This is the time of the year when we are stressed more than usual. Although we have daily stress in our lives we deal with, it is not ideal for us to have chronic stress. Chronic stress is ongoing stress that we hold on to when we should let it go. When we do not let it go it can do harm to our mind, body, and spirit.
I had a conversation with a loved one who is under a tremendous amount of stress. He confided in me that he just doesn’t feel well, but cannot explain how he feels – he just knows that something isn’t right. I asked questions about what’s going on in his life and he told me.
My loved one has been stressed for a long time and now it’s catching up with him. I explained to him how stress can have an effect on his body and mind. I recommended that he try letting go of those things that he has no control over and not worry.
I also told him he needs to take time to relax in all areas of his life. I suggested that he try eating slower, meditate, deep breathe, take Epsom salt baths, take Magnesium, and spend quiet time with himself. I informed him that it is okay to have some stress, but it is not okay to hold on to stress for long periods of time.
Side-note: I think this is my first unofficial client. He told me that he felt better after sharing his concerns with me and will do what I recommended. He also told me that he knows I will be a great coach.
Let’s talk about stress today. These days the word stress is used a lot, but do we really know what stress is and what it does to the body?
What is Stress?
First let’s learn what stress is:
- c: physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation d: a state resulting from stress; esp : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition)
What Stress Does to You
Stress, whether it is from a physical, chemical or emotional source puts tension on the body and mind. Prolonged tension can possibly cause disease. I am learning that this prolonged tension (stress) can also cause inflammation in the body, which is what ultimately leads to disease in the body.
A stress response in the body causes things to happen. One of the things that happens in the body is the increase in the cortisol levels.
- Cortisol is a glucocorticoid produced by the adrenal cortex when the adrenocorticotropic hormone is stimulated which mediates various processes such as gluconeogenesis. Cortisol has anti-inflammatory and immunosurpressive properties and the level of cortisol in the blood may become elevated in response to physical or psychological stress. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
- gluconeognesis: formation of glucose within the animal body esp. by the liver for the substances (as fats and proteins) other than carbohydrates. (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
As you can see when the cortisol level is high in the blood, it triggers the formation of glucose. Too much glucose in the body has a profound impact of the body, which is not good for optimal health and well-being.
This is just one example of what happens in the body when physical, chemical or emotional stress is allowed to manifest for a longer periods of time.
Below are some of the things that can happen in your body as a result of chronic stress:
- weight gain
- inability to lose weight (fat)
- insulin resistance
- leptin resistance
- increased cortisol levels
- increase in insulin levels
- blood flow is 4 times less
- healthy gut bacteria dies off
- suppressed immune system
- excretion of nutrients
- metabolism slows down
- less thyroid and growth hormones.
Stress is a Serious Matter
Prolonged stress is a serious matter. Here’s a quick story about a neighbor who died of a massive heart attack.
The neighbor and I were in the same age group, but I think he was a few years older. He had never had any issues with his heart, but I learned he was under a tremendous amount of stress at the time of his death.
He could have had underlying heart-health issues, but the stress probably made those issues manifest quicker. I don’t know for sure if stress was the issue, but I honestly believe that stress was one of the factors that contributed to his death.
Chronic stress can take you out slowly or quickly and it is serious.
Ways To De-stress and Relax
We live in a world in which we are constantly on the move and bombarded with lots of information. If we are not careful we can easily become overwhelmed. Fast pace living equals high stress living.
Here are some ways to de-stress:
- pray and/or meditate
- get at least 8 hours of sleep
- practice deep breathing
- exercise (don’t over exercise)
- set aside time for yourself
- relax as much as possible
- stay calm as much as possible
- slow down in every area of your life
- take Epsom salt baths
- take a Magnesium supplement
- eat dark chocolate (don’t over do it)
- don’t worry about things that are out of your control
- eat a balanced diet
- decrease or eliminate sugar in your diet
- stay positive.
There are many ways to de-stress. The key to handling stress is to deal with it when it comes and let it go. It is easier said than done, because we are human, but we have to pay attention to how we feel as well as how we respond stress. Knowing this information about ourselves gives us the tools which makes de-stressing a more effective strategy. We never want to hold on to stress for a long period of time.
Make it a habit of de-stressing daily because doing so helps with your stress level and your overall health and well-being. We cannot avoid all stress in our lives, but we can certainly control how the mind, body, and spirit responds to stress.
Be good to your mind, body, and spirit and they will be good to you.
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