44% of Americans report that their stress levels have gone up in the past five years. This comes as no surprise! The modern lifestyle has forced us into all work and no play. Even worse, stress forces us to make poor diet choices out of convenience. But stress isn’t just limited to stress itself. In fact, stress can have a serious impact on our health.
Failing to manage stress properly can result in burnout or lead to mental issues. In this article, we'll take a look on what you can do to neutralize it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Is Stress?
Stress is a natural process of the body.
We process environmental stimulants in our brain, which then signals one of two systems: the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system.
We’re supposed to spend most of our time in the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the “rest and digest” system. It signals our body that it’s safe to digest food, make babies, and be creative.
If a stressor activates your sympathetic nervous system, you go into “fight or flight”. Therefore, this forces all your energy and blood away from the gut and the brain and into your muscles, and it’s your body’s way of preparing you to escape a potentially dangerous situation.
Although stress is okay in small doses, we aren’t genetically equipped to handle chronic stress.
Sadly, modern life exposes us to stress all the time, and the negative effects of stress can have a serious impact on health.
This constant activation of our fight-or-flight system releases a hormone called cortisol into the body. If stress keeps coming, cells in our body become resistant to this hormone. This keeps blood levels of cortisol higher than normal.
One symptom of stress is bad sleep. This is because stress can disrupt sleep patterns, which can also exacerbate stress levels.
Chronic stress also leads to inflammation in the body. This is the body anticipating possible injury, so it up-regulates inflammatory proteins that help repair tissue damage.
But, chronic inflammation is associated with with disease progression. So, it is super important to reduce stress levels that contribute to this inflammation.
How You Can Lower Stress Naturally
There are a few ways you can lower stress naturally.
Meditation and journaling can help you conquer stress mentally. It’s a way of releasing stress and making sense of it.
You can also avoid situations that you know add stress to your life. However, that might cut down on some responsibilities and saying “no” more often.
A Healthy Lifestyle Is Key to Equipping Your Body for Stress
Stress and health are inextricably linked.
So, don’t wait for stress symptoms to come before you start equipping your body to handle it.
If you’re looking for tips on improving your health holistically and naturally, check out the my blog. You’ll find tips and tricks for living a healthier life to promote wellness from the inside out.
- "Stressed in America." American Psychological Association, Jan. 2011, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/01/stressed-america
- Hirotsu, Camila. "Interactions
betweensleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions." NCBI, 29 Sept. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688585/
- Mariotti, Agnese. "The
effectsof chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain–body communication." NCBI, 1 Nov. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137920/
- Hunter, Philip. "The inflammation theory of disease." NCBI, 9 Oct. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492709/
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