We all have some level of stress, right?
It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving or healthy (like sweating it out at the gym).
Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health.
Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.
Let's dive into the "stress mess."
STRESS MESS 1: INCREASED RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES
This one seems obvious, and yet it seems like such an “old person” issue that nobody is ever concerned about it. We all think we have plenty of time to deal with it before it becomes an issue.
Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin. This is a long slow grow. Which means it is also a long slow road to recovery and undoing what has been done. If either of these runs in your family you need to take a look at these conditions like you are already signed up for them. Treat them like if you don’t make a change they will be your future.
STRESS MESS 2: IMMUNITY
Who’s been hit BAD this year with all the flu bugs? Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, canker sores or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed.
Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells; consequently they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
STRESS MESS 3: LEAKY GUT
Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.
Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in your gut’s game of red rover!
STRESS MESS 4: SLEEP DISRUPTION
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.
And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.
More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favours.
CLEANING UP THE STRESS MESS: STRESS BUSTING TIPS
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
Put less pressure on yourself?
Ask for help?
Delegate to someone else?
Finally, make that decision?
No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:
Walk in nature
Unplug (read a book, change your phone notifications)
Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
Connect with loved ones
Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.
Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.
There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.
You can ditch that stress mess!
RELAXING CHAMOMILE PEACH ICED TEA
1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled
1 peach, diced
Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.