Stress Connection Self Assessment

Hope everyone made it through Christmas without too much stress and with lots of love, compassion, laughter and joy.

I was at the “adding food back in” phase of testing for food sensitivities….good timing.  We were invited to our neighbors for turkey and all the fixings…what to eat?  I decided on turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie (without the crust, of course)….the one thing I decided to add back in my diet was dairy which I did with yogurt ice cream and whipped cream…I know, not the best choices but I wanted to enjoy Christmas and be a gracious guest.   It was delicious!  …..but, no question that I have a problem with dairy…tried just plain yogurt yesterday and didn’t react as much….interesting, besides the usual symptoms of bloating, stomach pain, and gas, I had itchy eyes, which I never thought of as a symptom before…another would be moodiness or depression…need to really pay attention and record everything.  So after adding dairy back to my diet for two day I now need to stop using dairy and wait for all the symptoms to go away before starting the next food to add….which will be corn.  So back to the Stress Connection Self Assessment.

There are four self assessments; Past Stressors, Current Stressors, Self-Care and Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms.  Then looking at all your test results you look at what pattern you fit.  For the most part my symptoms, when put together showed up as pattern 2, which says “Your adrenal glands are shot, but you don’t have many stressors and you have been doing better taking care of yourself.  This pattern shows someone who has an empty bathtub with a drain that is closed. Why isn’t the bathtub filling with water?  Why aren’t your adrenal glands bouncing back?  If you started your self-care and stress management programs only within the past year, my guess is that it just hasn’t been long enough.  You should still focus on the treatment suggestions in the following section but pay extra attention to the herbs and supplements that can help your adrenal glands recover.  You might have other systems in your body that are not functioning properly, such as your detox system or gut.  Or you’re eating foods that are causing stress for your system and keeping your adrenal glands from recovering or making them sick.” 

Treatment Plan:  Manage stress using meditation, imagery, drawings, and journaling for self -awareness.  I’ve been using the body scan and yoga meditations from Jon Kabat-Zinn, www.mindfullivingprograms.com .  I decided to try something using imagery and found an app that I really enjoy that’s free called Sleep Lite by Belleruth Naparstek.  Many other imagery ideas at www.healthjourneys.com.  Also, I took a class at the senior center for Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which is a series of meridian pressure points on your face and chest that you tap with your fingers as you recite positive thoughts towards healing or whatever change you’re trying to bring about.  I’ve been doing one for sleeping, since that’s my most challenging area right now.  Here’s a site to get you started.  www.eft.mercola.com.

Soft Belly Breathing.  I do this every night before I go to bed or if I’m stressed about something…really works.  Basically, you breath deeply in through your nose (you can lay your hand on your stomach and feel it raising up) and think “soft” then exhale and feel your stomach go flat and think “belly”, continue for 5 minutes…it’s the simple things that really work…give it a try.  Check out the Center for Mind-Body medicine at www.cmbm.org for more ideas…also the book, Unstuck, by James Gordon.

Tips for Sleeping Better:

  • Make sure you’re finished eating a large meal 4 hours before bedtime.  Lighter dinner 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Limiting or eliminating alcohol completely is important for healing your adrenal glands.
  • One hour before bedtime turn off all electronics.
  • Develop a nightly routine such as a warm (not hot) bath or shower, soothing music, lighting a scented candle, and/or reading an uplifting book.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends.  Be sure your bed is comfortable.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet and reserve the bed for sex and sleep only.
  • Try meditation, progressive relaxation, breathing awareness and guided imagery to help the body and mind prepare for sleep.
  • Try journaling 30 minutes before bed asking “What is on my mind”…she calls it downloading your thoughts.

If these things don’t help try:

  • Theanine, 100 mg at bedtime and another 100 mg in the middle of the night if you wake up and can’t fall back to sleep.
  •   Herbal blends with valerian and passionflower.
  • 5-HTP 100 mg at bedtime, which will help you stay asleep.

Eating Stress-Free

  • Eat breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner every day.  Going more than four hours without eating activates your stress system.
  • Have a majority of your calories before 3:00 p.m.

Exercise

  • Make a plan for moving your body and keeping it active.  At a minimum, two hours per week of something aerobic (mild difficulty talking while you are exercising)  You should feel warm and slightly out of breath.
  • If you have extreme fatigue, wait until the fatigue lessens and your energy is coming back before starting.
  • Get a personal trainer for several session or a physical therapist can also design a home program and may actually be covered by your insurance.

Foods that support your Adrenal

  • First eliminate all white flour and white sugar and stop drinking soft drinks and adding sugar to your tea and coffee.
  • Eat protein with all your meals and snacks (nuts, seeds, and legumes, free range organic chicken and grass-fed beef)
  • Eat plenty of tyrosine (almonds, dairy products, lima beans and pumpkin and sesame seeds)  If you have a problem with dairy leave that off.
  • Healthy fats from avocado, coconut, fish, nuts, or seeds with every meal.
  • B vitamins, especially B5 and B6 (cremini and shiitake mushrooms, calf’s liver, eggs, cauliflower, cucumbers, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, celery, turnip greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens,chard and bell peppers).  Vitamin B6 (summer and winter squash, bell peppers, turnip greens, shiitake and cremini mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, green beans, leeks, tomatoes, garlic, tuna, cod, chard, calf’s liver, turkey and salmon.

Supplements

  • Eleuthero (Siberian ginseng) or Asian ginseng (100 – 200 mg)
  • Rhodiola (100 – 200 mg)
  • Ashwagandha 500 mg once a day
  • B vitamins (300 – 1,000 mg) per day
  • Licorice (no more than 500 mg per day)
  • DHEA (under guidance of a professional

Professional Help

  • Find a physician, naturopath, chiropractor, or osteopath trained in functional medicine at www.functionalmedicine.org  OR you can go to a functional medicine lab website, like Genova Diagnostics, www.gdx.net or Metametric labs, www.metametrix.com and find a practitioner who uses their services.  Practitioners trained in acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and naturopathy areall able to treat adrenal fatigue.
  • Make sure they give the following tests:  Adrenal Saliva Test, Blood work to measure DHEA, testosterone levels…under the supervision of a doctor, women should increase testosterone by taking DHEA, fixing their adrenal glands and adding 1 – 2 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds to your daily diet.

Healing your gut next time…

Still trying to get the lab tests through my doctor…ANA, Anti-SSA, Anti-SSB, Anti-nuclear antibodies, anti-phospholipid antibodies, antibodies to double stranded DNA, Anti Smith (sm) antibodies.  These are basic tests that should not be a problem to get and they aren’t able to pull them up to order them, so they’re having the lab check into it and will get back to me…If I’m not successful here, there is a functional type doctor I can go to but will not be covered by my insurance.

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