I say us, because I don’t think anyone is immune to high stress. If you are immune, we want to know how!
So let’s talk science and how our bodies were created.
When our bodies perceive danger, the adrenals (a small Gland in your Kidneys) releases Cortisol. It’s that fight or flight chemical our bodies use to prompt us into action. Cortisol is activated by stress, and is designed to keep us alive in danger. It’s the first phase of fight or flight. It causes your heart rate to rise, puts glucose into your muscles, heightens your senses, and makes you paranoid to “find the danger, find the danger.” Whether you are faced with the threat of a wild animal or running a marathon, Cortisol can be your friend.
While producing cortisol is a necessity for life and helps keep us motivated, awake and responsive to our environment, maintaining abnormally high circulating cortisol levels can become dangerous and contribute to long-term problems. When this stress hormone is pumped into our bodies, it takes so much energy that other bodily functions shut down. Your immune system, your bodies response to inflammation, Digestion and growth and development (YOU CANNOT LEARN WHEN YOU ARE IN HIGH STRESS). You also lose rational decision making. Too much cortisol over an extended period of time can cause Cushings syndrome. It’s why stress can cause us to get sick. Anyone surprised by this?
Chronic stress is now linked with just about every health problem out there. Stress affects most people at least to some degree and impacts health by sending chemical signals around the body, including to the heart and blood vessels, immune system, lungs, digestive system, sensory organs, and brain. Stress has the power to increase breathing, heart rate, pain and muscle tension, your appetite (including overeating), and sleep-related problems. Its because of this overdose of cortisol and shows up as symptoms such as :
- rapid weight gain mainly in the face, chest and tummy area
- a flushed and round face
- high blood pressure
- skin changes (bruises and purple stretch marks)
- muscle weakness
- mood swings, which show as anxiety, depression or irritability
- increased thirst and frequency of urination.
Nowadays, we might not see that wild animal lurching for us, or be in danger from the threats that used to plague us, now the stress is every day real stuff. For example, stress in the corporate world might be rumors of lay offs. Whether the threat is real or not, the rumor starts and your body responds with cortisol. It’s biology. It could be caused by perceived dangers you have of your job, your kids, your other half, your house. Anything.
In fact, The role of psychosocial work stress as a risk factor for chronic disease has been the subject of considerable debate. Researchers from the University College London (UCL), UK followed more than 10,000 British government workers since 1985 and found that workers were 68 percent more likely to die of heart disease, suffer a nonfatal heart attack or develop angina (chest pain) if they had long-term job stress.
Long term production of cortisol can then impair the adrenal glands causing adrenal fatigue.
What can you do?
- Manage Stress. Anyway you can.
- Schedule time out. you may say you don’t have time, but you don’t have time to be down for the count (nor are you any use when you aren’t 100%).
- Work out
- Use your oils
- Laugh. LOTS!!
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat an anti inflammatory diet. No processed foods, no sugars.
- Lots of anti oxidants (Ningxia is your best one)
Whats your best stress reduction tactic?