So, We all know that stress is bad for us, right!? But, do you want to know specifically why it can make us sick and fat if we let it go unchecked for too long?
In 1936, Hans Selye, famous for his work in Stress Adaptation, described stress as "The non-specific response of the body to any demand for change." You actually want some stress in your life or you would not even get out of bed in the morning. But, you want the stress to be temporary and matched by periods of rest and relaxation. Like a gas and brake pedal. You need both, but they need to be used appropriately.
So many people have Nervous systems that are always in stress mode, and never get the chance to decompress from that. Over time, that chronic stress leads to
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased blood glucose (and a higher need for insulin)
- Release of cortisol and adrenaline
- Increased heart rate
- Immune system suppression
- Lowered production of sex hormons like estrogen and testosterone
- Kidney compromise
The changes listed above can cause headaches, musculoskeletal pain (joint pain and stiffness), fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog, digestive issues like IBS, decreased fertility, Erectile Dysfunction and increased illness.
You can see how unchecked high stress levels over time can make us sick and fat. We get sick because our immune systems are not as robust as they could be. We gain weight because stress tells our body to raise cortisol levels which signals our body to keep our blood sugar levels higher. Glucose (blood sugar) can not just run around unchecked in our blood. It must be accompanied by insulin. Higher blood sugar = more insulin. Insulin is actually a "fat storage hormone". So, if our blood sugar levels are constantly elevated and we release insulin, we signal our body to store fat. This fat is easily mobilized if stored in the midsection, so that's where our body puts it. If you were being chased by a lion, this might be helpful. But, for most of us, this isn't necessary.
So what can we do about this? We can maintain healthy stress levels by doing these things:
- Practice daily gratitude. Each day, write down 3 things you are grateful for.
- Refuse negativity. Don't complain. Choose to focus on what is good and right.
- Laugh - Watch your kids play and laugh. Take a lesson from them!
- Meditate and Breathe deeply
- Sleep 7-9 hours per night and wake and go to sleep at the same time each day
- Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day
- Encourage and serve others. Volunteer.
- Listen to positive and encouraging music
- Get regular Chiropractic Adjustments. These help balance the stress response.
- Use Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Ginseng and Licorice as needed
- Eat a plant-based, whole food diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Focus on Green leafy
vegetables, healthy fats, limited amounts of fruits, and use pastured and grass fed
proteins. Avoid processed sugars and carbohydrates.
- Make sure Magnesium levels are sufficient. Veggies and fruits are rich sources. A soak in epson salt (Magnesium Sulfate) is also a good idea and is relaxing.
We can't live in a stress-free world, but if we fail to manage our stress over time, it can have a very debilitating effect on our health. Good health will include measures that help us balance our stress response.
To you health,