Wednesday, May 2, 2012

YOU: Stress Less... Stress: The Big Picture

and so our countdown to de-stressing begins....

  • stress comes in different shapes, sizes and levels of intensity
  • the danger is that stress - which often increases as we age - is a major driver of many kinds of health problems. It's important to know the different kinds of stress you experience:
    • On-going Low-level Stress or Single-event Stress = life generates a constant hum of stress, no matter who you are or what you do. To expect that you can eliminate all stress is not only unreasonable but also unhealthy because your ability to respond to stress can make you stronger. You deal with it. Stress over.
      • examples = your babysitter failing to show up and you have to hustle your kids off to a surprisingly accommodating sister-in-law
    • Nagging unfinished tasks = one of the most influential forms of stress comes in the form of a chisel that chips and chips and chips and chips and chips away at your brain cells a little bit at a time. Until. You. Can't. Take. It. Any freaking more! These nagging unfinished tasks (NUTs) are more destructive than the low levels of stress we expect from life.
      • examples = cluttered closet, cracked bathroom tiles that have been staring you for years, weekly paperwork that gnaws at you every Friday
    • Major life events = stats show that 3 major life events in a one-year period will make your body feel and act as though it were thirty-two years older in the following year - meaning that it's specially important to develop coping strategies and support systems to sustain you in times of crisis
      • examples = a divorce, a move, a job change, a death in the family, a sudden serious illness, bankruptcy
  • stress is good
  • stress heightens all of our biological system so we can deal with an impending threat, be it an enemy, a natural disaster, or the fact that some idiot built the fire to close to the cave. Changes occur inside our body that gives us the strength or the sense to fight a predator or hightail it out of there.
  • during high intensity stress 
    • your concentration becomes more focused than a microscope
    • your reaction time becomes faster
    • your strength increases exponentially
  • historically, stress was good, it kept you alive
  • the big difference between stress today and stress yesterday is that today we're drowning in a sea of stress, with wave after wave after wave knocking us over. 
  • Those heightened biological reactions work in our favor for short periods, but when stress continues unabated, those biological reactions turn wacky.

  • too much stress can lead to a host of ultimate stress-enders, like heart attacks, cancer and disabling accidents
  • stress weakens your immune system and destroys your sleep patterns, which can lead to unhealthy additions to food, alcohol or 3a.m. informercials
  • stress is associated with depression, alcohol and tobacco addictions, mood disorders, headaches and fatigue
  • if you can reduce the effects of your stress and increase your effectiveness in stress-management, you'll live a much healthier and happier life.
5. LEARN SOME BIOLOGY (whew, this is going to be tough! Bear with me, please....)
  • when you learn the why (how stress works), you'll be better equipped to hand the how-to
  • stress symptoms are experienced when a series of chemicals that are produced in your brain travel through your blood and affect just about every system in your body. This happens through a stress circuit - the interaction between your nervous system and your stress hormones. That's the hormonal system that sounds like a Star Wars galaxy: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
  • the stress hormones cycle among these three glands in a feedback loop
    • when you're faced with  a major stresser, the cone-shaped hypothalamus at the base of your brain releases CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone), which then does a hula dance on your pituitary gland, stimulating it to release another hormone called ACTH (adrenacorticotropic hormone) into your bloodstream.
    • ACTH signals your adrenal glands to release cortisol and facilitates production and then release of epinephrine (also known as adrenalin, the fight-or-flight chemical).
    • these 4 chemicals serve as your body's SWAT team - they respond to emergencies
    • Adrenalin increases your blood pressure and heart rate
    • Cortisol releases sugar in the form of glucose to fuel your muscles and your mind
    • to close the loop, cortisol travels back to the hypothalamus to stop the production of CRH. Stress over, hormones released, body returns to normal. But only if the stress stops as well.
6. LEARN SOME MORE BIOLOGY (argh, i know... but this one's really important!)
  • stress hormones also work throughout various regions of the brain to influence everything from mood and fear to memory and appetite
  • they also interact with hormonal systems that control reproduction, metabolism and immunity
  • HPA axis is like a curious two-year-old, touching everything on its path. That's ok in short spurts, but not when you overfill your hormonal system. That's why stress is so highly correlated with bad health.
  • an overactive HPA axis can mean that you body is unable to turn off your stress response
    • can lead to anxiety and depression, which are further manifested through such things as low sex drive and high blood pressure
    • leads to graying of your hair prematurely
  • when the HPA axis is flooded, we also experience other potentially fatal health problems 
    • lousy LDL cholesterol or triglycerides combined with reduced healthy LDL cholesterol
    • rupture of vulnerable plaques
    • part of this risk comes from a stress-related surge in chemicals called cannabinoids, which cause us to eat and can eventually lead to diabetes and obesity
  • cortisol prevents the release of chemicals that strengthen your immune system. That's why you tend to get sick when you're stressed out.
    • too much cortisol suppresses your immune system and decreases your ability to fight infection
    • you become more susceptible to diseases that rely on your immune system to hold at bay or eradicate (eg. cancer)
    • men have a pretty quick rebound from the cortisol release during stress, but women often sense a lingering impact of the hormone, which is why men are so chipper the day after a lover's spat that they have already forgotten about it, while women retain perfect recall of the event, together with the emotional undertones
    • CRH prevents the release of a hormone that controls all the hormones responsible for production and sexual behavior, including those that control ovulation and sperm release.
    • reducing stress is one of the tactics used by couples with fertility issues
  • if the HPA axis is activated for too long, it hinders the release of growth hormone. You need your own growth hormone to help combat some diseases and conditions and to build lean muscle mass. If you keep the axis activated for too long, it can develop an exhausted response - and that it produces a wiped-out feeling when stress does come.
  • when you have chronic stress, your body increases its production of steroids and insulin, which....
  • increases your appetite, which....
  • increases the chance you'll engage in hedonistic eating in the form of high-calorie sweets and fats, which...
  • makes you store more fat, especially in the omentum (fat-storing organ near the stomach), which...
  • pumps more fat and inflammatory chemicals into the liver, which...
  • creates a resistance to insulin, which...
  • makes your pancreas secrete more insulin to compensate, which...
  • makes you hungrier than a muzzled wolf, which...
  • continues the cycle of eating, because you're stressed and being stressed because you're eating.
get the picture now????

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments, as your questions, share parenting tips and tricks, a book title or two.


milestone moments | Desenvolvido por EMPORIUM DIGITAL