Dont Stress Over Stress
Posted October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized
Stress, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For our earliest ancestors, stress could have meant the difference between life and death in the face of a hungry saber-toothed tiger. Stress activates our body’s sympathetic nervous system, inducing the so called “fight-or-flight” response, causing our adrenal glands to release a flood of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline serves to temporarily increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and boost energy supplies. Cortisol increases blood glucose and delivers more of it to the brain. In small doses, this stress can be just the extra kick we need to perform well on a test, meet a difficult deadline, or perform in front of an audience. This is generally followed by a period of rest, when the body and adrenals have a chance to recover and return to equilibrium. When we stress our muscles, say through weight lifting, it forces our muscles to grow over time to be able handle greater degrees of stress in the future. A similar mechanism serves as the foundation for the way we learn new skills and information, by constantly pushing ourselves beyond our current comfortable capacity, we train ourselves to handle increasingly greater demands. Stress is critical for growth.
It’s only when stress becomes chronic and uncontrolled that it can become an issue. Stress can be especially toxic when a difficult event happens and a person feels they do not have the financial or internal resources to handle it. When chronic stress becomes a part of life, serious physical and mental health consequences can develop. This is due in part to a somewhat paradoxical problem. Prolonged exposure to adrenaline and cortisol in the bloodstream can contribute to prolonged elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, which can cause a number of issues. At the same time, the adrenal glands can weaken due to overworking, resulting in diminished ability to produce enough adrenaline and cortisol to meet the stress.
According to a statistic from the American Academy of Family Physicians, stress-related symptoms account for two-thirds of all office visits. Several studies link high levels of self-reported stress to significantly increased mortality rates. This is due a number of different factors. For one, there are higher risk and complication rates of diseases. High levels of stress are linked to increased risk and symptom complications for heart disease, heart attack, cancer, stroke, obesity, type II diabetes, anxiety, depression, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, sleep issues, and memory impairment, to name a few. High stress also has a strong link to lower immune function, which can contribute to increased mortality due to any number of illnesses. Certain predisposed genetic factors that make some people more susceptible to stress than others may also contribute to mortality rates.
Several key lifestyle changes and practices can help reduce stress. A growing body of research is supporting the health benefits and stress fighting properties of meditation. Meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve immune function. A recent study showed that regular meditation improved physical and emotional responses to stress. Participants who meditated regularly experienced less immune system activation and emotional distress in response to stressful situations.
Regular exercise is critical for coping with stress, as well as healthy diet and nutrition. Reducing caffeine and sugar intake can reduce spikes and crashes in mood and energy, which can help with stressful situations, in addition to promoting relaxation and better sleep. While alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs may provide a feeling of temporary relief, they interfere with addressing the underlying issues that contribute to stress in the first place, and may cause other health issues that contribute to stress. Sufficient sleep, 7-8 hours per night, is necessary to have sufficient energy to deal with stressful situations. Several mental, emotional, and behavioral changes in the way you cope with stress can help to alleviate it, such as avoiding stressful people, learning to say “no”, avoiding stressful conversation topics, reframing issues as opportunities for growth, organizing time management, and focusing on the positive. Try to shift your focus to changing stressful environmental factors that are in your control, and learning to cope with or avoid factors that can’t be controlled.
If stress is taking a significant toll on your wellbeing, and efforts to address it have not been effective, Rejuvalife offers a comprehensive stress management program, designed to diagnose and correct potential hormonal imbalances of DHEA and cortisol, and to manage aspects of diet, nutrition, fitness and lifestyle that may be contributing to stress. This allows stress to be taken off the adrenal glands, so they have a chance to recover and restore normal functioning. As cortisol contributes to the retention of abdominal fat, stress management may also play an integral role in a weight loss program. Rejuvalife operates on the principle that a person’s overall “looks” and external beauty are in large part a reflection of internal health and well being. If a person has poor internal health, of which stress can be a major contributing factor, this will show on their face, and their external beauty will be diminished. Stress management is therefore an integral part of a person’s anti-aging lifestyle and aesthetic enhancement regime.