Stress, And Your Body
Stress is a fact of life. There is no escaping the fact that at some point you will become stressed, and that’s ok. Too much stress, however, will take a toll on your health, so it is important to deal with it as early as possible.
How stress affects you
Stress isn’t just in your head. It’s so much more than an emotional state. Stress is your body’s physical response to situations your mind perceives as threatening. These physical responses include muscular tension, increased heart rate, diverted blood flow, acute focus, adrenaline secretion, sweating, shallow breathing, hormone release, and much more.
Acute stress - when things are out of control
When you experience situations that are beyond what you can reasonably expect from normal day-to-day life, this can create trauma. Trauma is a more long-term response to a situation that you found frightening or distressing. Trauma can lead to conditions such as Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD), which makes you experience anxiety, panic, and stress even after the event has passed. This is especially true if you are confronted with a situation that is similar to or reminds you of the event that caused the trauma.
Even though the effects of PTSD can lessen over time, it can take several months or even years before someone suffering from it can return to being unaffected by the triggering event. Unfortunately, for some people, it may never truly go away.
Chronic stress has long-term effects
Chronic stress is the build-up of stress in your body over an extended period of time. Chronic stress is understood to cause inflammation in the body, sickness, and even make other conditions considerably worse. Science has identified neuroendocrine pathways that enable your body to adapt to stressful situations to help resolve them. They have also established that too much exposure indicates your body’s inability to cope with those situations, which causes negative adaptations that actually cause you harm.
Symptoms of stress
In simple terms, there are two types of stress: physical stress and mental stress, but both can have a physical component.
Physical stress is your body’s physical response to distressing situations. Symptoms can include those mentioned above: muscular tension, increased heart rate, diverted blood flow, acute focus, adrenaline secretion, sweating, shallow breathing, and hormone release. But, they can also produce more severe reactions, such as skin rash, hair loss, weight change, accelerated aging, acne, immune suppression, hormone imbalance, gut troubles, sleeping and memory problems, and these symptoms can bring about severe life-threatening diseases.
Psychological stress can affect your general outlook and shape the way you perceive yourself, and your prospects, and commonly creates a negative bias that isn’t always realistic. Long-term psychological stress can cause depression, which is characterised by feeling helpless and unable to change things.
Although depression is a mental health related issue, there is growing evidence that confirms physical changes in the brains of depressed people. This means depression is more than just a feeling or an emotional state.
Dealing with stress
Stress, especially long-term stress can be really unpleasant. It is really important that you recognise when stress is getting the better of you and take steps toward improving your mental and physical health.
If you are feeling depressed or having negative thoughts that include harming yourself, please take a step back. There is lots of help available to you. Your doctor can prescribe medication that can help you deal with the negative feelings, and there are counselors that can help you understand the cause of your stress. They can even show you strategies to reduce the impact of stress and help you take a more balanced view of your circumstances.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can call the Samaritans who listen to you for free.
There are lots of ways you can improve your mental and physical health. You will be surprised how small changes can make a big difference because of the domino effect.
There are four key ways you can take control of your mental health that don’t cost much at all, and some are completely free. These include improving your sleep, exercise, diet, and meditation.
The power of sleep
Sleep is extremely important to your health. It is probably the most important thing, followed closely by diet and exercise. Your body goes through lots of restorative processes during its sleep cycles, including augmenting your memory and emotional experiences. Without enough sleep, your body is unable to process your experiences or heal your body. Everyone’s sleeping pattern varies slightly, but it’s important to establish a consistent routine, even on weekends.
Try switching off your phone, computer, and TV at least two hours before bedtime because the blue light interferes with your brain's ability to produce key hormones that promote sleep. In fact, if you switch to candlelight around 8 pm, your body will begin to wind down and prepare you for bed. A hot bath also helps.
Diet - eat your way to a happier life
The food you eat is also really important to your mental and physical health. Did you know that up to 80% of your immune system comes from your gut? Did you also know that over 90% of your serotonin - the neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep, is also produced in your gut? And, did you know that science has established there are neurons in your gut that communicate with your brain? That’s why you get that ‘gut feeling’.
The importance of your gut health cannot be underestimated; if you look after your gut, it will look after you. The easiest way to do this is through your diet. Eating foods high in fibre, avoiding processed and sugary foods, and having lots of fruit and vegetables will go a very long way.
JUVIA is also very helpful for getting your gut into good shape. It breaks down troublesome carbohydrates before they get to the gut. This prevents a lot of the negative symptoms associated with inflammation in the gut, like bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, excessive gas, etc.
By breaking down carbs, JUVIA starves the bad bacteria in your gut of their food supply because the food source is no longer available by the time it gets to the gut. This leaves only the good bacteria, which encourages them to grow and dominate the ecosystem in your gut microbiome.
Lots of people that use JUVIA report improved moods, which is not surprising given that a balanced gut biome is necessary for healthy serotonin production.
Exercise - keep it moving
Exercise is a gift for good health. It improves almost all bio-markers. Exercise improves circulation, releases endorphins, improves immune function, and regulates your heart rate. You can join a gym or go for a run. There are lots of free videos available online that can take you through circuit routines that you can do at home. There are tutorials to suit all fitness levels.
Studies show that exercise improves mood in depressed people and increases resilience, no matter how bad they were feeling to begin with. So, put down the TV remote, put on your running shoes, and go wild with your favourite music.
Meditation - hummm, those monks were on to something
Meditation does for the mind and brain, what exercise does for the body. Meditation has been proven to increase brain matter, reduce anxiety, and increase resilience and overall emotional well-being.
With as little as 10 minutes per day (preferably more) you could be well on your way to improving your mental health.
All you need is a quiet, comfortable place and the time to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect to yourself. There are lots of videos and apps you can download that can guide you, so there is no excuse. Guided meditation is great for those that believe their mind is too erratic.
Give it a go, we promise that you won’t regret it.