Why is it that some individuals seem to thrive under stress while others wither? We all know people that can manage a 40+ hour work week, multiple kids, and family obligations and still find personal time to relax and unwind. The way we perceive stress is paramount to the way in which our body handles it. However, from our clinical experience, we have seen many individuals that may think they are handling stress very well but an Adrenal Stress Index tells us otherwise. In order to help these individuals recover and rebuild their ability to cope with stress, we go beyond the obvious stressors and explore hidden sources which the patient may be completely oblivious to. While we’ve all heard the mantra “take a deep breath,relax, and everything will be fine” the fact is there are hidden culprits of stress that function at a level beyond our awareness.
Some of the most overlooked stressors are electromagnetic fields (EMF) radiation and radio frequency radiation. On a daily basis, we are bombarded with radio frequencies and EMFs from televisions, computers, Wi-Fi signals, cellular phones and other electronic devices that we carry around like an extra limb. Even when we are travelling, we are exposed through cars, buses, and airplanes. The frightening aspect of EMF and radio frequency radiation is the fact that it simply has not existed long enough to allow us to know what the long term consequences really are. While the research in this area is still young, EMF radiation has been indicated as possible contributor to multiple types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, headaches, low sperm count, impaired immune function, mood disorders, and sleep disorders to name a few. One thing we do know conclusively is if there is EMF near us, our body is completely exposed. At this point in time, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has identified EMF as a possible carcinogen. More information on EMF can be found at World Health Organization EMF Project (http://www.who.int/peh-emf/project/EMF_Project/en/).
This image below is a great illustration of the power and frequency of different electromagnetic spectrums that we all exposed to (Photo courtesy of: http://www.vortexbioshield.com/assets/images/EM-Spectrum-Colour.jpg)
Hans Selye, considered the father of the concept of stress found that our response to stress typically goes one of two ways. The first step is the alarm stage where we perceive the stressor and our sympathetic nervous system (called the “fight or flight” system) gets activated. This phase can be defined by physiologic processes such as an increase in heart rate, inhibition of digestive function, constriction of blood vessels, dilation of the pupils, and dilation of the blood vessels for muscles. The second step is the resistance phase. This phase is characterized by the body adapting to the stressor and using resources such as the body’s natural coping mechanisms to defend off the stressor and move into the recovery phase. However, prolonged exposure to the stressor can deplete our resources and literally exhaust our body to move it into the second pathway: exhaustion. Selye indicated that this stage alone can be a trigger for a myriad of health conditions such as ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and cardiovascular manifestations. If the stressor persists for long enough, it can ultimately lead to death. Since EMFs are all around us, these are stressors that are always there without our awareness and can be a hidden contributor to several pathologic processes.
One key point to remember is that not all stress is bad stress (“distress”). There is also good stress (“eustress”) which we need to move forward in our life and grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Examples of eustress include physical exercise (including sports), getting married, watching a horror movie, going shopping, travelling, and getting a promotion at work. However, for individuals with compromised adrenal function (for more on adrenal fatigue visit our more detailed article), even a positive stressor such as physical exercise may be enough to cause distress. This further highlights the importance of minimizing EMF exposure and actively working to avoid this hidden factor can be vital in achieving optimal long-term health. Below I share 10 not-so-common tips to protect you from EMF that are highly effective and easy to implement:
- Turn off your Wi-Fi before you go to sleep. We are exposed to Wi-Fi signals on a daily basis, from coffee shops to malls to our own homes. If it is not a life or death situation, your Wi-Fi should be turned off before bed.
- Turn off your cell phone or at least put it into airplane mode. This terminates all signals coming and going from your cell phone and allows you to be protected while you sleep. This action step is extremely important as the vast majority of cell phone owners keep their phone near their bed in case of an emergency call or to use the alarm clock feature.
- Ditch the alarm clock, especially if it has a bright backlight so you can see the time all through the night. Not only will it interfere with your sleep by constantly reminding you what time it is, the light itself from the alarm clock will inhibit your ability to get deep and efficient sleep. Sleeping in a pitch-black environment is essential to waking up rested.
- Switch out your cordless phones for its predecessor. While this may not be the most convenient step, sticking to a landline phone will help limit your EMF exposure.
- Use a wired headset for any cell phone conversations. While you can’t always prepare to have a headset plugged in and ready to go, if you know you have a call to make, use a headset. This is an extremely cheap fix with a huge return on your investment.
- Buy EMF filters for all your outlets. These can be found online and are relatively cheap way to prevent your outlets from creating EMF.
- Unplug all electronics near your bed such as lamps before going to sleep. If you require a bedside light source, I recommend a Himalayan salt lamp which is a far more natural light to get you ready for bed.
- Invest in EMF protective clothing, especially if you are pregnant. You can find everything from hats to underwear and maternity clothing that actually blocks EMF.
- Move your furniture away from the wall. Even the wiring in your wall emits EMF and this can be dissipated by simply moving your furniture 3-6 inches from the wall. If you are building a new wall (new project or renovation), putting all your wires in piping can permanently block EMF from being created.
- The final step is simply to practice awareness. Be aware of how much you are using your cell phone, how close you’re sitting to the router and how much time you spend surrounded by EMF.
Given the fact that we live in a time where electronics have become a requirement for basic day to day requirements such as lighting and heating our homes, complete avoidance is not the goal and that could create another stressor in itself. By practicing awareness, you are protecting yourself from the unnecessary EMF that is completely avoidable.