What I want you to realise today is that it's how you respond to stress that's important...
affects your immune system
, physical and mental health
, how you perceive the world, as well as your ability to perform on all levels.
To put it bluntly, stress
will determine a lot of health outcomes in your life. Or should I rather say how you respond to stress
. As this is the main idea I want you take away from this article.
So this thing called stress comes in many forms. But for the purpose of this conversation let’s define it as anything that comes along and knocks you out of balance or equilibrium. And the stress response is your body’s way of trying to restore homeostasis.
Stress has a survival function - when something happens that may threaten or endanger you, your senses perceive it and this information is turned into action via your nervous system and endocrine system.
Hormones that make you alert and focused allow you to evade the danger by taking quick action. This could be slamming on the breaks to avoid a car accident or grabbing a child’s arm before he or she falls over.
In this sense, the stress is acute, your body responds and things turn back to normal. Your heart rate comes down and the neurochemicals in your body return to their optimal concentrations. The stress response did its job and saved the day.
This acute physical stress is great in a survival situation that only lasts for a few seconds. When the threat subsides, inflammation has done its job and is switched off. This is what happens in a perfect world.
In the short term inflammation promotes healing, helps us adapt to external physical stressors and internal pathogens and plays a crucial role in survival.
Acute inflammation is protective, chronic inflammation on the other hand is the precursor to many types of disease and an early death.
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Whether inflammation is a friend or foe depends on your body’s ability to switch it off when it is no longer needed...
What happens when stress is not caused by a physical threat and is not of short duration?
When the source of the stress is psychological and chronic, lingering over many days, weeks, even months or years. This is when the stress response turns from friend to foe.
It is a fact that human beings can turn on the stress response by thought alone. Just by thinking of problems you stimulate the release of hormones and neurochemicals. And your body doesn’t know the difference between a physical threat or an emotional trigger. It responds in the same way.
What happens then is chronic stress causes an inflammatory response, which in turn expresses genes that cause disease and illness. It puts you in a “survival” state.
Dr Ian Weinberg, who pioneered PNE (Psycho-neuro endocrinology) has illustrated that when pro-inflammatory mediators (cortisol, adrenaline and pro-inflammatory cytokines) are high, this activates the amygdala (centre in the brain responsible for fear, anxiety
, panic and rage), which in turn suppresses the immune system
and lowers dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.
This impairs the pre-frontal cortex (centre of the brain responsible for clarity, calmness, reason and focus) and kills cells in the hippocampus (centre of the brain responsible for short-term memory and stress buffering).
This pro-inflammatory hormonal cocktail combined with other irritants like cigarette smoke and highly processed foods contribute to a host of diseases.
Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes etc), neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Motorneuron disease etc) and cancer
all start with chronic inflammation in the body.
...Persistant low level inflammation can lead to premature death.
The real problem is that by the time real symptoms start showing, the damage has already been done.
So, what can you do about this?
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How to tell if you could be affected by Adrenal Fatigue
• You feel tired or weak
• You need coffee to get going
in the mornings…
• Your daily tasks feel like hard work
• You feel like you’re not coping
(it’s all too much)…
• You struggle to concentrate
and don’t finish tasks…
• You feel irritable, anxious or depressed
• Get headaches
• Reduced interest
Feeling run down and drained all the time doesn’t have to be your normal state-of-being.
Unfortunately, it is for millions of people – all over the world – who just can’t seem to keep up anymore.
And there’s a very good explanation for this…
Researchers at numerous institutions, including Harvard University, Johns Hopkins and Stanford University identified that certain chemicals flick the ‘age switch’ on in people over 50, forcing them to slow down.
These chemicals gradually build up in your bloodstream over time as you age.
Until one day the switch finally flicks causing your metabolism to drag along at snail’s pace, dropping your oxygen levels and dipping your hormones until they’re practically undetectable.
But it doesn't have to be that way!
The answer to restoring your youthful energy is as easy as 1-2-3… Full details here…
Become aware of psychological triggers in your life....
Common causes of psychological stress include but are not limited to the following:
• Any sudden changes in your environment and daily routine
• Loss of a loved one
• Erratic sleep
• Severe traffic or constant traveling
• Mental consequences of physical trauma
Awareness of this is the critical first step in taking control of your life and health.
Chronic stress turns on the stress response and you stay in survival mode if you don’t turn off the response.
The usual emotions connected to survival are anger, aggression, hostility, hatred, competition, fear, worry, anxiety
, suffering, guilt, shame, unworthiness, un-forgiveness, envy, jealousy, bitterness, resentment etc.
If your survival response/genes are activated, you cannot help to focus on these thoughts and feelings. As you focus on these, they become a lens through which you evaluate everything.
There are many other lifestyle related choices you can make on a daily basis that will help your body become more robust and stress resistant. These include:
• Mind states
• State management
• Socail support
• Immune function support
• Meaning and purpose
These topics are beyond the scope of this article but some fall under the rest of the other 9 categories and will be addressed in the future, so keep reading my articles every week.
Becoming aware of phsylogical stress and the thoughts and feelings associated with them is the first step.
The second step is to find the off switch.
By changing the way you respond to stress in your life, will change the effect stress ultimately has on your life and health.
You have a choice in how you respond. Your automatic way of responding can be unlearned and replaced. The key is not to control your emotions, but to learn to control how you respond to them. Learning how to change your emotional response to your environment is where true transformation starts.
Everything you hear, even from yourself, is an opinion, not a fact. Everything you see is a perspective, not the truth. Just because you have a thought, it doesn’t mean it’s true. But your body doesn’t know that. Your body responds as though it is truth. Your body responds to the commands (thoughts and feelings) it receives from the brain.
It all starts in your head.