The Stress Mess

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I sat in my normal spot.

A table facing the window that is a little larger so I can span out my notepad, computer and a million post-it notes.

I sip on my too hot Lactose Free Green Tea Latte (no sweetener) and get ready to dive into a day’s plan of work.

Another sip.

Then wham!!!

It hit.

Unexpectedly, as I had woken up feeling pretty good, rested, eyes finally not blood shot red from too much crying. Not even Visine could have helped me days ago.

It started.

I could feel my pulse pump in my wrists.

My breathing started to quicken.

My chest clamped so hard it pushed me back in my seat.

I felt like an elephant had suddenly decided to sit on my chest.

I tried to talk myself out of it and focused on slowing my breathing.

WTF was happening? Heart attack – no. Anxiety attack – maybe?

Suddenly, I was nauseous.

I started to become scared.

”Just cry”, I kept telling myself.

“Just cry and let it all go.”

But I couldn’t - there were no more tears left.

It was happening…

I was breaking down.

The cause was a whirlwind of buying and selling a house. Though in denial, it not only left me emotionally spent but also physically depleted.

The stress had compounded and my body gave me a friendly reminder that we need to deal with stress before it makes us really sick.

It was almost like when your older sibling would flick you in the forehead.

Ahhh, the “stress mess.”

Yes, stress can definitely mess with your health.

In today’s blog I want to talk about the about some of the telltale (and not-so- obvious) signs that stress is messing with your health.

And of course some ways to nip it at the source and / or deal with the stress mess.

Oh, and I have relaxing recipe for you (two ingredients - no stress!).

 

The Stress Mess: How It Really Messes With Your Health

Let’s cut to the chase.

We all have some level of stress, right?

It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.

{A massive flick in the forehead.}

Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

It is the chronic stress that is a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day this can mess with your health.

Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.

Let’s dive into the ”stress mess”.

Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.

Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood ”thickness”, as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.

Mess #2 - Immunity

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you are stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

Well, that’s because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells; consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

Mess #3 - ”Leaky Gut”

Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as ”intestinal permeability”. These leaks can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.

The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.

Picture this: Have you ever played ”red rover?” It’s where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!

Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption

Yes !! Talk to me…

Stress and sleep go hand-in- hand. It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

And when you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren’t obviously doing us any favours.

Ok – so what can we do?

Stress-busting tips

1. Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.

Can you:

● Put less pressure on yourself?

● Ask for help?

● Say no”

● Delegate to someone else?

● Finally, make that decision?

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

● Deep breathing

● Meditation

● Walk in nature (grounding – this is what I did)

● Unplug (read a book, take a bath)

● Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)

● Connect with loved ones

● Personalized supplementation

Conclusion

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.

There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.

You can ditch that stress mess!

Recipe (relaxing chamomile): Chamomile Peach Iced Tea

Serves 1

1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled

1 peach, diced

Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.

References:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/stress-undermines- health/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress- bad-stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/