Dr. Anne is the resident physician for the Life, Love & Health radio show airing on XM radio and NPR affiliates, among others. She has won numerous awards for her work in health policy and promotion of medical nutrition therapy and anti-smoking treatment.
Do you experience stress as a physical sensation? For some of us, hearing unexpected negative news creates a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, an uncomfortable feeling of lightheadedness, or a tension in the shoulder and neck muscles. Confronted with the same piece of bad news, each of us reacts according to our unique physiology.
In times of stress, at least three major physiological domains are at risk for becoming unbalanced: eating, exercise, and sleep. Do you tend to overeat or under eat when times are challenging? Rush to exercise, or remain stationary in your living room? Lie awake at night or find yourself napping more?
When times are tough, it is natural for the body to gravitate to calming activities comfort foods, staying indoors in inclement weather, and catching up on sleep. However, for many of us, disruptions to our healthy routines can magnify the stress of the times. Just becoming aware of such tendencies can provide us the opportunity to consider optimal ways to comfort and settle ourselves.
Try a warmer breakfast. Trade in cereal with cold milk, and try something warm for a soothing effect. If you tend to avoid exercise, consider that simple exercise like walking is proven to improve mood, and can help you rest more peacefully at night. Taking time to wind down an hour before an early bedtime can help you catch up on a sleep deficit. Simple improvements can have a profound effect on how the body reacts to stress in these times.
This information is purely educational and does not replace a physician's advice that may be unique to each individual. For all medical concerns, please see a physician to establish a diagnosis and explore proven treatments.