We’ve all got some level of stress, isn't that so?
It might be temporary (intense), or drawn out over the long haul of our lives (constant), but it’s there.
Short term stress typically won't upset your wellbeing too much. It is your body's common response to your environment, and can even save your life on occasion.
When you experience short term stress the "danger" (a.k.a. "stressor") eventually leaves, the autonomic response dies down, and all is well.
It's when you’re endlessly exposed to stress that it becomes an issue. Your body has particular way of responding to anxiety and stress, and when that response is triggered too often your wellbeing could suffer.
Stress (and resulting stress hormones) can hugely affect your wellbeing.
I’ll explain more as we take a dive into the "stress mess."
Stress Mess #1 - Increased risk of coronary disease and diabetes
Yup. I dove right into the deep end on this one! I mean, why wait to mention it last? It’s widely known; anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed asap. Especially if you have a family history of it.
Stress exponentially increases your risk for heart diseases and diabetes via the body's inflammatory response. Thereby affecting your circulatory system, and how well your cells react to insulin.
Stress Mess #2 – Weakened Immune Response
Ever notice a correlation between the times you are highly stressed and the times you end up getting terribly sick? Maybe you notice your receptivity to getting colds, fever blisters, or even this season's respective flu virus (you know; the one they “didn’t” include in this year’s inoculation?) whenever you are overwhelmed with stress?
Well, that all happens because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells. Consequently, they are hindered at performing their jobs effectively.
Stress Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut"
Intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut” syndrome, can be a result of long-term exposure to stress. These "leaks" could result in allowing partially digested foods, harmful bacteria or other microbes to be absorbed into your body’s blood stream.
Leaky gut occurs when the digestive cells lining your stomach and intestines begin to lose the grip on one another leaving tiny holes vulnerable to invasion by foreign substances. In this case, microbes and poorly digested foods.
If you’ve ever played "red rover” as a kid, then you would know that the game involves a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through their clasp. That’s pretty much a simplified version of what happens to the cellular walls of your gut.
When the link is broken, things that should pass (think waste) through the colon instead end up breaking through our defensive lining and enter the blood stream directly. Cortisol (produced in excess during chronic stress) is a juggernaut player in red rover!
Stress Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption
Stress and insomnia are a match made in hell, wouldn't you agree? It's frequently hard to sleep restfully when you have stress gnawing at the forefront of your brain as you try to close your eyes at night.
The trouble compounds when your lack of sleep diminishes your productivity the next day, and begins critically affecting your energy, memory, ability to think, and produces irritable or irrational moods.
There is overwhelming research to support exactly how imperative sleep is for your overall wellbeing. So, if you want more sleep, learn to manage your exposure to excessive amounts of stress.
And, here are a few stress-busting tips to help you do just that!
First question if it is it possible for you to:
Put less pressure on yourself?
Ask for help?
Say "no" to new responsibilities?
Delegate to another person?
Finally, take action on that important decision?
Be aware that regardless of how hard you try; you won't be able eliminate stress entirely from your life. However, here are a few suggestions you can try to help lessen its impact on you:
Walk in nature
Unplug (read a book, take a hot soak)
Exercise (yoga, jujitsu, and so on.)
Connect with friends and family
My Final Take:
Stress is a colossal and frequently overlooked factor in managing our overall health and wellbeing. It can affect your physical body substantially, and in a more negative way than you may want to believe.
The truth is; research links stress to the development of coronary heart disease and diabetes, it can suppress the normal functioning of the body's immune system, and is a frequent precursor to insomnia and poor rest.
However, you have hopefully gleaned a few useful things from this post to help you both lessen the effects of stressors in your life and improve your reaction to it. First of which can be done by making the decision to ditch that stress mess, asap!
Keep moving toward a better you!