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.
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:
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.
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!