I'm stressed Out!
What does it matter?
Why does your health seem to go downhill the longer you feel stressed out? Are you gaining weight or not able to lose weight? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel like something bad is going to happen for no reason? These are all symptoms of your body being stressed out.
The medical term for these chronic signs of stress means that your body is sympathetic mode. When your body is chronically stressed your sympathetic nervous system is activated and you cannot sleep, you’ll have anxiety, and experience weight fluctuations. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “Fight or Flight” response; so when your body is in sympathetic mode, your body thinks it needs to run away or protect itself. This is a good thing if you need to fight a lion, but not good if you need to rest and repair or digest your food.
In sympathetic mode, your adrenal glands release hormones that makes your body put all its energy into getting ready to run or fight. Your heart and muscles get extra energy to move quickly. Your eyes work better to gather information. Your lungs dilate to deliver more oxygen to your tissues. If you’re chronically stressed (and most of us are), your body will get used to being in this heightened alert state, causing insomnia, nervousness, fear, anger and weight changes.
Chronic stress comes at a cost. When your body is in sympathetic mode (fight or flight) digestion is shut down. Your body has trouble shutting down at night to do regular repairs. You might notice that it takes longer to heal from sickness and injury when you are stressed.
To help your body get into repair mode you need to work on getting out of sympathetic mode and get into parasympathetic mode (repair and digest). In parasympathetic mode your body can use the vitamins and minerals you eat to repair daily insults. Your muscles are able to relax, and you’ll also be able to sleep.
To quickly get into parasympathetic mode, I recommend acupuncture or energy work. As a daily practice, meditation, breathing, praying or just getting out in nature can help switch your body from sympathetic mode to parasympathetic mode. Dealing with chronic stress will help you recover faster from injury or illness and give you a longer, healthier life.