Stress: The Health Epidemic Of The 21st Century
Do you feel like ‘stressed’ is your new normal state of being? Can you remember the last time you went to bed without a care in your mind and woke up the next morning energized and excited for the day? Our modern lives, though full of opportunity, have us anxious, stressed and exhausted, and it’s almost at the point where if you’re not constantly stressed about work, finances or relationships, you might just stress about not being stressed enough!
While a stress response is a normal function for our bodies and we definitely do need it in certain circumstances, being constantly stressed is not healthy and it’s making us sick. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, stress is the health epidemic of the 21st Century.
How We’re Stressed
There are three ways our bodies can be stressed:
Physical: this can be a trauma, injury, accident or fall
Chemical: this includes flu, bacterial infection, hangovers, and unbalanced blood sugar levels
Emotional: this is the fear-inducing situations, perceived pressure at work or financially, family tragedies.
Joe Dispenza explains that when our bodies experience physical, chemical or emotional stress, it knocks the brain and body out of balance and activates the Sympathetic Nervous System. This is the fight or flight system that helps us deal with perceived threats in our external environment. When this system is activated, other systems in the body are affected, including the way in which the body sources and burns energy to give the body a rush of adrenaline.
This activation and mobilization of energy and particular body function are great in situations where we need to be able to react quickly – jump out of the way of speeding car or falling object – situations that are short-lived but require an immediate response. However, when the perceived threat to us is ongoing – say mortgage and financial stress – the body stays on high alert for prolonged periods, using up enormous amounts of energy and leaving the body unable to return to its normal state.
What’s The Problem With Prolonged Stressed?
“Over 90% of disease and illness today is based on lifestyle and stress, not genetics,” – Bruce Lipton
Stress hormones shut down the immune system making us vulnerable to disease, infection, and cancer.
What does that mean for the average person living with constant stress? Bruce explains that by always being stressed “we are inhibiting our immune system every day.” This creates an environment for disease to develop… and that’s serious.
Consider this: people produce cancer cells every day, but healthy immune systems can get rid of it. If you’re constantly stressed, creating a weakened immune system, your body will be less likely to protect you against cancer cells.
Additionally, Dr. Josh Axe has shared that our emotions can impact our health with specific feelings driving disease in specific organs. He believes that managing our emotions is just as, if not more, important than fixing your diet for your health.
The impact of emotions on the organs:
Fear: reproductive organs, kidneys, and adrenals
Grief, sadness, depression: colon, lungs, immune function
Anxiety: heart, small intestines
Worry: spleen, pancreas, stomach
Techniques Proven to Reduce Stress
By acknowledging your stress you can start to reverse its presence and impact on your life. There are a number of techniques you can implement to reduce stress and improve your health, and it starts with making a commitment to change your lifestyle.
Dr. Libby says that ‘stressed’ is the busy person’s word for fear. She shared with us that most of the time, people who are stressed at work have a fear of disappointing others or letting down the team, or a fear of failure. If you can understand the source of your fear, you can start to overcome the issue and reduce the stress.
Dr. Libby also explains that it takes time to change the way we respond to stressful events. “We understand that for physical fitness, we need to train our body – we can't just get up one day and run a marathon. The same is true for our mind – it requires a daily practice of 'training'.”
8 Ways to Reduce Stress
Reducing your caffeine consumption
Talking to yourself about the source of your stress, try to change fear into fascination and learn more about yourself. Catch negative thoughts as they appear and replace them with thoughts of gratitude and positivity.
Considering your perceived pressure – most of the time we’re putting deadlines and pressure on ourselves that aren’t necessary.
Meditating to calm your mind and bring your thoughts internal, rather than being worried about everything external. If you like guided meditations, we’ve got plenty!
Working on improving your diet. We know that when people are stressed their diet decisions are generally very poor and limited to things that are convenient. Make healthy food a priority and read our article 9 Foods You Should Eat The Moment You Feel Stressed.
Reducing your technology use… and turning those email notifications off when you finish your work day!
Conscious breathing. Yes, we all breathe, but being conscious about your breath and making time to take nice deep breathes will change your mood and your body’s interpretation of what’s happening in your environment.
Finding a practice that relaxes you and do it often. Whether it’s yoga, surfing, painting or running, whatever it is that you enjoy and enables you to take your mind off things that stress you, make it a priority and enjoy it often.
Reproduced with the permission of the Food Matters team. This article by JAMES COLQUHOUN was originally published at www.foodmatters.com/article/stress-epidemic
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