Is stress stressing you out?

Posted On: Jan 05 16
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We’ve all heard it time and time again, ‘the stress will kill you!’ ‘stop stressing!’ ‘I’m so stressed out!’

Recognise any of these statements? Ever felt stressed yourself?

In a normal day we will all experience a degree of stress, sometimes it will be minor like being 5 minutes late for an appointment or being stuck in traffic a bit longer than you would like and others will be far more severe, bereavement, the breakdown of a relationship or maybe severe financial worries.

Now, although the stress we experience often just comes and goes, have you ever thought about the effect it is having on your body? Have you ever noticed how people who lead very stressful lives tend to be the ones that look the oldest and are often the sickest?

There is good reason for that; stress really is a killer!

Before we go into how to reduce stress let’s take a step back and look at what happens when the body experiences stress and when I say take a step back, I mean a step all the way back to the times of the caveman!

Originally our bodies evolved to cope with the stress our caveman ancestors were put under. Often times this would consist of hunger or a threat from another human or an animal. Not much else went on in those days and the body reacted in a very organised way. When under stress the caveman’s ‘sympathetic nervous system’ would kick in and put our caveman friend into a fight or flight mode. His body would produce the hormones adrenalin and cortisol to assist him in being quick and strong, his heart rate would increase, digestion would stop and any repair or reproductive activity would cease.

Once the threat / stress was over the body would then go into a ‘parasympathic mode’ which would pretty much do the opposite of the fight or flight scenario. His body would relax, heart rate would slow down, adrenalin and cortisol would be stopped and the body would go into a repair mode allowing cells to regenerate, organs to function, digestion to continue and thus allow nutrients to be passed around the body so that the body stayed in tip top health.

All sounds pretty sensible right, but take another look at what happens when the body experiences stress.

    • High levels of adrenalin and cortisol
      these hormones are very effective in small amounts but VERY destructive if experienced on a consistent basis. Cortisol will age the body prematurely and cause you to accumulate body fat around the belly thus increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular disease and diabetes to name just two. Adrenalin when produced too much has a whole host of detrimental effects on health including chronic fatigue and countless hormonal imbalances.

 

 

    • Increased heart rate
      Stressing the heart in this way on an on-going basis (unlike structured exercise) can cause the heart to be weaker and lead to cardiovascular disease.

 

 

    • Impaired digestion
      Digestion is probably the most important factor when it comes to health and longevity and to have it compromised will lead to any disease you care to mention.

 

 

    • Reduced repair and reproductive function
      here we will see the body basically breakdown over time, age quicker and get sicker with more and more frequency.

Of course, in a time of threat these reactions are there to protect you and they work very well.

Fast forward 20,000 years and let’s take a look at modern man / woman and see what is really happening in today’s world.

Good news is that for most of us the threat of being attacked by an animal we are hunting is all but gone and the majority of us have enough food to eat so we should all be leading care free, stress less lives right?

Bad news is we have created far more stresses in our lives than our ancestors and not only that, they seem to be far more frequent!

Think about some of the scenarios that stress you out on a daily basis:

  • Slept through the alarm now you are going to be late
  • Kids lunch is not made
  • Final demand for your credit card payment just landed on your door step
  • Your sales targets are down
  • Traffic is terrible
  • You have not eaten as the stress takes away your appetite which makes the body stress even more
  • You are arguing with your spouse who just does not understand the pressure you are under
  • Your dress no longer fits you
  • You have a cold and feel awful
  • And so the list goes on……..

Unlike our caveman friend, you don’t seem to have a time when you are not feeling stressed and therefore your body is responding to this by putting you in the fight or flight mode almost all day every day. You have a knot in your stomach (cortisol) and your health is suffering. Each year seems to go faster than the last with very little to show for it except a few more wrinkles and some new aches and pains.

Go back and take yet another look at what is happening to your body in times of stress now think about how often that is happening to you. Can you really expect to look, feel and perform at your best when your body is experiencing high fight or flight hormones, impaired digestion and compromised repair and immune function?

I was with a client today who sat down and said he had a serious lung issue and joint inflammation. When I asked him about his lifestyle he told me he started his own business 11 years ago and had not had a holiday since! No wonder his body has systemic inflammation and is trying to tell him to slow down!

So how do we cope with stress and reduce our likelihood of ill health? Well, here are a few ideas that may just help you out…

Take a look at things that happen in your life and stop for a second and ask yourself, ‘how can I deal with this and enjoy the process?’

By asking yourself this question you totally reframe your perspective on the situation from one of potential stress and worry to one of challenge and control. A lot of stress is caused by us feeling we are not ‘in control’ of the situation.

 

 

    • Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

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    • Surround yourself with positive, constructive people who do not stress you out. If you find yourself mixing on a regular basis with people who overly stress you then make a decision to avoid them!

    • Learn to express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

    • Learn to manage your time better. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day so do not try to fill them with 30 hours’ worth of work! Managing your time and making time to relax will help in reducing stress levels very quickly.

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    • Make time for fun and relaxation

    • Go for a walk, spend time in nature actually noticing and enjoying the surroundings!

    • Call a good friend and have a good catch up or meet for a coffee.

    • Hit the gym and have a workout, then hit the steam room or sauna and relax!

    • Take a long bath with some relaxing oils.

    • Play with a pet. Studies have shown that pet owners are less stressed than non-pet owners. If you don’t have a pet then borrow a friends for an afternoon!

    • Get a massage. The relaxation and lymph stimulation will not only de-stress you but will detoxify you too!

    • Watch a comedy. Ever hear ‘laughter is the best medicine’?

Finally make sure you have your nutrition working for you, not against you. Find a good nutritionist and get them to arrange a plan that supports your particular goals and issues. This alone will help reduce stress and increase energy and give you the sense of wellbeing most people are looking for.

Obviously using the 8 week booty plan will help, it has all the nutrition and rest days programmed in so that you get the rest you need to get the balanced life we all need!

Check out the FREE Download 101 Weight Loss Tips Now!

 

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