The answer will always be “yes”, whether you like it or not. It’s the nature of the beast, living in this fast-paced society. We can’t avoid it, but learning how to manage it is critical to your health and well-being. Remember stress is something that happens inside you, not to you (for example; the car cutting you off in traffic isn’t “stress”, your physiological reaction is).
Stressors can include a variety of things that you may not know of, like:
- stimulant use (any source of caffeine, ephedrine, or alcohol – such as coffee, tea, wine, diet pills, decongestants, and energy drinks)
- metabolic syndrome
- toxin exposure
- certain personality traits, like being “type A” or having poor time management skills
When you’re exposed to stressors, your brain excretes hormone “messengers” that tell your adrenal glands to excrete hormones (like adrenaline and norepinephrine) which help your body adapt to your environmental change. In the short term, this is necessary for survival, but when the body is exposed continuously to stressors the adrenals start to become dysfunctional and will excrete an excessive amount of one particular hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone we all need – it regulates your sleep/wake cycle – but when your adrenals are forced to excrete it excessively, it can wreak havoc on your body. Elevated cortisol is linked to:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Stress is and always will be a part of our biochemistry, we can’t change that. What we CAN and MUST change is our ability to manage stress productively. How?
- Eliminate dietary stressors and limit your exposure to other stressors if possible.
- Use stress reduction techniques, like diaphragmatic breathing or progressive relaxation, daily.
- Use supplemental nutrients, like rhodiola or a b-complex, to support the adrenal glands and balance cortisol levels.
Another great way to alleviate stress is to LAUGH! Just watching a funny movie at the end of a chaotic day will help balance cortisol and improve your state of mind. Remember, stress is something we can’t avoid, but actively managing it in a positive way is critical to surviving in this fast-paced world we live in.
– Ashley Howell, CHC