Stress - March 2013 - Volume 4 Issue 10


It’s been a pretty long winter, at least in the Ottawa area, and I hope you have enjoyed a great March break, or are about to. It’s always a good sign when we switch to daylight savings time – spring must be just about here! But in case you’re finding it a stressful time of year, I’m providing some tips for dealing with stress.

   How Stressed Are You?

Stress is normal, and a certain amount of stress is even healthy because it keeps us active, motivated and productive.  But too much stress, especially over too long a period of time, isn’t healthy or normal even though it’s all too common these days.

You can take the following life stress test to assess your stress levels.  Mark each event that has happened to you within the past 24 months. 

The original Holmes – Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale


Point value

Your score

Death of a spouse






Marital separation from partner



Jail term



Death of close family member



Personal injury or illness






Fired from work



Marital reconciliation






Change in family member’s health






Sex difficulties



Addition to family



Business readjustment



Change in financial status



Death of a close friend



Change to a different line of work



Change in number of marital arguments



Mortgage or loan over $80,000*



Foreclosure of mortgage or loan



Change in work responsibilities



Trouble with in-laws



Outstanding personal achievement



Spouse begins or stops work



Starting or finishing school



Change in living conditions



Revision of personal habits



Trouble with boss



Change in work hours or conditions



Change in residence



Change in schools



Change in recreational habits



Change in church activities



Change in social activities



Mortgage or loan under $80,000*



Change in sleeping habits



Change in number of family gatherings



Change in eating habits






Christmas season



Minor violations of the law



Your total score


*The amount has been updated compared to the original source.

0-149 points:  Low susceptibility to stress-related illness.
150-299 points:  Moderate susceptibility to stress-related illness.
300+ points:  High risk for stress-related illness.  If you’re balancing too much stress, you must do everything you can to reduce your burden to save your health.

   3 Major Reasons to Avoid Excessive Stress
  1. Untreated stress leads to chronic illness – including heart attack, diabetes, obesity, depression and cancer. 

    If you regularly deal with stress, you already know it can take a toll on your energy and mood, not to mention zap you with tense muscles and headaches.  But you may not be aware that unchecked stress opens the door to severe, chronic, even life-threatening illness.  That’s because constant high stress damages your body in 2 key ways:  1. Stress lowers your immunity so you’re more susceptible to viruses, infections and other disease.  2. Stress promotes inflammation, now known to be the precursor to most serious illnesses.

    In a recent study of 100 participants, those under stress were 4 times as likely to develop colds or flu.  Why?  When you’re under stress, you produce large amounts of the hormone cortisol.  Too much cortisol can overwhelm the white blood cells you need to fight illness and infection – in essence, stress has turned off your immune system!

    When your immunity waivers, you produce fewer antibodies, meaning your risk for serious disease escalates.  Our entire adrenal system can burn out, taxing the hypothalamus, the pituitary (needed for growth) and the thyroid (needed for metabolism and energy regulation).  This can lead to a variety of immunity disorders, including fibromyalgia, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Even cancer is considered and immune-deficiency disease.

    And although cortisol is a known inflammation fighter, too much of it can have the exact opposite effect.  In fact, overproduction of cortisol is linked to the inflammation that causes osteoporosis, obesity, and even insulin resistance (the number 1 cause of diabetes).
  2. Stress is the ultimate anti-nutrient, robbing your body of the vitamins and minerals you need. 

    Hopefully, you take a quality (Nature’s Sunshine) vitamin and mineral supplement every day to ward off the effects of stress.  If you’re still suffering from symptoms that are typical of stress, such as lack of concentration, irritability, stomach upset, insomnia and fatigue, the real problem may be that stress is causing the nutrient deficiency.

    Additionally, stress actually prevents nutrient absorption, or uses nutrients at a higher rate.  For example, vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins are consumed more quickly during stress, so you’ll need more to support your adrenals and immune system.  The increased cellular activity of stress can also compromise the digestive system – so you’ll need additional essential fatty acids (EFAs) such as omega-3 supplements, which help synthesize neurotransmitters from the amino acids in food.  EFAs boost “brain power” and also ameliorate gastrointestinal distress associated with stress.
  3. Prescription drugs are over prescribed for stress, and detrimental to your health.

    Treating depression and anxiety would be easy if the ailments were due solely to a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain.  A simple pill could fix everything for everybody.  However, it has been estimated that only 50% of people treated with prescription medications designed to improve neurotransmitter functionality actually see improvement.

    Why?  Many mental imbalances are caused by a complex interchange of nutrition, exercise, coping skills, genetic makeup and more.  The etiology of depression still isn’t fully understood, but it is complex and we are failing to strike at the roots of the problem.  Depression may be misdiagnosed 30-50% of the time, leaving many on prescription antidepressants or other medications when alternative forms of treatment may be required.  Even worse, most of these prescription drugs have myriad frightening side effects too numerous to mention.
   Effective Stress Management

The good news is that stress can be successfully managed with natural supplementation, along with a

  • healthy diet,
  • regular exercise,
  • adequate good quality sleep, and
  • improved coping skills

A healthy diet, as you know, is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  Fish is better than meat, and, of course, stress can only be aggravated by “junk food.”  Skip the soft drinks, sweet desserts and any other form of refined carbohydrates to reduce stress and improve your health.  Moderate amounts of “healthy” fats are recommended; be sure to avoid trans fats completely, and only eat modest amounts of saturated fats.  Low fat dairy products are healthy in moderation.

Stress can lead to weight gain, so that’s another reason to eat a healthy diet, and to do what you can to resolve your stress.  A study of 1,355 people aged 25-64 in the US found that the types of stress that seemed to trigger weight gain were different in women and men.  Women’s BMI (body mass index) tended to increase in response to job demands, family strains, difficulty paying bills and “perceived constraints in life.”  Men also gained weight when they faced mounting bills, but stress at work seemed to have the greatest impact, as well as a lack of decision-making authority at work, and a lack of opportunity to learn new skills.

Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress.  It’s best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.  Find something you like to do so you’ll stick with it.  Yoga has huge health benefits and is a great stress-buster, as one example.

Adequate amounts of good quality sleep are essential for the control of stressful situations in your life.  It may be harder to sleep well when you’re stressed, but if you make an effort to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly (maybe more than usual) and work on improving your coping skills, this should help you to sleep better.  It’s best to aim for a good solid 8 hours of sleep per night.  Many people think they can function well on less, but that generally turns out to be true for only a limited period of time before their health suffers.

Improving your coping skills can help you see your stressful situation in a different light.  Talking to friends or relatives may help, as long as you don’t dwell too long on the negative aspects of your situation – that only serves to reinforce them.  Meditation can help you think of new perspectives.  In fact, one option is to combine exercise – walking – with meditation, a sort of ‘walking meditation’ to calm your stress and help you think of new perspectives at the same time. 

It may help to know that it’s not so much the situation you may find yourself in, no matter how disastrous, as your perception of the situation.  And you have the power to change your perception.  If you would like help with this, please contact me for an appointment.  I use a variety of methods that can help, and I can choose the most appropriate one for your situation.


Please see our website ( for descriptions of the heart-healthy products listed below at the links.

Super vitamins and minerals!/~/product/category=1546925&id=6402719

Stress formula – B Complex and calming herbs /store/#!/~/product/id=6402647

Liquid B-12 /store/#!/~/product/id=6402631

STR-J (Stress-J) /store/#!/~/product/id=6402648

St. John’s Wort!/~/product/category=1546919&id=6402636


HTP Power!/~/product/category=1546919&id=6402651

Adrenal Support!/~/product/category=1546919&id=6402653

If you feel stress is a problem for you, please contact me for an appointment.

For additional information, please email; or call Ramilas Healing Arts Clinic at 613.829.0427 for an appointment. Please continue letting friends and family know about this newsletter. Also on our website, please see back issues of this newsletter, additional information about products, order products, and see information about our Clinic.

  1. America Stressed Out – The Health Hazard You Can’t Ignore. The “Untold Truth” Series, Wasatch Research Institute.
  2. Holmes TH, Rahe RH. The social readjustment rating scale. J Psychosom Res 1967;11:213-218.
  3. Note: The social readjustment rating scale has been revised over the years, but the original is still in common usage.
  4. Stress adds to overweight worries. Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter 2009;27(8):8.
The suggestions and recommendations in this newsletter are not intended to be prescriptive or diagnostic. The information is accurate and up to date to our knowledge, but we are not responsible for any errors in our sources of information.

These newsletters will help you make better choices for better health. The choices that you make today can either have a positive or negative impact on your overall health. Begin by choosing better. It is a step toward longevity.


Ramila Padiachy
Ramila's Healing Arts Clinic