After making my lifestyle changes mentioned in “My wellness journey parts 1, 2 and 3″ (coming out this Thursday) I have felt so good. Better than I can remember feeling in a long time. I am off of my stomach medication, I am not taking drugs, my allergies are much less violent and I have not needed my inhaler in almost a year.
These are great leaps in my health BUT I still suffer from some nagging health issues. The reason I started the Weekly Wellness series is to hold my self accountable for my own health by making more small, sustainable changes to reach my health goals.
The more things I change in my life, the more I realize that stress plays a huge roll in my health and the health of my loved ones. What I find ironic is a lot of these health changes tend to cause stress in the short-term. It is so frustrating to figure out what food to eat, what to drink, what cook ware wont make you more toxic, healing protocols, the list goes on. This can be stressful too!
What is stress?
“Stress typically describes a negative concept that can have an impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, but it is unclear what exactly defines stress and whether or not stress is a cause, an effect, or the process connecting the two.” – Wikipedia
In other words stress is a physical and mental response to physical and emotional triggers. When a person is stressed they release many hormones, the most commonly known stress hormone is released by the adrenal glands and is called Cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal gland during a stress response. This can be a physical stress response like injury, running from a predator or an intense workout, or mental like a death in the family, moving, financial problems, screaming children, irritating spouses, etc.
Cortisol affects insulin distribution throughout the body. It sends glucose (the sugar your body runs off of) to the different parts of your body that are stressed. If you run a marathon, the glucose will go to the muscles that you are using to give them energy to move.
Where does it go when you are mentally stressed?
When you are mentally stressed your body is still producing cortosol and keeping free glucose in the system ready to throw it wherever the body needs it. Unfortunately there is no physical signal coming from the body telling it where to send the glucose. This leaves free glucose floating around the body causing insulin resistance.
Cortisol also suppresses the immune system in order to provide more energy in a fight or flight situation. This is great in a short-term “oh shit” moment, but when people are chronically stressed they experience decreased immune function for a long-term, which is dangerous to their heath.
These stress responses are biologically necessary but we are living in a state of chronic stress!
“Chronic stress is the response to emotional pressure suffered for a prolonged period over which an individual perceives he or she has no control. It involves an endocrine system response in which occurs a release of corticosteroids. If this continues for a long time, it can cause damage to an individual’s physical and mental health.”- Wikipedia
Most adults in society today suffer from chronic stress.
Chronic stress causes many health problems, many of which we consider new epidemics going out of control in the last 50 years such as:
- Social Isolation
- Abdominal pain
- Insomnia/inability to sleep
- Back Pain
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Upset Stomach
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Intense Mood Swings
- Heightened Confusion
- Inability to Complete Tasks
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Bad Cholesterol Levels
- Vericose Veins
- Increases Inflammation/Chronic Inflammation
- Pannic Attacks/Panic Disorder
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Decreases Immune System Function
- Slows Wound Healing
- Impairing Developmental Growth in Children
- Bad Memmory
- Increased Fat Storage
- Inability to Loose Weight
- Nervous Habits
These are just SOME of the ways chronic stress affects us!
So how do I reduce my stress? Life is insane, I have a million things going on, this post just stressed me out! Why did you tell me this?
I chose to discuss stress this week in attempt to reduce our overall stress! I too am insanely stressed out all the time. There are so many things going on and so many things that NEED TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW OMG. I am stressed and suffering for it.
For the next month we will be focusing on making small changes to relieve the stress in our lives.
This week I want you to identify stressors in your life.
Keep a note pad or a document on your phone or tablet and write down every stressor in your life. Some are big like financial troubles, sick family, death in the family, moving the family across the country. Some will be smaller like that whiny voice your child does when they are tired or the fact that your significant other forgets to put dishes IN the sink instead of on the counter.
Write it all down then BREATHE. That is very important. Breathe in positive thoughts “I love my husband” “I love my child” “I am sending healing thoughts to Grandpa”. Breathe out the negative “Dishes” “Whine” “Hospital”. Do that a few times. Nice. Deep. Calming. Breaths. Count to 10 and breathe.
What are the stressors in your life? How do you handle them? Do you have a favorite way to reduce stress?
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