Managing Ongoing Stress
We all experience stress as part of these busy and chaotic times we’re living in. Our bodies are hardwired to handle stress, but over time too much stress takes a toll on the body. How we manage our stress is very important and is often under-valued. I can help you to understand and spot the sources of stress then figure out how to manage it so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your health.
What is Stress
Stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures. In a medical or biological context, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological or social situations) or internal (illness or from a medical procedure).
I’ve long told patients that stress is the number one factor in their lives that can interrupt or ruin all of the other healthy efforts they’re making. Think about it, you eat a pretty healthy diet, exercise a couple of times per week, but work 50 hours in a stressful job then come home to a stressful and busy family life, and you just can’t lose those 15 pounds, or worse, are gaining weight and not doing anything to justify why.
Stress and the Body
Stress physiology is tough. The brain cannot tell the difference from you stressing out in bad traffic (and surviving it) from a wild animal running after you to eat you for dinner. Nor does it know when you are hungry and haven’t eaten in a while that you have a pantry full of food are aren’t going to starve to death.
The brain is primal, magnificent and wired for survival. The adrenals get involved each time you get stressed out, and like any muscle or organ, gets fatigued and burnt out after so much stress is thrown at it without much recovery time. The worst part, most people don’t have brief stress-free periods in which the body and adrenals can recover, and are thus, constantly in a state of high stress.
Or in other words, when we feel threatened the sympathetic nervous system is activated causing the heart rate to increase, the pupils to dilate and blood to be directed towards the extremities. Digestion is temporarily shut down. This is known as the “fight or flight” response and is why when we are stressed, we may feel agitated or want to run away from our problems.
Cortisol, sometimes called “the stress hormone”, is also released, causing increases in both blood pressure and inflammation while suppressing the immune system. If our bodies continue to experience high amounts of cortisol, physical symptoms start showing up and our overall health and well-being declines.
The most common manifestations of stress include:
- Sleeping disorders
- Anger / irritability
- Anxiety disorders
- Hypertension / High blood pressure
- Decrease in sexual desire or ability
- Poor or excessive appetite
- Desire for sweets and dessert
If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for a while now, it’s a good time to seek support. I can help you to feel improved energy, decreased stress symptoms and more relaxation and ease.