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Stress Resilience Tips

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

Stress is an integral part of our life and everyone experiences stress from time to time. It can create an adverse impact on your physical, mental and spiritual health, and affect your personal relationships, career, and social life.

Improving your stress resilience could play a critical role in reducing the impact of stress on your health.

Impact of chronic stress

Prolonged stress is linked to several chronic disorders affecting nearly all the body’s organs and systems. Life’s stressors are known to take a toll on our psyche and body. In most cases, a chronic condition itself may become a source of emotional stress.

This two-way relationship between mental stress and diseases can create a downward spiral in your health that could become difficult to avoid and overcome.

Let us have a look at how mental stress affects critical bodily functions.

Circadian rhythm

The body’s sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm, is affected by the exposure to light and darkness during daytime and night, respectively. The circadian rhythm can regulate our eating times, and even hormonal balance.

Research studies have revealed that disruptions in the circadian rhythms, due to factors like shift work, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea could raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and several other age-related diseases.

Mental stress and poor emotional health appear to impair the circadian rhythm resulting in hormonal imbalances that can contribute to the development of a number of diseases.

Gut microbiota

Chronic stress could impact our general health through interactions with the gut microbiota. The gut-microbiota-brain axis has the ability to regulate the functions of the immune system.

The lack of a healthy and diverse microbiota could affect the body’s stress responsiveness and trigger the development of disorders linked to immunological dysfunctions, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

Immune System

Chronic stress-linked immune dysfunctions could result in a decline in the efficiency of the body’s defense mechanisms against cancer and infections. Chronic stress is also correlated with an increased risk of recurrent respiratory infections including the common cold and influenza.

Stress is also implicated as a major contributing factor in inflammatory conditions, like allergies and autoimmune disorders, and the conditions related to systemic inflammation such as diabetes and heart diseases.

The epigenetics

Exposure to mental stress or abuse early in life could alter stress resilience and responsiveness throughout life.

The epigenetic changes that are induced by prenatal stress could also lead to hormonal imbalances and cause an increased risk of neuropsychiatric issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in adulthood.

The impact of stress on the various body systems and functions marks the need to adopt strategies to improve stress resilience.

What is Stress Resilience?

Stress resilience refers to the body’s ability to cope with stress as well as its ability to quickly and efficiently return to equilibrium or homeostasis after experiencing a stressor. Poor stress resilience could contribute to a cycle of chronic stress and increase your risks of long-term complications.

Strategies To Improve Stress Resilience

Eat Nutrient-Rich Diet

Choose low carb, high fiber foods and consume a diet full of fresh fruits, veggies, green leaves, and whole grains to improve your nutritional status and strengthen the body’s ability to cope with stress and inflammation.

Sleep well

The body’s circadian rhythm is tied to the secretion of the stress hormone called cortisol. Avoid staying up late at night or getting up late in the morning to reset your circadian rhythm in order to regulate the cortisol secretion and avoid the impact of stress on your health.

Exercise

Exercise could lead to a drastic improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Simple exercises like walking and even other physical activities like swimming and dancing could help you build stress resilience.

Spend time with nature

Schedule at least 2 or 3 days a month to spend time with nature. Indulge yourself in pleasurable activities like hiking, swimming, walking, and gardening. This will help you connect with your soul and calm your senses.

Minimize screen time

Create a family environment wherein everyone puts down their gadgets and be in the present moment.

Schedule phone-free times

Resist the disturbing cultural norm that pressurizes us to be instantly available all the time, at the expense of our health and even the actual people around us. You can answer those emails and respond to those text messages later.

Supplementation
  • B vitamins – supplementation has been shown to relieve stress and support normal adrenal function.
  • Vitamin C – low intake has been correlated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • L-theanine – has been shown to reduce stress and the overall stress response.
  • Omega – 3 fatty acids – EPA/DHA found in fish oil, can prevent and support stress, anxiety and depression
  • Probiotics and prebiotics – probiotics and prebiotics can improve the balance of gut bacteria and have a positive impact on stress response
  • Adaptogenic herbs – such as holy basil, ashwagandha, lemon balm, rhodiola, saffron etc. help to support homoestasis in the body each in their own way.

Conclusion

A higher stress resilience would help you to free yourself from the cycle of stress and return to a relaxed, calm, and healthier state. It would relieve your symptoms and lower your risk of long-term complications linked to chronic stress.

A high stress resilience would also improve your physical, emotional, and spiritual health while protecting you against a wide range of diseases.

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