Is stress affecting your health? Stress is a normal part of life, we all experience stress especially in today’s modern world. In short bursts stress can actually be beneficial, it keeps us motivated to manage situations effectively, rapidly, and more productively. It’s only when stress becomes chronic over weeks, months or years, that it negatively affects our health.
Stress and our adrenal gland
The adrenal glands – small organs located above the kidney produce hormones like cortisol in response to stress known as “fight or flight response”. The sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones that cause changes to occur throughout the body like raise blood pressure, transfer blood from our intestines to our extremities, increase heart rate, suppress our immune & digestive system, and increase our blood’s clotting ability. When the perceived threat is gone, our parasympathetic nervous system returns our body back to balance. In times of chronic stress, this often doesn’t happen quick enough, causing damage to our body.
Health problems associated with hight cortisol levels include:
Impaired cognitive function,
Hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid function),
Suppressed immunity and slow wound healing,
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar),
Hypertension (high blood pressure),
Type 2 diabetes,
Decreases muscle mass,
Fat deposits around the belly – some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and low levels of HDH (good cholesterol) which leads to other problems.
Try to include some of these activities regularly to help you de-stress and unwind. Be sure to choose which ever makes you feel most centred and relaxed.
Stress free zone
Treat yourself to a warm bath with relaxing and soothing epson salts,
Get some fresh air, go for a walk or bike ride,
Turn off all electrical devices (no phone calls, emails or social media),
Treat yourself to a regular massage,
Sip on some relaxing tea such as chamomile, lavender or lemon balm,
Listen to your favourite tunes,
Get guidance from your health practitioner (naturopath or herbalist) on some nutrients for combating stress,
Practice deep breathing – With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates – repeat 6-10 slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes every day.
Mayoclinic (2017) Chronic stress put your health at risk. Retrieved from URL https//www.mayoclinic.org
Helpguid.org (2017) Stress, symptoms and causes. Retrieved from URL https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-symptoms-signs-and-causes.htm