What does the word stress mean to you? Is it a negative word for you? Maybe stress is unknown and broad and open to interpretation?
Would you agree that often the term stress is used to signify a problem and one to be solved? If you’ve said yes, what if you were to rethink what stress is and how we adapt to it, then maybe the term stress will become more familiar to you and help the connection and lead to resolving your health concerns.
For instance, stress is something that triggers a response in our body to take action – I like to refer to this as a ‘Stressor’. Stress may be defined as any demand on the body that requires it to adjust. This demand may be to react to a fearful or challenging situation or it may be related to being in love and celebrating those special moments (ones that make us feel nervous or anxious but happy).
Our body’s natural reaction is modulated by a well known process called ‘Fight and Flight’ and may be termed General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). It is this natural biological reaction that can under-function and lead to the negative association of stress and it’s affect on our health – ‘Distress’.
Distress – a situation or event that challenges or exceeds a person’s ability to cope or adjust.
A favourable response to acute exposure to stress can be considered a ‘Fight & Flight’ effect as it is of short duration. The Adrenal gland releases hormones to help respond and then restores the body into homeostasis (balance).
- Blood flow increases and heart rate rises and for some there may be a rise in blood pressure.
- Movement in muscles is fast and thinking is rapid.
- The sympathetic nervous system is being activated on purpose to enable a rapid response.
After exposure and action the body returns to normal function – this is what we want to happen!
An unfavourable response refers to chronic or long term exposure and the body remains in the Fight & Flight phase for a long duration of time, hormones can become elevated and inflammation can occur due to the excessive release of hormones and the sympathetic nervous system is in a dominant state (heightened).
The body is over-whelmed and results in wear and tear of the system.
- Blood pressure may remain high.
- Agitation, irritability, anxiousness & sleep disturbances begin to emerge.
- Progressive brain fog, memory lapses and tiredness with lack of motivation can begin.
- Food choices become less healthy, cravings creep in and exercise begins to decline.
“Now you’re getting the idea of good and bad stress response! so let’s review The Stress Effect – my interpretation of when illness occurs as a result of the unfavourable response”
Not Coping ? Reaching Distress?
The ongoing reliance on our stress response to defend us repeatedly over months to years can lead to poor adaptive feedback and eventually chronic illness. This is when disrupted and unsupported biological processes over an extended period of time begin to cause a suppression of hormone production, lead to glucose dys-regulation, electrolyte imbalances and disordered patterns in behaviour, gut motility, sleep cycles, menstrual cycles and lowered immunity.
Become physically and mentally resilient
“Yes, I can help restore your body and mind over time, with careful consideration of your individual health needs and your lifestyle. The goal for me is to assist you to regain function and vitality.
Symptom relief forms part of the initial steps so you may feel motivated towards change and enable a stepped process of healing. Then a longer term strategy is recommended to ultimately place you in a position of ‘self control’ and tailored to your needs for future resilience and adaptation of stress.
The vagus nerve is a nerve pathway which enables connection between the brain and many parts of the body, it plays a role in the stress response plus the microbiota. This is a common link with the ‘gut-brain axis’ in many emotional disorders. Natural medicine in collaboration with allied treatments aims to support healthy vagus nerve activity for enhanced resilience and recovery from stress and help to improve emotional and physical wellbeing.
Re-ignite your Spark
I am sure we can agree that stress is a part of life, however, you can now see that long term exposure to constant challenges puts pressure on our biological processes and may lead to illness.
If I can be bold enough to say that ‘stress is a major cause of disease’ I don’t feel that many would disagree. It’s a gradual slope towards poor health, but you can take steps to recognise the signs of heading towards ‘not coping’ and put an end to ‘distress’.
‘Quick Self Q & A’
“Today begins a new chapter and a new me, I am ready to regain balance and thrive”.
- Do you get headaches regularly?
- Do you forget to eat?
- Do you feel tired often?
- Do you have trouble sleeping?
- Do you rely on coffee to keep you going?
- Do you feel ‘wired’ but your ‘tired’
- Do you find it hard to relax and just sit still?
- Do you have irritable bowel?
- Do you constantly feel overwhelmed?
- Do you often feel angry or irritated over small things?
- Do you rely on alcohol to wind down?
- Is your mood flat?
- Has your digestion of certain foods changed recently?
- Are you craving sugar?
- Do you have a racing heart?