Stress - the effect on our body and physical changes we can make to feel better

The more and more clients we see at Life & Thrive the more we realize how many of us are stressed out.

I saw a quote recently that sums it up for me ‘doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown’.

So many of us are trying to do so much that we are suffering, our happiness is certainly suffering but our health has long ago begun to suffer and, very sadly, so many of us don’t even realize it is happening as yet.

When we feel stressed our bodies are in the sympathetic mode, often referred to as the ‘fight or flight mode’. The purpose of this state is to help us to spring into action for a short burst, like early man would have needed to do if a lion was chasing him. While in this state we receive a jolt of adrenaline, our heart and blood pressure increase and all energy is diverted away from digestion and healing. The problem these days is that so many of us live in a continuous state of low mental stress. Add to this the fact that sugar, caffeine and too much alcohol can all trigger this same sympathetic mode in us and we can see how many of us are spending far, far too long in this 'fight or flight' state.

The opposite to this mode is the parasympathetic mode or the ‘rest and digest mode’. This state occurs when we are not stressed, and we feel truly calm and relaxed. Its purpose is to heal and regenerate our bodies, to detox and digest and build immunity.

We cannot be in both states at the same time. I think this warrants repeating – we cannot be in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic states at the same time. This means that those of us that are living in a continuous state of low level stress are spending very little time healing, regenerating, detoxing and building our immunity. Some of us have been living this way for so long that we really can’t remember the last time that we felt entirely relaxed. Add to this the fact that most people we surround ourselves with are living in a similar state and this adds up to a recipe for long term disaster for not only our happiness but for our health.

We’ve known for a long time that the mental or emotional body affects the physical body. Emotional stress can lead to increased headaches, a higher risk of heart attack or a weakened immune system. New science and research is showing over and over how the physical body also affects the mental or emotional body. Lack of Vitamin D can cause a profound increase in the occurrence of depression. Mercury toxicity has been linked to anxiety, depression, panic attacks and memory loss among other things. There have been cases of individuals with undiagnosed Celiac disease (an auto-immune disease caused by an immune reaction to gluten) having psychotic episodes and spending time in psychiatric establishments. Some estimates show gluten intolerance to be massively undiagnosed. Gluten can really mess up the balance of the microbiome (the bacteria within the stomach) and an imbalanced microbiome has a major impact on energy levels, sleep quality, weight loss and brain fog. Are you beginning to see the picture? Through these examples we may begin to see how truly profound the physical bodies effect on the mental or emotional body can be.

Something has to be the catalyst for change for every individual. The good news is that, if we can pin down some of the common causes of increases to our stress levels, we can begin to make some changes. At Life & Thrive we see that, often, for many people the physical changes can be the easiest changes to make to begin with. Perhaps beginning with a 30 minute walk outside in the sunshine a few times a week, this can increase your vitamin D levels and your serotonin (the feel good hormone). Note: exercising outside for 30 minutes each day has been shown to be as, or more, beneficial than anti-depressants for people suffering with depression. Maybe reducing the amount of gluten you are consuming and increasing your intake of calming vegetables and fruit. This will begin to assist with a rebalancing of your microbiome and in turn will calm down your mind. Consuming more prebiotics (the ingestible fibers that ultimately feed our good bacteria) also increase the number of neurotransmitters that improve our stress levels. Helping your body to detox some of the common heavy metals and other toxins at a cellular level drastically reduces the stress on our body and therefore the stress that we feel in our life. At Life & Thrive we believe that detoxing these heavy metals and toxins is a fundamental building block to ensure mental peace of mind can be maintained over the long term.

Ultimately, any program to reduce stress in a person's life has to focus not only on the physical stressors in a person's life but also the amount of pressure a person feels in the short, or often long term. Hopefully, you can begin to see that you can approach the reduction in stress from whichever angle you find the easiest – physical or mental and emotional. The important point is that you begin to make changes if you feel the stress within your body and your life. The body is an intricate web of trillions of chemical reactions. If we can change and improve those chemical reactions in small, incremental ways this can lead to big changes in our health and happiness as a whole. YOU really are worth it. Right now, you only have this life. Ensure your body supports you to live the very best life you possibly can for as long as you possibly can.

Email us here or telephone us on 705 3727 if you would like to make an appointment for a free initial consultation or to learn more.

clare pemberton