STRESS: This is part one of a three part series on stress and how to deal with it. This is my blog post as it appeared as a guest post on One2One Network on November 3, 2015. I find this to be extremely relevant as the Holiday season is upon us. (Part 2 “Stress:10 Steps to Happiness” is now available. )
“Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. Stress is a normal part of life. Many events that happen to you and around you — and many things that you do yourself — put stress on your body. You can experience stress from your environment, your body, and your thoughts.” WebMD
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Stress is everywhere! Work, home, family, even play can be a cause of stress. But what is that stress doing to our health? Occasional stress is not a concern. In fact, some stress can even be beneficial and helps us deal with the crazy situations that are bound to arise throughout the course of daily living.
stress; noun- a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. Merriam-Webster
But what happens when we are faced with constant daily stress? When can it be beneficial to be stressed and when does it become a health concern?
When we are faced with a stressor, be it physical or mental, our bodies enter what is commonly referred to as “fight or flight mode”. This is a survival mechanism and a genius design. In this mode our bodies and minds are preparing to “survive”; hormones and chemicals are released into the bloodstream. These chemicals and hormones temporarily shut down some bodily functions that we can do without and speed up other functions that help us to fight or run.
Have a deadline to meet for an important project? The stress related chemical rush caused by the stress of that project the night before it is due can help you concentrate more clearly on the project, give you an energy rush, do away with hunger, and give you the stamina needed to get the job done. This is GREAT; for a short time, however, this isn’t so great when it happens every day.
A constant state of stress and a constant internal immersion in stress related chemicals can be extremely detrimental to our health.
In stressful situations, the stress fighting chemicals that are released cause muscles to tense up, heart rate to increase, blood pressure to rise, respirations to increase, intestines to shut down, reproductive organs go into hibernation, the immune system to become overworked, and insulin levels go up. Again, these are good things if we are running from a bear or working on a deadline, but these are bad things if they are a constant state of being. For many of us this constant stress state is so common that we don’t even feel it anymore.
If all these body systems remain in this high gear, high tension fight or flight mode then you will begin to see damage to the heart muscle, blood vessels, lungs, muscles, brain, reproductive system, immune system, liver, kidneys, etc. You will begin to develop illnesses like diabetes, auto-immune problems, fibromyalgia, heart disease, kidney damage, etc. and your body will become unable to fight off even the simplest of colds.
Can all stress be eliminated? NO! Can most stress be eliminated? Probably not! Are there healthier ways to live and natural supplements that will help our bodies respond better to stress? ABSOLUTELY!!
Today’s world is stressful, we are on the go more, working more, and relaxing less than at any other point in history. Days are filled with work and then extra curricular activities, followed by late bedtimes. Even our down time is often a high stress environment. How many of you go to bed with a tablet, phone, tv, etc? Believe it or not those are stressors. Playing a game can often send the body into the same “stressed” state as working. It seems fun and relaxing but our brains don’t always differentiate a game or movie from reality and even though we aren’t scared and even though we don’t feel stressed, our brains still signal a stress response.
Quick tip: If you are seeing stress related health problems; start eliminating flashing electronics for a time period. You will be surprised how much better you begin to feel once the initial withdrawal is over.
We have learned that stress has its time and place, we have learned that our body’s reaction to stress can be beneficial if we are in a bad situation, and we have learned that remaining in a constant state of stress can cause serious harm to our bodies; but that doesn’t fix the stress does it? If anything that stresses us out more to know that all the stress of day to day living is going to send us to an early grave or at the very least cost us a fortune in medical care sometime in the future.
So what is the next step? What can we do to prevent future problems related to stress and repair any damages that have already started?
Start with identifying what is causing stress in our lives:
- Busy homelife
- Running the kids all over town
- Relationship strife
- Health issues
- Aging parents
- Financial instability
- Time management
‘Then we have to begin to fix it by changing the way we think and live. We have to clean up our lives. Get rid of everything we can and clean up what is left. Even little tiny baby changes can make a huge difference in the amount of stress you have and the way your body handles it. I promise, we aren’t going to turn your world upside down; we are going to start small but have big results.
Your homework: Identify what is stressing you, look for hidden stressors, and turn off the flashing electronics; even just cutting back stimulation time by 30 minutes a day can help greatly. Then come back here for part 2 where we will discuss how very small changes in your lifestyle can create incredible differences in your health and mental wellbeing.
When you finish your homework, go to “Stress: 10 Steps to Happiness” for more information and another assignment.
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As Always: ALL posts on this blog may or may not contain affiliate links or links to my direct sales websites. This is because there is a monthly fee to run this blog and it costs time to keep it going. You are not required to click on any links, but if you do THANK YOU!! You are helping to support my blogging habit. (I would say my family but so far I haven’t even made enough to pay 1 month of blogging fees.) Thanks for stopping by and feel free to use my links or pass them along to friends. All help is greatly appreciated.