Common knowledge tells us that when we are under excess stress, we get sick. In the last 30 years, scientists have uncovered the various ways that stress actually affects our biology to cause this to happen. Our bodies were made to handle stress in short bursts of seconds to minutes. Today’s fast pace causes many of us to remain in a “stress on” state for hours even days.
1. Stress triggers the adrenal gland to release adrenalin which raises the heart rate and blood pressure.
2.Stress triggers the adrenal gland to release the stress hormone cortisol which raises our blood sugar levels.
3.Elevated cortisol over time causes the body to gain weight.
4.Stress triggers the release of inflammation-causing chemicals called cytokines.
5.Stress alters our brain chemical balance leading to disrupted sleep patterns.
6.Stress triggers depression of our immune system which makes us susceptible to infection.
7.Stress alters brain chemical balance leading to depression and anxiety.
8 Techniques to Better Manage Stress
You know that stress isn’t good for you because of how it makes you feel. Maybe you become irritable, get a headache, lose your appetite, or feel like you can’t focus. But did you know that sustained stress levels over time lead to inflammation and chemical imbalances that can result in disease? While it is not realistic to eliminate everything that causes stress in your life, we can explore some strategies designed to eliminate stress and reverse some of the damaging effects on your body.
- Reduce your exposure to media stress-Why worry about situations on the evening news that you cannot control?
- Make it a priority to spend time for yourself-Take time to pursue a hobby, enjoy nature, read a book, or meditate
- Take time for regular physical exercise-The stress reducing benefits of vigorous physical activity are undeniable
- Develop healthy sleep habits-Try to establish a consistent sleep routine and create a quiet, dark sleep environment
- Learn to eat a healthy diet-Limit use of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine and avoid sugar and sweets
- Practice self affirmations often-Learn to say positive and uplifting things to yourself-even out loud
- Take time to listen to relaxing music and natural sounds-an environmental background sound CD can be great
- Learn to set realistic expectations for your performance-most of us expect way too much perfection from self
Don’t forget that even if you can manage to lower your stress level even a little that the results to the health of your brain and body are often magnified. You may find that the more you practice stress reduction, the easier it becomes.
Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Forum Health Austin in Austin, Texas. After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy. After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative now Forum Health Austin where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom. He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach. His motto is “Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”. www.texasintegrative.com