09 Dec Your Guide to Stress-part 1
Stress acts to motivate and sharpen your focus in situations where immediate action is required. The intensity or urgency of the situation determines the intensity of that stress response. For example if you are faced with danger, your body switches the response on suddenly and with high intensity. this helps you achieve a burst of energy to either fight or flee. The response is an ancient human inbuilt behaviour that served us well in hunter gatherer times, when stress in the form of environment danger was usually sudden but relatively short lived. Sadly nowadays many are living with chronic every day type stress that actually starts to harm rather than help us.
To deal with long term or chronic stress your body releases cortisol-a chemical that allows you to stay in an active, attentive state for long periods in order to deal with the stress at hand. Chronic stress actually effects every part of your body and long term poorly managed stress can have serious health consequences. Stress may affect:
- Cardiovascular health—Often resulting in high heart rate and high blood pressure and increased blood thickness (Increased clotting factors)
- Digestive health—Often resulting in indigestion, diarrhoea, constipation and leaky gut syndromes
- Energy—Lowered energy states as we can not maintain the high energy of a short term stress response and have a rebound fatigue effect
- Hormonal imbalances—We can have lowered sex hormones, and immune hormones
- Sleep—Everyone knows that stress and good sleep do not go hand in hand. Poor sleep is one of the biggest impacts of stress
- Mood and mental health—All the above effects result in lowered mood and cognition. Also chronic stress leads to anxiety which is often a precursor to depression.
Therefore it is very important to manage stress and our response to stressful situations to ensure balance and health.
Everyone is unique in how they respond to and deal with stress. Part 2 covers some simple strategies to help you deal with the stress in your life. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has some stress and can benefit from a deeper understanding on the impact and especially the tactics to help counteract the impact.