Overcoming Stress and Burn Out
Many of my clients and patients say they are burned out, tried all the
time, have a hard time relaxing and experience high levels of stress.
I have also experienced extended periods of time that can be classified
as over stressed and felt burned out. For instance when I was in college full time
and working full time, when I was in the Military during the first Gulf Conflict, when starting a new business, after the death of my mother and husband that occurred within 3 months of each other, just to mention a few. Each one of these time my health suffered.
Recent studies have shown that 97% of all visits to Primary Care Physician's visits are due to the effects of acute or chronic stress.
Let us take a better look at the origins of the word 'stress'. It comes
from the word 'stringere' which is Middle English which mean 'tighten' and from the Latin and Old French word ’destresse’ which means "to draw tight". Like pulling the drawstrings of a purse.
The word "stress" began to be used as a biological term starting in the 1920's and 30's here in the U.S.. Prior to that it was used in physics as a mechanical term.
What is Stress? Let me explain it this way: The body is designed to maintain a biological balance, an equilibrium called homeostasis. This is a state where the body is working as it should for optimum efficiency and health.
When factors, challenges, changes occur, whether internal or in the environment, this balance is disturbed and the equilibrium fluctuates moving the organism's systems away from the optimal condition for living. This is stress on and in the body.
Stress can occur as the organism attempts to restore conditions back to
balance, equilibrium and homeostasis also.
But that is not how we experience stress in our day to day life. We experience it as feeling tense, feeling out of control of our of our environment, not safe, unprotected, fearful, ineffective, when our efforts are in vain, a since of loss, confused, when lost, disappointed, misunderstood, when we are thinking negative thoughts , believing negative thoughts and ideas.
The medical definition of stress is 'a physical and or mental determent that causes tension in the body and or mind. Stress can be internal or external. It can be real or imagined to be real. It creates a negative biochemical and physiological changes in the body and brain. It can and will eventually effect all the 11 systems of the body'.
What are the common causes of stress?: Being over worked, financial
concerns, family matters, anxiety, fear, worry, lack of sleep, health
issues, trauma, divorce, death, loss of job or income source,
moving, a wedding, loss or even imaginary loss....... Everyone has
their set of stressors. It could be as common as like being stuck
in traffic, misplacing your keys or wallet, running late or on the phone with tech support.
How does stress effect the body? Stress effects all the systems of the body: Endocrine, Digestion, Immune, Nervous, Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Muscular, Skeletal, Integumentary (skin, hair, nails) Urinary and Reproductive Systems.
Stages of Stress
#1 The Initial stage " The adrenals are the in the first line of defense. As soon as the part of your brain, called the amygdala, is stimulated by a perceived threat, real or imagined, it sends a signal to the adrenal glands commonly called "Fight or Flight" response signal. The adrenals secrete adrenalin, ( epinephrine ) and cortisol plus other hormones). The release of adrenalin into the blood stream creates a chain reaction The heart rate increases. Breath becomes rapid and shallow. Blood pressure rises. Blood sugar spikes for a while that drastically drops. Muscles contract. Digestion shut down. Mental focus shifts and tunnel vision occurs. Physical strength increase temperately, body heat increase, perspiration increases. Blood thickens due to increase of clotting factors.
#2 The Stuck Stage. When this first stage of fight or flight response
is triggered often and fires up frequently the stuck stage begins. Then the
negative body changes begin. Bright light may bother your eyes, you may get dizzy when you stand up quickly, eye lids may twitch, experience pain across the forehead or behind the eyes experiencing twitching while falling asleep, low back pain. The digestive system is effected and digestive disorders occur, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, hiatal hernia, diarrhea and or constipation. You may feel weak and tied often. The immune system weakens and colds, allergies become more frequent, systemic inflammation effecting the skin, muscles and joints and internal organs. Hair and nails can become thin and brittle. The pH balance become usually too acidic and then can reverse dangerously to high alkalinity. Weight gain or weight loss can occur quickly. Behavioral changes may include inability to relax, exhaustion, tired all the time, sever muscle tension, tension headaches, sleep patterns change. Tried even after a full night’s sleep. You may have cravings for sugars, salts, carbohydrates and, alcohol. Your memory may be effected or experience brain fog, ritability, grinding of your teeth (TMJ), frequent urination and inability to sleep... The use of pain killers, muscle relaxers, antacids, stool softeners, sleep aids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications. Many will self-medicate with coffee, caffeine energy drinks, alcohol, digestive aids, over the counter pain medication..
When the adrenals are depleted and exhausted one may have what is called referred pain and is experienced as low back pain and some even experience adrenal pain as a throbbing sensation in the back at and or just above the waistline.
#3 Stage Three Adrenal Exhaustion. This is when the adrenals and other
endocrine glands and internal organs are depleted and have nothing more
to give the body to manage stress. Then body begins to break down and
the following condition become severe: chronic fatigue, chronic
digestive disorders, severe mental and emotional stress, severe
biochemical changes, the pH balance is effected and loss of minerals and enzymes in the body, Auto-Immune diseases, arthritis, Fibromyalgia,
constant pain set in the body just to mention a few.
Serious intervention and care is needed before complete collapse and the organs begin to shut down..
To recover from this stage may take 3 months to 3 years depending on how long you stay in stage 3, what processes ( natural
food, natural supplements, rest, minerals, vitamin, enzymes, amino acids) you incorporate in your recovery process, and how strong your body is genetically.
Naturopathic analysis can determine what stage you may be in and there is a questionnaire and a self-test available for you in a link at the end of this blog that you can take in the privacy of your own home.
Medical diagnosis can be made via testing the blood, urine and saliva
So do not wait till you are in stage 3.
Do not wait till you have been in stage 2 for a long time.
You can start to care for yourself in stage one.
Help starts with your desire and commitment to change.
You can start with 3 things from this list below. Then chose another 3,
and so forth.
1. Identify you "stressors" what cause your stress.
2. Make adjustments to reduce, avoid or eliminate these stressors.
Some stressors you cannot eliminate, so be creative in avoiding and reducing
3. Create margins in your schedule so you are not in a hurry all the time or
running late all the time.
4. Make dietary changes. Add healthier choices. Reduce then eliminate
unhealthy choices. More on this later in this blog
5. Include natural supplements, herbs, vitamins and minerals
6. Reduce caffeine, eliminate energy drinks and soda pops
7. Eliminate sugar and even sugar free (aspartame).
8. Include pure water and fresh vegetable and fruit juices
9. Include insoluble fiber into your diet
10 Decrease or eliminate alcohol including beer and wine
11. Enlist support and help from family, friend, social groups, your
spiritual groups, non-profit agencies, professional help (house
12. Ease in to gentle exercise (walking, restorative yoga, Thai chi,
13. Make time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate and that brings you
true joy, ( speeding time with loved ones that create no stress, have spa days, massages, body scrubs, hot baths with bath salts and aromatherapy, meditation etc.), get alone time, quiet time, sleep in...
14. Anything else that is good for you that you like to do , Like
reading inspirational material, watching comedy movies laughing is very healing going to church, go to the zoo , a museum, the botanical gardens, on a vacation if possible.
Rebuilding the Adrenals and increasing energy naturally. There are specific dietary changes and supplements that support and heal the adrenal glands which with then begin to reverse the negative body and behavioral changes...
1. Hydration, pure water 1/2 your body weight in ounces is a good amount
2. Digestive elimination with insoluble fibers like psyllium husk powder, ground flax seed, oat bran and apple fiber/apple pectin
3. Detoxification and internal organ cleanse with herbal formulas
4. .Herbs that support rebuild the adrenals. (day time) Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashtwangandha, (night time Holy Basil, Valerian, Chamomile, Passion Flower
5. Multi Vitamin and Multi and Trace Minerals plus extra Vitamin B complex , especially B 12, plus vitamin D 3, and vitamin C
6. Raw Adrenal Glandular
7. Amino Acids
8. Immune boosters like Eccanachia, Golden Seal and certain mushrooms like Shitakiake, Maikake & Reishi
9.. Super Foods, fresh juices and green drinks. Blue berries, green grapes, wheat grass juice, blue green algae, chlorophyll, kale, green sprouts.
10 Use natural sweetners . You can use Stevia Extract ( zero calories, zero carbohydrates but lots of minerals), Raw Honey, Agave Syrup and
real maple syrup
Reflexology helps heal the adrenals. There are reflex points on the hands and feet (see pictures and instruction in the link provided below)
The adrenal point on the hands and feet will be tender when the adrenals are stresses. Foot and hand Reflexology massage will stimulate healing.
Restorative Yoga for Adrenal Stress. The purpose of Restorative yoga is to provide rest and rejuvenation to the internal organs. Many types of yoga are strenuous and are not recommended for those with depleted adrenals. Nor is any other form of strenuous ex cerise good for someone who energy is already depleted.
Restorative yoga incorporates yoga poses that bring energy and healing without using strength or much effort. Here are 5 restorative yoga poses using bolsters and blanket to help support the pose. Each pose has a picture and description
Self Help Questionnaire and Self Test for Adrenal Stress. I have compiled a series of questions for you to answer to assist you to discover what level of Adrenal Stress you may be experiencing and a self test to determine if you do
Contact information; If you have any questions please can use the comment form or email Dr.Kathryn Knox
[email protected] and then call our office directly at:
248 545 3222