The Most Stressful of Times

By BJLife/Alan Freishtat
Posted on 10/19/23

Alan Freishtat will be in the Baltimore-Washington area November 1st and 2nd.  To schedule an appointment contact him

Jerusalem, Israel - Oct. 19, 2023 - In my 38+ years in Israel, I have certainly experienced my share of stress and stressful  situations.  But what happened here two weeks ago here is Israel has certainly created the most stressful of situations.  We are all praying for the families of those taken from us, the wounded and injured, the hostages and certainly for our soldiers. Is there a way for us to manage this much stress? Let’s first take a look at the nature of stress. 

So here we are making things even worse.  We are reaching for the bag of chips, stocking the pantry with chocolate and sitting too much, watching the news.  Instead of taking some steps to reduce and control our situations, we are trading 4 minutes of pleasure for long-term damage.

Stress damages our health and wellbeing.  Even in the best of times, we live in a society where the demands made upon us are unreasonable.  Everyday stress can originate in the workplace, school, from relationships, or a host of other areas. The most dangerous aspect of stress is its long-term activation, which can disrupt almost all of the body’s processes and increase the risk of numerous health problems.  

Three big factors that come into play in controlling stress are exercise, diet and sleep.  Even when we are not at war, the latest facts and figures on stress are indeed frightening. Using statistics from the United States, we see that in a survey of 3,000 adults over the age of 18, 75% reported feeling financial stress.  But it is job-related stress that sits at the top of the list.  80% of workers say they feel stress on the job. The cost?  Workplace stress causes healthcare expenditures of roughly $150 billion per year.  That is about 7% of all health care expenditures per year.

Certain kinds of stress can indeed be healthy. If we had no stress at all, we wouldn’t get things done and deadlines would be meaningless. Chronic stress can not only be debilitating, it can be dangerous.  If your stress response is turned on too much or certainly if it is turned on ALL the time, it will lead to serious issues - both psychological and physiological. For many people is Israel today, this is the unfortunate reality.

Stress has been linked to a long list of illnesses, including heart disease, depression, insomnia, anxiety. Dr. Kenneth Pallatier of The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine has research that shows that 85-90% of all illness is stress induced or stress exacerbated.  Stress almost always causes sleep deprivation, which in turn intensifies our stress levels and that becomes a terrible cycle where one gets more and more stressed and gets less and less sleep. 

How do we deal with stress and improve our wellness?  Many people need professional help, but there are certain things we can all do on our own to help keep our stress in check

Here are some helpful tips in order to help you control your stress:

Nutrition plays a part

Foods may not make the stress go away, but they may reduce the negative health effects that are highly associated with chronic stress, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and cardiovascular disease.  Some recent research also indicates that eating has a pronounced effect on mood.  So, while our tendency might be to eat excessively during this stressful times, please remember that food, while essential for nutrition and helpful for real hunger, solves NO OTHER PROBLEMS, but they certainly can cause many! 

Besides food and exercise, sunshine and other sources of vitamin D may boost serotonin levels through an increase in the enzyme that converts tryptophan to serotonin.

Implementing any or all of these tips can make a big difference in your stress level. Of course, seeing a good psychologist or qualified therapist can be very helpful. I always emphasize to my client that it’s NEVER one thing.  Exercise, diet, therapy, meditation, and prayer are all important.  Use them all.  And one more thing—if a few times a week you feel a need to treat yourself with some dark chocolate or some other dessert type food—if you can set limits, keep it as occasional and not use food that is terribly addictive, then schedule it in.  Just don’t make it into a bad habit.

It’s tough times for the Jewish people and the world in general.  The one thing that is key to stress management is not trying to control those things we have no control over.  But, keeping our stress under control will “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.” 

Alan Freishtat is a HEALTH and WELLNESS COACH and PERSONAL TRAINER with more than 25 years of professional experience. He is a graduate of the eCornell University Certificate course on Plant Based Nutrition and has recently been appointed to the Council of the True Health Initiative.  Alan is director of The Wellness Clinic. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at US Line: 516-568-5027

Alan Freishtat will be in the Baltimore-Washington area November 1st and 2nd.  To schedule an appointment contact him