When I look back at my own past in raising my five children, yes, life was stressful. I do think it was family support and my own aversion to drugs that kept me from what 1 in 4 women are doing today according to a recent report from MedCo Health Solutions…taking a prescription drug for depression, ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, etc. I do remember many nights without sleep ~ am not sure how I caught up on that one!
Watching the nightly pharmacy ads on tv certainly validates all of this. They seem to really zero in on women’s issues ~ and relief is just a pill away. As I watched this short clip showing the stresses this woman was under, I can see why those ads would be so appealing. That second baby, as she stated, was the catalyst that triggered immense stress for her as well as lack of sleep. Caught up with not only the full-time of motherhood with two young ones, she was also juggling a full-time job as well as a home, and a husband. It reminds me of a being on a moving treadmill that literally never stops!
According to Dean Ornish, M.D., stress can have a negative impact on just about every part of your body. It can suppress your immune function, cause a heart attack or stroke, increase your risk of cancer, delay wound healing, promote inflammation, cause you to gain weight, impair your memory, cause depression, exacerbate diabetes, worsen your sexual function, and makes you age faster at a genetic and cellular level.
What alternatives are out there besides taking those appealing tv drug solutions ~ which all come with side effects? According to Dr. Ornish, stress comes not only from what’s going on in your life, but, even more important, from how you react to it. Practicing some simple stress-management techniques on a regular basis, you can be in the same job, the same environment, even the same family but react in more constructive and healthful ways. Suggested techniques ~ yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and imagery as well as participation in a support group.
Dr. Frank Lipman, in his book, Total Renewal, states the following benefits of breathing with awareness:
- It helps relieve tension.
- It energizes us.
- It anchors us in our bodies.
- It leads to better health.
- It is easy and convenient ~ it can be done anywhere, anytime.
One of the leading proponents of mindfulness meditation, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, describes meditation this way:
Mindfulness is about living fully in the present moment, observing ourselves, our feelings, others and our surroundings without judging them. Mindfulness meditation is moment to moment awareness. It is being fully awake. It involves being here for the moments of our lives, without striving or judging. Mindfulness is coming home to yourself, to live your own life, as you are, in the only moment that you have to live ~ this moment.
Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate and even some medication, can add to daily stress. It shortens your fuse, making you more reactive to stress. (the opposite of meditation) It gives you immediate energy but then later you feel really tired ~ thus you want more stimulant to pick yourself up ~ it becomes a vicious cycle. I was very attached to my coffee throughout the day until I had acidity issues and had to give it up. Now when I want a “pick-up”, particularly in the mid-afternoon, I drink a delicious tea that offers me a safe, natural energy boost. It is an exclusive, antioxidant-rich blend of teas, including Matcha (a premier ceremonial green tea from Japan), white tea (magnificant and rare), red tea (from South Africa and antioxidant-packed), and taurine.
Exercise is a known physical benefit and is a great way to discharge all those stressful feelings.
How do you deal with the stress in your life? Are you the 1 in 4 women taking prescription drugs to calm down or sleep better? I would love to hear your suggestions about alternatives to the drug approach to relieve our daily stresses of life.