The beginning of Spring is a great time to think about the changes you can make to reduce stress in your everyday life, including the stress you put on your body through your diet and lifestyle choices.
Stress can be physical and mental. Physical stress happens when we eat foods that are fried or otherwise bad for us, drink to excess, or are exposed to environmental toxins in the air, water, etc. We can even experience physical stress during a hard workout!
Besides physical challenges, most of us daily battle mental stresses that can lead to breakdowns in our bodies. Our physical body responds to our mental state. There really is a mind-body connection.
We humans have long been programmed with the fight or flight response. When we feel threatened, our bodies excrete a variety of hormones, including cortisol, to prepare for fighting or running away. The blood rushes to our extremities and away from our internal organs. Our muscles tense. In a world where all threats are physical, we would use our bodies in the way they had been prepared for. We would either engage in a life-and-death battle or run full out for our own survival. Either way, we would counteract the stress response with this physical output to bring our body back into balance.
Unfortunately when it comes to our stress response, we live in a world where most threats are not physical. Our body doesn’t understand the difference. So, it ramps up for fight or flight whenever we feel we are under duress, even when that stress involves paying bills instead of fleeing an oncoming mammoth. Since we can feel stressed throughout the day, our bodies stay in this state of high cortisol levels, tensed muscles, and shallow breathing. If we don’t actively do things to counteract our perpetually-stressed states, we suffer from tight shoulders, severe headaches, weight gain, reduced cardiovascular function, etc.
The good news is that we can do things to help our bodies cope with the ravages of stress. Eating healthier, with more vegetables and fewer processed and fried foods, drinking plenty of clean water, and doing regular exercise are a good beginning. Taking mini-breaks during the day to practice mindful breathing is another step you can take. Certain nutrients like B vitamins and several herbs are also known for their relaxation support.
Because toxins really can build up in the body, many people like to consider doing a Spring cleaning for the body as well as their closets. If you plan to cleanse, there are several points you should consider:
- Make sure you support your colon and kidney during your cleanse. These organs must be able to eliminate the toxins you are trying to get rid of.
- Make sure you have the time to rest during your cleanse. Because cleansing can be tough on the body, being able to rest and recoup is of utmost importance for a successful cleanse.
- Make sure you are physically able to do a cleanse. If you have medical conditions or take medications, you may not be the best candidate for a cleanse. In fact, a cleanse may be contraindicated for your medication.
- Because a cleanse can be challenging to the body, make sure you are in good enough physical condition for the kind of cleanse you choose. Even without a medical condition, a cleanse can challenge your major organs, including the heart.
- Always replenish your micro-flora when you cleanse, even if your cleanse is the preparation for a colonoscopy! Most people could benefit from a good probiotic every day, but especially after a cleanse.
Spring is the time of year when nature reminds us that winter’s frosty grasp gives way to new beginnings in the most colorful ways. By taking this time to plan for ways to combat stress in your life, you are taking steps to create a more colorful, stress-less you.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider.