By Sarah A LoBisco, ND
In my homepage blog this week, “The Impact of Stress on Energy,” I highlighted my excitement about attending the upcoming Institute for Functional Medicine’s 2013 Annual Symposium: Illuminating the Energy Spectrum!
I’ll be learning how to mitigate pesky symptoms of fatigue, pain, inflammation, and other “stress drains” on the body from the cellular and organ system level to a quantum physics energetic integration!
Therefore, I will be frantically using my energy to scribble notes from all the geniuses on how to implement more knowledge and tools to an individualized wellness plan to share with all of you!
Boost Energy, Kick off Stress
Last week, I blogged about how traumatic stress can affect behavioral patterns, lead to addiction, and shrink the brain’s memory center. (Remember?) 😉
So, before I hop onto a plane to head out to sunnier climes (Howdy, Texas readers!), I wanted to leave you with a few excerpts from some of my favorite blogs, articles, and journals this month on stress-freedom tips.
As you ponder them and click through to the sources leisurely, picture my smiling face among some of today’s geekiest geniuses and coolest colleagues ever!
How Stress Contributes to Study Drug Addiction
What’s the most common way your teenager and you handle stress?
Perhaps it’s meditation, lifestyle, or maybe something else?
Prescription abuse is up in teenagers, and it may be linked to the “stress to succeed” or “get it all done!”
According to Dr. Mercola (emphasis mine):
One in four teens has misused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime, according to new survey results from the partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation.1
This represents a 33 percent increase in the past five years!
Among one of the most commonly abused class of drugs are stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, of which one in eight teens (13 percent) said they had taken even though it wasn’t prescribed to them.
Prescription drugs don’t hold the same stigma as illegal recreational drugs, even though they can be just as deadly, leading teens to regard them as a “safe” way to get high.
In many cases, parents only add to this assumption, not only because they may take multiple prescription drugs themselves but also, as the survey reported, because close to one-third of parents believe prescription stimulants can improve their teen’s academic performance.
Mercola, J. Survey Finds Teen Misuse And Abuse Of Prescription Drugs Up 33 Percent Since 2008. Mercola.com. May 08, 2013. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/ archive/2013/05/08/prescription-drug-abuse.aspx
Why Not Try EFT Tapping for Overwhelm and Focus?
There’s nothing wrong with using the proper medication or even any crutch to get through stress sometimes. However, resiliency determines survival long-term. So, what about an option to use for you and your children to boost focus and mitigate stress at the tips of your fingers.
Nick Ortner writes:
The effect that most study drug users are chasing after is “the zone,” that feeling of being completely tuned into whatever it is they’re choosing to focus on. Once they’ve swallowed that pill, distractions fall by the wayside and they can get the job done.
But what are these distractions exactly, and why are they so all-consuming that people with no legitimate medical need think they require pills to block them out? That’s a question that can be addressed through Emotional Freedom Techniques, and once the answers are revealed and dealt with, it’s easy to tune them out when we need to.
So often, our limits to performance are anchored in our emotions. What if we don’t succeed? What will become of us? That pressure can be enormous. Furthermore, our distractions sometimes have nothing to do with what we’re working on at all. We can become so preoccupied with stress at home or even in the larger world, that it has a terrible effect on our productivity.
EFT Tapping is first and foremost a stress relief tool that allows us to address troublesome emotions that are making our lives difficult. By physically tapping on the body’s meridian energy points as we carry out the kind of keen personal inquiry typically found in psychotherapy, we can release these troublesome emotions that may have been holding us back, possibly making us ill, and yes, even making it difficult for us to focus and perform.
Simply put, with EFT Tapping one can eliminate the perceived need for study drugs altogether. If you haven’t tried tapping before, take a look at this short video to learn the technique. Within minutes you’ll be equipped to deal with much of the stress that you’re burdened with every day.
Ortner, N. Study Drugs? How EFT Can Help You Function and Focus Better Than Any Pill. thetappingsolution.com. May 8, 2013. http://www.thetappingsolution.com/blog/study-drugs-how-eft-can-help-you-function-and-focus-better-than-any-pill/
Express Your Emotion to Decrease Stress
One of the benefits of EFT is that it brings up emotional blocks stored in the body. In fact, there have been some studies that tears may actually be healing for the body’s stress response. (A cool bonus in the expert below is a review of the physical stress effects!).
The Power of Tears
The connections between stress and physical health are undeniable. Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues, including:
· Lowered immune system function
· Heightened inflammatory response
· Increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
· Altered brain chemistry, blood sugar levels and hormonal balance
· Increased risk of cancer and increased tumor growth1
Dr. Mercola continues:
The video above brings up another biological reaction associated with stress: crying.2 Interestingly, tears that are shed due to an emotional response, such as sadness or extreme happiness, contain a high concentration of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) — a chemical linked to stress.
One theory of why you cry when you’re sad is that it helps your body release some of these excess stress chemicals, thereby helping you feel more calm and relaxed.
While crying is a healthy response to a stressful situation, settling in for “a good cry” every day is unlikely to quell the ill effects of stress on your body.
Energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be very effective by helping you to actually reprogram your body’s reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life. Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also important “release valves” that can help you manage your stress.
Mercola, J. Crying Can Help Relieve Stress, But for Optimal Health You Need Better Stress-Relieving Tools. Mercola.com. May 2, 2013.
Strike a Pose!
So far I’ve highlighted EFT, tears, and now….yoga!
Not only is yoga a consistent recommendation by many practitioners to decrease stress, and for good reason, it is now being reported that yoga’s stress relieving effect have impacts on immune function! (Emphasis mine):
From previous research , we know that yoga is linked to not only lower stress levels, but also bone health, reduced back pain, relief from depression, and lower risk factors for heart disease, among other health benefits. However, the means by which these positive effects are enacted have been poorly understood.
The Norwegian study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, has found genetic evidence of yoga’s impact on the immune system. In the study, researchers examined 10 participants who underwent a week-long yoga retreat where they did meditation, yogic postures and yogic breathing exercises. Examining the participants’ blood before and after four-hour yo
ga sessions showed that the yoga practice changed the expression of 111 genes in circulating immune cells. In contrast, music and walking-based relaxation changed the expression of 38 genes.
“There are rapid (within two hours of start of practice) and significant gene expression changes… during a comprehensive yoga program,” the research team writes in the study. “These data suggest that previously reported effects of yoga practices have an integral physiological component at the molecular level which is initiated immediately during practice and may form the basis for the long-term stable effects.”
The results suggest that yoga may as effective, or even more so, than traditional exercise in inducing health benefits through changes on the genetic level, the study’s authors note.
And although it’s long been known that yoga can reduce stress, a UCLA study also recently determined how the practice can induce relaxation. Practicing a type of chanting yogic meditation daily for eight weeks was found to lower stress levels by reducing biological mechanisms responsible for increasing the immune system’s inflammation response — and stress is known to spur inflammation.
Gregorie, C. Yoga Associated With Gene Expression In Immune Cells, Study Finds. The Huffington Post. April 24, 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013 /04/24/yoga-immune-system-genetic-_n_3141008.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living
Whistle a Tune: Calming Mom and Baby’s Brain with Music
Question: Could you whistle a song, while you tap, and strike a pose while holding baby? That might be stressful, maybe just rock and sing!
What I’m getting at is that lullabies settle baby to sleep for good reason!
The following study reports:
The informed, intentional therapeutic use of live sound and parent-preferred lullabies applied by a certified music therapist can influence cardiac and respiratory function. Entrained with a premature infant’s observed vital signs, sound and lullaby may improve feeding behaviors and sucking patterns and may increase prolonged periods of quiet-alert states. Parent-preferred lullabies, sung live, can enhance bonding, thus decreasing the stress parents associate with premature infant care.
Joanne Loewy, Kristen Stewart, Ann-Marie Dassler, Aimee Telsey, & Peter Homel. The Effects of Music Therapy on Vital Signs, Feeding, and Sleep in Premature Infants (Abstract). Pediatrics. April 15, 2013.(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1367)
Make Sure to Get Zzzzs…..
And to round out the suggestions…the sleeping child (and your rest) will help focus and memory:
For some people — especially children — sleep deprivation does not necessarily cause lethargy; instead they become hyperactive and unfocused. Researchers and reporters are increasingly seeing connections between dysfunctional sleep and what looks like A.D.H.D., but those links are taking a long time to be understood by parents and doctors.
A number of studies have shown that a huge proportion of children with an A.D.H.D. diagnosis also have sleep-disordered breathing like apnea or snoring, restless leg syndrome or non-restorative sleep, in which delta sleep is frequently interrupted.
One study, published in 2004 in the journal Sleep, looked at 34 children with A.D.H.D. Every one of them showed a deficit of delta sleep, compared with only a handful of the 32 control subjects. . .
There is also some promising research being done on sleep in adults, relating to focus, memory and cognitive performance. A study published in February in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that the amount of delta sleep in seniors correlates with performance on memory tests. And a study published three years ago in Sleep found that while subjects who were deprived of sleep didn’t necessarily report feeling sleepier, their cognitive performance declined in proportion to their sleep deprivation and continued to worsen over five nights of sleep restriction. . .
Vatsal G. Thakkar . Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit. The New York Times (nytimes.com). April 27, 2013). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/opinion/sunday /diagnosing-the-wrong-deficit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1&