Stress Management Danvers MA
Certified Professional Coach, iPEC
Leadership, Career, Life
I am currently in an Executive Coaching Masters program (ICF). This will my 2nd Masters.
Spirituality, Retirement, Life
Entrepreneurship, Career, Life
Certified Martha Beck Life Coach
Health and Fitness, Life, Performance
LSWA, LMHC, CPC
Business, Life, Career
Licensed Counselor, NFPT Personal Trainer
Life, Spirituality, Relationship
Certified Trauma Energetics Practitioner
When the body’s rhythms are thrown off by a busy lifestyle that features too little rest
It’s Monday morning. The alarm clock buzzes and you groggily wake up. Why do you feel exhausted? You sleepwalk through your morning routine in a hazy fog until you guzzle some coffee and eat a donut. Suddenly, you feel human again.
Several hours later, you’ve crashed back into lethargy. A candy bar from the vending machine provides a quick boost, but by afternoon you’re nodding off at your desk—so you grab one more cup of coffee. Later that night, the caffeine catches up with you. You toss restlessly in bed, unable to sleep. The next morning you awake feeling drained once again.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2007 Sleep in America poll found that 59% of women wake up feeling unrefreshed after a night’s sleep, with 43% experiencing lingering tiredness that interferes with daily activities. While this fatigue may seem a harmless annoyance, it seriously hinders all aspects of a person’s life. Without abundant energy, inspiration diminishes—enjoyment turns to apathy and our greatest potential achievements go unrealized.
That’s the theory offered by Frank Lipman, MD, director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City and author of Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again (Simon & Schuster). He says that people lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature’s cycles—the rising and setting of the sun, the changes of the seasons. “As a result, those rhythms became imprinted in our genes,” Lipman explains. “We know from science that we have more than 100 body rhythms which are part of every aspect of our body’s inner workings and that we have internal body clocks which govern these rhythms.”
The Secrets of Stress
For most of us, stress seems unavoidable. There are tools, however, to
by Eric Schneider
Death and taxes—nothing else, it’s been said, is certain. In the hectic 21st century, however, it’s tempting to add another factor to the list of the utterly unavoidable—stress.
In some cases, stress can be a positive, motivating us to take care of chores that have been left undone or giving us that extra push to help complete a challenging task. More often, however, stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other unpleasant states, becoming a lingering presence that takes its toll on the body and the mind.
Rachael F. Heller, MA, MPh, PhD, a Florida-based researcher and psychologist, has spent years investigating the connections between stress and diet with her husband, Richard Heller, resulting in The Stress-Eating Cure (Rodale). Heller defines stress eating as “a desire for food that is often undeniable and, in many cases, occurs even when you have no need for the food. It comes as a result of hormonal imbalances that come, in themselves, from a reaction to the environment.”
Stress-induced hunger, which often appears as cravings, can be triggered by overwhelming responsibilities, lack of sleep, the need for a reward and the loss of a loved one, as well as environmental factors such as noise, chaos and excessive heat or cold. Many drugs, Heller adds, can lead to the hormonal imbalances that can provoke stress eating.
“The problem with stress eating is it often becomes a cycle, so that the food you’re eating, the way that you are eating it and the way your body reacts to that food creates stress in itself,” says Heller.
“Now you have a cycle where the stress eating makes you feel more stressed, either because you’re unhappy about the weight you’re gaining or because, physically, the kinds of food you’re eating your body can’t handle.” This means that stress is only a trigger. “A fight with your lover may start the process off,” Heller says, “but the ice cream you’ve just downed will keep it going.”
A Call for Balance
Stress eaters can continue to enjoy their comfort foods, that is, the foods they crave, while alleviating stress and pursuing a healthier regimen. The key to making this effective is having those comfort foods—chocolate, ice cream, etc.—only once a day as part of a well-balanced meal. Then by consuming what Heller calls “balancing foods”—natural foods such as fruits and vegetables—for the rest of the day, the stress eater’s hormonal system has a chance to even out, allowing them to break the cycle.
Wanna Stay Young? Ligten Up!
Stress not only contributes to heart disease and depression, it can also accelerate aging.
Any parent of adolescents knows the drill: Teenager comes in way after curfew, mom or dad gives the raising-teens-is-stressful-beyond-belief speech, the one that ends with those famous words, “YOU’RE GIVING ME GRAY HAIR!”
Those words are truer than you might think. Not only does stress contribute to a host of health problems, but evidence indicates it actually sends the body’s clock into hyperdrive, speeding up the rate at which cells age and die. And it’s not just parenting stress, either—it’s the kids and the job and the bills and the endless to-do list and…well, you get the idea.
The problem is that the way our bodies learned to deal with highly demanding situations—by releasing a flood of stress hormones to enable flight from, or fight with, that human-consuming critter in yonder tree—was perfect in a simple eat-or-be-eaten world, and still works wonders in times of life-threatening crisis today.
But most of us don’t live on the edge of survival anymore. Now we find ourselves enmeshed in a complex web of commitments and relationships, many of which directly compete with each other for our attention. Throw in the impossible expectations—look great, make tons of money, be an A+ parent and spouse—fostered by our media-soaked environment and you have a recipe for chronic stress, the type that ages you faster.
No wonder more than half of the folks queried in a survey by eDiets.com said they felt older than their years. Why? “Too much stress” finished second only to inactivity as the cited reason. “Chronological age is how old you are in calendar years,” explains Shelly Bowen of RealAge, Inc.
“Biological age [what Bowen’s company calls RealAge] is how old your body is based on lifestyle and genetics.” (Compute your RealAge at www.RealAge.com .) “About half of the RealAge population has indicated that they are under some kind of stress or anxiety,” Bowen says. “Of those that took the RealAge test, their RealAges averaged three years older overall.”
To understand how stress accelerates aging, we have to peer inside the cell, where protein molecules called telomeres reside on the ends of chromosomes. Whenever the cell—and its chromosomes—divides, the telomeres dwindle; when there’s no telomere left, the cell dies.
Knowing this, scientists at UC San Francisco looked at cells taken from two groups of mothers, one made up of moms whose kids were healthy, the other of mothers caring for youngsters suffering from disorders such as cerebral palsy. Telomeres in the second group shriveled measurably as these women dealt with the significant stress of caring for their ill children; cells from women suffering the highest levels of strain showed a biological age ten years greater than women who enjoyed relatively l...