What is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and wellness?
Learn how to manage and control stress.
Stress opens the door to disease
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU ARE
Acute Stress Response: The acute stress response is an immediate response to a stressful event. The body’s immediate response is to release chemicals, called “stress hormones,” (like cortisol) which are used by the body to
make energy. This energy is diverted to muscle and brain tissues, and certain cells of the immune system become
CHRONIC STRESS RESPONSE:
Chronic stress occurs when a person has continuous acute stress responses. Chronic stress results in more
sustained changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure, for instance, which over time can result in
damaged arteries and heart disease. The continuous increase in stress hormones can also result in
suppression of the immune system’s white blood cells, leading to an increased risk of infections..
YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM’S REACTION TO INFECTIONS:
Your body has an “innate” immune response, which is the first line of defense that provides an immediate response
to infectious microbes before your body begins to generate an “adaptive” immune response, in which
microbes are specifically targeted and attacked by white blood cells.
Researchers have found that during periods of acute stress, cells of the innate immune system are more active
and increase their circulation throughout the body in order to patrol for infectious microbes.
During periods of chronic stress, the adaptive immune system is suppressed due to continued high levels of
stress hormones. As a result, your body is slower at healing wounds, less able to produce antibodies and
more susceptible to viral infections. These effects are even more pronounced in the elderly, whose immune
systems are already weakened.
10 HEALTH PROBLEMS RELATED TO STRESS
What are some of the most significant health problems
related to stress? Here’s a sampling.
Researchers have long suspected that the stressed-out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood
pressure and heart problems. Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow and causes the
release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the bloodstream. It’s also possible that stress is related
to other problems — an increased likelihood of smoking or obesity — that indirectly increase the heart
Many studies have shown that stress can worsen asthma. Some evidence suggests that a parent’s chronic
stress might even increase the risk of developing asthma in their children. One study looked at how parental stress
affected the asthma rates of young children who were also exposed to air pollution or whose mothers smoked
during pregnancy. The kids with stressed-out parents had a substantially higher risk of developing asthma.
Excess fat in the belly seems to pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or hips — and unfortunately, that’s
just where people with high stress seem to store it. “Stress causes higher levels of the hormone cortisol, and
that seems to increase the amout.
Stress can worsen diabetes in two ways. First, it increases the likelihood of bad behaviors, such as unhealthy eating
and excessive drinking. Second, stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
Stress is considered one of the most common triggers for headaches — not just tension headaches,
but migraines as well..
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY.
It’s probably no surprise that chronic stress is connected with higher rates of depression and anxiety. One survey
of recent studies found that people who had stress related to their jobs — like demanding work with few
rewards — had an 80% higher risk of developing depression within a few years than people
with lower stress
Here’s one thing that stress doesn’t do — it doesn’t cause ulcers. However, it can make them worse. Stress is
also a common factor in many other GI conditions, such as chronic heartburn (or gastroesophageal reflux disease,
GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
One animal study found that stress might worsen Alzheimer’s disease, causing its brain lesions to
form more quickly. Some researchers speculate that reducing stress has the potential to slow down the
progression of the disease.
There’s actually evidence that stress can affect how you age. One study compared the DNA of mothers who were
under high stress — they were caring for a chronically ill child — with women who were not. Researchers found
that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effects of accelerated aging. Stress seemed to accelerate
aging about 9 to 17 additional years.
A study looked at the health effects of stress by studying elderly caregivers looking after their spouses —
people who are naturally under a great deal of stress. It found that caregivers had a 63% higher rate of death
than people their age who were not caregivers.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Let’s discuss the effects of stress on the body
INCREASED CORTISOL PRODUCTION:
Associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), inability to lose weight or gain muscle, premature aging.
DECREASED NUTRIENT ABSORPTION:
Due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas, and liver, reduced bile flow from the
gallbladder, decreased oxygenation and gastrointestinal blood flow..
INCREASED NUTRIENT EXCRETION:
Urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium, and various microminerals.
DECREASED GUT FLORA POPULATIONS:
Healthy intestinal bacteria are destroyed by stress, which can lead to immune problems, skin disorders,
nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress.
DECREASE IN THERMIC EFFICIENCY:
Your ability to burn calories is diminished
DECREASE IN THYROID HORMONE:
Can lead to a reduction in metabolic activity throughout the body.
INCREASE IN BLOOD CHOLESTEROL:
Stress by itself will raise LDL levels.
INCREASE IN BLOOD PLATELET AGGREGATION:
A significant risk factor in heart disease.
INCREASE IN INFLAMMATION:
The basis of many significant ailments, including brain and heart disease.
INCREASE IN GASTRIC EMPTYING TIME:
Can lead to constipation; also, a risk factor in diseases of the colon.
DECREASE IN GASTRIC EMPTYING TIME:
Can lead to diarrhea and more substantial food particles prematurely entering the small intestines, a
likely factor in food allergies, sensitivities, and various disease conditions.
INCREASED SWALLOWING RATE:
A fast swallowing rate is a possible factor in digestive upset.
INCREASED FOOD SENSITIVITIES AND ALLERGIES:
Plenty of anecdotal evidence, most likely due to decreased immunity and leaky gut.
SHUTS DOWN YOUR DIGESTION!
Perhaps the most damaging effect of stress stems from how it causes the body to shut down digestion, in order
to divert resources to other parts of the body.
SYMPATHETIC AND PARASYMPATHETIC
Stress turns on the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is described as being
antagonistic to the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates the body to “feed and breed” and to
SYMPATHETIC AND PARASYMPATHETIC
Chronic stress keeps the nervous system in the heightened state of sympathetic, therefore the body is
not able to fully ‘feed and breed’ then ‘rest and digest’. The analysis revealed that 20 percent of
all adults took at least one drugto treat a psychiatric condition, while among
women that number rose to 25 percent—or one in four—reporting having taken such drugs.
1 IN 5 ADULTS ARE TAKING AN ANTI-ANXIETY DRUG
While there are perfectly good medications and treatments, relying solely on medicine is not a cure for anxiety or chronic stress.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
EVERYTHING WE CAN!
Let me share my top 10 list for
managing and controlling stress
As a Christian, I believe all things are possible
through prayer. I find that when I’m feeling
frayed around the edges, I’m probably spending
too much time in the world, and not enough time
in prayer or reading the Bible or attending
church. Whatever your faith is, connecting to
your creator builds hope and confidence to deal
with the trials of daily life.
2. QIGONG / YOGA / MEDITATION / AFFIRMATION
I group these together, although they are each
unique in their own way. I don’t want to offend
anyone who professes anyone of these over the
other, my point is these all go beyond our
physical nourishment needs and also improve
the mind and spirit. There is a physical exercise
component, there is a mindfulness component,
and there is a huge spiritual component that
helps you tap into stored energy that is in your
body and release a great deal of tension.
3. EFT – EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUES
You can view our video on EFT on our website at
www.UpLevelLiving.com/eft. It’s essentially
tapping with your finger on different points of
your body, (head, face, hands). This tapping
creates an actual response that releases tension
and frees up stored energy.
4. DAILY CHECK-IN
This is an exercise I learned during my training
from The Health Coach Institute. The
information is the property of HCI and available
in further detail in my coaching course.
Essentially, its’ a daily process of checking in,
acknowledging your state of stress, and a quick
action item or two to relieve it.
4. DAILY CHECK-IN – CONTINUED
You check in by asking, what state you’re in:
State 1: Feeling Great?
State 2: Feeling Good
State 3: Feeling A Little Stressed
State 4: Feeling Definitely Stressed
State 5: Feeling Stressed Out
Based on your response, you’ll take a few
minutes to address it, by engaging in stressrelieving exercise.
The key is that each time you disrupt your
current pattern of processing the daily stress life
you’re improving the way your brain works and
building the stress coping mechanism in your
5. MASSAGE / ESSENTIAL OILS / RELAXATION BATHS WITH
Again, three distinct methods here, but grouped
into what I call ‘feel good time.’ Our bodies can
store so much negative energy that it depletes
our resources. You must take some time to do
these types of activities to restore the balance. If
you don’t have the time, you’re still not making
yourself a priority. There is something in your
day that is less important which is using your
time. Make yourself a priority!
My dear friends, sleep or the lack of it, can be
one of the most detrimental things to your health
and one of the highest contributors to stress in
your life. You see, while we sleep, our body is
literally restoring itself and regenerating. When
you don’t get enough sleep, not only are you
tired, but you’re also physically depressed. Your
body didn’t receive the proper amount of time it
required to restore all its functions. Your battery
was not fully recharged, and that will result in
elevated stress levels.
7. NATURE –
Spend more time in nature and appreciating
nature. From sunrise to sunset, to mountains to
rivers, to a few flowers in your backyard, it all
elevates our sense of peace and wellbeing when
we are mindful of it. Time in the sun provides us
with vitamin D. Vitamin D, which the body
produces when exposed to sunlight could play a
role in the prevention and treatment of many
different conditions, including Type I and Type II
diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and
An article in Medical News Today reports that:
participants who were instructed to smile, and in
particular those whose faces expressed genuine
smiles, had lower heart rates after recovery from
the stress activities than the ones who held their
faces in neutral expressions. So maybe the
phrase ‘grin and bear it’ has some merit after all!
I practice QiGong in the morning, and part of the
exercise is to smile 🙂
I saved the best suggestion for last, but I can’t
think of anything that has done more to relieve
the stress in my life than being consistent with
my exercise routine. Scientists have found that
regular participation in aerobic exercise has been
shown to decrease overall levels of tension,
elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and
improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of
aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety
10. SEX. HAVE FUN AND NOT TAKING YOURSELF SO
OK, so I guess this is really the best for last! We
need to hold on to some of our joy by doing
things that are fun! Play with your kids, have sex
with your spouse, and laugh at yourself (please
note: do not laugh at your spouse especially
during sex!!!!). You can’t go through life just
wanting to be right all the time and proving your
point to the world. Choose your battles carefully
and allow yourself to walk away from those
whose resolution won’t matter 5 years from now.
Life is a journey, not a destination, enjoy the ride!
If I could add an 11th stress reliever it would be
this – to keep reading, keep learning, keep
educating yourself. In just the past year I’ve
learned so much, and I’m about to turn 50! You
can teach an old dog new tricks, and you must, to
be there for yourself, especially when times get a