Perspiratory activities aren't the only subjects of this year's Sweat issue. Another type of sweat, that of anxiety and psychological distress, can affect one's health—this time for the worse. In fact, according to the New York nonprofit American Institute of Stress, stress is America's No. 1 health problem, leading to a rash of complications such as hair loss, insomnia, depression, heart disease, sexual dysfunction and more.
Unfortunately, stress is also pervasive. Our careers, relationships and the news (guilty as charged) all bring some level of stress to our lives, and no one panacea exists to alleviate all stressors. Here at SFR, stressful deadlines are a daily part of the job, so we asked a few of our local favorites to weigh in with recommendations.
While it won’t help relieve the triggers of stress in most cases, a regular exercise regimen is soothing for the body and the mind. Doctor of Oriental medicine George Mandel, a certified practitioner of the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, says exercise might be the single most important treatment for stress because it helps to move energy—“chi” in Oriental medicine—through the body. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that anesthetize pain and provide broad-spectrum feelings of calm and wellbeing. See the rest of this issue for ideas.
“When people get stressed,” Mandel says, “without a shadow of a doubt, they don’t eat well as a rule. They might do things that don’t work well for them. People deal with stress in different ways. They might drink; they might do drugs; they do things in excess.” The introduction of toxins into the body puts strain on the liver, which in turn can result on the liver adversely acting on other organs, such as the kidneys, stomach and intestines, Mandel says. Oriental medicine, he explains, holds that the effects of stress on the body can be alleviated by soothing the liver through a balanced diet; acupuncture treatments; and herbal remedies, such as milk thistle and barberry teas.
Local herbal medicine shop Herbs, Etc. carries a number of in-house mixtures specifically designed to relieve stress. Herbs, Etc. naturopath and herb specialist Tim Gautchier recommends three in particular: Adrenal Tonic, Nervine Tonic and Kava Cool Complex. Often, Gautchier says, those suffering from severe stress seek out remedies that offer short-term relief. He recommends these three products, he says, because they kick in quickly—sometimes within 20 minutes—but can also be drawn out over a period of time for long-lasting relief. The Adrenal Tonic is designed to help the body achieve homeostasis by acting on the endocrine system, which controls metabolic activities; the Nervine Tonic is for calming the mind and muscles; and the Kava Cool Complex is specifically targeted at alleviating anxiety and depression.
Sometimes, the easiest way to tackle stress is to spend some time pampering yourself. Japanese health spa Ten Thousand Waves, a repeat Best of Santa Fe winner in SFR's annual readers' poll, offers a range of services for just that, many of which come with added health and hygiene benefits. Ten Thousand Waves spokeswoman Mary Johnson suggests specialized Ashi Anma foot treatments for rejuvenation, relaxation and increased circulation, as well as the Cryopeel skin treatment, which promotes new skin growth and increased collagen production. And of course, a trip to the hot tub is always recommended.