and the mountain overwhelm begins as your mind starts racing to lists, deadlines, meetings, and appointments looming for what seems like miles ahead. Time feels like it is shrinking and pausing is long forgotten.
How do you get back to balance?
We all feel this way from time to time. It is important to recognize that most of our daily stress is mental – and for the most part, there is no immediate threat to our life. How we perceive what is going on and respond to it is what makes an event, person, or thing stressful or not stressful. Easier said than done, I know…but consider this:
We have the ability to create AND control our inner reality:
When we look within, and aknowledge our needs, we may find signposts on a roadmap to create a more balanced approach and perspective. We may notice we spend too much time in one zone (mental) and not enough in another (emotional or physical). By refocusing and prioritizing we can bring ourselves back to balance by reclaiming and nourishing neglected parts of our lives.
How important is it?
Simply put, stress is when the body and mind are not in balance with what is actually happening in the outer world. The impact of stress on health is well studied and documented. Research studies point to 4 areas where stress can contribute to illness:
The gut-brain connection is well recognized in medicine and research is pointing to the many ways stress interferes with digestive function. Bloating, gas, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, pancreatic insufficiency, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances and chronic GI inflammation can all be symptoms of stress.
ND TIP: Avoid eating too fast (chew each bite 30 times) and avoid foods which deliver a quick fix (sugar rush) and lead to an energy crash later (focus on good fats, proteins and fiber for lasting energy).
Feeling run down or like you catch every bug that is going around?
Immune function can become depressed under stress. Stress decreases levels of the body’s natural antibody defense such as secretory IgA. Secretory IgA is produced by mucous membranes lining all the body’s openings to the outside world: our eyes, nasal passages, throat, lungs, skin, digestive and reproductive tracts all produce secretory IgA to protect these vulnerable areas from infection from the outside.
ND TIP: Many published studies have demonstrate taking vitamin A can boost secretory IgA levels
Pain and Inflammation: The root cause of the disease process…
Stress and inflammation go hand in hand. Inflammation is the beginning of every disease process. Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones made by your adrenals. Glucocorticoids are important because they work as natural anti-inflammatories. Studies have shown glucocorticoids are reduced in states of chronic stress experienced by caregivers. This reduction of glucocorticoids causes inflammation to go up in the body. And where there is inflammation, there is pain. Pain from chronic injuries, myopathies and neuropathic pain, can all be addressed by treating inflammation and supporting adrenal gland recovery.
ND TIP: Support adrenal function during times of high stress and activity by taking extra Vitamin C and B-complex. For Chronic Adrenal Stress: Many adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to long term stress. Ashwaghandha (indian ginseng), Rhodiola, Eleutherococcus (siberian ginseng) are wonderful tonics to restore function of the adrenals.
Depression and Anxiety
Serotonin the “feel good” neurotransmitter (brain chemical) has been widely researched. Did you know it is made in the digestive tract and then travels to the brain?
Serotonin makes us feel content. Stress decreases blood flow to the digestive organs, slowing down digestion and serotonin production. Serotonin is not the only neurotransmitter affecting mood, but is the focus of many conventional medical treatments for both anxiety and depression through the prescription of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications such as SSRI’s and SNRI’s.
ND TIP: Restoring digestive health may help reduce anxiety and depression in succeptable individuals (Seasonal Affective Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia) . The gut-brain connection and gut flora (good bacteria) is cited as a key factor in treating mood disorders in several studies. In other words, a good probiotic may improve your gut health as much as your mood!
We asked some team members at PBH what brings them back and here is what they had to say:
- Spending time outdoors in nature
- Connecting with people
- Working out
- Riding my motorbike for hours down a long road
- Sitting and relaxing with good food and good wine
- Hot Yoga
- Meditation and quiet time to reflect
So we want to hear from you – What brings you back to balance?
Here is a hint: it is likely something you really enjoy doing and feel good after doing it.
What You Can Do (Right Now) to reduce your stress and get back to balance:
- Meditate for 5 minutes (breath in for count of 7 sec count, hold for 4sec count, release for 8 sec count).
- Take a 10 – 30 minute fast or slow walk.
- Have a mini dance party to your favourite song.
- Have a cup of nerve tonic herbal teas (lavender, peppermint, oatstraw, hops).
- Eat a nourishing treat (ex dark chocolate, almonds, smoothie, bone broth immune tonic).
- Make a list of all your accomplishments so far (today, or this week).
- Take a nap!
How to Restore Your Health – Naturally:
Restoring balance is the key to preventing the downstream effects of illness. Illness can be triggered by stress, infection, inherited tendancy / genetics, medications, wear and tear, accidents and surgeries.
Naturopathic Medicine focuses on health recovery, wellness and prevention. The naturopathic approach shares diagnostic tools with conventional medicine such as routine check ups, physical assessments and lab tests. Naturopathic treatments focus on a proactive approach to create a health management plan. Think of it as your roadmap to recovery! Natural and non-invasive methods are used to restore health such as diet, nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, physical therapy, counselling and acupuncture.
Dr. Angeli Chitale is a Naturopathic Doctor and has been granted prescribing authority in BC for the prescription of medications. Dr Chitale takes a balanced approach to patient care using both conventional and naturopathic medicine with the understanding that the art of practice is getting the patient the right medicine at the right dose at the right time.
Questions? Ask the expert on us! Book a FREE 15 min Meet and Greet consultation with Dr. Chitale.