10 Day De-Stress Program

Stress Plan Program by Nisha Jackson, PhD, MS, WHCNP, HHP
Stress PLAN

10 Day De-Stress Program

The 10-day Jump-Start, Reviving Your Stress Glands

Days 1-2: The Diet Cure for Stress

If you want fast results, including losing body fat and starting to feel better within 24 hours, all you have to do is change the strongest, most powerful drug you put into your body every day: food.

Food either helps or hurts you. If you eat whenever you want, but don’t consume what your brain and vital organs need, your body suffers. When your adrenal or stress glands respond to stress, your metabolism speeds up. Metabolism may burn fat, but it also burns up many of your body’s nutrients. If you eat healthfully, you can help correct nutrition deficiencies that the stress caused. Healthy food also makes you feel better and gives you more energy. With less stress on your body, you become a happier, more productive but relaxed and calm person. Oh, and by the way, you’ll prolong your life, too.

The interesting thing about food is that its effects are nearly immediate. If the next meal you eat includes the right balance of foods, you’ll notice a difference in how you feel right away and for hours afterwards. If you have adrenal fatigue or toxic stress syndrome, you’ll find that combining foods correctly will stabilize your blood sugar, reduce inflammation and pain, and create energy reserves. Combining small amounts of fat, protein and high-fiber carbohydrates such as sprouted grains and veggies helps you achieve the right nutritional balance. If you eat foods that quickly turn to sugar or have “added sugar,” you inevitably lose energy, store excess fat around your middle and create more stress on your system.

Adrenal toxic stress makes you crave salty foods. That’s because the adrenals are partly responsible for your body’s sodium balance. Toxic stress depletes your body’s sodium level. Adding some sea salt or Celtic salt can actually be beneficial, if high blood pressure is not an issue.

Homemade vegetable soup is a traditional treatment for stress. Make yourself a pot by adding cut-up pieces of your favorite veggies. Beans, celery, carrots, zucchini and onions are good choices. Then add tomato juice, filtered water, natural seasonings and no-preservative, organic chicken broth. You also can add either cut-up chicken or high-protein noodles for some extra protein. Cook over medium heat until vegetables and chicken are tender. Eat this healthful meal during the first few days of your new regimen. It will help you get back on track, especially after a very stressful week or event.

If you do have toxic stress, follow these dietary rules to better health:

  1. Start with a healthful breakfast. Eating breakfast gives you enough energy, blood sugar balance and brain function to get you through the day. Skip breakfast, and it’s like trying to drive a car with no gas. But eat breakfast no later than 10 a.m.
  2. Never overeat at any given meal. “Stress junkies” should eat very small meals because overeating causes you to feel much worse, and your stress symptoms will skyrocket. Eating lunch earlier rather than later is best, because you burn through your glucose more in the morning hours. Also, eat a high-fiber/protein snack between 2 and 4 p.m. daily.
  3. Don’t eat late at night. But eating a snack with a small amount of protein and high-fiber carbohydrate before an early bedtime helps you fall asleep and keeps your blood sugar level stable throughout the night so you don’t wake up.
  4. Stop eating sugar now! Sugar damages your adrenal glands and stresses out your entire body. Several good studies show that people with adrenal overload or toxic stress have less ability to handle sugar and starchy carbohydrates. This includes anything made from flour, such as bread, pasta, potatoes, crackers or chips — even some cereals. Any food with added sugar that’s not natural fruit sugar also is out. Dramatically reducing these foods from your diet, and never eating them on an empty stomach, will help relieve your stress symptoms more than anything else. The Glycemic Index for foods tells you how quickly each type of food is turned to sugar after it hits your mouth. Eat only low-to-moderate glycemic foods and avoid all high-indexed foods if possible. If you eat breads, switch to sprouted whole grains and reduce the number of slices you eat daily.
  5. Eat protein at each meal. For breakfast, have an egg. For lunch, add turkey or chicken to a salad. For dinner, include meat, fish, poultry or soy with veggies. Remember, protein is brain food. You can’t make brain chemicals for mood stabilization and calmness without enough protein in your diet. Divide your plate into thirds: 1/3 protein, 2/3 colored veggies and a sprinkle of oil, nuts or seeds.
  6. Eat five small meals per day, every three to four hours and sometimes every two hours if you are really stressed. When you are under stress, you burn up more blood sugar. That’s why you crave sweets. Elevated cortisol raises insulin and calls for more glucose (sugar). So guess what your brain starts craving? Not broccoli! It craves chocolate or sugar, or something starchy like chips or bread. Why do you think they call these “comfort foods”? Eating every three hours helps keep your glucose levels steady and prevents you from “crashing” and reaching for that starchy food.
  7. Eat tons of veggies and high-fiber fruit. Fruits and vegetables help increase fiber in your diet. They’re great for your liver and for balancing hormones and your blood sugar levels. Fill up on veggies and water first, then eat the rest of your food.
  8. Drink plenty of water – eight glasses per day is recommended. Add lemon for cleansing and detoxifying.
  9. Get rid of boxed/man-made foods.
  10. Take Rebalance Stress –AM to balance blood sugars and lower cravings during the day. Take Rebalance Stress- PM to lower cortisol at night and allow you to move into a fat burning state instead of fat storage (caused by high cortisol at night) To order Stress Pack – AM and PM (click here)

Days 3-4: The Sleep Cure for Stress

You’d think that people with severe fatigue and major energy drops during the day would have no problem falling asleep at night. But people with the Stress Syndrome experience a “wired but tired” feeling that keeps them tossing and turning in bed. Or, they fall asleep, only to wake up again at 2 a.m., unable to get back to sleep.

Brain neuro-chemicals and hormones interact while we sleep. In adrenal fatigue, cortisol levels are typically way off the mark, either during the day or at night — or both. For optimal performance, cortisol should be at its highest level in the morning when we wake, and lowest at night when we try to sleep. With chronic stress, it’s no wonder we are tired during the day and wired at night. If our cortisol rhythm is “off,” it’s like we’re in another time zone.

When cortisol is released at night due to too much stress during the day, it also reduces the release of melatonin, our sleep hormone. We may do everything right at night to prepare for sleep. But because we’ve had so much stress during the day, our cortisol can’t shut down at night.

Contrary to popular belief, our body doesn’t turn off when we lay down to sleep. In fact, many body operations actually turn on during sleep. These include our body’s ability to make hormones that keep us balanced. The human growth hormone that’s secreted when we get a good night’s sleep is necessary to provide growth, weight control, vitality, healthy skin, hair and nails, plus energy and longevity.

We can throw off our body’s circadian rhythms when we drink caffeine, watch TV or work on a computer with a bright screen at night. This makes us more vulnerable to poor sleep and upsets our normal hormone balance.

Sleep is the most restorative thing we do every day, and is the only way we can begin to resolve the fatigue and adrenal gland overload. Without enough sleep, we become irritable and experience bouts of rage, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, weight gain, dizziness, depression, anxiety, cravings, over-eating, loss of sex drive, insomnia and brain fog. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of lack of sleep.

Study after study has shown the restorative and healing benefits of adequate sleep. Research has confirmed a shortened life span with less than eight hours of sleep a night. Recent studies have also confirmed that additional sleep is required when stress levels are high. When hormones are in balance, both men and women can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

If you are ready to make changes for you and your family, check out my sleep tips and enjoy a better night’s sleep tonight:

  1. Pay attention to what you eat and drink at dinnertime and afterwards. Avoid eating too much food, chocolate, tea, coffee, sodas and excessive salt or sugar.
  2. Many people are photosensitive. Avoid watching TV, working on a computer or looking at a bright cell phone at night before bed. Bright lights and activity can tell your brain it’s time to wake up and increase cortisol, so falling asleep will be difficult. Try setting an 8 p.m. limit on these visual stimuli.
  3. Make a to-do list each evening for the next day to re-assure you that it all will get done.
  4. Aim for eight hours of sleep at night. If you have to, go to bed earlier. Most importantly, go to bed before 10:30 p.m. and stay in bed as long as you can. On the weekends, try to stay in bed until 9 a.m. to help restore your adrenal glands.
  5. Take a bath for at least 10 minutes in the evening with lavender oil.
  6. Eliminate those things in your bedroom that keep you awake: animals or TV. If a snoring person keeps you awake, try to get him or her help.
  7. Keep your room cool and uncluttered. A sleeping temperature of 68 degrees F is best.
  8. Make your bedroom your sleep retreat. Keep it clean, organized and the bed made daily so it looks inviting.
  9. Don’t get in the habit of working, watching TV (especially the news), checking e-mails or eating in bed. Bed is for sleep. Don’t confuse yourself.
  10. Take vitamin supplements including B-complex in the morning. These help “wake up” your brain.
  11. Exercise in the morning to wake yourself up. Try to get different types of exercise, but don’t overdo it! Some people find that swimming at night relaxes them, but most exercise should be done during the day or morning.
  12. Plan your evening carefully. Do not over-extend yourself. Stick to your routine and sleep habits nightly.
  13. Think about how we put our babies to bed: We rub their backs, read them a book and turn down the lights. Do the same for yourself. We are all humans in need of a “turning off” period, so our brains know it’s time to sleep.
  14. Consider a relaxation therapy before bed. Try stretching, yoga, Pilates or deep breathing while getting ready for bed. Then calm your body when you get to bed. Close your eyes, consciously rest your mind and every part of your body. Finally, breathe slowly and deeply for five to ten minutes.
  15. Put lavender in or around your pillow to help calm and relax you.
  16. Take calcium and magnesium in the evening or at bedtime.
  17. Take Rebalance Stress PM– this will power up your sleep cycle – effectively turn off your brain and lower cortisol – allowing you to go to sleep and stay asleep! Keeping cortisol lower at night will help you feel “rested and recovered” when you wake up; increasing daytime energy and stamina and resilience to stress! Order Stress Pack Rebalance Stress AMRebalance Stress –PM (click here)

Days 5-6: Just Exhale -Breathing and Meditation to Eliminate Stress

Studies clearly show that breathing deeply — a cleansing-type of breathing that lets go of negative, draining energy — effectively lowers cortisol. The irony is that, when we are under stress, we often go into a shallow-type breathing that prevents us from “blowing-off” or “exhaling” our stress. Deep-breathing techniques, according to the Mayo Clinic, can be very helpful in getting your stress under control, lowering anxiety and getting your cortisol rhythm back in line.

As you’ve learned by now, cortisol increases your heart rate and places stress on blood vessel walls. Deep-breathing helps your mind and body relax, therefore reducing your stress. You can do these breathing exercises when sitting in a comfortable position in a chair, on the bed or on the floor. You can do these exercises while driving, sitting in a meeting, before or after meals, while going to the bathroom, or really just about anywhere. Here’s how:

Breathe deeply through your nostrils to the count of 8 to10, hold for 10 to 13 counts, and then exhale slowly while you count to at least 13. Work up to this if you have been a shallow breather for a while. Do this at least twice a day to help reduce stress and cortisol levels. But if you are very stressed most days, consider doing these breathing exercises at specific times, such as when you’re stopped at red lights, or every time you go to the bathroom, or before meetings. It really works!

 

Tips for Letting Go of Negative Draining Energy

  1. Get rid of drainers. They’re the ones who leave you exhausted and replaying conversations in your brain. They make you want to take a nap or a shower after being with them. Make a list of those family members, friends or co-workers that you come into contact with regularly. If you have more “drainers” than energizers, you need to “re-group.” It’s time to surround yourself with more people who help you feel more energy when you’re around them. Find people who help you be a better person, who make you laugh and smile. You’ll find that you have more emotional energy to combat your daily stress. It may be time to re-load and hang out with winners!
  2. Brush off the emotional baggage. Therapeutic touch has been around for years. We operate in energy fields, and our entire body and world is energetic, so it may be possible to move negative energy away from you by “brushing” your body off. If you have left a conversation, a meeting or a negative encounter that has you feeling drained, exhausted, irritable, angry or totally wiped out, try this: Take one hand and brush your arms, legs, head and back, as if you are wiping them clean or removing a layer of bad emotional residue. Do this outside if you can and imagine yourself removing everything you no longer need — irritation, anger, bitterness, jealousy, sadness, fear, etc. — and keeping what you want, such as love, compassion, empathy, calmness and peace.
  3. Shrug your shoulders. If you can’t get outside, or you want to switch the negative energy coming in, consider the simple act of shrugging your shoulders. We carry and store much of our emotional stress on our shoulders. So shrug them, and tell yourself that you don’t need to carry around resentment or other people’s problems. If you tend to offer help to others often, make sure you shrug and move your shoulders around afterward to symbolically remove the negativity or resentment before you leave their presence. Don’t take it with you.
  4. Blow off your negative feelings, energy, emotions and irritability. Yep, this works too. Breathe deeply and exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth. Make a loud sound — “ahhhhh” — when you exhale. You may want to do this exercise in the privacy of your home, office or car, as it may cause others to feel you are “losing it” if you do this in public. Try this technique daily after work or at the end of the day before bed. Visualize getting rid of or blowing out everything that is no longer serving you.
  5. Positive statements: Now is the time to re-fuel. Get affirmation cards and start saying their messages to yourself. Every day you should have a positive sentence or thought that you memorize and recite. Flood your mind with positive thoughts. If it’s true that you eventually become what your thoughts are, why would you allow negative thoughts to dominate positive ones? You are in control of your destiny by changing your thoughts. Keep them positive, even if you don’t believe them now. Eventually, you will!

Days 7 and 8: Movement and Exercise Cure Stress

Exercise is vital if you want health and vitality. Exercise allows blood to flow and become oxygenated. Exercise releases toxins from your body as you sweat. It keeps your joints flexible, and it strengthens your bones and joints, particularly when you use weights. Exercise also energizes your entire body. It improves your mood and it clears the cobwebs from your brain. Above all, exercise helps you lose those unwanted love handles!

But caution: When stress fatigues your adrenal glands, be careful not to overdo exercise. Too much exercise further depletes the adrenals. A rule of thumb: If you’re exhausted after exercising, you are doing too much. Do less next time so that you feel good afterwards. Here’s another guideline: If you have symptoms of hormonal imbalance and are exhausted after routine exercise, you probably are experiencing significant adrenal problems. But if you feel energized after exercising, you probably are experiencing more of a thyroid deficiency. Exercise boosts thyroid function. Simple walking is usually beneficial for everyone.

So get moving! With rare exception, exercise is highly beneficial for everyone!

If you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, you may feel like you don’t have the energy to exercise. But research has shown that even 20 minutes, three to four times a week, can significantly help you regain and maintain overall health, as well as give you more energy. Just make sure you avoid a highly competitive exercise program, since competition can lead to added stress, which is one of the main causes of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. Brisk walking or bike riding is excellent, but when you have toxic stress, gentle movement is best. Some people actually have poorly functioning adrenals due to over-exercising. Here are some better exercise options for those with toxic stress:

  1. Yoga:
    There are many types of yoga, and most are very helpful to reduce stress. Restorative yoga uses poses that allow you to rest completely so your heart rate is not hyped up. Holding poses for longer periods of time will help you relax, loosen up, let go, and release negativity. Studies show that yoga can effectively lower cortisol. These two poses are particularly helpful for adrenal sufferers because they allow the adrenal glands to rest and they lower heart rate:

    • Viparita Karani or “Legs-Up-the-Wall” pose: Lie on a folded blanket or towel that is set against the wall. Swing your feet up onto the wall and straighten your legs, keeping your knees bent slightly. Lower your arms down by your sides, palms facing up. Support your neck with a pillow. Rest here with an eye pillow over your eyes.
    • Savasana or “Corpse” pose: This can be done lying flat with a small pillow or rolled blankets placed under your knee and neck, and a thin blanket draped over your body. Resting in savasana for 10 minutes daily reduces your heart rate.
  2. Walking:
    Gentle walking is beneficial. But vigorous exertion depletes the adrenals through over-excretion of lactic acid. Never underestimate the power of a 30-minute walk outdoors. Walking is truly one of the best exercises for adrenal fatigue. It is excellent for all types of body pain; it clears your mind and allows you to work your body so you achieve a better balance between your over-worked head and your under-worked body. Just walk!
  3. Trampoline:
    Rebound exercises on a trampoline or mini-trampoline benefit those with chronic pain that stems from anxiety or excessive stress. Exercising on a trampoline is an easy way to improve your endurance while taking it easy on your joints. Trampoline exercises also improve lymph circulation and help reduce toxic waste build-up in the body. Trampoline jumping is a powerful adrenal rejuvenator.

Days 9 and 10: Hormone Balance for Stress

While nearly all hormones are affected by worn-out adrenals or by constant nagging and relentless stress, the hormones that we’ll focus on here are: thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, insulin and testosterone.

Most men and women who score high on the stress scale and have physical stress symptoms also have many symptoms of hormone imbalance. Both men and women suffer from hormonal loss as they age. Men go through andropause and can have symptoms of testosterone decline in their 50s — sometimes much earlier. Women can experience menopausal symptoms up to 15 years before their natural menopause begins.

Many hormone changes occur when adrenal hormones are not in sync. Adrenals are the master glands of the body, kind of like the mother of the house. Whatever way the adrenals go, so go the other hormones from the ovaries, testes and thyroid.

The most helpful thing you can do, along with seeking to support your stressed adrenals, is to have a hormone profile (blood test). This helps determine the imbalance that most likely is present if you have some of these additional symptoms along with the Stress Syndrome:

  1. Weight gain
  2. Inability to lose weight
  3. Hot flashes, night sweats
  4. Acne, oily skin or facial hair in women
  5. Headaches
  6. Fatigue for no apparent reason
  7. Irregular periods
  8. Loss of hair on head, legs or eyebrows
  9. Cold hands and feet
  10. Depression or low moods
  11. Loss of zest for life
  12. Irritable bowel symptoms

The Thyroid/Adrenal Connection:

Adrenal fatigue (or toxic stress) and hypothyroidism (low thyroid) show similar symptoms. Both syndromes are metabolic conditions that cause body functions to slow down and deplete energy. Many people with low adrenal function also have low thyroid function. Without adequate cortisone, thyroid hormone functioning is strained and often burdened. Supporting the thyroid can help relieve symptoms of low thyroid. But it’s imperative to treat both the adrenal and thyroid for the best outcome.

Estrogen/Progesterone and Adrenal Connection:

Estrogen is a hormone that can, in the right conditions, become the dominant hormone in the body. Environmental “like” estrogens, brought on by exposure to plastics, pesticides, and hormones in non-organic meats and dairy, accumulate in the body over time. They cause excessive fat production, exaggerated hormonal symptoms and increased breast tissue in men, among other symptoms. Estrogen is a growth hormone and is meant to be in balance with other hormones in the body, especially progesterone, which regulates growth.

When estrogen becomes the dominant hormone, another hormone called cortisol-binding hormone increases. This cortisol-binding hormone, in the presence of high estrogen levels that are often brought on by stress, binds to cortisol and then renders it inactive. What this ultimately means for a man or woman is that the free, available cortisol in the blood stream is very low.

So when you need more energy, or to escape stress of any kind, the adrenals don’t respond with the amount of cortisol you need. While tests may show you have enough cortisol, your body can use only the free cortisol, which may be low.

To complicate the issue, cortisol is made from progesterone in the adrenal cortex. In women, a high estrogen level hinders ovulation, when progesterone is manufactured in the ovaries. If ovulation is hindered and progesterone levels are low, the body won’t have adequate cortisol.

What does all of this mean? If you’re a woman in toxic stress, it means you will feel like you’re having menopausal symptoms or very significant PMS. If you’re a man, it means you will begin to experience andropause (loss of male hormone) symptoms when you are in the midst of toxic stress.

The best way to relieve these symptoms is to address hormonal imbalances with small amounts of natural bio-identical hormones that perfectly match the body’s molecular structure of hormones, plus support the adrenals. For testing information.

Cortisol/Insulin/Testosterone Connection

Excessive cortisol can lead to an increase in testosterone for women, along with weight gain, facial hair, acne, irritability and loss of head hair. Excessive testosterone and cortisol levels in women increase the insulin level, which increases fat storage around the mid-section and causes mood changes and cravings. In men, excessive cortisol can decrease testosterone, causing fatigue, loss of head hair, depression and weight gain.

Stabilizing cortisol overproduction caused by toxic stress will help manage an entire cascade of hormone imbalances.

So far, proponents of modern medicine typically just write more prescriptions
to treat symptoms — instead of correcting the underlying hormone problems. Testing hormone levels at any age is necessary to achieve optimal results. Insist on testing and natural treatment options to relieve you of your hormonal symptoms. But remember, you must have the entire picture looked at and tested. The thyroid, adrenals and ovaries/testes are all inter-connected!

Also, remember that having poor-functioning adrenal glands is optional. You are in the driver’s seat. Small steps are necessary, but you have to be moving towards wellness, or you will be driving towards sickness. Take one day at a time and focus on being in the “here and now.” When you get lost in what you should have done yesterday or fearful about what tomorrow will bring, you won’t make any progress toward becoming healthier, calmer and more productive. You only get one chance at this, so make it a healthy one. And be gentle with yourself.

It’s a journey, not a race!

*For testing and balancing thyroid, male/female and stress hormones can be lifesaving. Simple, easy, and effective testing performed by nationally recognized hormone experts can be done from anywhere that you live and will ultimately save you time and frustration of not finding a specialist in your area that understands how to test and treat hormone deficiencies and imbalances, that are causing you to feel more exhausted, emotional, sleepless, scattered in your thoughts, and fat gain around your middle.

To order a testing kit and consultation for hormone balance, click here.