Whenever one of my patients follows a natural treatment protocol, in addition to telling them to eat well, obtain sufficient sleep, and to take certain supplements, I also tell them how essential it is for them to do a good job of managing their stress. In fact, if they were to follow every single one of my recommendations with the exception of managing their stress, then there is an excellent chance they will not recover. I’ve written numerous articles on the positive effects of stress management, but in this article I’d like to discuss some of the specific things you can do to better manage your stress:
1. Be aware of the impact stress has on your health. It is important for you to be aware of the impact stress can have on your health. Many people underestimate the effects of stress. Others overestimate their stress handling skills. Being aware of the impact stress can have on your health is half the battle. But doing a good job of managing stress is extremely important, and chances are you will need to incorporate at least a couple of the following factors in order to effectively handle the stress you deal with on a daily basis. Just remember that our body was designed to handle acute stress situations, but these days most people deal with chronic stress on a regular basis.
2. Eat a healthy diet. Eating well is important to any natural treatment protocol, and this can help greatly with your handling of stress. Eating a diet consisting mostly of whole foods, minimizing the refined foods and sugars, and consuming less than 200 grams of carbohydrates per day will help to keep your blood sugar levels in balance. This will help to prevent problems with your adrenals, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, all of which can affect your ability to handle stress. This is especially true with your adrenal glands, as the body secretes cortisol in response to stress. Chronic stress will cause the adrenals to continuously secrete cortisol, which over a period of months and years can lead to adrenal fatigue, and this will impact your ability to handle stress. Certain nutritional deficiencies can make it more difficult for you to handle stress as well, and so in addition to eating well you also might need to take certain nutritional supplements to correct any deficiencies you currently have.
3. Exercise regularly. Exercise can help greatly when it comes to stress management. Sometimes just taking a daily walk can be beneficial for many people, while for others a little more vigorous exercise is needed. Of course you don’t want to overexert yourself, as if you work out too hard then over time this can weaken your immune system, adrenals, etc. So you need to be careful not to overdo it. This is especially true for someone with hyperthyroidism or Graves’ Disease who has cardiac symptoms, but also holds true for people with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
4. Deep breathing and meditation. Engaging in techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can also help someone to better deal with stress. While many people utilize these techniques when they are already stressed out, it’s also a good idea to use them as a way of stress prevention. In other words, rather than wait until a stressful even happens, you can block out ten to fifteen minutes each day and participate in some deep breathing, or if you prefer to meditate then of course you can do this. The key is blocking out the time to do this, as just like exercise you need to make this a routine.
5. Yoga. I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to yoga, but many of my patients use yoga as a form of stress management. While you can visit YouTube or purchase some DVDs to learn more about yoga, if you’re new to this then it might be best to start out by joining a yoga class at your local YMCA or at a different location. Pilates can also be used as a stress management technique. Just as is the case with yoga I think it’s best for beginners to first attend some classes. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn yoga or pilates by watching videos, as I’m sure some people have learned it this way. The advantage of attending a class taught by an expert is that you will be able to ask questions, and this will most likely increase the likelihood of learning these techniques correctly. Of course this is assuming the instructor is competent, as I’m sure there are some people running these classes who aren’t experts.
6. Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a mind-body technique which can help people to greatly manage their stress, control their heart rate, etc. I typically refer people to www.HeartMath.com, as they have a biofeedback program you can use on your computer which can help with stress management. This involves connecting an electrical sensor to your ear or finger, and then the other end is connected to the computer. As you go through certain activities it then monitors your heart rate, and the primary purpose of these activities is to help you to better manage your stress. It’s a little complex to explain, which is why I refer people to the website where they can read more about this technique and watch some of the videos. The downside is that it costs money to purchase the program, and of course it’s only of value if you utilize the program on a regular basis. I do have the HeartMath program, but must admit that I don’t use it as much as I should. Then again, for many people the other techniques I discussed above (deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc.) are sufficient to manage their stress, and so I’m not suggesting that most people need biofeedback, although some people who have a difficult time managing their stress can benefit from this technique.
7. Make love on a regular basis. This no doubt is the most enjoyable way to alleviate stress. Many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have a low libido, and so I realize this might not be enjoyable for everyone, although one of the obvious goals of a natural treatment protocol is to get the person to feel better, and therefore eventually increase their libido. But many couples with a healthy libido still don’t have sexual intercourse on a frequent basis. So just keep in mind that this is something else many people can do as a way of managing their stress.
Of course there are other factors which can also help to manage your stress. While massage therapy has many benefits, one of the main benefits is stress management. Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night will help you to better cope with the stress of everyday life. Some people are familiar with Emotional Freedom Technique, which can greatly help many people deal with stress and anxiety. I’m not going to discuss this here, as you can find information on this technique online, and there are some books on this topic. Taking certain supplements and herbs can help with stress. One herb I commonly recommend to my patients for stress management is Eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng. Although one doesn’t want to rely on taking supplements and herbs to help with this, sometimes this can be very helpful on a temporary basis.
In summary, for anyone with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition who is trying to restore their health naturally, it is essential to do a good job of managing the stress in your life. Years before I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease I always thought I did a pretty good job of dealing with stress. But eventually I came to the realization that I wasn’t very good at handling stress, and I think this was one of the main factors in the development of my condition. And improving my stress handling skills played a key role in restoring my health back to normal. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the stress in your life, if you incorporate some of the factors I discussed in this article then within time you can become an expert in managing the chronic stress, and you will also be better prepared for any acute stressors which arise in the future.