Strength is developed through resistance, force, and stress. So, stress may be a benefit to our health when properly managed. Neglect, however, can quickly lead to distress which places negative pressure on our mental and physical health. This week we will discuss ways to manage stress in our lives to our advantage.
First of all, there is stress in life based on circumstances simply out of our control. How we manage that stress will be largely determined by how we have previously maintained the circumstances within our control. Investment is the key. Think back to all the topics within this series of “Building a Thriving Lifestyle”: rest, work-life balance, sleep, fasting, recreation, exercise, and relationships. When these building blocks are practiced (not perfected), to establish a healthy balance in life, we are better equipped to hit the “curve-balls” life throws at us. A house is only as strong as its foundation.
Secondly, it is important to note that our dietary choices directly build or decay our bodies’ mechanism for stress management--the blood sugar handling system. The three organs of blood sugar handling are the pancreas, liver, and adrenals. The pancreas and liver have the capacity to do the job on their own. However, when we stress our bodies with processed carbohydrates, toxic additives and/or damaged vegetable oils, those two organs get easily worn out. When this occurs, the adrenal glands jump in to bring emergency aid with the cortisol hormone. This hormone is released to help us respond to acute stress. Thus, if we keep our bodies in a constant state of stress from poor dietary habits, challenges in life are more likely to cripple us rather than strengthen us. A gentle transition to a whole, nutrient-rich food lifestyle will make an impressive improvement in our ability to handle stress appropriately.
In conclusion, maximizing the benefits of stress does not mean the source of stress is positive, but simply that we use it for good. For example, a relational stress can allow us to grow into a better friend. A work-life stress can cause us to be creative and reflect on the real value of life, and even stress on our physical health can challenge us to learn how to nourish our bodies well. This perspective or mind-set will equip you to manage the various stressors that come your way!