STRESS!!!! We all feel stress now and again. Sometimes stress can become a habit of thoughts and emotion that can creep in slowly and become something more serious like anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. All of these things can hijack both your body and mind.
Let’s take a look at how stress effects us. Maybe you are going to be making a presentation, or you have to meet a deadline. We all experience stress when we are challenged or overwhelmed. It is a hard wired physical response that travels throughout your body. In the short term stress can be beneficial, but when activated too often or too long the fight or flight response not only changes your brain but also damages your organs and cells throughout your body. Your adrenal gland releases the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine. As these hormones travel through your bloodstream they easily reach your blood vessels and heart. Adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster, your blood pressure to rise, and over time causes hypertension. Cortisol can also cause the inner lining of the blood vessels to not function properly. This is an early precursor to cholesterol plaque build up in the arteries. Together these changes can lead to heart attack or stroke. When your brain senses stress it activates your autonomic nervous system. When this is activated the big brain communicates stress to the enteric or intestinal nervous system. This can not only cause butterflies in your gut, it can effect the intestinal contractions in the intestines and can lead to irritable bowel syndrome. It also increases more sensitivity to acid contributing to heartburn. Stress can also change the gut bacteria which can effect your digestion and overall health.
Speaking of digestion; can stress effect your waist line? The answer is yes. Cortisol can increase your appetite. It tells your body to replenish it’s energy stores causing you to load up on energy dense foods, carbs, and comfort foods. High levels of cortisol can cause your body to create visceral or deep belly fat. This kind of fat is an organ that releases hormones and cytokines that puts your immune system at risk, and can cause heart disease and diabetes. Chronic stress can effect the function of some immune cells making us susceptible to infections and slow the rate of healing. If you want to live a long life you may have to curb your chronic stress. Stress can shorten your telomeres, the shoe lace end tips of chromosomes which determine a cell’s age and shorten with each divide. When telomeres become too short it effects the cells ability to divide and it dies. As if that weren’t enough, chronic stress can sabotage your health by causing acne, hair loss, sexual dis-function, muscle tension, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. What does this all mean? What is important is how you respond to these stresses. If you can view these challenges as situations you can control and master – as opportunities instead of insurmountable challenges – you will perform better in the long run and stay healthy.
Before stress gains too much momentum in your life consider hypnosis to help you improve your ability to cope. It can help you re-frame events, as well as rehearse new more beneficial ways of thinking. Hypnosis can help you calm your mind to find solutions to challenges in an easy, relaxed manor.
Until next time be sure to have a calm and beautiful day.