Serious topic deserved a jovial title I thought – otherwise it’d be all doom and gloom and you’d never have clicked.
In my practice – stress is the number one, big kahuna, supervillain when it comes to your health, happiness and wellbeing. You know how, when you’re feeling a bit off or ill and people sort of nod sagely at you and say, “well, it could be the stress…”? They are always bloody right. ALWAYS. The stress is ALWAYS part of the reason you feel like shit.
Sorry for the bad language guys, (especially my mum, if you’re reading) but honestly – everything I learn about stress just makes me want to TAKE.IT.DOWN.
Did you know that stress:
- Stops your body from being able to digest – so when you’re stressed out you get an upset stomach
- Makes you sleep badly
- Turns off your immune system – just turns it off! Like you didn’t have enough to worry about, now you can’t fight off infections and diseases
- Stops you from burning fat
- Lowers your bone density
- Impacts your sexdrive
- Increases your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of heart attack
I could keep going for DAYS on this list, but I’m going to stop there – you get the picture.
How does it work?!
The first thing to note, is that there’s different kinds of stress. Good stress like falling in love, getting a new job, or singing in front of loads of people; and bad stress like being chased by a bear, being stuck in traffic, having an awful boss, or finding out your mother-in-law is coming to visit. It’s your body’s natural reaction to exciting things – but your body is dumb and doesn’t know the difference between good and bad stress, it just knows it needs to survive.
Stress works in two stages.
- Sound the alarm
This is the initial panic mode. Your sympathetic nervous system triggers cortisol and adrenaline and your body reacts by increasing your pulse, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fat, breathing rate, sweat and pupil size.
- Adapt and Resist
After that first response, your body will try to return to normal, but, if the alarm response is triggered too often, your body remains on high alert and builds a tolerance to stress hormones. This can lead to everything in the list above, along with mood issues, lethargy, stomach cramps, nausea, increased fat levels, menstrual cycle disruption, and aches and pains.
And then… Exhaustion
This is when your body is knackered from continuously functioning under stress. It’s emergency resources are all used up and it starts to shut down. If you’ve ever heard about burnout, this is it.
You gotta break the cycle
In order to turn off your sympathetic nervous system, you need to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system.
Here’s how – and it sounds disarmingly simple:
- Tai Chi and Yoga
- Deep breathing
- Calm and restful spaces
If you want to talk about stress and ways to manage it in your life, get in touch – I have a zillion techniques. I used to be (the unofficial) Miss Highly-Strung 2016, so I got you.