We’ve all experienced stress. When we have had a long day at the office or at home with the kids, homework, deadlines, finances weighing on our minds, we feel tired and stressed. While situations like these are what most of us picture, this is actually only one form!
The symptoms of stress are many and include physical problems like sleep disturbances, low energy, inability to focus, lack of patience, and increased incidence of illness. When stress symptoms are noticed, the general recommendation is to work less or slow down. While at times this certainly can be appropriate, it can also reduce productivity and may actually contribute to the stress you’re trying to reduce!Generally speaking, reducing stress in your life leads to greater health. However, it’s not quite that simple. There are three different types of stress: uncomplimentary, complementary, and production. The uncomplimentary form of stress is the type we want to reduce. This is the bad stress we experience in our lives. And if we reduce the complimentary or productive stress in our lives, we can actually fuel the bad, uncomplimentary stress! Lets take a deeper look into the differences between these three types of stress.
This is the harmful, negative stress in our lives we generally think of when we hear the word. Unfortunately, approximately sixty percent of all stress is uncomplimentary. When we experience uncomplimentary stress, we also experience anxiety that provides no positive benefit. Thus, this type of stress should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible because there is no good that comes from it.
Uncomplimentary stress can present itself in a number of forms. Environmental stress, for example, is a big source—approximately ten percent of uncomplimentary stress comes from environmental sources. Pollutants in the air, contaminants in water, and other such toxins provide no positive benefits to us and cause stress on the body.
Psychological stress is another major form of uncomplimentary stress, making up about twenty percent of the uncomplimentary stress we experience. This kind tends to be self-imposed and includes habits of negative self talk, worrying about things outside of your control, setting unrealistic goals and failing, and other such tendencies that provide no positive benefit.
However, the greatest source of uncomplimentary stress in America today, at about seventy percent, comes from nutritional stress, experienced because of the unhealthy nature of food. And with unhealthy foods making up the bulk of the modern American diet, nutritional stress can also occur because you’re not eating enough of the right foods. When our bodies aren’t getting enough of the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other nutrients from fresh, whole foods, they will be in a deficient state that causes stress to the body to maintain balance and function. When the body isn’t receiving enough of the necessary building blocks (vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, etc), it’s not able to detoxify, regenerate, or rebuild as easily or efficiently. This results in a weaker and less resilient body. So, put simply, the body perceives not getting enough nutrient-dense foods as stressful.
By regularly eating real, nutrient dense, whole foods, cellular regeneration will be allowed to occur efficiently and therefore rebuild our bodily tissues. Obviously, this process of cellular regeneration is vital for every single cell and organ of our bodies, making efficiency essential for a well, healthy-functioning body. These healthy foods have not been heavily processed, refined, or had nutrients stripped from them or synthetic ingredients added. Foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, unrefined hemp seeds, quinoa, sprouted nuts and seeds, legumes, and sprouted grains are all real, whole, unadulterated foods that help prevent nutritional stress.
This form of stress can be beneficial and productive for the body when kept in balance. One form of complimentary stress is exercise. Regular exercise done the right way is beneficial to the body, allowing it to stimulate cellular renewal and growth, as well as detoxify and strengthen. However, if we over-exercise, the body isn’t able to maintain balance and reaches a stressful state where overuse, injuries, and tissue breakdown occurs.
Here we have a positive stress that occurs when you try to achieve a goal. Goals can range anywhere from physical, such as competing in an athletic competition, to working overtime to finish an important project. Production stress is the one stress we don’t want to decrease or minimize because it’s necessary to lead a productive life and is a critical part of reaching success. Without enough production stress, we wouldn’t be efficient, get anything accomplished, or reach any goals. If we don’t have enough production stress, we can actually experience greater uncomplimentary stress! So allow yourself to stay motivated and actively engaged in reaching your individual goals, whatever they might be.
The ideal state for your body is minimal or nonexistent uncomplimentary stress, a healthy balance of the complimentary stress, and steady or increasing (up until it becomes uncomplimentary) production stress. While too much stress is bad, not enough of the right kind can actually increase the bad stress!
Some of the top stress-fighting foods include:
- Chamomile tea
- Green tea
- Raw cacao (chocolate)
- Dark leafy greens