Nearly everyone will face some stressful challenges at one point in their lifetime. However, you mustn’t allow it to take complete control of your life. After all, stress only becomes an issue when you fail to manage it. Uncontrolled food cravings, migraines, neck aches, insomnia, loss of appetite are just a few common symptoms of stress.
Apparently, stress is synonymous with struggle, pain, or even death. But is stress really that bad as is often portrayed? And if it is indeed bad, how can we control it? Generally, anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful. But the good thing regarding stress is that it can either give you the urge to achieve amazing things or simply destroy your life! Peruse the article and get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly faces of stress.
In case you didn’t know, stress is good for your health. While this might surprise many, stress is one of the healthiest things for your body, and it would be impossible to live without it! Your body somehow depends on stress to initiate adaptive responses from things such as being able to inhale oxygen once you come out of your mother’s womb, to develop and grow your brain tissue as well as triggering your body to lay down new muscles. Humans certainly can’t grow without resistance and this is the reality.
Hormesis is a term used to describe the beneficial adaptations from your exposure to low levels of toxins or any other stressors. Hormetic stressors such as resistance training have been proven to temporarily hyper-stress a number of bodily functions.
If you were to see the laboratory work of an extremely fit person after lifting weights, you would mistakenly think they were very unhealthy. Their stress hormones would be incredibly high, inflammatory markers would equally be higher, there would be a huge trauma to muscle cells among other pieces of evidence suggesting they are unhealthy.
Now, assuming that the same person gets adequate rest and recovers after the training session, the resistance training will likely make them somewhat stronger, fitter, and faster. It would also mean that their hormone levels will go up, the micro-traumas will get healed and their resistance to inflammation will also get better. However, how does this occur?
Simply put, your body alters every organ as well as every cell to act as a barrier to the pain that comes its way. And after this, it comes back somewhat stronger and better suited to handle the stress so that it will no longer feel incapable. Your body is a complex and outstanding work of engineering and it’s high time you acknowledge this!
It is imperative to note that the hormetic stress response attacks several things ranging from emotional stress to mental stress and the foods you consume. Literally, the human and brain reset and develop depending on the level of stress you are exposed to.
And extensive research has shown that it is your perception of stress that actually affects you far more compared to the stress itself. In this incredible TED Talk, Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, proves that those who believe that stress is not good for their health emphatically die faster! On the other hand, individuals who believe stress strengthens them live fairly longer.
Also referred to as the flight or fight system, your sympathetic nervous system is like an evolutionary impulse to help save yourself from a wild animal invasion. In reality, though, your body does not care whether it’s a big or little stress. Your sympathetic nervous system is naturally binary, implying that it’s either on or off. It functions much like a switch.
Unfortunately, a significant number of people in today’s stress-filled world perpetually live with the lights on, failing to relieve both their body and mind from that stressed state. Pending bills, unfinished projects, and looming exams among others, all trigger the same stress response in our bodies as if we were in some grave danger.
According to HeartMath Institute, a typical stress response, which many individuals suffer numerous times daily, kick-starts a cascade of 1,400 biochemical reactions in your body. And if these events are left unchecked, you are highly likely to age prematurely, your cognitive function gets impaired, your energy levels decrease substantially, and you also lose your clarity as well as effectiveness.
So, what’s the bottom line?
The verdict is that excessive stress of any form can significantly impact your overall health and productivity if you fail to unwind and de-stress. Regardless of whether you believe stress is harmful or beneficial, you must take your time to rejuvenate yourself after stress. HeartMath professionals recommend that you should not wait until the weekend to relieve some stress. If you are suffering from stress, take the necessary action to control the situation because if you don’t, it’s your overall health that suffers!
Nearly a century ago, a significant number of doctor visits were for influenza, acute infection, child-birth as well as trauma. However, nowadays, nearly 90% of physician visits are stress-motivated. This is quite absurd!
According to the American Medical Association, stress remains the root cause of at least 60% of all diseases and illnesses among humans. This implies that stress is not only an instigator and part of the disease but also the source of fresh diseases as well. And while it’s not always a life and death scenario, the same psychological problems you worry about most of the time will gradually bathe your body cells in stress hormones that will inevitably:
- Increase your blood pressure levels.
- Enhance blood sugar levels and reduce insulin sensitivity.
- Restrict your breathing.
- Depress your digestion.
- Tighten and constrict your muscles, including the vital ones in your chest.
- Increase stress hormone to dangerous levels.
- Impact your immune function.
However, the real problem actually starts when you become susceptible to chronic disease. Researchers at Forest Wake Baptist Medical Center established that stress speeds up the development of cancer! It has been proven that stress actually triggers cancer by activating certain genes that impair normal immune system function. To aggravate things even further, chronic stress has been shown to accelerate aging. And this is not, Oh, I’m growing some white hair,’. It happens at the DNA level, which is really bad news!
In summary, it is pretty clear that stress can not only have a great positive impact on one’s health but can equally do some bad as well as ugly things to your health. In the end, it all trickles down to how you manage your stress. Below are three proven tips to help you handle stress:
- Engage yourself: It is imperative to note that being physically active for even a few minutes can be an effective de-stressing technique. Do some yoga, play a game, walk or run for a couple of minutes. There are endless ways to immerse yourself in some physical activity and stop feeling overwhelmed with stress. And getting busy through intimacy is vital too, bearing in mind that you’ll release strong anti-stress hormones such as prolactin, oxytocin as well as endorphins.
- Breathe regularly: Did you know that your breathing is strongly connected to your thoughts? And this means that knowing how to regulate your breathing can be an effective tool to help ease your stress levels. A simple breathing exercise would be to hold your breathing for five seconds, breathe out for the same amount of time, then hold it again for five seconds. Repeat this technique at least four times, and you’ll effectively release all your stress!
- Drink a glass of water: While this technique might seem simple, it is actually highly effective. This is because chronic dehydration is a major physical stressor, and the process of drinking that water itself allows you a few seconds to switch off your flight system and feel somehow better.
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