The Stress Mess: How It Messes With Your Health
We have spent the last few days getting our son moved in for his Sophomore year of college. He transferred from Indiana Tech to Western Carolina to run track so it is a whole new ball game. He is starting all over again with a new coach, new friends and of course the new school.
I know he will do well but it has been quite stressful getting everything transferred and of course the whole moving process. I didn't sleep well for several days and we were eating out which is also not optimal for me. My body totally took a hit. Stress is no joke when it comes to your health. It can be well..... a mess!
Ahhh, the "stress mess."
Does stress make you feel a bit off?
Do you notice negative health effects when stress is the worst? Maybe it affects your sleep, or maybe you get sick more often.
Yes, stress can definitely mess with your health.
Today I talk about some of the telltale (and not-so-obvious) signs that stress is messing with your health.
Oh, and I have a relaxing recipe for you (two ingredients - no stress!).
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.
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."
Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk of 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. I felt a cold or something starting on Friday and I felt like crap. Thankfully, I had my holistic immune response pack so I kicked that right away.
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 breakthrough. 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! Digestive upset kicks in and it is no fun!
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 favors. I can attest first hand to this based on how I have felt these last few days! UGGG!!
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:
Take a walk in nature
Unplug (read a book, take a bath)
Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
Connect with loved ones
Change your perception by putting the situation in a different context
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!
Try this great recipe when you feel your stress level rising.
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.
I hope you have a wonderful week and when and if you feel your stress starting to kick in remember, some stress is healthy and natural but chronic stress may require additional attention before it gets out of control.
If you need support or are interested in working with me please reach out. Your health matters and so do you!
Check out these incredible resources for additional information.