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The holidays have come and gone, is your year off to a smooth start, a little up and down or is the stress from the holiday creeping into 2024?

Stress is a major risk factor for issues such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

The organ systems are affected in many ways:

  • Digestion – decreased nutrient uptake, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes, dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance), and leaky gut
  • Detoxification – less efficient liver detox resulting in toxic build up in the joints, lymphatics, nervous system, brain, fat, and skin
  • Nervous system – increased living in fight or flight (sympathetic dominance) rather than rest and digest (parasympathetic)
  • Hormones – increased stress hormones (cortisol), decreased DHEA
  • Cardiovascular – hypertension, irregular heart beats, palpitations
  • Musculoskeletal system – headaches, tension, sprains, strains

We Can Test Your Stress Level

Measuring how stress affects the body is not a common test. In fact, main stream medicine has no test to measure nervous system function (besides actual nerve conduction tests).

I have great news – we can see how your nervous system is responding to stress with a very simple, non-invasive in-office test called Nerve Express. Nerve Express tests your heart rate variability which is directly related to sympathetic (fight/ flight) and parasympathetic (rest / digest) nervous system functioning.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the measurement of milliseconds between each heart beat. The greater the variability the more balanced the sympathetic and parasympathetic are, the lower the variability the more stressed the body and nervous system are.

Patients that have gotten this test are often surprised at how much or how little their body is affected by stress. Give the office a call if you’re interested it having this test. The cost is $85 plus an office visit to review.

Dr. Enfield’s Top 3 Ways to Decrease Stress

As you see above, stress has a significant impact on your overall health. Fortunately, we can measure how the sympathetic and parasympathetic are interacting. If you haven’t had the Nerve Express test you can still take steps to decrease stress. In fact, I highly recommend if you do one thing for yourself in the new year, focus on decreasing stress.

Here are my top 3 suggestions for decreasing stress:

  • Movement – move your body. Walking, hiking, dancing, yoga, pilates. Do what you love. Here is a great video to encourage you.
  • Breathing – Crucial for life and beneficial to calm the nervous system. Box breathing re-sets and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, decreases stress and anxiety. To do box breathing, Inhale for a count of 4, hold 4, exhale 4 and hold 4 – repeat 6 times and do throughout the day.
  • Meditation, Gratitude or Prayer – studies show that “mindfulness” aka meditation positively decreases stress, anxiety, pain, digestive issues, blood pressure and more. Guided meditations, mindfulness class, gratitude journal, prayer all have similar effects when done on a daily basis.

Start your new year off right by taking the steps to decrease stress. Simple things can have a great impact on your health now and in the future! You and your loved ones will be glad you did!

In radiant health,

Dr. Laura