Are Emotional Stress and Money Problems Taking A Toll On Your Health?

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Are you feeling emotionally-drained from tasks and obligations in your life? Has the economic downturn got you in a tailspin? If so, you are not alone. Millions and millions of people are experiencing the strain of too-heavy workloads and task-lists, and of the poor financial state of the nation and the entire world.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association shows that at least 73 percent of its respondents were most affected by money and the economy. Americans are reporting sleeplessness, anger, and fatigue are on the rise. The problem is so acute that economic stressors are surpassing those of daily work tasks and personal relationships.

Many deal with it by overeating and consuming junk food, and the effects of poor diet and nutrition display themselves mentally as well as physically in the body and behaviors too.

On this site we talk a great deal about real food, but mental and emotional states of health are important too. Incidentally, your mental state of health is a direct reflection of what you eat too. Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure says, “junk moods come from¬† junk foods!”

Stress is a chronic condition, experienced in particularly high levels by people living in developed countries, and is ranked among diseases and disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and cancer. Feeling out of control and believing there is no way to offset stress are among the most commonly communicated sentiments about emotional frames of mind. And eating unhealthy foods only exacerbates these emotional downturns.

Especially in the United States and other developed countries, people have learned to associate fat, calories, and food cravings with guilt and deprivation. They believe that if they just starve themselves or curb their calories, or control their portions more, they will lose weight and be healthy. But where has this mentality taken us?¬† The avoidance mechanism we have been condition to use triggers a craving in our bodies which only becomes stronger until the person feels there is no other alternative but to indulge in “forbidden” foods. Lingering guilt and remorse after partaking in the food that is supposed to be avoided only leads to more binging (and in some cases, purging).

Chronic stress creates its own spiral of events in the body. When we are stressed and do not provide our bodies with proper support, health problems begin to occur. Chronic stress weakens the adrenal glands, immune system, can cause weight gain, and eventually leads to disease and illness.

A body short on the necessary fats for health and life will eventually suffer health issues, and more stress. Some people avoid junk foods until the very last, unwavering moment…and then overload themselves with a treat for being “good”. Eating junk food like this, while depriving your body of real foods and healthy fats creates a vicious cycle that is never ending. It causes the body to store up fat when food is being withheld, and then it stores the substances in junk foods eaten because the body doesn’t recognize it. This causes weight gain, cellulite accumulation, and health problems…which lead to emotional problems too.

Stress also puts tremendous strain on the heart. A person who is harried and stressed out is less likely to stop and take time to relax, meditate, eat a nutritious meal, or obtain adequate nutrition and rest. These lapses result in further disturbances in sleep, eating habits, personal relationships, and other major lifestyle factors and habits.

Many people turn to taking prescription drugs. Drugs are expensive and generally only cover the problem up rather than getting at the actual cause of what might be making your depression acute. During times of stress, it is important to remember not to allow your most important asset go by the wayside – your health. If you don’t have your health, everything else will suffer.

Here are some ideas for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression naturally and remedying the causes at the root:

  • Don’t load yourself up with more work/tasks/obligations than you can manage. If you are doing this, eventually something will have to give and it will be personal relationships and your health.
  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet – no matter what. Don’t eat pre-packaged, processed, unnatural foods. Instead, allow extra time to make food from scratch. Eat plenty of healthy fats/proteins in your diet – pasture-raised meats, dairy, eggs, and butter, coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, and tallow, lard.
  • Buy local and organic whenever possible.
  • Make larger amounts so you will have additional meals from your effort. Freeze your food and reheat later in the oven or on the stove.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour each night – around 10 p.m. Engage in relaxing activities before bed so you will be naturally tired enough to fall asleep within a few minutes. Avoid drinking alcohol and eating refined sugar or carbohydrates before retiring. These substances are unhealthy and upset the natural winding-down rhythm of your body.
  • Get regular movement or activity that brings stress relief and enjoyment 3 -4 times weekly
  • Find a good relaxation technique or activity you enjoy – massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, pilates, or martial arts are good choices.
  • Be certain to budget money for important preventative health care items – whatever those may be for you, whether it is good, healthy, organic foods, supplements, or preventative health maintenance or care from a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Skimping on your health now will lead to problems later – often those that are more difficult to manage and are more expensive.
  • Remove toxins from your environment as much as possible – look through your house and locate items that could be causing problems and increasing your toxic load, anything from plastic to chemical cleaners to devices that may emit radiation. Plastic can often be replaced with metal, wood, or glass (in many instances). Consider replacing old bedding, towels, or clothing that may be chemically-treated (most conventional fabrics, mattress coverings, and upholstery is). But only do so if you are financially capable of taking on the cost, if any.
  • If you are experiencing a prolonged or chronic illness and are experiencing depression or stress from it, consider the impact your diet and other lifestyle choices may have on your mental state and stress levels. You may be on medication for a health issue, but might be experiencing mood swings or other issues as a direct result of medications or something missing from your diet.
  • Maintain perspective. Whatever your situation, things could be worse and focus on being thankful for the things you do have. A positive outlook will help combat problems and issues going on in your life, and help to minimize the effects of stress.

Suggested reading: The Mood Cure by Julia Ross

Want more information?

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Why I don’t go to the gym

Eating disorders – a product of modern society

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9 Comments

  • August 23, 2010 - 10:43 AM | Permalink

    I have found that one of the easiest ways to feel better is to eat plenty of pastured butter. This sounds too easy, but it really works!

    Butter contains compounds that help our brains work better. Our brains are wonderful organs, that are capable of dealing with almost anything that comes our way, if the brain receives proper nourishment.

    The butter should be spread thickly enough to leave toothmarks when you bite into it, as stated by Sally Fallon Morell.

  • August 23, 2010 - 11:15 AM | Permalink

    Wonderful post, Raine! It’s so important to keep perspective and try not to overdo our to-do list. Your tips are excellent!

  • August 23, 2010 - 11:53 AM | Permalink

    Stanley – I couldn’t agree more, I love my pastured butter! I love the comment about the teeth marks!! LOL! Sometimes I just cut out a big slab of butter from the stick and eat it plain. That’s just how nuts I am about butter. And I don’t eat grains all too often, so I have to eat it somehow. Although I do put it on a lot of different foods I eat anyway. :)

    Elizabeth – thanks for visiting, I’m glad you enjoyed this post! Hope others do too! :)

    • August 24, 2010 - 8:56 AM | Permalink

      Raine, I also will cut some butter from the stick and eat it plain. There is a reason why butter used to be eaten at every meal.

      Stanley

  • Allison Asbury
    August 24, 2010 - 6:59 PM | Permalink

    Eww. I like butter, but teeth marks? On its own?! Yuck!!! I do slightly better with ghee, but I don’t think I could ever choke it down plain.

  • August 24, 2010 - 8:23 PM | Permalink

    Allison – well, I guess I’m just pretty hardcore about butter. LOL! :)

    • August 25, 2010 - 2:44 PM | Permalink

      HI all!

      I am so glad and applaud that you are using butter instead of margarine! Which is the closest thing to eating plastic!!! As a nurse and health care consultant/educator, I just caution the amount!

      Michelle

  • August 25, 2010 - 3:45 PM | Permalink

    Michelle – why is eating a lot of butter bad? Butter from animals on pasture and free from hormones/antibiotics/pesticides is a natural food that has been eaten for thousands of years by people all over the planet. It is nutrient-dense food which contains Vitamins A & D, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (a cardiovascular protector).

    Nutrient dense foods have more nutrients per calorie, but counting fat grams and calorie grams, and issuing portion control isn’t necessary. That’s a modern invention,and people who ate nutrient dense foods for centuries never did this sort of thing.

    Natural foods are recognizable by the body, good for digestion, and can be readily absorbed. This causes the body to be satiated and get the nutrition it needs, and this provides the feeling of fullness and the ability to stop before eating too much. That’s just how awesome nature’s real food is. Processed foods are empty calories and empty nutrients, and therefore cause people to overeat, store toxins, and not feel full. This is what has caused our obesity and health epidemic – not real foods like butter and other raw dairy, grass-fed meats, organ meats, seafood, olive oil, coconut oils, and fermented foods.

    Are you acquainted with the Weston A. Price Foundation? They are a non-profit organization which seeks to educate and inform consumers about nutrient dense foods and health through sustainable farming, food, and living. There is a wealth of information on this amazing web site, and with plenty of medical professionals who endorse the information found there. Please check them out:

    http://www.westonaprice.org

  • NourishedMom
    August 29, 2010 - 10:35 PM | Permalink

    If you don’t like the taste of your butter straight from the stick, you got the wrong butter!

    Avoiding stress and stress related junk foods is good advice. So is the use of positive thinking and affirmations.

    I used to be on antidepressants years ago… not so since I’ve boosted my health with Real Food and a healthy dose of positive affirmations! Also, raising kids has boosted me as well, knowing I try my best to take care of their needs as best as i can… elimination communication, no poisonous vaccines or junk medicines, Real Food, active life playing with them (all the energy from Raw Food!) when the smile at me with their healthy glowing faces, my heart flies sky high!!!

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