STRESS-Emotional & Dietary, Part 2
In Part 1, you were given a list and asked to note how many of them currently apply to you. If you chose more than seven, you are at a high risk of adrenal dysfunction; and even having three-six shows an intermediate risk.
So now what? Well, let’s dig a little deeper to see if your adrenals are being affected by all that stress by completing the Adrenal Level Test below. This will let you know if you’re at a stage of Thriving, Alarm, Resistance or Exhausted.
The above assessment is from Dr. Alan Christiansen (Dr. C), a Naturopathic physician, author of The Adrenal Reset Diet and founder of the Endocrine Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
If you are Thriving – keep doing what you are doing (and maybe let us in on your secret…) - homeostatis. If you are at the Alarm stage, making some simple lifestyle adjustments to reduce the stress in your life – adding meditation, yoga, etc, along with removing inflammatory foods from your diet – may be all that is needed to bring you back to Thriving.
If you are at Resistance, the simple lifestyle adjustments noted above, along with the addition of supplements, while eliminating toxic and inflammatory foods and/or people, and other lifestyle changes will help bring you back to Thriving.
If you have reached the level of Exhaustion, a definite plan needs to be put in place, along with possible lab testing, to get you on the path of Thriving.
Upcoming Blogs will address the various levels – Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion, starting with Alarm, knowing that each level will build upon the other.
The first step we ALL need to do, whether stressed or not, is breathe. I’m talking about a deep, diaphragmatic breath that helps to calm down our autonomic nervous system, keeping us in a parasympathetic state – the tranquil state of Rest & Digest (aka – Feed, Breed, and Rest).
So what’s involved in this diaphragmatic breathing anyway, you ask? Diaphragmatic breathing (aka Belly Breathing) is as it sounds – comes from the belly, not the lungs, which helps to relax us and it also increases our body's production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. Methods vary slightly, and note that breathing through the nose improves mental clarity, while mouth breathing accelerates dehydration. Here are two examples:
The 4-7-8 Method
The numbers in the name -- 4-7-8 -- refer to the counts when breathing in, holding your breath and exhaling. Start by sitting up straight in a comfortable position. Next, place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of your gums, just behind your upper front teeth. Expand your diaphragm and slowly inhale through your nose for a count of 4. Hold your breath for another count of 7. Open your mouth slightly, keeping your tongue in place, and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this cycle 4 times.
Proponents of the 4-7-8 method recommend using this technique at least twice a day. It’s promised to be powerful if used regularly over time. The idea behind these scheduled exercise sessions, however, is to retrain your entire way of breathing. With enough practice, you should begin breathing more deeply without thinking about it. The 4-7-8 method is a breathing exercise based on the ancient practice of Pranayama. It can be helpful in managing stress and anxiety, and may improve health outcomes.
Mindful Breath Counting
Practice this exercise sitting up to enhance mindfulness awareness. Later, if you like, you can use it in bed as a technique to help you fall asleep.
Use slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Count each exhalation to yourself. When you reach the fourth exhalation, start over again at one. Here is how you do it: inhale … exhale (“one”) … inhale … exhale (“two”) … inhale … exhale (“three”) … inhale … exhale (“four”) … inhale … exhale (“one”) … and so forth.
As other thoughts enter your consciousness or as your mind goes blank, simply observe those thoughts or the blankness without judgment or expectation, and then return to counting your breaths.
If you lose track of your count, simply start over again at “one”.
Optional: If you like, you can label each of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise. Say to yourself “thought”, “feeling”, or “sensation”, and then return to counting your breaths. You can make up your own labels, but keep it simple. The purpose of labeling is to increase your objectivity and emotional distance from potentially charged material.
Continue counting your exhalations in sets of four for ten minutes. Gradually increase to twenty minutes.
Here are three tension releasers:
Sigh deeply, letting out a sound of deep relief as the air rushes out of your lungs.
Don’t think about inhaling – just let the air come in naturally.
Repeat whenever you feel the need for it.
Open your mouth wide.
Stretch your arms over your head.
Yawn (loudly if you can).
Repeat as needed.
Laughter (is the best medicine)
A bout of laughter fires up your stress response, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure, before cooling back down, which promotes a relaxed feeling. Research also supports its ability to improve immune function, relieve pain, improve mood, and reduce anxiety & depression.
Personally, I use the MindBell app on my phone (set to chime hourly) so I remember to take a moment to breathe mindfully, and I like to include essential oils with my inhalation – typically a citrus to lower my anxiety and boost my energy.
In November 2017, Forbes posted an article on how breathing calms your brain. Check it out here: Forbes.com/how-breathing-calms-your-brain
Look for Part 3 on the ALARM Level
To Your Health and Happiness,
Michele Root ~ Empowering You!