Stress And The Body

By: Blair Cuneo PA-C

As the world brings unprecedented change, we at Carolina Total Wellness remain dedicated to offering resources for your overall health and well-being.

Stress is an inevitable part of life — we can certainly agree on that, can’t we? There are some things in life that we just can’t dodge, no matter how much we want to, and stress is one of them. There’s always a few too many things on our to-do lists, a big project at work that is due next week, or a virus that has literally shut our nation down.

Overwhelming stress can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing — including sleep issues, headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, digestion problems — the list goes on. It’s incredible the amount of influence stress has on how our bodies function.

Even though you cannot avoid stress, equipping yourself with practical tools to combat stress can make a drastic difference in your life.

Here are a few practical ways to cope with symptoms of increased stress:

Poor Sleep. Being consistent and going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends even when we don’t have to, is extremely helpful for regulating the quality of our sleep. Avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime in addition to removing electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom are helpful. Adding in a guided sleep mediation or a sleep story while diffusing aromatherapy can help deepen the relaxation process. Rose, geranium and valerian are some essential oils you can diffuse.

Headaches. A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. They are also described as snugness or weight around the temple of your head or the back of your head and neck. The headaches are also commonly called tension headaches and they are the most widely recognized among adults. Applying peppermint essential oil to the temples has been shown to reduce the symptoms of tension headaches and applying lavender oil is also highly effective at reducing migraine pain and associated symptoms when applied to the upper lip and inhaled. Using a specially formulated CBD-infused roll-on that contains all the plant power of Premium Hemp Flower Extract combined with an array of healing herbs to help soothe and comfort, packed into a convenient roll-on applicator. Ideal for use on the go or anyone looking for targeted results. Roll it on, anywhere – pressure points, temples, knees or wrists – for pinpointed relief, on the spot. We offer the Ananda Hemp Roll On through our webstore.

Muscle Tension. If you suffer from muscle tension, stiffness or soreness, then the first step is a hot bath with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts added to the water. It can relieve back pain and swelling of muscle tension. Follow this with the application of a topical CBD salve or lotion, and you might feel a dramatic relief. Myofascial release with a foam roller is also very helpful. In addition, you can use a lacrosse ball. Simply place your body against a wall and then place the lacrosse ball on your upper shoulders and release any pain points.

Fatigue. While the main symptoms of fatigue are a general feeling of weariness or being tired or drowsy, stress-related fatigue is usually accompanied by other symptoms: sore or aching muscles, or feeling of muscle weakness, headache, moodiness, irritability, or easily being agitated. Dizziness and blurred vision and loss of appetite can also be symptoms. An effective solution is deep breathing. The majority of people do not naturally breathe deeply, but instead, breathe very shallow breaths. Stop and notice how you are breathing right now. Chances are, you are not breathing deep enough to fill your lungs to the point your stomach extends. It can be quite a hard habit to change since our bodies do the breathing for us without having to think about it. Deep breathing provides the brain with optimal levels of oxygen which has many health benefits. Practicing deep breathing three times a day will help re-train this habit and will help decrease stress levels thus elevating overall fatigue.

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. With deep “belly” breathing, your abdominal hand will move more than your chest hand. This will make sure that you are breathing deep into the bottom of the lungs.

Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath at the top of inhalation for a count of 4 and exhale through your nose for a count of 6-8. Do this slowly. Contract your abdominal muscles at the bottom of exhalation to make sure that you have expelled all the air out of your lungs.

Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute). At this rate our heart rate variability increases which has a positive effect on cardiac health.

With daily practice, this breathing will become more second nature and done without thought.

Digestive Issues. Some teas such as ginger tea, chamomile tea, fennel infusions and lavender tea help to relieve stress as well as many symptoms of indigestion. These teas have antispasmodic properties that can greatly relieve stomach upset. The best teas for digestion help to relive excess gas, bloating and stomach discomfort. Another reason to drink herbal teas for digestion is that the increase in fluid boosts digestive health.