Stress.... and how it impacts your ENTIRE life
Life is stressful, ESPECIALLY now a days with our go go go society.
As a matter of fact you probably are stressed if you answer yes to any of the following questions :
Do you find yourself feeling tense in your neck and shoulders?
Do you get sick a lot?
Do you have unexplained weight gain?
Do you find yourself laying in bed at night not being able to sleep due to “everything on your mind”?
(Pretty sure every human has agreed with all of the above at some point) sooooo guess what…. you are stressed. Did you know that some studies show that most all illnesses are caused by stress?
HERE IS THE LOW DOWN:
When we are stressed out our inflammatory response in our bodies is elevated. Our adrenals release cortisol as they should BUTTT we never slow down enough to let those levels come down as they should. This leads to an entire host of problems down the line. See cortisol is basically a hormone that is released to help restore our bodies balance, but when elevated for too long, it causes a spike in glucose which causes an increase in insulin release in the blood, this leads to hunger, which can lead to over eating (just as one scenario).
Which leads me to……. Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome is as stated on the Sciencedaily from a study from UCSF, is a "cluster of abnormalities" , ranging from increased blood pressure, cholesterol, fat around the mid section, and high blood sugar. All of these can be triggered by chronic stress and the bodies response to it. All of these things increase ones risk to stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Most people tend to go towards high fat, high sugar foods when they are stressed for comfort, the bodies response to these things versus healthy foods can also through hormones off since they are processed and cause inflammation in the body, which again leads to stress on our systems.
So stress on our systems, what does that mean? I am referring to our systems like our immune system and digestive system.
Digestive System being my next topic…
It is getting more and more widely known that our “gut” is our second brain. This is because our gut and brain both communicate through each of their nervous systems (the gut being enteric and brain being central). Our immune system also lives primarily in our digestive system and when stressed doesn’t receive enough blood flow to function optimally. This is because our digestive system restricts blood flow to get our body into more of a fight or flight response and allow blood to other areas. This is why our stomachs can feel funky when we are about to go on stage or do something scary. The gut lining can also become more permeable do to stress factors leading to things like leaky gut (leaking proteins and other things into our body) which is now shown to have possible links to autoimmune issues.
So what are some things you can do now to help lower stress levels?
Here are some ideas I recommend:
Get enough sleep! This is huge in keeping hormones balanced, try to shut down every night around the same time. Get your body and sleep cycle into a routine and it will be easier to fall asleep each night regardless of what you have going on.
Take deep breaths - When you find yourself getting tense, slow down, take a minute and breathe in and out trying to engage your diaphragm, fill your stomach up with air vs. your chest. Do 5 or so deep breaths, then do it again.
EXERCISE (but be sure to rest in between)- Working out not only lowers cortisol levels by helping maintain hormonal balance and a healthy weight, but it also releases endorphins (aka happy medicine from the body) :). You will feel better, and get those stress levels down. BUT overtraining can lead to just the opposite, so if you have a hard workout session then make sure you wait a day or so before doing it again. In the meantime do a not as intense workout like a brisk walk, yoga, etc the following day.
Eat the right foods - Things containing Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and certain teas are all proven to reduce cortisol levels. So go for things like salmon, spinach, and green/black teas.
Read- relax and lose yourself in a good book or magazine.
Stretch/meditate- If you are an avid yogi, good for you! You're probably already benefiting from less stress as they focus on the mind/body/breath connection as they do in meditation. Take some time for you if you are not, do something that relaxes you daily and if you can get yourself to learn meditation it is proven to help.
Manage time wisely- if you have an over packed schedule, learn to say no. You do not have to do everything everyone asks you to do. Yes certain things are priorities but you may need to reevaluate what is really important and what isn't. If your health isn't on that list.... make sure it is and change accordingly. If you do not have your health those other "priorities" will never happen.
I hope this helps and can benefit ya! As always, please share and let me know your feedback!