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How does stress affect your health?




If you have daily, long-term stress in your life it can put you at risk of chronic health issues. Long-term stress may manifest as:


  • Anxiety & depression

  • Overwhelm

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Brain fog

  • Gut problems like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, poor absorption of nutrients, overall poor digestion

  • Bone loss

  • Break down of muscles

  • Hormonal fluctuations

  • High blood pressure

  • Chronic illness

  • Blood sugar imbalances

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Belly fat

  • Inflammation and aging

  • Autoimmune diseases/hashimoto's disease

  • Chronic infections

  • Lowered immunity


When we become stressed our body goes through some changes. An immediate stress response can occur for example if there's a fire that started in the home. The brain within seconds sends a signal to glands in the brain and finally to the pituitary gland in the brain, down to the adrenal glands (2 small triangular shaped glands) that sit on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands produce and secrete many hormones & chemicals, including adrenaline and cortisol. These glands produce adrenaline when there is a threat (house on fire). Adrenaline brings blood to your muscles so you can move fast, your heart quickens & you can take in more oxygen for your brain and muscles to work effectively and there are many more changes that occur to the body when adrenaline is released.


Cortisol is a steroid hormone, and one of its main jobs is to keep inflammation d, it also metabolises fats, protein, and carbohydrates, is involved in hormonal balance, sex drive, and thyroid hormone production among other things.stress in ones life, it can turn into anxiety, you may find it difficult to relax, generally downfeel wired up, constantly agitated, unable to have any inner peace.


When this chronic stress is prolonged the body requires cortisol to support the adrenaline.


Cortisol is a steroid hormone, and one of its main jobs is to keep inflammation down, it also metabolises fats, protein, and carbohydrates, is involved in hormonal balance, sex drive, and thyroid hormone production among other things.


When stressed, cortisol tells the liver to convert stored energy into sugar, which is released into the blood stream, and then muscles, so you have an immediate energy surge. At the same time, insulin is mobilised out of the pancreas to balance the extra blood sugar, if blood sugar is left too long it causes damage to the cells. The immune system is on high alert ready to assist if you were to be injured. Adrenaline and cortisol keep blood pressure raised during a stressful event. Adrenaline and cortisol are therefore very protective in short term stressful situations, but when our stress response does not turn off it can lead to some chronic health conditions which I listed above. This is due to over stimulation of the stress response that drives you to a point that you are unable to bounce back.



HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE CHRONICALLY STRESSED & YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS NEED SUPPORT?







  • Afternoon slump/tiredness around 3.00-4.00pm ~ craving sugars, refined carbs - biscuits, cakes, pastries, savoury biscuits, pies, sausage rolls etc

  • Anxiety, depression, overwhelmed

  • Brain fog, poor memory, difficulty concentrating & focusing

  • Craving fatty, salty foods & sugary foods

  • Weight gain that is hard to shift

  • Tiredness after eating

  • Insomnia

  • Hormonal disorders - endometriosis, menopausal symptoms, PMS, infertility

  • Waking up tired after sleeping through the night

  • Wired and tired

  • Low sex drive


WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BEGIN TO LOWER THE STRESS IN YOUR LIFE?


  • Ask yourself ~why am I stressed?

  • What does it feel like?

  • Where do I feel the stress in my body?

  • What is causing it?

  • How does the stress manifest? ~ as anger, rage, jealousy, low self esteem, dis-empowerment, giving up, grief, depression, anxiety, procrastination, feeling like you have lost control, no control in your life, poor/difficult relationships, avoiding needed conversations, avoiding change etc

  • Ask yourself ~ what is within my power to change what causes me stress?



WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SUPPORT YOURSELF?





Be aware of your thoughts, and if you are ruminating. Rumination means negative thought patterns that constantly replay in the mind about past hurts, or negativity about others/self, situations, or circumstances that have occurred or are occurring in your life. Rumination can create a huge stress response in the body if there is a lot of emotional charge connected to it, such as anger, bitterness, rage, humiliation, regret, shame etc. This can lead to much dis~ease and unhappiness.


Where you can, and if it's possible, try and implement some of the following ideas:


  • Become clear where your greatest stressors are and create a plan to minimise them

  • Spend some time with yourself to recharge your batteries

  • Have time in nature, your garden, a park, lay on the grass,

  • Incorporate breath work into your day

  • Meditate, guided meditations

  • Grounding

  • Gentle exercise, yoga, tai chi, Qi gong

  • Write in a journal to clarify your thoughts and feelings, in time this can show where things in your life need to change and how they can if you are not fully aware at this point

  • Designate jobs where you can, at home and work

  • Communicate your needs and your truth in a healthy way

  • Be with people who are supportive of you


In the next post I will cover the major key stressors in the body and how to support the body using herbs, nutrition, diet and other helpful insights.

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