Your shopping cart is empty!
The Stress Response
So what is “good stress”? While stress itself may not be a good thing, each of us is only here because of the stress response. Our ancestors reacted to a threat by fighting or fleeing, literally or figuratively, and so survived thanks to this fight or flight instinct. Whether it was a food shortage or a physical threat, they went into what the prominent science center, the Franklin Institute, refers to as “metabolic overdrive.” Adrenaline and cortisol flood the body. Blood pressure, breathing and heart rate increase. Glucose is released into the bloodstream for ready energy. Digestion, growth, reproduction and immune system functions are suppressed or put on hold. Blood flow to the skin is decreased, and pain tolerance is increased. During a real crisis, your actions would end up reversing many of these processes. You would fight or flee and resolve the problem — then take comfort in contact with loved ones or satisfaction in your abilities. You might dispel adrenaline through pacing or some other soothing effort and restore your metabolic and hormonal balances.
Life today, however, doesn’t often offer us the opportunity to enact a full stress response and resolution. Instead, we operate as if we’re in a constant, low-grade state of emergency, with no real end in sight. Many of us don’t physically dispel stress hormones or take the time to resolve the real problems. We don’t soothe ourselves or take the time to question our priorities.
So what are some of the things chronic stress is doing to you?
1. It’s Messing with Your Brain
You may think that it’s necessary to work under the gun all of the time, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), chronic stress affects your ability to concentrate, act efficiently and makes you more accident-prone. Chronic stress has devastating effects on memory and learning. It actually kills brain cells. It’s reported that people with post-traumatic stress disorder experience an 8 percent shrinkage of the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, and stress affects, most decidedly, children’s ability to learn. The Franklin Institute explains that the stress hormone cortisol channels glucose to the muscles during the stress response and leaves less fuel for the brain. Cortisol also interrupts brain cell communication by compromising neurotransmitter function. Worse yet, your hippocampus is involved in turning cortisol off. As it becomes damaged by chronic stress, it becomes less able to do so and becomes more damaged. This is what the Franklin Institute refers to as a “degenerative cascade.”
2. Stress Increases Risk of Heart Attack, Heart Disease and Stroke
A direct link between chronic stress and increased risk for heart attack, heart disease and stroke has not yet been established by researchers. What chronic stress does do, reports UMMC, is worsen risk factors for these conditions. Stress increases your heart rate and force, constricts your arteries, and affects heart rhythms. It thickens the blood, which may protect against blood loss in case of injury, according to UMMC. Stress increases blood pressure, and chronic stress damages blood vessel linings, especially because chronic stress contributes to inflammation. Increased blood pressure is also a risk factor for stroke, and the Franklin Institute reports that stress levels can increase atherosclerosis, another risk factor for stroke.
So, what to do about it:
Increase your Nutrient-Dense Diet
A steady supply of nutrients like essential vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fats, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants all help your brain handle stress better, therefore benefiting your entire body.
Some of the best foods for natural stress relief include:
Supplements that assist managing stress:
Solgar Ashwagandha: read more here
Superfoods Maca: read more here
Viridian Rhodiola: read more here
Have an Awesome Month Ahead and Take Care of Each Other