Don’t Let Stress Get You Down!
We’re going to do things a little different for this issue of the Journal for Healthy Living than we normally do…
First, before doing anything else… breath in deeply through your nose and let the air fill your lungs and diaphragm with air… hold that breath for 5 seconds, and then release.
Are you done?
Congratulations… you just improved your blood pressure and heart rate by lowering the one thing you can’t control…
Now… we can’t get into stress before knowing exactly what it is.
The medical community has defined stress as, “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand.”
Yes…while this definition may be a little vague…what they really mean is that everything… from a surprise party to hitting your funny bone… is stress.
But what this definition doesn’t get into is that there are two kinds of stress… one is your friend… while the other can cause you all sorts of problems.
The good stress… or Eustress… is what you experience after a positive event such as going on vacation or the birth of a new family member.
This is the stress you should look forward to.
But the bad stress… or Distress… can cause all sorts of problems, both mental and physical, if it’s allowed to continue for too long of a time.
The one thing that these two types of stress have in common is how our bodies respond…
Every time we experience stress… there is a system of reactions our bodies run through on both the biological and physiological level…
These are 3 stages to this system…or stress syndrome… (however, please keep in mind the last stage only occurs during chronic stress)
- Alarm – You might know this first stage as the “fight or flight” response. When stress (good or bad) is introduced your body releases adrenaline which increases your heart rate and blood flow so your brain and muscles can perform to their highest level.
Your pupils dilate to improve your vision and your blood sugar spikes for a quick energy boost.
- Adaptation – This stage is exactly what it sounds like… your body begins to “adapt” to the stress that’s being introduced. Adrenaline release slows and you slowly recover from the surprise or scare.
- Exhaustion – Your body reaches this stage if the stressor isn’t removed. Your body reaches what is called “adrenal exhaustion” as your body pushes out it’s last reserves of energy and adrenaline. When this happens it is easier to get sick or have a mental breakdown, eventually leading to a collapse.
**Again most people don’t reach this final stage unless they’re the victims of chronic stress…
What’s chronic stress?
If you are experiencing stress… and the source of that stress isn’t removed… this leads to a condition called chronic stress.
And that can be dangerous…
Being a sufferer of chronic stress can be the cause of a long list of health problems, such as:
- Aches and pains
- Breathing problems
- Raised blood pressure
- Heart issues
- Sleeping issues
- Stomach problems
- Weight issues
- Skin conditions
And as mentioned earlier… stress can help speed up the aging process by:
- Raising blood pressure
- Lowering bone density and/or muscle
- Lowering the immune system
- Increasing stomach fat
- Impeding the thought process
These are very important risks to know… especially as we age!
As we grow older… our bodies do not react to stress the same way it did when we were younger.
Neither our bodies nor our brains respond to stress as fast or as completely as they once did.
This means that if you suffer from chronic stress… you may be aging faster than everybody else around you.
But you don’t have to.
Here are just a few little changes you can make to reduce the amount of stress you have in your life…
Oh… and did I mention how easy these changes are?
Try these on for size…
- Breath of Life – We hit on this little concept earlier. Deep, slow breathing helps relax your muscles and brain. To really feel the benefit… inhale deeply (like we did before), when your abdomen and lungs are full, exhale for a count of 5. Repeat this process 5 times and your stress can melt away.
- Musical Therapy – Yes… listening to the music you enjoy can also reduce stress. The effect the music has on your brain can effect hormones and neurotransmitters that can help reduce anxiety and tenseness. So put on your favorite record, tape, or CD and relax away!
- Keeping the Insides Clean – Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all crutches some of us try to lean on in order cope with stress… but did you know these “stress helpers” are doing more harm than good? It’s true… all are stimulants that quicken the heart rate and raise your blood pressure. I’m not saying you need to stop having your morning cup of joe… but you can help yourself just by reducing the amounts of these substances in your system.
- Exercise – Wait… isn’t that the opposite of relaxing? Yes… but no… exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins… endorphins have a calming effect on the body and brain… helping you to relax more.
And speaking of endorphins…
- Bedroom Fun – Exercise isn’t the only way to release endorphins… another way (and maybe even a more fun way) to do this is to have sex. Besides releasing endorphins… sexual activity can also involve exercise, the deep breathing techniques we already talked about and the one of the most important aspects of relationships… connection.
- Don’t Worry… Be Happy – You know that old song that goes, “You have to accentuate the positive… eliminate the negative,”? Well, they weren’t kidding… by keeping a positive attitude… you can shield yourself from stress that would otherwise break through your guard. Try to see the humor in situations that you would normally view as stressful… and laugh about it. Laughter really is a good medicine… and helps release our “pleasure inducing friends”…endorphins!
But the most important thing to remember about stress is this… you choose how you deal with it.
You have the power in these situations…
Use that power… kick your stress right out the door… and you could very well add years to your life!
Best Life Herbals