Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MOMS Help 911 - Part 9 - Sleep Deprivation (3)

Part of life is learning how to become a good manager of all that God gives us. We manage ourselves (self-control). We manage our stuff (I love to declutter and toss so I have less of that stuff to manage). We manage our homes by becoming on-purpose home keepers. We manage our finances - becoming good givers, good savers and good stewards making the best of what we have.

We manage our time and our margins. We manage our health. We also manage our relationships - giving and receiving and developing relationships that are biblically based on doing them God's way - not our way.

I think you get my point. We are all called to manage and in the end we want the "well done good and faithful (manager)" word from God.

Our stress load is something else we manage. As a mater of fact managing stress is a subject that perks up every woman's ears. I think it's fair to say that we all want to find the Ten Keys to Manage Stress.

Stress (according to Dr. Schwarzbein, author of the Schwarzbein Principle) causes our body to use up its biochemicals-but this is not always bad. Our body needs to use them so that we can accomplish our daily activities. So, we don't want to eliminate all stress from our life, we just need to learn to manage the stress better so we can keep our body from using up biochemicals faster than it can rebuild them. If we don't, we'll damage our metabolism (weight gain and other symptoms) that lead to accelerated metabolic aging, degenerative diseases and earlier death.

Stress comes in two forms: the immediate life-threatening kind and the chronic non-life threatening kind. Today, the stressors that we generally encounter are the day to day kinds that seem chip away at us. Those stressors look like being busy all day with what Dr. Schwarzbein calls "self-imposed" tasks.

Years ago I took a human anatomy and physiology class (in my pursuit to become a nurse) and I remember being amazed at how intricately God put out bodies together. The study on hormones was and still is (especially since going through the Big M - menopause) to understand.

God gave us two types of major hormones that help us deal with stress. Our body secretes adrenaline and cortisol. If stress is acute these hormones can save our lives. However is the stress is non life-threatening and chronic, these same hormones (according to Dr. Schwarzbein) can shorten our life by causing our bodies to use up its biochemicals faster. Not good.

Dr. Schwarzbein, who is an endocrinologist is Santa Barbara, CA., says that one of the most important things for all of us to do is to learn how to manage our personal stress - so that we can counterbalance the potentially high secretions (caused by lots of stress) of these hormones. How do we do that? By eliminating the stress that caused them to be high in the first place.

Downtime is key. When the brain is working overtime, so are the major stress hormones. Dr. Schwarzbein says that when the brain is at rest it is not sending the stress signals to your adrenal glands and this allows them time to heal. She describes downtime as the process of dealing with stress. Downtime is when your brain is not being bombarded by 1,001 different thoughts or tasks.

How hard is that for a wife or mother today? Just think about the stimulus that confronts you in an hours time. Just look at your daily schedule and the needs of your family and any other pressures that surround you. And, yet, downtime is critical because it's one of the times that our brains rests and rebuilds neurotransmitters.

More next time, I'm going to go get some downtime in. The first of this Mom's Help Series is here.

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