How to Deal with Stress

It can be argued that everyone and their mom (literally) has dealt with stress at some point in their lives. How could we avoid it? There are stressors in day to day life. School. Work. Responsibilities. Compromisos. Traffic. Social obligations. FOMO. Suegras. (JK please don’t leave me, babe. I love your mom). Stress from time to time is normal and inevitable.  The thing is, the key is not to avoid stress (we simply can’t). Rather, we must learn to cope with stress. It is important to cope with stress so that our feelings of stress do not become chronic. To do this, we must ask ourselves:  How can we recharge or recover from stress? How do we manage the stressful situations in our lives so that the chronic stress does not make us sick? 

 

To understand this further, we must first understand how stress affects us. Back in da dayz, when we were hunters and gatherers, we ancient human beings needed stress. We needed our fight or flight responses to protect us in the wild; to help us survive. We needed to be on alert for a bear or a lion (or a colonizer??) or whatever tf it was that was posing a threat to our survival back then. We needed the burst of adrenaline to run away from a threat, or to run towards our next meal.  Back in the dayz, the stress made us stronger.

Nowadays, modern day stress triggers of our always-on-the-go lifestyles can cause those same fight or flight responses to flutter in our bodies. However, there is no longer a lion or bear to run away from. What stresses us out nowadays are our compromisos, and there is no running away from those. We usually sit at our desks and bust it out, or we grin and bear it. For instance, traffic stresses us out, yet we sit in traffic, and come home irritable or simply exhausted. There is no fight. No flight. No burning off that stress, in a sense. The same fight or flight responses that saved our ancestors are actually affecting us now, in not quite such a positive way. 

Let’s look at some ways chronic stress affects our body. According to different medical websites, stress can cause the following symptoms:

Symptoms of Stress

  • Low energy, likely from adrenal fatigue
  • Racing thoughts – That lead to anxiety
  • Clenched jaw or grinding teeth
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation – just can’t seem to let things go, am I right?
  • Increased nervous behaviors, like nail biting, fidgeting, pacing, tapping, etc
  • Chest Pains – stress is breaking our hearts over here!
  • Insomnia
  • Tense, tight muscles
  • Change in sex drive
  • Trouble focusing
  • Headaches
  • Irritability 
  • A lowered immune system, think colds and things like that

 

These are just a few examples. I shared these because I think a lot of us can relate to a lot of them. Toxic “friends.” High pressure jobs. Making ends meet. Raising kids. School. Do any of these ring a bell? 

I recall nights waking up gasping with thoughts of deadlines and obligations swirling through my head. I’d wake up at ungodly hours too tired to get anything done and too stressed to go back to sleep. The next day, I’d have a splitting headache accompanied by a groggy (almost hung over) feeling. I’d be too fatigued to get anything done! It was a terrible cycle. I was trying to ignore my stress and hope that it should go away. I wasn’t doing anything to manage my stress. And my body was screaming at me for some self care. If you are going through anything like this, my heart is with you. It freaking sucks! 

How to Manage Stress

What helped me personally was weight lifting.  When I started working out, the endorphins gave me the positive boost I needed. Plus, weight lifting tired me out so that I could finally get some shut eye at night. That continues to help me relax every night, personally. Everyone is different. What may help one person cope with stress may not help another person cope, and vice versa. 

Here are some ways to show yourself some self care in an effort to cope with stress:

  • Move—Go on a walk outdoors. The vitamin D from the sun can also help to improve mood. Swim. Go on a bike ride. Whatever it is that is fun to you is what will be the right fit for you.
  • Meditate — This is still something that I am personally experimenting with. I won’t lie. Mediation intimidates me. Being alone with my thoughts seems like it will just stress me out more. Or, I worry that if I try to meditate in the morning, I will just fall back asleep! What has helped me is guided meditation.  If you are in the Los Angeles area, I highly encourage you to check out The Tree South LA for guided meditation. These guided meditations are in a group setting with a facilitator leading the mediation. The Tree is also basically CHB’s homie. It is on a donation basis to attend a guided meditation at TheTree. It is a safe space. It is welcoming to folks from all walks of life. It’s something I encourage you to experience for yourself. The word that comes to mind to describe it is nurturing. Not in the Los Angeles area? Let There Be Luz is a podcast created by a Latina with free guided meditations that are great for beginners. Mediation is just one option. Praying rosaries, visiting a temple or church— however you get in touch with your spiritual side, go for it! As long as you are not hurting yourself or others, there is no wrong way to get in touch with your higher self and let go of the clutter from everyday life.
  • Drink, tea that is— Some herbal tea in the evenings can help you relax. Have you ever felt like your body is tired but your mind won’t stop racing? Drinking some tea before bed can help you get centered and fall asleep faster. Chamomile or lavender are excellent options. Avoid an excess of caffeine if you are trying to unwind. While on the subject of getting some healthy hierbitas in your system… 
  • Try a custom remedio. A great option for stress is The Stress Remedy, made with love by experienced herbal mixologists here at Compton Health Bar. Take this formula in the mornings to help you adapt to stressors throughout the day, or take it at night to unwind from the stressors you may have encountered. Here is a list of the specific ingredients and why they were chosen:

Schizandra Berry —according to Healthline, this berry may help combat depression and is an adaptogenic that helps the body resist the effects of stress and anxiety 

Hops Flower Extract — No we aren’t talking about a hoppy beer right now. Hops Flower extract can help with insomnia. 

Feverfew (aerial parts) — Yes, it can help with fevers. However, in this blend, it is used to help combat migraine headaches. 

Chamomile Flower — One of the most calming herbs out there. Chamomile also helps fight inflammation. Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in the body, and inflammation can cause all sorts of things, so this is quite an important ingredient.

Astragalus Root — Strengthens and regulates the immune system

Passionflower — Calming, sleep inducing and can even help with tight muscles

L-Glutamine — Every have a stomach ache from stress? Or ever feel so stressed that you’re just physically exhausted from worrying so much? This ingredient helps recovery, and helps to combat inflammation in the intestines.

Stevia Leaf — for flavor

Mint Leaf — Helps with stomach aches

Tulsi (a.k.a. Holy Basil) — a powerful adaptogenic herb. Really. I advise you to research this one for yourself. It is quite trendy, and with good reason. I remember a friend telling me all about tulsi tea and how she drank it because it was such a powerful adaptogenic. Baddies gotta adapt to these haters I said. I think she was more referring to adapting to the stresses of being a modern day WOC, but same difference. 

Tying it all Together

It’s easy to ignore stressors and hope they go away. I think a lot of us can relate to that. However, that approach is just a band aid. (Sorry for the tough love!) The physical symptoms can creep up if we are not proactive. When it comes to dealing with stress, it’s important to be proactive and not reactive. How do you cope with stress? Did any of these tips stand out to you? Is there something that you do to cope with stress that we missed? Please share in the comments. We are a community here at CHB. Let’s help each other out. Until next week, be well.