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Navigating the Storm: A Guide to Everyday Stress Management

functional medicine information Dec 05, 2023

By Jennifer Engels, MD

In the hustle of modern life, stress often acts as an unwelcome companion, weaving its way into our daily routines and impacting our overall well-being. The effects of stress can be profound, seeping into both our physical and mental health, disrupting sleep, triggering anxiety, and even impairing our immune systems. Understanding the sources of stress and learning effective ways to manage it are crucial for reclaiming a balanced and harmonious life.

Everyday Sources of Stress 

From the pressure of meeting deadlines at work to navigating complex relationships, the sources of stress for Americans are diverse and multifaceted. 

  • Workplace stress often takes a toll, with tight schedules, demanding bosses, and the constant need to excel leading the pack. 
  • Financial concerns create strain as we juggle bills and loans while trying to build future security. 
  • In addition, when you factor in family dynamics, societal expectations, and the perpetual connectivity brought on by technology (emails, text messages, chats, and social media, to name a few), it’s no surprise that stress becomes a prevalent part of daily life.

The Prevalence of Stress in Today’s Society

To get some idea of how widespread and costly stress is in American society, consider these statistics and facts from The Institute for Functional Medicine

  • About 55% of Americans report feeling stress during the day.
  • Health-related concerns account for about 65% of stress across all age demographics.
  • Stress has many physiological effects, including fatigue or low energy, headaches, muscle pain, and indigestion or acid reflux.
  • In the U.S., it’s estimated that employers spend about $300 billion annually on health care and missed days of work due to employees’ stress.

Recommended Daily Stress Management

Thankfully, managing stress can be woven into the fabric of our everyday lives through a few simple but impactful practices. 

  • Employ mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises that offer stress relief, allowing you to center yourself and regain perspective. 
  • Get moving, as physical exercise is a powerful tool in dealing with stress, releasing endorphins that counter stress hormones while improving overall health. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. This doesn’t mean working out like you’re training for a marathon. A brisk 30-minute walk five days a week will go a long way in providing much-needed stress relief. 
  • Eat a healthy diet of fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats. 
  • Get your sleep, 7 to 8 hours of restful, nightly sleep.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, overeating, and using illegal drugs. Rather than being stress relievers, these activities harm your overall health and increase your stress level. 
  • Build a support network of social connections to combat feelings of stress. One way to begin constructing your network is by volunteering a few hours a week for a non-profit organization like a food pantry, a literacy program at your public library, or your local animal shelter.  

Functional Medicine and Stress Management

As I have written in previous articles, functional medicine takes a holistic approach to well-being. Concerning stress, physicians practicing functional medicine delve into the root causes of stress, acknowledging that it’s not just about managing symptoms but understanding the body’s intricate emotional and physical balance. 

Functional medicine explores the interconnectedness of various bodily systems, aiming to optimize health by addressing underlying imbalances. This means that stress management within functional medicine often involves a personalized approach, integrating lifestyle changes, nutritional support, and sometimes specific supplements to support the body’s stress response.

In the final analysis, managing stress isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. It requires a personalized blend of strategies tailored to individual needs and circumstances. While everyday practices like mindfulness and exercise provide an essential foundation for stress management, functional medicine offers a deeper understanding and customized solutions. 

By acknowledging the sources of stress, nurturing resilience, and seeking support from various avenues, individuals can navigate life’s challenges with greater ease, reclaiming a sense of equilibrium and well-being.

Let me ask, do you feel that stress has become a significant factor in your life, compromising your well-being and limiting your ability to live a happy, healthy, and productive life? If so, please contact us at WeCare Frisco to schedule a Free Discovery Call, a first step enabling us to move forward with a treatment protocol to free you from the stress limiting your happiness and success. 

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“I was absolutely fascinated,” Engels says, “by this new style of medicine that saw the patient as a whole biological system rather focusing on only one organ system at a time, such as Cardiology. This was a complete paradigm shift from conventional medicine and how I was trained.”