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Stress, are you a duck or a rabbit?

Ducks will get out of the water, shake it off, and move on.
Rabbits are jittery, timid, and waiting for the next predator to pounce.

Stress is an interesting and provoking happenstance. If we didn’t have a little stress in our lives, would we be as motivated to do many of the things we do? You might think that you’d prefer to live without it. I might agree with you…..if you’re a rabbit.

Most of us seem to have this problem of not being able to turn off the mental stress button. It continues to turn and pick at us daily, making us tired, irritable, and feeling like a hamster on a wheel. If you look at the definition from Miriam Webster dictionary, it’s pretty enlightening:

Definition of STRESS

a: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation

b: a state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium

c: STRAIN, PRESSURE <the environment is under stress to the point of collapse

Stress normally has a bad connotation, but I think a little stress can be good, but let’s call it “motivation” instead!

We all need to have a driving influence to get things done, whether it’s: pushing us to get to work on time; having enough work to pay the bills; fearing that we will get fat, and out of shape, if we don’t get to the gym for a workout, etc, we have it moving us forward with determination.

The last one is important, (and I don’t mean the getting to the gym part), I’m referring to the use of the word: FEAR.

Most of us don’t even realize that this is our main motivating force. No one wants to think that fear could be the factor! However, if you look at the “Why’s” we have to do so much, as well as the pressure that we put on ourselves daily, it seems to stem from the idea that something “bad” will happen, if we don’t. (Examples: I will be a failure, I will get fat, I will lose my job, I will not be a good parent, I will get sick, etc.)

It’s the feeling of having to be ever vigilant of the saber-tooth tiger, as if it’s waits in the shadows, ready to pounce, if we’re unaware, for even a moment.

Stress on overload like this day after day, is really hard on the body. I’ve had some patient’s, that are under a huge amount of stress, still answer, “Fine”, when asked, “How are you doing?”

Some, are so used to dealing with it constantly, that they’re not even aware that it’s there. Others don’t realize that there are levels of stress and categories too, but the bottom line is… how do you deal with it?

If you’re comparing your life to someone elses, your issues may seem trivial in comparison, but they are not trivial to YOU, so it can affect you just as badly if you’re not aware of how it’s effecting your health and peace of mind.

Start taking a look at where you might be putting undue stress on yourself. Ask yourself:

1. Are you always late for work because you don’t plan ahead the night before? Is your job at
Risk because of this?
2. Are you getting enough sleep at night so that you feel rested the next day?
3. Are you eating healthy foods to give you good fuel for your health?
4. Are you drinking enough good water and fluids for your body to work efficiently?
5. Are you taking breaks at work to rest your eyes, stretch a little, clear your head?
6. Are you planning so many activities for you and your family that you’re getting more
fatigued by them than enjoyment?
7. Are you getting enough laughter in your day? Finding the humor in daily situations?
8. Are you having enough time to wind down after work?
9. Are you setting realistic goals for each day? Or making it so jam-packed that it’s hard to
Get it all done?
10. Are you always worried about family, friends, and situations that you have no control over?

If you started seeing a trend, you’ll understand that stress is not just mental, it’s also emotional and physical. If you add them all up together, it can weigh in as a big health factor waiting to happen.
Stress can make us ill, if we don’t start paying attention to how we overwhelm ourselves with too many things, day in and day out!

In Western medicine:
Stress is the total of all mental and physical input over a given period of time. The marker used to measure stress is the adrenal steroid hormone, cortisol. Stress, whether physical or emotional in origin, provokes a response by the adrenal glands. Many hormonal imbalances are the direct result of adrenal insufficiency.

The adrenal glands produce two primary hormones, DHEA and cortisol. Both are considered the major shock absorber hormones in the body. They buffer stress and the negative impact it can have on both mental and physical function. Long-term stress can have a serious impact on the adrenal glands and cause them to shrink and reduce production. This causes cellular damage, which sets off a chain reaction affecting all parts of the body, as well as accelerating the aging process.” Direct labs

In Chinese medicine, fear is the emotion that affects the kidneys (adrenals sit right on top of them!).
The idea for increasing your health and well-being is to do things that will both nourish your body over all, as well as lessen the stressors having a negative impact.

Some positive recommendations would be:

Add some form of meditation (where you free your mind from daily activity and concerns.)
Get some exercise; even a 20 minute walk in the fresh air (if possible) can do wonders.
Make sure that you are getting enough good quality sleep, by getting to bed before 11pm. (studies have shown that the hours before midnight are prime hours for the best rest.)
Get good organic veggies and non-processed foods for your family. The fuel that gives you energy should be healthy and non-toxic.
Try some lavender oil spray (if you like the scent) on your pillow at night to provide some calm.
Make a reasonable “to do” list, tackle the hardest first (and delegate!!)
Keep positive people in your life that uplift you, and let others go that bring you down.
Drink half your weight in ounces of reverse osmosis, or pure water daily (ex: if you weigh 140lbs, drink 70 oz. daily.) Caffeine leaches fluids so don’t count caffeinated tea and coffee as fluid intake.
Get acupuncture to balance the body and regulate hormones and circulation. It also can provide calm.
If stress has really gotten to you, some nutritional and herbal supplementation can help get things back in balance. (If you are living in another city or state, please check: www.acufinder.com, for one in your area.)
Seek counseling, if stress is getting the better of you.
Be the duck! 🙂

About Shelly Tompkins

Shelly Tompkins, L.Ac, C.F.M.P is a renowned women’s health, fertility & wellness expert and licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and functional medicine practitioner in private practice in San Diego, CA. She has extensive training and experience and has been in private practice for 35+ years and also taught at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine for 24 of those years. Shelly has worked with thousands of women, from puberty through senior years, to find answers and solutions to their overall health and hormone imbalances and more.

Her practice includes the use of laboratory testing to be able to find the answers to many of the health issues experienced in women and men. Through these labs, health history, and other tests, the assessments not only give answers, but ways to treat the body as a whole, so it works in its best capacity for healing.

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