The Real Cost of Stress
Stress, Stress - can’t live with it and can’t live without it. It has become such an acceptable part of our lives that unless it becomes totally unmanageable we just “buck up” and deal with it. Unfortunately, we walk in denial not wanting to really admit that we have a problem. It can be manifested by thoughts, “We can’t wait for the weekend to relax; we can’t wait for the end of the day to relax; I can’t stand being around that person; Why’s everybody always pickin’ on me( as the old song goes); If I only had a better job or situation.” What is life without stress? Who knows? For most people, it is the “pie-in-the-sky” wishful thinking that for just once everything goes right without any problems or mishaps. Here is a phrase that you can finish, “I just wish that …………………….” Most people just deal with stress without thinking how it really impacts their life, let’s take a closer look.
Stress comes in a variety of forms, we call it fear, anxiety, concerned, worried, unsure, uneasy, nervousness and things we don’t think of like deficiency in nutrients and a sedentary lifestyle which causes stress on the skeletal system. Whatever we call it, the biological, physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects remain the same.
Our being is given the ability to survive at all costs. We have built into us a wonderful mechanism that responds to life threatening situations. Without it we would be defenseless and die an early death. It is called the Fight or Flight (and Freeze) reaction. In order to illustrate it let’s paint a hypothetical picture.
During the Middle Ages if you were a man (the ladies will just have to imagine), one of the dangers of that day was close combat, man to man. At the first sign of mortal combat the body and soul (mind, will, & emotions) starts to prepare. Here is a partial list:
1. Heart rate quickens – more blood (oxygen and nutrients) needed for action like running or fighting without stopping for a long time.
2. Blood pressure rises – arteries constrict blood to the visceral area and skin, sending the blood to the extremities for maximum muscle effort.
3. The brain loses the ability to focus and concentrate. Thinking is not helpful under a stressful situation; only reflex and response is immediately needed. Thinking will only interfere with a quick response. Learning and memory are useless if you are going to die within the hour.
4. Digestive system shuts down and sends all resources to the muscles. It won’t be needed if you die.
5. Immune system, a user of a lot of energy, shuts down and sends all resources where most needed. A cold or the flu is not important if you are about to die.
6. Reproductive system – you guessed it, shut down – not needed for the future.
7. Breathing quickens to supply more oxygen to the body where needed, hence the dilation of bronchial tubes
8. Prepare to heal cuts and wounds – elevated cholesterol, triglycerides and an increase in the platelet count. Vascular walls increase in thickness for protection.
9. High blood sugar – to support the need to fight or run for extended periods of time. Conversion of glycogen into glucose in the liver
10. Not going to lay down new bone – not needed if you are going to die.
11. Adrenal burnout – 100% effort to survive at all costs.
12. Decrease urine production
13. Sweating—possible dehydration
Now here is the real kicker. You (your brain) does not know the difference between a real physical threat for survival and a virtual threat; one found only in your memory and emotions. It will respond the same way. A bad relationship at work or wherever there is not a “real” threat to survival, the brain does not know the difference and will instruct the body to respond. People have “nightmares” in which they wake up in a cold sweat with their heart racing and fast breathing. Sometimes they feel like a truck just ran them over or they feared for their life. Real or not real?
With stress in the world today, do you see why we have such an increase of heart disease, ADD, osteoporosis, diabetes, adrenal deficiencies, reproductive problems, brain fog and depression, unexplained pain, autoimmune issues and the list goes on. The list encompasses all the common degenerative diseases of today.
Here are some guidelines to help decrease your stress level.
1. Get 7-9 hours of good sleep per night. REM sleep is the most important but it takes time to get there. Sleep is when your body repairs itself and prepares for the next day.
2. A good mattress is absolutely essential for a good night’s sleep. Tossing and turning just doesn’t cut it.
3. Eat quality, nutritious foods to help your body repair and have the energy to function. Avoid “empty” calories or stimulates. Take a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement because generally you will not always eat right.
4. Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. The body is designed to move to stay in alignment and keep the muscles toned. If you don’t use it, you will lose it!
5. Don’t ignore the spiritual aspect of your being. You are designed to live within the framework of your creator. Find out what that is and follow it. To live outside the design parameters is to invite a breakdown of your spiritual, mental and physical parts which will lead to ultimate total failure of the parts.
6. Think the best of people; enjoy smelling the roses; take time to thank someone for a good deed; one bad event should not dictate your future; you are special in this world; you have worth and value and don’t let anyone take that away from you; someone out there loves you; in other words, think wholesome thoughts that are good and uplifting. This will change your attitude to the positive. Remember all events start with a thought which affects your emotions, which makes up your attitude, which dictates a behavior, and behavior is what people see. If you have a belief in God, then He will guide you into all joy, peace, and contentment so relax and meditate on Him and He will direct your path.
The choice is yours, choose wisely.