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Stress, what stress?

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S T R E S S def: pressure or tension exerted on an object.

April is National Stress Awareness month — however, I think we are all already aware of stress. 8/10 Americans report having frequent daily stress and regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. 1/3 feel they are living with extreme stress. 1/2 feel their stress has increased over the last 5yrs. 1/2 say stress has had a negative impact on their lives. and on and on . . .

At Health Studio KC, we believe your body has a design. That design has a proper balance and tension in order to run optimally.

The balance of mind, body and soul.

The balance of nutrition, exercise and rest.

The balance of proactive and sometimes reactive care.

Unfortunately we spend too little time tending to this balance.

As we navigate our days – our responsibilities, circumstances and the normal chaos of life – the balance is shaped more by the external than the internal. Our health and wellness slide down the priority list and we run far short of optimal. The right tension and we can shoot an arrow far and accurate, we can play our chords in tune; but too much tension and the bow or string can snap.

Stress triggers our fight or flight response and results in increased cortisol — good for short term survival, bad when released at a sustained level. Beyond the potential psychological consequences of irritability, poor concentration, poor memory, anxiety and depression — there are many physical manifestations as well: fatigue, headaches, insomnia, nausea, reflux, decreased libido, weight gain, muscle tension, heart disease, insulin resistance, decreased immune system . . .

So, what is one to do? A good place to start is having a conversation with your Doctor and coming up with a plan — no quick fixes, but rather small habit changes to restore balance, one or two changes at a time. This isn’t about boot straps, but rather an understanding that 1 or 2 health changes often beget more healthy changes in how we EAT/SLEEP/MOVE/HYDRATE/CREATE.

EAT: Foods rich in cortisol squashing nutrients and antioxidants can combat the effects and cravings of stress.

SLEEP: Building better habits and creating space for sleep can be one of the best ways to prevent and decrease stress

MOVE: Regular moderate intensity activity bathes our brains in BDNF — a “magical” physiologic stress combatant

HYDRATE: Even mild dehydration (the state most of us exist in) increases levels of cortisol.

CREATE: Creative activities such as painting have been proven to significantly decrease cortisol levels within as little as 30min — for both artists and first time participants alike.

We will be providing opportunities to further this conversation this month. And know that certainly beyond lifestyle there are many other evaluations and treatments, proactive and reactive, that are important to consider in a conversation with your Doctor, but habits and life balance are certainly a great place to start.

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