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This article was published in the Lyons Recorder newspaper in response to the massive floods that destroyed the town in the fall of 2013…

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First there was the flood, then there were the decisions every person made to survive.  For most people, these were very different decisions than those made weeks and even days prior.  Instead of, “What should we have for dinner tonight,” it became “What is going to go bad the quickest that we need to eat first,” or “Where will I get my next meal?”

With the community bonding together, spirits were high, perhaps even manic.  The initial trauma of a natural disaster or other tragedy sends neurotransmitters and stress hormones sky-rocketing.  The experience becomes almost euphoric and provides the much needed additional resources (mentally, emotionally and physically) to sustain.

One by one the utilities went out, everyone was asked to leave.  Everyone experienced hardship of one kind or another; abruptly relocating to new homes, learning a new way to live and creating new routines.  The crisis continued to require everyone to rise to an unanticipated challenge and endure.

Then, the holidays came.  The season of joy, full of traditions deeply engrained and expectations to fulfill.  While some residents had returned to their homes, others were far from it and the switch to now celebrating holidays required a whole new energy burst to come through.  For some this was a relief, reconnecting with loved one’s and returning to faith.  However, the inevitable indulgences built into the holiday traditions flood the body with stimulating substances more likely to cause irritation than restoration.

For many residents of Lyons and the surrounding community, life has now settled into a new normal.  The stress is still elevated but it’s become routine and the expectation to tend to it all continues.  Despite the river’s worth of work to be done to restore this community, there is only so much anyone can do and eventually, something’s got to give.

Routine self-care is essential to maintaining health and longevity.  During times of life’s ease, simply sleeping 7-8 hours each night and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can be adequat.  However, when faced with 5 months or more of unfathomable challenges, the body, mind and spirit are going to need a lot more care in order to maintain.

The normal, healthy balance of life is integrally related to the cortisol or circadian rhythm of the body.  In the morning, cortisol levels peak as we rise naturally to meet our day’s activity.  This cortisol peak works intimately with all the other neurotransmitters of the brain supporting the ability to think, learn, remember and feel good!  The normal cortisol rhythm naturally drops through the day, elevates slightly after our midday meal and descends gently into the evening.

Cortisol also shares a very close relationship with our reproductive hormones and thyroid gland influencing all aspects of metabolism.  When we experience stress, the body adjusts by elevating cortisol in order to respond.  However, this is meant to be a brief change, not something that continues long term.  With stress, eventually cortisol levels drop, unable to rise to meet the challenge of the day and overall metabolism begins to fail.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • Weight Gain
  • Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep)
  • Poor digestion & nutrient assimilation
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased immune function – more frequent colds or increasing allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Increased inflammation
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Slower reflex time, poor balance and clumsiness
  • Irrational behavior
  • Progression of chronic disease

Managing stress is one of the biggest challenges to health in our modern lives.  As a very intellectually oriented society, the needs of the body are easy to overlook.  We compensate with any of the readily available stimulants and press on through our days.  Eventually this inevitably catches up with us.

We’re not going to be able to avoid the stress in our lives, especially in Lyons.  But, we can counteract the challenges with stress-relieving tools.  Learning to care for our energy resevoir through lifestyle changes when we are under stress is key.  Using direct acting nervous system support is invaluable.

At Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic we have a wide array of tools both to assess and care for long lasting health.  Taking from traditions around the world, we utilize the best that medicine has to offer in conjunction with standard medical care.  We are now offering a unique opportunity for routine, affordable healthcare with our greatly reduced rates bundled in our Membership Program.  Please visit www.stillwaterhealingarts.com to learn more today!

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