“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
From time to time life spins out of our control, whether it is a terrorist attack, a terrible accident, a diagnosis, or an “act of God”, and our bodies automatically react with stress. Our nervous system responds with a hormonal release of adrenaline.
Adrenaline works on muscle and liver cells and causes the quick release of glucose into the blood stream as an extra energy source. It also prioritizes the major organs (the heart, lungs and brain) and sends blood there at the expense of the digestive system. You may notice a tightening of the stomach and a lack of appetite, heartburn or nausea.
As tempting as it is, try to avoid the adrenaline diet: coffee, cola, energy drinks, until it’s time to try to wind down with alcohol. This liquid diet is often accompanied by quickly metabolized foods such as cookies, donuts, candy, ice cream alternated with chips, fries and other salty snacks. The body is already revved up, and so for those of us who do not have to jump into the fire to save the victims, we can serve ourselves and others best by staying calm, and not further ramping up our systems with dietary stimulants.
Hydration is more important than ever. Drink plenty of water; sip warm water if you like. Comforting drinks include the well-known chamomile tea, also lavender, valerian, and herbal blends as “Sleepytime” or “Tension Tamer”. Warm milk is known to be soothing. For a bit of caffeine but without the jitters, turn to green tea, which combines valuable antioxidants with a boost to alertness.
Since your stressed digestive system can not do its job as well as you might like, choose easy-to-digest foods, such as smoothies and pureed soups. Create low-glycemic meals (of slowly metabolizing foods), with plenty of protein, fiber and healthy fats such as avocado and coconut. Sit down, breathe before eating, eat slowly, chewing as thoroughly as you can. Digestion begins in the mouth, and with a compromised digestive system, use this first portion as well as you can.
As is frequently recommended for all types of stress, breathe deeply, mediate if you can, practice yoga or even simple stretching exercises to help relax your muscles. Go outside, enjoy a walk or other light exercise. A full night’s sleep can change everything. If nothing else, spend time resting while horizontal and without the stimulation of tv, news, messaging, etc.
Aromatherapy and homeopathic remedies can be effective in acute situations. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy is the first to go to. Essential oils of geranium, peppermint, lavender, jasmine, chamomile and lemongrass are comforting. Additionally, from Holistic Online, “for short-term relief from stress and anxiety: Aconite is the medication (homeopathic remedy) of choice if your anxiety is the result of a sudden fright or shock. If you are grief stricken (such as when one of your loved ones die), the homeopath may give you ignatia. In situations such as stage fright and other anticipatory and performance anxiety, gelsemium is recommended. If you have anxiety accompanied by diarrhea, gelsemium is the preferred choice.”
What to say (or not) to your children? Storytelling friends have started a wonderful subscription story service called “Sparkle Stories.” Here are their storytelling suggestions to help comfort yourself and your children with a focus on the abundant helpers, goodness and light.