There are two types of emotional stress. Positive stress as in the case of a marriage or birth, and negative stress as a job loss or death. Your body does not know that there is a difference and therefore operate accordingly. It merely realizes there is a stressor on board and goes into action. The same symptoms will present themselves. If we can recognize the symptoms of stress, we can start to handle the stress appropriately. If we can handle it appropriately, life can be so much easier enjoyed!
In order to understand how stress affects us, we must understand the physiological processes that are taking place. The immediate physical and psychological symptoms of acute stress are related to the diversion of blood from less vital organs and structures. People may experience cold clammy skin, goose bumps, loss of appetite, dry throat and difficulty speaking. Cardiac effects such as palpitations, chest pain or flushing may also be experienced. Breathing rate typically increases and breathlessness occurs along with complete loss of energy.
Long term stress is much harder on the body. You may have heard of the hormone Cortisol. This hormone is released by the adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys. When stress comes, your body is designed to release this hormone and allow you to go into your flight/fight response. It is not designed to be constantly stimulated, however, as in the case of long term or chronic stress situations. Sadly, for many people this long term stress is prevalent. Because of the constant hard work the adrenals and related glands/organs are doing, the ability of the immune system to fight off problems and infections becomes impaired. You begin to have more frequent infections such as colds or sinus infections. You may have trouble getting over these minor illnesses as well. Tension in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and headaches are common. Most people suffer from weight gain due to all of that excess Cortisol not being released. A lower percentage will actually have weight loss due to decreased appetite. Loss of libido, sleeplessness, and exacerbations of arthritis, lupus, psoriasis and asthma are also a part of this prolonged stress response. You may find you have memory disturbances, mood swings, anxiety, depression and/or irritability. People who are suffering from stress will have difficulty focusing on a task and may have problems with outbursts of anger. So as you can see, chronic stress affects every part of the human body and brain and if it goes on too long, even more detrimental situations and illnesses can occur.
Your poor overworked adrenals are just that, overworked and underappreciated. It’s time to let them rest and recuperate so that your body can bring itself back to normal function!
Step 1: If it is a negative stressor, REMOVE IT from your life (if possible). If it is a job or a person, they are not serving the best interest of you, your family, or those you intend to help and support. It’s time to start thinking of YOU so that YOU are strong enough physically and emotionally to help others.
Step 2: Find your favorite DE-stressor. Whether it’s a stroll in the wilderness, knitting, a good yoga class, prayer, or meditation, it doesn’t matter. As long as it serves YOU and allows you to find your peace.
Step 3: Make sure that you are not nutritionally deficient. Nutrient deficiencies are so common among people who cannot properly handle stress. Most commonly I find a lack of either B Vitamins or Vitamin D (leafy greens and sunshine), and almost always a lack of essential fatty acids (fish oils/good fats). Specific adrenal gland support should be checked for as well. If this might be your case, speak to your nutritionist or health provider.
Step 4: EXERCISE! The best way to eliminate excess Cortisol is moving your body. If you get your exercise in for the day, you can rest assured the next day, you will be starting fresh with less of this toxin clogging up your system.
Even though the symptoms and outcomes of chronic stress can be devastating, there are surely easy ways to combat it. Stress is not something that will disappear in your life, and that’s ok. We all enjoy the positive stressors in our lives. Without them our lives would be stale and boring – we just need to learn how to effectively handle the physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms of stress so we can fully enjoy the outcomes.
If you need additional help with handling and eliminating stress in your life, we have several personal programs in place that can and will help you. Visit us at www.EducatingWellness.com or our local clinic www.advancedhealthnhic.com to find out more!