13 Guises of Stress + Why It Affects Our Entire Body
Worry... it's (was) in my bones.
When I was a child I worried about playing with the purple crystals in the chemistry set, going to bed thinking I was going to die because I'd spilt it on myself. Worrying about my horse, worrying about my parents and that the minor disagreement they had at dinner... they were splitting up for sure! Later stressing out that I'd upset my friends with a comment or I was going to fail my exams etc. You might relate. However none of this prepared me for one of my most stressful and worrying stages of life... i.e. being a Mother and Parent.
Wow, the worries I created in my head, especially when they were babies (& I've got still got teenage years ahead of me)! How would they survive the night ahead let alone a few hours without me right there with them? For the Mums reading this I'm sure you can relate.
I realise now, for me, these stressors weren't real. Rather, a self imposed, newly evolved type of anarchy within my own mind.
Note: My reference to stress is in regard to any thing that seriously threatens our homeostasis, (balance).
Knowing what I know now I would've been a lot kinder on myself and probably a better mother. No regrets though.
'When the student is ready the teacher appears' (or the lesson is heard) ~ Zen Proverb
What I've questioned as I've got older (and a bit wiser) is 'what have I ever gained from worrying?' As hard as it is to not worry, how has it ever helped resolve the situation or the issue at hand? (A reminder to self).
Even though stress responses are an adaptive process, ongoing or persistent worry and stress can create dis-ease.
Disease in our body is a lot more complex but very simply - along with nourishing our bodies deeply and eliminating toxicity - emotional health and managing stress (i.e. a balanced nervous system) is THE most important thing we can do for our energy, longevity, graceful ageing and joie de vivre.
When stress is activated it affects pretty much every system in our body.
Stress has many, many different guises and many we wouldn't consider a stressor. Each stressor can weaken our ability to handle stress e.g. we snap at the family, fly off the handle, don't sleep well, overreact etc. OR it creates a physical reaction in our bodies e.g. headache, loose bowels, sweaty, don't feel hungry, sugar cravings, increased heart rate etc.
Whatever it is and irrespective of the cause, the body uniformly activates the stress response in the same way.
Here's what we need to know about the impact of stress on our body and 13 different guises of stress...
Stress and Our Body. What We Need To Know;
1. Stress hormones e.g. cortisol and adrenalin are produced by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the HPA (hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal axis) making energy available for the body to use immediately.
Note: the hypothalamus sits inside the brain and links the nervous system to the hormonal system via the pituitary gland. The pituitary is a pea-sized structure at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus, to which it is attached via nerve fibres. Our adrenals sit on top of our kidneys.
2. Energy is diverted to the tissues that become more active during stress i.e. the muscles and the brain. Less critical activities are put on hold e.g. digestion and the growth and sex hormones.
With the change in chemistry that comes with stress, eating, growth, and reproduction go into a form of 'shut down' mode to ensure survival.
When stress is a one-off it can be considered 'a good thing' i.e. eustress, however much of the stress we experience today is persistent with long term damaging consequences.
Causes of persistent stress and it's many guises;
- heavy metal toxicity either inherited or accumulated through environmental exposure
- pathogenic (good bug v bad bug) imbalance
- digestive disfunction
- poor food and beverage choices - too much sugar, carbs, meat, etc
- nutrient deficiency and malabsorption - not enough green vegetables
- silent inflammation
- childhood or prenatal trauma
- pollutants and chemical toxins
- too much exercise
- lack of purpose
- emotional stress e.g. relationship, financial, career, health, inherited beliefs
- constant medication without strengthening the immune system and body
- over exposure to radiation and electro magnetic frequencies
In addition to the above in isolation, with our constant exposure to pollutants and toxicity, less than ideal eating patterns and the busyness of our modern lives, most of us are not just dealing with one stressor, but many. Our bodies and our brains are not coping. We are experiencing low energy, overwhelm, disrupted sleep, digestive issues, mental illness, auto-immune issues, hormonal diseases and chronic illness.
We're familiar with most of the causes listed above and we're acting on it or them in some way. There are others however that we're not familiar with and that are placing a constant stress on our bodies. Perhaps choose one or two that you know or you haven't yet explored e.g. investigating heavy metal toxicity with hair tissue analysis or slowing down enough to discover your true purpose or work more on limiting beliefs with a qualified practitioner. Begin to make the preventative changes you need to make now before stress forces you to STOP & listen and manifests into something far more chronic and debilitating.
We've got nothing to lose and everything to gain and the best part is it's in our control.
It's a very big topic and we go into it in more detail at my next workshop 'Redefining Stress' this week on Thursday 25th of May. Jill Dare and I will be giving practical and simple ways to alleviate stress and improve energy, joy, longevity and overall wellbeing while looking at how to get to the core of stressful beliefs. If managing stress is something you know you need to do, join us for an engaging and practical session with simple ways to 'Redefine Stress', this Thursday 25th May, 9:30am - 11:00am.
And I'm excited to have Toni Everard, Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner and Life Coach joining me for my online workshop of 'Redefining Stress' the following Tuesday 30th of May at 7:00pm WA time! I did a short interview with Toni and Jill last week, chatting about what we'll be sharing, find our videos on my Facebook page. Register for either workshop at https://www.katebarnes.com.au/workshops-events/