Lori Ivey Column: The Extension Corner — Managing stress

Published 9:53 am Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stress is a part of our daily lives and for some the holidays might be a more stressful time because of the busyness of gift buying and wrapping, baking, and holiday entertaining.

Too much stress is harmful to your body, both physically and mentally.

Lori Ivey

According to the American Institute of Stress, a majority of doctor appointments are for stress-related illnesses and conditions.

There are many different types of stressors. Daily stressors are events that may be small, but occur on a regular basis. Getting yourself and kids ready, fed and out the door in the morning, would be considered a daily stressor.

Stress can come in the form of negative events such as a car accident, death of a family member or job loss. Positive events such as a wedding can create a great deal of stress too.

Stress may be a single event or an ongoing situation. Single events such as a broken bone will hopefully get better over time with the healing process.

Chronic stress is an on-going issue such as a chronic disease like diabetes.

Stress can be related to a historical event. Think about the Great Depression and how that affected families for many, many years.

So, how does stress impact us?

Physically, more of the stress hormone, cortisol is released into the body. This prevents the body from healing properly.

Stress can also lead to gastrointestinal disorders and cardiovascular problems as well.

High blood pressure and ulcers may be the direct result of stress. Stress can affect your ability to function.

Think about folks that suffer from anxiety or fear and have a hard time functioning in group settings.

The road to recovery from stress begins with you knowing the signs of stress in your own body. Some signs folks might deal with are excessive crying, anger, have problems sleeping or out of the ordinary eating habits — not enough or too much.

Once you know and understand stress, how you deal with it or de-stress is pivotal in your physical and mental health. Finding simple ways to cope are important.

Doing things for pleasure such as taking a walk, reading a book, stretching or journaling don’t take a lot of time or money, but are great ways to de-stress.

Find what makes you happy, and just do it.

In addition to doing a variety of things to cope with stress, what you eat might also have an effect on your body.

Foods that are associated with de-stressing are:

• Bananas – Are high in potassium, which aids in regulation of blood pressure. They also help relieve heart burn and keep blood sugar levels up.

• Nuts – Are packed with magnesium which helps keep cortisol, the stress hormone, levels low.

• Broccoli – Contains folic acid, which helps aid in stress reduction and irritability.

• Dark Chocolate – Is the most potent endorphin-producing food (endorphin’s trigger positive feelings in the body). Look for dark chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa content.

• Green Tea – Is packed with theanine, an amino acid in tea, which is shown to reduce stress.

The bottom line is, taking care of you and knowing signs of stress and things you can do to de-stress will lead you to a healthier lifestyle.

Make sure you take time to de-stress and simply enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Lori S. Ivey is the county extension director with the Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call (704) 983-3897 or email lori_ivey@ncsu.edu