Learn the Effects of Stress on the Body.
Are You Ready to Hear What’s Happening on the Inside?
When we are stressed, the cells in our brains send a threat message to the hypothalamus, which then tells the sympathetic nervous system to protect us from an “attack”. Our brain is not able to differentiate between the “attack” coming from a saber tooth tiger, or difficult relationship issues, a bad job interview, time management issues, or other things that can lead to stress.
When stress occurs, the nervous system increases the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, dilates others, slows down our intestines, inhibits stomach secretions, and prompts certain glands to flood our system with cortisol.
When this alarm is set off too often, the results can disturb the circadian rhythms, which means our sleep-awake cycle is disturbed. We may become moody; develop “brain fog”, memory loss, and great difficulty sleeping.
When stress occurs, the blood vessels in our bodies constrict during stress, which makes it harder for our hearts to pump the blood. High blood pressure from the constricted vessels and increased cortisol exacerbates inflammation and arterial plaque buildup.
Fatty acids are also released into the blood stream by cortisol and can lead to overproduction of low-density cholesterol (LDL).
High density cholesterol (HDL) actually helps keep the circulatory system functioning and has powerful healing values. However, the bad cholesterol (LDL), contributes to dangerous plaques buildup on arterial walls that have been inflamed by toxins and high blood sugar – which are common by-products of stress eating. This can then lead to a high risk for dangerous heart disease and even cardiac arrest (heart attack).
Some people actually lose weight while under stress, but research shows the high levels of cortisol can encourage weight gain in a number of ways, which means most of us gains weight while under stress! Why is this happening?
• When stressed, the body releases cortisol, which can amp up the appetite for a quick energy boost (normally carbs and sugars), which trigger overeating, and then cravings even more carbs and sugar (vicious cookie cycle).
• Cortisol also places extra sugar right into our bloodstream, and if it is not burned off through exercise (or the equivalent of running away from, or fighting off a perceived attack – remember the brain cannot differentiate between an actual physical attack, or an emotional or mental attack), the sugar is now building up in our bodies, and gets stored as fat.
• According to researchers, modern life can expose us to mild to moderate chronic stress constantly – whether it is from multi-tasking, juggling too many things at a time, and/or being bombarded by over-stimulation (such as noise pollution, lack of outdoor time, loss or meaning and purpose in life, loss of connection with others, job dissatisfaction), and not enough time with family and friends, and more, on a daily basis.
• We were simply NOT designed to flee from stress and predators 10 hours a day without a break. However, that is essentially what many of us do daily. What this happens, high blood pressure develops, rapid heart rates, difficulty sleeping, you may develop Type Two Diabetes, stomach problems, heart burn, acid reflux, and more, plus, we become more likely to hold onto the extra food as fat, especially abdominal fat.
STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING STRESS
• Get plenty of relaxing time, rest, and sleep.
• Watch your nutrition and supplements, which are critical to your body, mind, and spiritual health!
• Relax. Slow your pace. Breathe. Meditate. Get quiet and still daily.
• Exercise! Start a walking program. Get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps per day (check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program). Get moving!
• Surround your self with positive people, thoughts, affirmations, and loving family and friends (pets too!)
• Pray, meditate, soften, release fears and anger, trust, forgive, and love your self more!