What You Need To Know About Holistic Strategies For Dealing With Stress

What You Need To Know About Holistic Strategies For Dealing With Stress

Managing Stress During the COVID Pandemic

No one is immune to the effects of stress; in fact, the human body is built to experience and respond to it. Being overwhelmed or unable to cope with pressures in life is especially common stress to experience at this time.

Thirty-three per cent of people globally say they are severely stressed, 77 per cent say it impacts their physical and mental health, and 48 per cent say it interferes with their sleep. 

The Covid 19 Pandemic has heightened people’s feelings of stress, anxiety, worry, and fear particularly in lockdowns. Because of the delta variant of Covid-19, about half of Australia’s population is currently in lockdown, adding to that feeling of stress.

In his book A Life Less Stressed, Dr Ron Ehrlich recommends taking a holistic approach in managing stress, and focusing on sleep and how we breathe are foundational.

The Five Categories of Stress

The team at the Sydney Holistic Dental Centre defines stress as “anything that compromises immune function and promotes chronic inflammation”, the common denominator in all diseases.

To that effect we use the five stressors model to identify and help minimise and manage stressors:

  • Emotional
  • Environmental 
  • Postural
  • Nutritional 
  • Dental stress

Different Ways to Look at Stress 

The nervous system perspective  

Part of the nervous system regulates involuntary physiological processes. It contains three divisions: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric, and there are broadly speaking three responses:

  • Ideally, we should be in the parasympathetic mode which is commonly associated with ‘rest and digest’ and a state of relaxation
  • When we are confronted with perceived threats or stressful situations the, “fight or flight” response kicks in
  • When confronted with dangerous or threatening situations like abuse, violence, or trauma, the ‘freeze’ response can occur

Stress impacts your health

Stress can weaken your immune system or increase chronic inflammation because stressors are common denominators in both mental and physical illnesses.

Exposure to environmental toxins

Stress kicks in when your immune system is exposed to;

  • Toxins
  • Environmental air pollution 
  • Mould in your house 
  • Environmental chemicals
  • Excessively close exposure to WiFi radiation

Other stressors include:

  • Eating unhealthy food 
  • Sitting at your desk all the time
  • Underlying infections or chronic inflammation within your body that you are unaware of (such as undiagnosed oral diseases which often have no pain associated with them, but can affect immune function)

Identifying and reducing as many of these stressors as possible is the goal of managing stress holistically.

The Five Pillars For Balancing Stress


Life is a balancing act and if you think of it as a balancing beam, on one side you can identify and minimise as many stressors as possible.  

The other side of the ‘balancing beam of life’ is to develop resilience in your body and mind to handle the stress in our modern world.

The five pillars for balancing stress, building that physical, mental and emotional resilience are:

  • Sleep
  • Breathe
  • Nourish
  • Move
  • Thought

Every one of these pillars and every stressor mentioned before is interconnected – they are not isolated. This is what a holistic approach is all about.

A Holistic View of Managing Stress and Sleep

Prioritising ‘a consistently good night’s sleep’ as the habit of a lifetime is foundational.

Stress can keep you awake at night, but developing good sleep hygiene will help you obtain ‘a consistently good night’s sleep’. But don’t be hard on yourself…there are always ups and downs.

You will inevitably have periods in your life when you don’t get enough sleep for days or maybe even weeks.

However, if the problem persists, you should address it. Consider these two suggestions:

  • Talking to somebody about what it is that you’re so stressed out about.
  • Journaling before you go to bed.
  • Consulting a sleep physician to explore potentially more serious issues.
    We work closely the Sydney Sleep Centre.

 “If you haven’t slept well for a few days or a week, let alone months or a year, you can find sleep deprivation makes you short-tempered and dismissive. If you  get a good night’s sleep, your attitude can change dramatically.”

– Dr Ron Ehrlich

Change How You React To And Manage Life Stresses

The best method to deal with stress is to take a holistic approach:

  • Take a holistic view to balance your health and consider how everything is interconnected
  • Concentrate on what you can control rather than worrying about what you can’t…this is even more important during the pandemic and lockdowns
  • Because mood and food are inextricably linked, be conscious of what you eat and how you nourish yourself
  • Practice getting in touch with your feelings ….for many of us this takes practice.
  • Rather than bundling it all up talking to professionals in this area can often be constructive and helpful
  • Practice breathing exercises to switch on the ‘relax, rest and digest’ part of your nervous system within minutes… yes it’s true… by:
    • Inhaling through the nose for four seconds
    • Breathing out for four seconds slowly
    • Holding your breath for four seconds
    • Repeat that five to ten times a day 

Two Thoughts In Conclusion…

  1. Your health is far too important to leave to anybody else… even though we are here to help on that journey. Take control of what you can control… it will the best decision you’ll ever make.
  2. Focus on sleeping and breathing well as THE foundational pillars of a holistic approach.

Thanks to Brent Bultitude for Hosting Dr Ron on 2HD Radio

Follow Brent at Radio Station 2HD for all his latest shows, including several with Dr Ron.