4 Ways to Help Reduce Chronic Stress, Janice's Story

Janice had a very stressful few months. She had moved in with her fiancé because she had been “renevicted” — her New Westminster, BC rental apartment was being demolished to be rebuilt into higher-priced accommodation. This new living arrangement did not turn out well, and she realized that it was a mistake soon afterwards. She had also decided that the retail management job she had been hired for three years earlier was not working out so she needed to look for other work very soon. She began looking for another apartment to live in (recognizing that this also meant a relationship breakup) not knowing whether a new job might also require relocation.
 
Although Janice normally was very active and healthy for her 42 years, she started feeling exhausted, and was dragging herself to work each morning. She felt nervous and irritable in addition to having no energy to look for a new home on her off-hours. She was losing weight on her already slim frame even though she was eating normally, and she started having heart palpitations. She persevered, however, feeling that she was simply in an “emotionally difficult time” and that her insomnia was making her tired and anxious.
 
These symptoms persisted until she finally went to her doctor, and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. This prognosis added more worry to her already difficult life situation. Then, while at her local health food store, she was advised to see a naturopathic doctor before taking the thyroid medication her MD had prescribed. After asking her about her stress level, the naturopath said it was probably not hyperthyroidism. It was adrenal fatigue, which has almost all of the same symptoms — because elevated cortisol levels caused by prolonged stress can affect her thyroid and other hormonal glands in a very similar way. And it would dissipate after her living and work circumstances changed. Relieved that it wasn’t a thyroid condition, Janice felt empowered to make some choices for recovery in the meantime.

  1. Janice took four steps that reduced her symptoms dramatically: She changed her attitude. She realized that everything she had become anxious about was just thoughts that she had created in her imagination, and her own fears. She took steps to calm herself, enrolling in a meditation class at the local recreation centre. She realized that she could handle anything that presented itself, and that eventually every aspect of the situation would work out well.
  2. She took restorative walks each day after work in the fresh air. Sometimes they were only 10 minutes, and sometimes they were an hour. But she committed to make this a daily “ritual,” rain or shine.
  3. She took adaptogenic herbs recommended by the health store clerk to alleviate stress and boost her immune system. She was told that adaptogens support her adrenals, the glands that manage hormonal response to stress and help her cope with anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. She took supplements containing reishi mushroom, ashwaganda herb, and black seed oil.
  4. She stopped drinking caffeine, and ate no sugar or white flour for three weeks. This not only reduced her nervousness and heart palpitations, it helped her to take better care of herself, which made her feel empowered and happier.
Within two months, although she had not found another place to live yet, Janice felt more relaxed and happier, gaining a sense of humour about the situation, and her weight was returning to normal. Four months later she landed a new job that did require a move to another city.

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