GET A GRIP! HOW STRESS HURTS THE BODY AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
Stress is simply part of being human. We all know what stress feels like -- but do we really get what it’s doing to our body, or what to do about it?
Chances are, most of us are in denial, internalizing the cultural mantra to “just deal with it” and “push through”. While this does a lot to help our to-do list, it also does a lot to hurt our health: statistics show that up to 90% of all doctor visits and 50% of all illnesses are stress-related.
In regard to health concerns amidst a pandemic, reducing stress and managing our perception of stress are powerful factors in immune resilience and influence how our body handles a viral threat. This is because the hormones released during stress increase inflammation and suppress the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to pathogens.
The fact is, reducing stress is one of the most critical things we can do to support the body’s natural ability to heal, strengthen immune function, and increase health and life span.
If chronic stress goes unresolved, it will break the body down, create symptoms, and can lead to the development of numerous diseases and conditions – all of which are preventable.
WHY IS STRESS SO BAD?
Our body is not designed to deal with chronic stress.
The stress response has one fleeting job: to protect us from immediate danger and ensure survival. It starts in the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) and provokes our nervous system to initiate physiological responses that access limited resources to deal with emergencies.
It is only meant to be a temporary adaptation.
When prolonged, the HPA axis cannot keep up with supply-in-demand and becomes overwhelmed and maladapted. This causes hormone imbalances, detoxification issues, thyroid issues, neurological problems, digestive disorders, systemic inflammation, immune suppression, etc., leading to widespread dysfunction of organ systems that ultimately manifest based on the individual’s underlying genetic weaknesses.
Our body is designed to function in a state of ease and access innate healing mechanisms as needed. Here’s the catch: it cannot incite the healing response when the stress response is activated – they are mutually exclusive.
Effectively managing hidden internal stressors and known external stressors collectively impact our nervous system to either promote or hinder natural recovery and overall health. The main culprit in blocking the healing capacity and provoking the downstream development of disease is…you guessed it, chronic stress, no matter where it comes from. The body doesn’t’ know the difference.
TYPES OF STRESS
- Mental and Emotional stress such as grief, fear, worry, anxiety, relationships, lack of purpose, poor attitude, sadness, and traumatic events all contribute to perceived stress. Though psychological in nature, it manifests physiologically by stimulating our sympathetic nervous system, releasing neurotransmitters and hormones that physically impact our body.
- Physical or Biomechanical Stress from physical trauma, obesity, under-exercise, surgery, spinal misalignments, etc. burdens our nervous system, bypassing the brain and directly impacting the HPA axis to initiate the stress response.
- Biochemical/Chemical Stress are hidden internal stressors that cumulatively present major health challenges. Inflammatory and toxic foods, blood sugar issues, nutrient deficiencies, poor food quality, EMFs, pesticides, and GMOs all create biochemical stress. Everyday stressors like medications, heavy metals, radiation, endocrine disruptors, and other environmental chemicals constantly bombard our detoxification system. Additionally, poor sleep, dental issues, pathogens, and hidden infections present a toxic load contributing to stress.
NOW WHAT? HOW TO BOOST YOUR ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS
There are many ways to avoid the harmful impact stress has on our bodies. Reducing sources of stress while fortifying nutritional demands during chronic stress can synergistically act as preventative medicine.
Resolving multiple stress burdens requires a whole-person approach for a sustainable solution. It is recommended to address personal external mental/ emotional/ lifestyle stressors while working with a practitioner to uncover and rebalance hidden internal biochemical and physical stressors. Several ways to do this include:
- Lifestyle adjustments like improving sleep quality, exercise, time in nature, healthy relationships, and incorporating mind-body relaxation techniques can mitigate the stress response by switching the body from fight-or-flight mode to healing mode.
- Relying on a plant-rich, nutrient-dense, whole foods, anti-inflammatory, low glycemic diet while supplementing with nutrients that get depleted under chronic stress supports immune resilience and improves health.
- Lastly, key stress supportive and immune-enhancing supplements* reinforce the stress capacity, such as:
A sustainable and effective approach to reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress at the root cause level relies on integrating lifestyle, nutritional, psychological, and supplementation therapies. With that, the body’s innate healing mechanism is optimized to support long-term health, longevity, and the quality of life you and your family deserve.
*Save 10% on select supplements through September with the code SEPTEMBER 2020