Originally the term stress was an engineering description relating the amount of force that can be placed on say a beam for building a bridge or the like. Dr. Hans Selye, a Canadian physician coined the term “ stress” in relation to human response to a physical, mental, social or emotional stimulus. We are so-called “stressed out” when we react to this stimulus and the response is an alteration in the way we perform, think or feel. Change is stressful-whether the change is good or bad. Worry produces stress. Lack of sleep creates mental and physical stress. For each of us different things cause our individual stesses.
Some people create their own stress-worriers! Negative thinkers, those that find things to worry about, for them stress becomes almost an addiction. Projecting into the future and worrying about things that we have no control over and really have no idea whether they may occur or not, is harmful. The opposite of these thoughts is simply “emunah peshuta” true simple faith, that The Master Of The World is all good and runs the show. In my practice I offer a technique for training patients to not be “worriers”. It is called neurological-emotional-technique, and it is similar to self-hypnosis. Patients learn to use their sub-conscious minds to relieve anxiety, fears and stress.
Of course stress can have many negative effects on our physical. These may include muscle pains and aches, tightness, fatigue, irritability, headaches, low-self esteem, high blood pressure, nervous twitches (tics), insomnia digestive issues and much more. I treat many patients successfully for “panic attacks, ocd, and phobias.
As in every article I write, the first and foremost remedy for the above mentioned disorders is exercise. Regular moderate exercise such as a 20-30 minute walk several times a week has been shown in numerous studies to alleviate stress related disorders such as anxiety and depression. Secondly, sleeping right is essential. The body requires a minimal amount of rest, and the mind requires a minimal amount of dream time. Dream recall is an important sign of mental health, and absence of it is a sigh of deficiency in B vitamins.
Other ways to cope with stress include making time for you. I strongly encourage my patients to indulge in a relaxing bath at least once a week, with some lavender oil and maybe soft music, too. Making time for family and friends is also greatly important. Varying your routine, establishing realistic expectations, being organized and focused, getting help with work when needed, planning ahead and other techniques are also all ways to cope with stress.
Nutritionally speaking there is a wide variety of suggestions that I can make. I most often recommend valerian root as a safe and mild tranquilizer. I recommend GABA also for “a mind that runs a mile a minute” and as a sleep aid. Inositol and the B complex in general relieve stress and OCD type anxiety. Calcium and magnesium are often depleted in stressed out people. Amino acids such as tyrosine and trytophan are fantastic when used properly. All the above and others are effective when taken at the proper times and in the proper dosages. It is my job to test and inform my patients on what to do to avoid and prevent and alleviate as much stress, anxiety and fears as I possibly can. I also network with other professionals when I feel a referral is in order.