Many Americans suffer from moderate to high stress. Whether its money, work, family responsibilities, or health concerns, if stress is left untreated, it can become chronic. And chronic stress can lead to all sorts of long-term health issues.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death:
- Heart diseases
- Lung ailments
- Cirrhosis of the liver
Moreover, 75% of all physician visits are stress related.
So, how do you eliminate stress?
Before I share some tips on how you can best mitigate and overcome stress, I would like to point out a few things you shouldn’t do when trying to eliminate stress.
First, don’t try and drown out your stress by picking up unhealthy habits, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or overloading on caffeine. Drowning your stress in a bottle of wine, coffee, or a pack of cigarettes may temporarily relieve your stress, but it can create long-term health issues.
Emotional eating should also be avoided. It’s not uncommon for people who are stressed to turn to foods they know they should not be eating – there is even a term for this called, “comfort eating.”
While your body may feel temporarily satiated from comfort foods, the impacts of continuing to eat unhealthy foods do nothing to help you overcome your stress in the long-run.
What these foods do is trick your gut, which signals your brain into thinking you are satisfied with your current state. Then, the following day, when stress resurfaces, the first thing you will think of is comfort eating or turning to unhealthy vices to deal with your stress. And by continuing down this road, you can also create long-term health issues that can lead to chronic disorders and pain.
Also, try to avoid prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, if you can. Certain drugs, specifically anxiety drugs or anti-depressants, can result in several side effects, which can include:
- Memory loss
- Decreased sex drive
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty thinking
- Weight loss or gain
- Heart problems
- Severe interactions with other medications
Regarding healthier approaches to deal with your stress, taking time for mindful meditation through the practice of yoga can go a long way. Yoga is a good practice for improving strength and flexibility, but when it is combined with mindful meditation you can decrease stress, and enhance your brain’s capacity for perception and awareness in the present state.
Getting some fresh air and sunlight is also beneficial. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that a boost in Vitamin D from sunlight can help elevate your feel-good levels of serotonin.
Another healthier treatment option to consider is seeking the assistance of a trained and licensed physical therapist who specializes in cranial sacral therapy.
What is Cranial Sacral Therapy?
Cranial sacral therapy (CST) is a type of manual therapy designed to release fascial restrictions in the body that help to eliminate stress, strengthen resistance to disease and improve overall health.
CST is non-invasive, and it involves bodywork that relieves compression through gentle manipulation of the bones in your skull, spine, and pelvis, which allows your cerebrospinal fluid in the central nervous system to become normalized.
CST can be used for people of all ages, and in conjunction with eliminating stress, it can also help treat conditions such as:
- Migraines and headaches
- Sinus infections
- Neck pain
- Trauma recovery
- Anxiety or depression
When compared to taking prescription or OTC drugs, the risk of side effects of using CST as a form of treatment to eliminate stress has a lot fewer side effects. And when CST is combined with yoga and mindful meditation, you facilitate getting into the parasympathetic state to further encourage healing and decrease stress.
Everyone experiences stress. How you handle your stress today will determine whether or not you can eliminate your stress and its harmful health impacts. Practicing yoga and mindful meditation, getting more natural Vitamin D sunshine, and trying alternative forms of treatment, such as CRT may be an ideal option for you.
Marge Kalfon, MSPT is the founder of PT by Marge and is a licensed physical therapist in Virginia. She graduated with her Masters of Science in Physical Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 1996. Since then, she has practiced in a wide variety of settings ranging from large hospitals to small private practices. She has extensive training and experience with a wide variety of manual therapy techniques as well as orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation.