One of the biggest keys to success with a balanced health and wellbeing is learning to nurture and love oneself. Our lives are full of stress. Light amounts of stress is normal. Moderate to high amounts of stress can tear apart quickly ones health and well being. Stress and lifestyle factors are a huge contributor to disease. There are a few things to consider when talking about stress. First, is how a person handles it in their life and secondly, is what they do about it when it increases?

How do you handle stress?

The very definition of stress is simply an underlying sense of fear and anger. Some people have a tendency to internalize these emotions and others give into the drama of their lives. When high amounts of stress hits it is important to have a plan. First, reassess your obligations. Reprioritize your schedule. Do only what is most important and not what is necessarily most urgent. Release your schedule and be OK with that. Secondly, change your perspective. When emotions hit it is better to just go with the flow of them instead of resisting what it is you are feeling. Resistance in accepting stress in your life will only cause more frustration. This, in turn, will only increase your stress level. We don't have the power to control every aspect in our lives. Although, many of us think we do. We can only go with the flow of things and have faith that it will all turn out OK in the end. The good news is it usually does!

What to do during high periods of stress?

When high amounts of stress hits have a plan to better take care of yourself. Despite how tired you are implement some form of exercise every day. Even if it is for just 10 minutes, just get out and do it. Make sure if you are under high amounts of stress you don't do any amount of strenuous exercise. When you are in a "fight or flight" sympathetic mode, don't exhaust your adrenals by over exercising your body. We get into our habits and have our favorite types of exercise. Just know that it is so much better for your health to slow things down during high amounts of stress.

By doing more relaxing exercises like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, walking or hiking can do an extreme amount of good for your body during heighten stressful periods. If you continue intense workouts you may hurt your health even more during those stressful times.

Start changing your diet immediately. Know that your energy is very important. Start taking away foods that may steal your energy. Foods such as dairy, sugar, wheat, along with processed foods have a tendency to stress the body and cause inflammation. Limiting the foods that cause more stress on your body will decrease the overall stress you are feeling. Add easily digestible foods. When you're under a great deal of stress the body loses the ability to digest a big meal. So for example, a big steak dinner would not be a great idea.

Instead, you can try an organic beef broth soup with veggies and rice noodles. Each person has been given an intuitive sense to know which foods will help their energies and which ones steal them. Look inside for those signals and go towards those foods that will give you more energy.

Meanwhile, stay away from high amounts of caffeine and those energy drinks. In the long run they will overtax the body. Instead, add more antioxidant drinks and B-12 into your body. B vitamins from a whole food sources are amazing for our bodies during times of high stress.

Make sure your taking breaks each day for both meals and meditation or relaxation. Just being able to eat your meal without distractions is a huge way to reduce your stress throughout the day. Don't think about work when eating. Also try and find at least five minutes a day where you can close your eyes and deep breathe. Visualize yourself in a relaxing safe place. It will do wonders for your spirit.

Find time at least once a week for an hour or two to do anything you want. I can't even stress how important this is to do for ones health. It can be something you do alone or with a friend. Do whatever you wish for an hour or two. This can be going to a café for a cup of tea, checking out an art exhibit, or just laying in bed watching a relaxing movie. Whatever will renew your spirit is the activity that is best for you. Those few hours will do wonders to help get you through those times of stress. Make it a priority and see what happens.

Always have hope

We somehow are given messages that imbalances and sickness is weak when this is such a normal part of our life. Accepting those things we can't change will help us move forward. Happiness is something we have to work and fight for in our lives. Know that the high amounts of stress that you may be experiencing will end. It is human to have negative thoughts with so much suffering in our world.

Although, we can change our perspective to a more positive, joyous and peaceful way of living. Choosing to nurture and love yourself will help you step forward into that peaceful place in your heart.

Dawn Krueger-Sherin is an oriental medical practitioner in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, reach her at

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