Michael Stuchiner, an experienced Master Herbalist and the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, is here squatting a remarkable 805 pounds! Today, he reveals how to fight stress and win.
Quite often, I teach about why using adaptogens on a daily basis is so important when dealing with external stressors we have little control over.
What about the daily stressors we can deal with simply by changing our behavior?
While taking adaptogens and eating a nutrient-dense diet are the first line of defense, there are other aspects to supporting a healthy stress response. How you deal with stress through your daily coping skills plays an equally powerful role. The concept of “developing your coping skill” is not something you will learn overnight and like all other aspects of dealing with stress, consistency wins the game.
Learning how to cope with difficult situations as they arise is as important as finding a solution
By learning to cope, you minimize any further damage that may occur during the process of finding an answer. Your emotions are perhaps the most important area you will need to strengthen in order to develop your coping skills. When faced with hard or complex challenges you are often in a highly emotionally aroused state and under extreme stress. This state of mind can easily distort your thinking and put you at a disadvantage as much as cutting off your emotions completely. Having a proper understanding of these concepts will help you greatly.
If you listen to and read your emotions, you will find that they carry very valuable clues in the coping and solution finding process.
Those powerful emotions can also turn on you very quickly and cause short-term damage. Out of control emotions will cloud your thinking and decision making abilities to the point where you are paralyzed. This happens because neurochemicals produced by your emotions have the ability to make you switch from one frame of mind to another in a split second irrationally. Over time you can build up a level of control if you understand that your emotions are nothing more than messengers to help guide you to integrity and balance. Through practice, you will be less likely to fall into a negative mental state where your emotions have the ability to take over and direct your thoughts and actions.
Uncontrolled emotions can also carry long-term negative effects. Much like training the muscles to learn a new pattern of movement, the brain needs to be trained with repetitive messaging in order to undo past damage. This is done with positive thinking and reinforcement, and most importantly, calming the brain using simple concepts like deep breathing and meditation which gives you a better connection to your body and a greater awareness of the situation you are dealing with. We know with time and practice that the brain and nervous system are very capable of making profound changes. Unresolved past issues can prevent you from having the ability to strengthen your coping skills. The longer they fester the more “emotionally toxic” you become. Your emotions produce molecules and they can have a very toxic effect when they overload your system. This toxic effect often produces a pattern of foggy thinking which will lead you down a path of more self-destructive behavior. Some of these behaviors may include self-sabotage, isolating yourself from others, responding to situations improperly due to misunderstanding the situation.
You have several very advanced systems within your body that help you properly respond to stress
One is known as the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA-A). This system begins in the brain within the hypothalamus. The other is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Thyroid Axis. Both of these systems work in conjunction with one another. Stimulation of the pituitary by the hypothalamus will signal the adrenal glands to release cortisol and the thyroid to release T4.
Stress impacts both the adrenal hormone pathway and the thyroid hormone pathway and because it raises cortisol levels that can create inflammation of the brain it may inhibit or in some way alter the metabolic pathway of thyroid hormone (T3).
Prolonged unchecked stress causes this overproduction of cortisol.
This can also directly affect your “sex hormone” levels as cortisol and DHEA-S basically compete for the same precursor, (pregnenolone) which is used to make proper amounts of DHEA-S, the precursor to the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen.
A more comprehensive way of thinking can be your most powerful tool, which can greatly reduce or prevent any damage that can happen when coping with a crisis. The objective is to express your thoughts on paper as often as you can, in order to bring organization to your thinking. This is a wonderful way of bringing together the 100 different thoughts going through your mind when you feel that you are losing control over them.
When you review what you have written down, you will find a system or sequence in which the answers will arise. The more you do this the better you get at making sense of your thoughts in order to build your coping skills. Most often, the reason why most people have trouble coping is that their thoughts are out of control, unorganized and forgotten. The simple act of writing these thoughts down on paper will teach your brain how to organize your thoughts so when a problem arises you will be prepared with a method. Over time this will become an automatic response, and your intuition will develop and with it, greater clarity. This is why practice makes perfect.
While sometimes it’s about having organizational tools, other times it’s about issues from the past which can’t be brought back and made right. Here is a simple way to help resolve them. While easier said than done, all you need to do is forgive. You are not doing this for the other person so much as for your own state of mind and growth! Do yourself a favor and write a letter to forgive that person and never mail it! Look in the mirror, read it out loud and then burn it. The simple act of forgiveness is all that’s needed in order to move forward. You can go as far as calling this your “emotional cleansing”.
There is nothing healthy about obsessing over your problems, therefore, practicing acceptance can be another wonderful tool for building your coping skills. I want to be clear, acceptance is not about giving in. It is in fact about coming to terms with what is.
A great example is the Gmo’s and heavy metals in the food supply. This is an issue that will be around for a very long while and will take time in order to see true change happen. In the meantime, you are best off accepting and adapting to the current situation. The solution is to become more conscious of the foods you eat and using adaptogens and tonics to support a healthy stress response within the body.
I strongly suggest you strive to accept the “learning process” on how to cope. These abilities take time to learn and accept that fact, in and of itself, will build your coping skills.
Finally, there is nothing like a good distraction to help you build your coping skills.
By this I mean, do something that you love which brings you joy in order to take your mind to a positive place. This task can be anything from exercising (which raises endorphin levels) to reading a book on a topic you are passionate about. This simple act of switching to a joyful activity can have a profound neurochemical effect which in turn can clear your mind for the task at hand. Using this skill can teach you how to flip the switch in your mind which is a wonderful way of coping with an issue that has you so frustrated that you have lost control.
Keeping yourself occupied can help your mind stay focused on something positive which in turn keeps those happy chemicals flowing. Then when you go back to your problem you will have a more clear and positive state of mind to work with.
About Michael Stuchiner
Michael Stuchiner is an experienced Master Herbalist, the Head of Education for Z Natural Foods, a teacher, and an accomplished author. With an 18-year specialization in medicinal herbs, Mike also has a vast knowledge in tonic and adaptogenic herbalism. Mike has enjoyed a 25-year career as an elite-level competitive powerlifter where he learned to heal his ‘mind and body’ as an avid user of herbal remedies.
As an “in-the-trenches” herbalist, Mike has done more than 85 speaking engagements, consulted with clients ranging from young to elderly, worked with athletes in virtually all sports and with clients who have “dis-ease” states of a wide variety. Mike also mentors student Master Herbalists and will continue to teach the next generation to grow a deeper wisdom of the human body through appropriate herbal remedies.
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