Stress: What Is It and How to Balance Your Body’s Response
Stress – one of the most talked about words on the planet. What is it? What does it mean – for your brain, your body, your health? Like anything taken in excess, stress can cause a lot of damage to your body in not-so-obvious ways. But not all stress is bad – without it, we’d all be lying around eating bon bons and not accomplishing anything as a human race.
In keeping with our philosophy that the body’s health is dependent on positive interaction between three systems – fuel, energy, and alignment, stress is single, most impactful thing that can throw off the synergy of these.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is your body’s built-in, inherent response to an outside threat or demand. When you sense danger, your body defends itself by entering “fight-or-flight” mode, which releases a flood of adrenaline and cortisol. Sometimes stress calls for emergency action – your heart pounds, muscles tighten, breath quickens, senses become sharper. These changes can increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus. This is your body preparing you to either fight or flee from danger and is your body’s way of protecting you.
In emergency situations, “fight or flight’ gives you extra strength to defend yourself. On a smaller scale, it can help you rise to meet challenges – keeping you on your toes telling you to get prepared for a situation. But when you reach a point where everything in your day is a perceived stressor, it stops being helpful and starts causing damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.
WHAT DAMAGE CAN STRESS DO?
Stress never goes away – it comes not just in the form of a lion chasing you, but can be an argument with friends or family, work deadlines and bills to pay, getting to appointments on time, or worrying about children walking to school. Your body can react equally strongly in each of these situations – as if you’re facing a true life-or-death. The more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger and the harder it becomes to shut off.
When your body doesn’t know how to shut it off, serious health problems can arise. Chronic stress disrupts sleep, nutrition, exercise, happiness. This causes problems with the immune system, digestive system, reproductive systems, the heart, and joints, and can cause hormonal imbalances, stroke, skin reactions, and speed up the aging process. It even rewires the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
WHAT CAN I DO TO RELIEVE STRESS?
Much of how our bodies handle stress is based on our brain’s perception of what is stressful. While our body has a built-in physical response to stress, our brain can help us manage it. There are amazing ways that require practice and patience, but allow you to manage the amount of stress you perceive or encounter on a daily basis.
Learn how to say NO. Learn how to set boundaries and say no to things that are not required – like volunteering for a fundraiser, taking on an extra project at work, or drinking alcohol or smoking. Or change your mind by taking time to think through a situation and reframe the problem by looking at the big picture and practicing gratitude. You can calm your perception of the situation and thus change how your body physically responds to it. Remembering that some things you can’t control or change goes a long way in proactively approaching stressful situations. If you let go of trying to change the situation that cannot be changed, you will drain your body’s resources and release less cortisol. Forgiveness and keeping a positive outlook are also factors that contribute to keep from getting in “fight or flight” situations. N.E.T., or neuro emotional therapy, is a quick and easy way to reset how your brain perceives a situation and helps you problem solve and find solutions. MORE INFO
What you put in to your body can change your body’s chemical balance, just like stress. Ingesting processed foods, sugar, alcohol – this 100% affects the chemistry of your body to process it and detox. Giving your body what it needs – protein, vitamins, grains – not only improves how your systems function, but gives you more energy to draw from in stressful sitautions. MORE INFO
Ensuring your body is in the best physical shape it can be is a large part of the confidence your feel in stressful situations. To avoid future injury and ensure your stability, alignment of your body’s joints and bones is one of the primary factors of enjoying good health – from your feet. Maybe you have a knee problem or hip pain, or slouch even when you sit up straight? Look at your alignment from the ground up (literally) to make sure you are balancing your bones which in turn ensures your muscles work correctly to support your bones, thus reducing or eliminating pain. MORE INFO