A Stress-Free September: Breathe, Laugh, Relax!
Dear PLMI Community,
Our focus this month is on stress, pain, and fatigue syndromes. Certainly, we’ve probably all experienced varying degrees of one or more of these throughout our lives. Today, these interrelated conditions are pervasive in society with 77% of people regularly experiencing symptoms caused by stress, including physical issues such as fatigue (51%), headache (44%), and upset stomach (34%). The top three causes of stress have been found to be job pressure, money, and health. (Source: American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, NY, 7.28.13)
What if we could reduce some of the pressure and pain through personalized lifestyle medicine?
A personalized lifestyle medicine approach to any or all of these conditions focuses on the implementation of the most appropriate foods and dietary supplements, physical activities, mind-body practices to feel balanced, and even an awareness of environmental exposures that may be perturbing one’s physiology and psychology.
When we are stressed, we tend to reach for energy-dense, comfort food that may not always be best for us. On the other hand, providing our bodies with adequate nutrition can help us to deal with the harmful, toxic effects of stress in the body. Additionally, mind-body practices that evoke the relaxation response like meditation, yoga and repetitive prayer have been shown to not to just provide a “feel-good experience”, but also actively induce changes in gene expression related to energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance (a marker of aging), and reduced expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress-related pathways (Bhasin et al., PLoS One, May 2013).
When it comes to pain, there is some exciting research that suggests that there are genes and gene variants that may relate to the perception of pain through neurological pathways, in conjunction with phenotypic modulators like emotional distress and body awareness. In a recent scientific publication on the topic, the authors concluded by saying, “Elucidation of the biological mechanisms by which these markers contribute to the perception of pain in these patients will enable the development of novel effective drugs and methodologies that permit better diagnoses and approaches to personalized medicine.” (Diatchenko et al., Nat Rev Rheumatol. June 2013).
We have put together some insights for you in a takeaway format that we have extracted from the goldmine of information within the Functional Medicine Update library. Here is a document that will detail more on stress, pain, and energy syndromes.
Additionally, this month, we have a number of excellent bloggers to help guide you with tips, tools and thoughts on how to break free from stress, pain, and fatigue, including Susan Blum, MD, who gives us her expert opinion on 7 practical tips to manage “September stress”, along with another article encouraging the incorporation of mindfulness into medicine.
Functional nutritionist, Jennifer Champion, tells us about stress hormones and even walks you through a 5-minute activity to reduce stress. Similarly, Frank Lipman, MD, gets us to appreciate the comic relief and power of laughter in two blogs – one on 7 reasons why laughing is good for you and another on ways to get more laughter in your everyday, stressful life.
There are also other blogs focused on pain by integrative medical doctors, Steve and Sandi Amoils, as well as an insightful piece on the mitochondria and energy by Paul Mannion, ND.
We wish you a stress-free September – as we learned from our PLMI experts, don’t forget to breathe, laugh, and take a moment to relax during your busy days.
Thank you all for supporting the PLMI community!