Stress, you can feel a tightening in your body and breathe at just reading the word. It’s become part of modern life, to feel stressed much, or even all, of the time. Today we are going to take a look into the consequences of prolonged stress on your body, with a brief look at the 3 main stages of stress. Then we’ll go into some tools and strategies to help lessen the effects of stress, and better manage it when it is there.
The Stages of Stress
Firstly, it’s good to understand what happens inside of your body when you feel prolonged states of stress. Initially, your body releases a lot of adrenaline in the acute stage. This surge of adrenalin is designed to be short-lived, but our chronic stress due to things like high workloads, caffeine, huge email inboxes and phones constantly going off prolongs it. Adrenalines effects on the body include an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, a diversion of blood away from digestion, more glucose in the blood and a state of alertness. If this is prolonged, which it is much of the time in our world today, it can cause daily dysfunction and even disease to occur.
The second stage of stress is when the body experiences high cortisol levels. You can experience further dysregulated blood sugar, muscle wastage, weight gain, high cholesterol and more. The final stage of stress is often referred to as ‘adrenal fatigue’ and is when your body doesn’t produce enough cortisol. You experience deep unrelenting fatigue, stiffness and pain that is worse on waking and brain fog that can leave you barely able to function.
The most common symptoms of stress:
- Outer third of eyebrow falls out
- Eyesite worsens
- Muscles break down
- Body fat increases
- Blood glucose is dysregulated
- Hair, skin and nails may be poor
- Heart rate and blood pressure increase
- Immune system dysfunction, frequent infections
- Low mood or anxiety
- Female cycle changes
- Poor fertility
- Bloating and digestive upset
- IBS symptoms
- Insomnia, poor sleep quality
- Brain fog
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at the good news!
Ways to proactively manage stress
The good news is that we have some wonderful ways to help you recover from prolonged stress. Good food, daily movement, laughter and breath work are just some of the tools that you can use to bring your body back into balance. Let’s take a deeper look.
Meditation is a stillness practice, a time out to relax your mind and nourish your soul. It has been proven to reduce stress and help to simplify your life. In fact the known benefits of meditation are astounding and can include:
- Improved stress response
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduced headaches
- Reduction in mood disturbances such as anxiety and depression
- Lowered reactivity to every day life situations
- Better attention and more presence and awareness in your daily life
And a whole lot more.
If you are new to meditation, the best place to start is with a commitment to one short, guided meditation session each day. 10 minutes is enough for you to notice a difference in your stress and reduce your mental chatter.
Slow deep breathing
Deep slow breathing is the only current way that science has proven to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the portion that controls our ability to rest, digest and slow down. Here is how to do it:
Gently place your hands on your belly button. Take a long and slow inhale through your nostrils, and notice your hands moving outward as your lungs expand and move your diaphragm. Pause, and then let out your breathe in a slow exhale through your nostrils, observing as your belly shrinks back in towards your spine. Pause again, and then begin to slowly inhale and expand your belly as you did before. Repeat this process 10 times, using deep slow breathes in and out each time.
Practicing this when you get into bed each night has the added benefit of preparing your body for a restful nights sleep!
Eat real food
Food has a profound impact on the way your body experiences stress. By ensuring that your body has plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, and organic animal products, you will be giving it the best chance of building resilience against stress. A part of this may also be reducing your caffeine load. If you are really stressed, it’s time for a coffee break. If you feel your stress is manageable, limit your intake to one coffee in the morning, so that it doesn’t affect your rest at night.
Nature also has a profound impact on the human body and has a way of releasing stress and bringing us back into balance that nothing else does. Stress can be laid to rest for a while when we immerse ourselves in nature. Having a nature walk, going for a swim in the ocean, sitting in stillness in your garden, doing some gardening, or enjoying the sunshine. These are all very beneficial in your stress reduction tool kit.
If this article resonated with you and you are ready to reduce stress in your life for good, you can get in touch with me here: https://restorenaturalhealth.com.au/contact/