The disconnect between the advances of the human mind and physical body are never more apparent than when we look at stress. Our bodies are equipped to manage the stressors of a life lived hundreds of years ago (see bear, flee). They have not adapted their reactions to modern day stresses – work deadlines elicit the same physiological responses as seeing a bear – but the stress reactions are chronic reactions, not fleeting, and they are wreaking havoc on our health and wellness. Acknowledging that we are stressed is the most basic foundation to managing it. In effort to empower you, here are some thoughts to reconnect our mind and bodies over the subject of stress:
- Stress takes many forms. You may not experience all of the symptoms of stress, but more likely than not, you are familiar with a few of the following: headaches, muscle tension/pain, chest pain, fatigue, lowered libido, stomach issues, disrupted sleep, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, depression, overeating, under-eating, substance abuse, social isolation.
- Stress affects hormones. While the two major stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – are phenomenal in situations when you meet a bear, they are less helpful when chronically circulating in the blood. Adrenaline makes your heart race, raises blood pressure and stresses the cardiovascular system. Cortisol increases blood sugar, and enhances the brain’s use of glucose, which is also not ideal in a chronic state.
- Long term consequences of stress. Stress is subjective and somewhat qualitative. While we cannot say that a certain amount of adrenaline is linked to heart disease, we do know that stress has a direct relationship with: cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, digestive problems, psychological issues such as depression and memory loss, weight management and skin disorders.
- Management of stress. We may visit our physician for something to manage any of the above conditions, but it is important to treat the illness as well as the symptoms. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is a proactive way to help manage your health. Try one of these 5 things daily to reduce your stress: meditation, yoga, exercise, taking a walk, journaling, socializing or taking a bath. Acknowledge that you are doing these activities to manage your stress and care for your wellness.
While it takes work to get the stress out, it is time well spent . . . a less stressed you is a happier, more productive and healthier you! What are your favorite ways to unwind? At what times of the day might you have time to reduce stress by taking a break on your terms?Posted on: Jan 23, 2012