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.
Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
A Little of My Story Dealing with The Stress Of Divorce
There was a time when the stressors had been mounting, in the lead up to a marriage breakdown. An undercurrent of uneasiness that filled the house, and for me, had my primary stress signs showing in my body and mind.
I often woke in a haze of worry and a lather of sweat and could not go back to sleep. When morning arrived, my mind was clouded with tiredness and making a decision or decisions (as there where a number that had to be made) was almost out of reach.
Every day my stomach felt like it was tied in knots, appetite had all but gone with the constant nausea.
That was exactly what was happening to me, very clear and frightening signs my health was being badly affected by the stress of divorce. This really scared me, as I had seen way too often the severe health issues triggered by big stress. This I have named the ‘stress mess’.
Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.
Let’s dive into the “stress mess.”
Mess #1 – Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.
Stress increased 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.
Mess #2 – Immunity
Did you notice that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold 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 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.
Mess #3 – “Leaky Gut.”
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 red rover!
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.
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
- Put less pressure on yourself?
- Ask for help?
- Say “no”?
- 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:
- Deep breathing
- Walk in nature
- Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
- Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
- Connect with loved ones
- Take up a restful hobby like art/scrapbooking/pottery
There are a powerful group of herbs called adaptogens, and these along with nutritional cleansing is the key to how I overcame that stressful time without succumbing to illness. Actually my health, gut, immunity is the best its been my entire life…8 years on. You can read about adaptogen herbal tonics here
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!
Recipe (relaxing chamomile): 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.