How to Manage Stress and Make Stress Work for You

Over the years, stress is something I have seen in many of my patients including children and teens.
Of course when we think of stress we think work, traffic, financial problems. There are other forms of stress that we often forget about including illness and inflammation.

It is really important to address stress in our lives because stress affects our adrenal glands. When the adrenals are stressed it also raises our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to the maintenance of homeostasis or balance. Although cortisol levels fluctuate thorughout the day, the problem is that in our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal.

The high and prolonged levels of cortisol can lead to negative effects such as fatigue and other symptoms such as;
thyroid imbalance
blood sugar imbalance such hyperglycemia
decreased bone density
sleep problems
elevated blood pressure
lowered immune system
increased abdominal fat

Nature has provided many natural herbal medicines that are very helpful for addressing stress and sleep irregularities. Lemon balm, Passion flower and Valerian have been well known herbs that help to support a healthy nervous system and sleep wake cycles.

Here are some additional tips to help you decrease stress and excess cortisol levels in the body.
1. Eliminate caffeine - the quickest way to reduce cortisol production in the body.
2. Sleep - aim for 8 hours of sleep per night
3. Exercise - releases chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression.
4. Avoid sugar - Eat frequent small meals balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates.
5. Drink more water – Keep water by your bed and drink it when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.
6. Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes

Best of luck with your stress levels, and hoping you have a restful nights sleep.

Dr. Janine Bowring

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