Stress is generally defined as a mentally and emotionally disruptive
influence. Though there are positive types of stress such as sex and laughter, most people tend to think of stress in terms of its negative effects.
Of all of the body’s systems, the nervous system is probably the most fragile and easily affected by stress. The delicate balance of your nervous system is taxed by a combination of emotional, physical, and chemical factors (including food allergies, sensitivity reactions, poor diet, poor water, air pollution, and noise). Stress may also appear as a response to pregnancy, family or job-related problems, a major physical trauma, or a personality type that is overly
self-critical and has unreasonable expectations of others.
As a result of stress, you may suffer from a host of disorders including insomnia, nervous tension, reduced circulation, aches and pains, certain types of arthritis, alcoholism, asthma, backache, canker sores, headaches, hypertension, sexual problems, mood swings, lethargy, reduced immunological function, insomnia, dermatitis and other skin disorders, colitis, and ulcers and other gastrointestinal
Although it would be both impractical and impossible to eliminate all forms of stress and tension, there are numerous herbal approaches that we can take to minimize their effects, and the Bach Remedies are among the most useful.
Do You Overeat to Compensate for High Stress?
Many people use food to soothe their emotions and to compensate for excess tension. Are you one of these individuals? There are a number of signs that a person can evaluate to determine whether or not they are prone to obesity through stress.
These include the following:
• You eat, move about, and walk rapidly.
• You are impatient.
• You speak quickly and speed through the ends of your sentences, often speaking without sentence structure.
• You are unable to relax without feeling guilty about not working or taking care of some “important business,” even on vacation.
• You usually attempt to do two or more things at the same time, for example, working while eating breakfast.
• You are extremely shy and have difficulty communicating your needs. When confronted with an important choice in social situations, you will go with the decisions of others even to your own detriment so long as you can avoid
conflict by doing so.
• You think that time management means doing more things in less time.
• You define success by how fast things are accomplished.
• You are compulsive about owning things or controlling things rather than enjoying them.
Stress Can Be Beneficial and Harmful
Although many people assume that stress is negative, this is not always the case. A certain amount of stress and tension are necessary, and are actually important in living a balanced and productive life. It is how you respond to stress that is the key. There are many ways to respond to stress that do not involve food. Too much stress overloads the body’s resources and can prove very harmful. If the body cannot handle the stress overload, it may reach a state of “pathological” tension or extreme stress. When this stress increases, your breathing may become shallow, which has a pronounced effect on the blood circulation throughout the body and reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. Stress at this level may even lead to a feeling of terror, extreme mood swings, and even emotional breakdowns. In addition to shallow breathing, your muscles will tighten up, especially around your pelvis, neck, and shoulders. As a quick fix to reduce this tension, you may reach for high-calorie snacks and high-fat foods. Be aware that it is not only obesity that can result from excessive stress.
Concerning weight management, the goal of using Bach Remedies is to help you to understand the underlying cause of your anxiety and overcome it. Many herbal practitioners and physicians report that Bach Remedies can be effective in treating chronic, moderate anxiety states as well as simple phobias. In subtle
ways, these remedies can assist a person in modifying eating patterns. This may be done without necessarily addressing the underlying causes of fear and anxiety. I have personally found this technique to be effective when combined with a variation of an approach known as systemic desensitization. In our approach, the client is taught a stress-reducing technique in which they visualize
eating a fulfilling meal while passing over high fat or other foods that are best avoided.
Even if you are a high-stress person, there are ways to reduce the impact of stress that enable you to be as effective as possible. I recommend that you practice these stress-reducing tips on a regular basis. By doing so you will be healthier, both physically and emotionally, and more effective in making conscious choices. Here are some exercises to help you relax your body and your mind:
1. Clench your fists as tightly as possible for about five seconds and then release them. Now shake your hands loosely.
2.With your head still and your eyes focused straight ahead, raise and lower your eyebrows as quickly as possible. (This will relieve forehead tension and headaches.)
3. Open your eyes as wide as you can and then squeeze them together tightly. Repeat this three or four times. Do it throughout the day to relieve eye stress and tension.
4. For range of motion of the arms, stretch and move your arms, legs, and head. These stretching exercises will give you a feeling of lightness and reduce stiffness throughout your body.
5. Develop a regular exercise program that you use at least three times a week. A good way to begin is by walking briskly or swimming laps for half an hour three times a week. For indoor aerobic exercise, use one of the exercise videotapes available or use a rebounding apparatus (a trampoline-type unit).
6. To release emotional frustration use your bed or a thick pillow for the following exercise: raise both of your arms over your head with your fists tightly clenched. Hit the bed or pillow with your forearms and fists at the same time. Continue banging on the soft surface until you feel a sense of release, which you may experience as exhilaration or exhaustion.