Stress, you either have it or you don’t - and if you don’t you must be day-dreaming.
We all have stress because it comes in many shapes and sizes.
Stressors such as health, money, the future, kids, love…they all affect us in different ways. It’s not a matter of if the stressors affect us. These stressors DO and WILL affect us at some point in our lives.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s examine this topic of stress in a straightforward fashion, no bull. That is, not how to avoid stress, but how to keep a level head through some of the most common stressors in our lives.
In this short-but-sweet post I hope to accomplish three things: 1. Share with you what our bodies do when stressed
2. Share what chronic stress does (recent research cited)
3. Provide you with the #1 tool for stress management
What Our Bodies Do When Stressed
When we perceive a threat, our bodies turn on the “fight or flight response.” This response helps us handle problems or run away from them (as in the case of running away from a T-Rex).
The sympathetic nervous system ramps up stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol.
These hormones trigger increased heart rate, pump up our muscles, and slows down our digestion.
This mechanism is super important and works perfectly in a short run; however, people who suffer from chronic stress are unable to ramp down the “fight or flight response.”
What Chronic Stress Does to the Body
When we are not able to recover from difficult situations our bodies end up storing the stress hormone cortisol (because there is too much of it in the body from over-stimulation).
Because of chronic over-stimulation of the “flight or fight response” the body adapts in the following ways:
1. Increased heart rate and blood flow over prolonged periods will increase muscle tension causing body aches and muscle spasms. That is why headaches are a first sign of chronic stress (Source).
2. The overloading of the vascular system can result in heart disease.
3. Since the fight or flight response slows down digestion in the short run, chronic over-stimulation will result in a slower metabolism and nutrient malabsorption in the body.
4. Extra cortisol is a toxin in the body. This toxin, along with others, depress the immune system.
5. Extra cortisol means extra girth around the midsection because that’s where our bodies store toxins (in our fat cells).
That’s just a few examples. Others include increased mental health illness (Source), depression, difficulty getting pregnant (Source), and a myriad of chronic health issues. These findings are based on much research, old and as recent as 2014.
The #1 Tool for Stress Management
Ok, enough about what our bodies do in response to stress. We’ve all felt the effects of stress (acute or chronic). Let’s talk about what we can do about it.
The #1 tool is regular DETOX for 2-4 weeks duration. Overstimulation of our stress hormones (ie cortisol) results in too much of it in our bodies. Too much cortisol is toxic to the body and the extra cortisol wreaks havoc on almost every system in the body, from the immune system to the musculoskeletal system. That’s why the body is susceptible to illness with chronic stress.
In order to repair the immune system, we need to detox the toxins in the body (such as extra cortisol).
A good detox focuses on these elements:
1. Cleanse the liver Drink lots of water, avoid toxins (thing our bodies are not able to metabolize - from dyes to preservatives), and sweat a lot (work out or sauna). Natural formulas for cleansing the liver are available in stores. Two great examples are curcumin and green tea.
2. Replenish the nutrients Eat 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, take a good supplement full of micronutrients (be careful in picking a good one…message me if you are interested), and be consistent with the vitamin D. Smoothies are a great option.
3. Permanent behavior changes Find ways to channel the stressors in your life. Some people exercise, others journal, and others talk it out.
There are many ways to manage stress. The key is to be consistent with stress management, meaning that as soon as a stressor comes at us we should turn our stress management system on turbo. Don’t let the mind spiral downward. Always look forward.
Also, sufficient sleep is vital. If our bodies are chronically tired, we must put sleep on the priority list. That means no TV or stimulation late at night. Wind down instead.
And lastly, let’s practice gratitude. The best medicine for complaining is practicing gratitude instead.
A typical detox can range from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. During the detox you’re not just cleaning the liver. It’s a combination of all the 3 elements mentioned above.
After the detox your immune system should have been reset, and you will be prepared to tackle on more of life’s great challenges.
Doing a detox every 3-4 months is very helpful in reducing chemical stress to the body and inadvertently, makes it easier for us to manage physical and mental stressors.
Please share below on how you process stressors in your life.