So what exactly is stress? According to Hans Selye, an MD PHD, the man who coined the phrase, “stress is a non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Change can be mental, physical, environmental and emotional. What this means to us is that because our life is always changing, we are always experiencing some form of stress, whether consciously perceived by us or not.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, nearly 1 in 5 test cases reached their highest stress level 15 or more days per month. That trickles down to half of a person’s life if you extend it out for the full year. Studies outside of these are constantly showing that the human body’s reaction to stress could be one of the leading causes of many life threatening diseases…including cancer and heart disease. Given these statistics, I would say we aren’t fairing too well, and our present-day health crisis in this country is proof enough.

We are caught in a paradox of having everything available to us, and yet our need to maintain what we have makes us slaves to the worry, anxiety, and yes, stress, inherent in holding on to what may no longer serve us.

The reasons for stress are countless, but one theme rings true in all cases. Stress is simply not good for us and in most cases, stress is not consciously realized until a symptom or health crisis is at hand.

As I read recently, “Stress is modern-day trash. If not disposed of properly, it will pile up and overtake one’s life.” In that vein, and with the holidays a few weeks away (yet another stressor), I want offer some guidance on how to identify stressors and manage their effect on your life.

Health-related indicators of stress are:
•Increased heart rate
• Poor digestion ( constipation is common)
•High blood pressure
•Weight gain
•Muscle tension
•Chronic fatigue
•Insomnia or sleeping disorders
•Reduced happiness
•Impaired immune conditions
•Skin imbalances
•Hair loss

Identifying Sources of Stress:
Outside of keeping a mental note of the people, places, and circumstances that create stress, it is a good idea to keep a notepad handy so that you can start to create a written, visual record of stressful situations, conversations, or thoughts that come up throughout your day. It is helpful to include how these stressors made you feel, and how you reacted or responded to them. When we take the time to write things down, we internalize whether our behavior is helpful or harmful. This is just one way to start learning how to manage stress. Recognizing areas that can be improved upon and applying behavioral modifications to alleviate what doesn’t work is helpful in creating the balance that we all need in order to live a truly healthy life.

Stress Busters:

•Avoid people that create a negative environment.
•Avoid or eliminate things which are stressful…this includes people.
•Become a positive thinker.
•Look at your anger, fear and challenges as an opportunity for growth.
•Create time for what you love especially if you think you don’t have time for it.
•Let Go of who you think you should be and become who you want to be.
•Compromise and let go of the power of perfectionism.
•Accept what you can’t change.
•Forgive, others as well as yourself.
•Eat the right foods. Foods and moods are one and the same.

Other helpful suggestions:

Exercise: If you find yourself not able to participate in your usual gym visit because times get busy grab a friend, family member or child, and walk or ride a bicycle in your neighborhood. If visiting others, ask what they do for activity and allow yourself to join them. Movement of any kind is better than none.

•Sleep: This is HUGE. 7-8 hours of sleep is like a miracle drug for most. When we sleep our bodies are able to regenerate themselves, Without sleep, the reverse happens and our moods can spiral out of control.

•Indulge in every form of relaxation technique that works for you:
My suggestions: Yoga, meditation, acupuncture, guided visualization, pranayama
breathing, massage, hot bath.

For more info. on the “what is” and “how to” meditate, visit my, and look at the general blog topic.

The big NO-NO’s during stressful times:

•Caffeine (great alternative to this is Teecino found in most health food stores and great to aid digestion)

•Alcohol (hard to avoid during the holidays. Option: limit amount)

•Sugar foods ( also hard to avoid during the holidays so either have a drink or
Eat a small piece of something sweet…don’t do both)

•Fast and processed foods: If you want fruits and prepped vegetables. Other options are pre-made healthy dips such as hummus or red pepper, artichoke or spinach dips to eat with veggies.

Author's Bio: 

Odette Worrell is a certified Holistic Health Counselor, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), a Reiki Master Practitioner, Certified Hatha Yoga Asana Teacher (200RYT), Certified Living Foods Chef, and founder of Find Your Organic Soul.

Odette's work encompasses supporting and empowering individuals to regain their physical health , improve the quality of their lives, and reach their personal goals.

Odette and Organic Soul offer newsletters, online health, self-growth classes, and one-on-one health counseling consultations.