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Health Chemist Blog

by Robyn Dickson BHSc Comp.Med


We all suffer from it from time to time....or all the time! Stress can be EXTERNAL (Environmental, life experiences, dietary factors) or INTERNAL (Genetic predisposition, age, sex) What are our stressors and how does our body respond to them? Causes The causes are various and may be a single or combination of factors. The cause affects the severity and the length of the suffering. Short-term (acute) stress can be caused by a change in environmental or personal circumstances. This may be sudden or unusual, such a change or loss of job, changing schools, moving home, building a house, getting married, divorce, an unsuccessful relationship, an argument, pregnancy, childbirth, financial worries, Christmas, an accident, injury or illness of one's self or loved ones.

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We all suffer from it from time to time....or all the time!

Stress can be EXTERNAL (Environmental, life experiences, dietary factors) or INTERNAL (Genetic predisposition, age, sex)

What are our stressors and how does our body respond to them?

Causes

The causes are various and may be a single or combination of factors. The cause affects the severity and the length of the suffering. Short-term (acute) stress can be caused by a change in environmental or personal circumstances. This may be sudden or unusual, such a change or loss of job, changing schools, moving home, building a house, getting married, divorce, an unsuccessful relationship, an argument, pregnancy, childbirth, financial worries, Christmas, an accident, injury or illness of one's self or loved ones.

Here is a table of stressors that impact our lives. Do the calculations to see how much you have been exposed to in the last year. http://www.roadtowellbeing.ca/questionnaires/life-stressors.html
Now lets look at how your body responds to stress!

When we are faced with a stressful situation, our nervous system comes into play setting off all sorts of hormonal triggers and feedbacks that affect many of our body's systems.

There are 3 phases to stress
(1) ALARM REACTION (fight or flight)
The Sympathetic Nervous System stimulates the release of the hormones Adrenaline and Nor-adrenaline from the Adrenal medulla to increase our energy requirements to escape danger by......
Dilating our pupils to see better, dilated bronchioles to breathe better, increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased blood glucose levels to supply our muscles with extra energy to fight or run with increased alertness. Other non-essential activities such as digestion and urine output are reduced. This phase is normally short-lived.
Nowadays we normally do not have to fight or flee a situation so we end up with adrenaline pumping around! Exercise is a good way of burning off all this pent up energy. Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to calm the nerves.
Supplements and Herbs (nervines) such as Oats, Hops, Valerian, Passionflower, Gentian, Chamomile and Skullcap as well as Vit C, B vitamins, Potassium and Magnesium will help nourish and restore the nervous system.
Recommended supplements:

Signs and Symptoms

A stressed person can be nervous and jumpy, ready to escape the fear or concerns that follow them. They may show a worried look, pale skin (as blood is shunted away from the skin to the muscles and brain), a tense, rigid posture with sweaty hands and feet, dry mouth, restless behaviour and dilated pupils.

They may suffer from hypertension, palpitations, tachycardia, panic attacks, irritability, loss of concentration, fear and startled nervous reactions.

The duration of stress factors depends on your individual strength and stability, and the level of support from family, friends and the community. Including informative, helpful websites

www.healthchemist.co.nz

How well nourished you are depends on how well you can cope with stress.

A diet high in whole grains, quinoa, legumes (high in B vitamins), cauliflower, salmon, liver, kumura and tomatoes (B 5 pantothenic acid) is recommended. Fruit and veg high in Vitamin C. Avoiding stimulants such as tobacco and coffee! Coconut water is a good source of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium) New Zealanders have no Magnesium in our soil so supplements are often necessary!!!

Recommended supplements:

In our next Blog we will look at Phase 2 and 3 of Stress. So stay tuned as this affects all of us.

To be continued...
Click here to read more about Stress in our Learning Centre

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