Updated: Oct 7
Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. It is your body's response to anything that requires attention or action. Everyone experiences stress to some degree. The way you respond to stress, however, makes a big difference to your overall well-being.
Stress affects both the brain and body. A little bit of stress is good for people to perform and protect themselves. Too much stress can overwhelm them leading to a prolonged fight, flight or freeze response.
When stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. The long-term activation of the stress response system, and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follow, can disrupt almost all your body's processes.
Common triggers for stress: financial strains, career pressures, relationship issues, self-doubt and self -image. It is quite common to be feeling the effects of multiple issues at once which often leaves you feeling like you are being attacked from many angles.
Stress is not only 'emotion'. Stress is a physical response that affects many systems of the body - in both short-term and long-term.
Cortisol is triggered when our brain perceives a threat to safety. This is often known as fight or flight. Excess cortisol can be to blame for digestive issues, aging (wrinkles), sleep issues, weight changes, decreased immune response....etc, etc, ect.
Fight or flight is important for short situations! However, we are NOT meant to live in this state!
Unfortunately, in today's society, it starts in the palm of our hand.
-Phones - These devices are helpful, but this little electronic device keeps us in a constant state of "response". (Emails, social media, Texts and Phone calls) It’s hard to sit and relax when there’s a device constantly "notifying" you.
-Social Media - Prior to social media you were likely exposed to fewer people and those you were exposed to, you saw them as they were. With photoshop, filters and the "highlight reels" it’s easy to compare ourselves to others. Our looks, homes, lifestyles. This can add so much stress.
-Overstimulation - With the number of TV shows we can watch, books to read, social media platforms, or apps to try, our brain can feel scattered and frantic at all the possibilities around us.
Then there are stresses that have always been a part of daily life. (Relationships. Grief. Loss. Daily errands. Children. Extended family. Finances. State of the World.) Our brain cannot tell the difference from the intense stress of a text message vs. a grizzly bear suddenly crossing your path. It simply knows your PERCIEVED a "threat". Cortisol is triggered and a response made for fight or flight. At the frequency this occurs, we find ourselves living in a state of chronic fight or flight.
When you are injured or ill, many factors determine how rapidly you will recover. Your physical condition, your current immune state, and pre-existing conditions all come into play, AND STRESS is a major factor in the equation. Many scientific studies have shown the impact chronic stress can have on overall healing.
Immunity at the cellular level is severely impacted and the chemical cascade needed for healing is interrupted. When the body has an overabundance of cortisol, the high levels interfere with the production of anti-inflammatory substances called cytokines. The result is that your body remains inflamed and is very slow to heal.
When the body is stuck in fight or flight it can lead to disruptions in everything. From basic life skills like sleeping, self-care and eating, to complexities like learning and self-soothing.
Continuous boosts of adrenaline can harm blood vessels, raise blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Worrying and fear increase our mental load and can put further strain on the sympathetic nervous system. Chronically high cortisol levels also alter immune system responses and suppress the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. It also affects the brain regions that control mood, motivation, and fear.
The key is to understand stressors and recognize when they appear. Sadly, many people I work with don't realize when they feel stressed until it is pointed out to them. It is such a "NORMAL STATE OF EXISTENSE" in our culture that MOST PEOPLE can't truly identify the symptoms of stress.
The rewards for learning to identify and manage stress can include peace of mind, less anxiety, the ability to RELAX, a better quality of life, and most importantly.... improvement in chronic health conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune issues). Many begin to notice a better self-awareness and improved focus, as well as, improved ability to communicate which can positively impact relationships.
All things which contribute to a healthier (REDUCED STRESS) life.
If you are struggling with overwhelming stress, tensions, anxiety, etc..... Lets talk!