“IT’S NOT THE LOAD THAT BREAKS YOU DOWN,IT’S THE WAY YOU CARRY IT”-LOU HALTZ
Have you ever wondered how stress could work both as an agonist and as an antagonist? Stress could be your – ally or foe. It depends on your – lifestyle, attitude, mindset, choices, robustness, perception, management of psychic abilities and art of handling emotions. Either you handle your stress or your stress will handle you!
Stress has always an important role in our survival.Stress is not a disease that we should be afraid of. We are evolved out of stress. It’s our reaction to external pressure and a condition we experience in our daily life tensions. It is simply the body’s response to the changes that create taxing demands.
We often use the term “Stress” to describe negative situations, this leads to believe people that all stress is bad. It’s not true. Stress is good in short-term and harmful in long term. We need some amount of stress to grow and thrive! Stress is everywhere. You may notice stress while dealing with your kids, boss, office colleagues, spouse, managing your finances….. And while some stress is ok, too much stress can wear you down and make you sick mentally, physically and spiritually.
The first step to control stress is to realize that you are stressed. We become habituated of being in stress and don’t realize until the boiling point!
What is stress?
Stress is body reaction to harmful situations-whether they are real or perceived. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent danger. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight,” or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises. You’ve gotten ready to act. It is how you protect yourself.
GOOD STRESS AND BAD STRESS:
Good stress is known as –EUSTRESS, whereas bad stress, is known as – DISTRESS. One more type of stress is – OXIDATIVE STRESS.
Eu-stress-The term was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix EU- meaning “good/healthy”, and stress, literally meaning “good stress”.Eustress means beneficial or adaptive stress – either physiological, psychological, spiritual or emotional-having a good effect on your health, motivation, performance and emotional well being. Stress is healthful and the stimulus for growth. During positive stress, a feel-good hormone – ENDORPHINS (endogenous morphine- body’s self-produced painkillers), are released.
Distress– on the other hand, Distress is negative, harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less able, anxious, panic and less confident and in extreme result in depression. It occurs when something is difficult for an individual to cope with. Distress causes tension to build in body and mind and the situations seem daunting. Distress leads to poor decisions making skills. Physiological symptoms include -High blood pressure, heart problem, Type 2 diabetes, Thyroid problem, Headaches. Behavioural symptoms include- emotional eating, smoking, drinking, and avoiding the task at hand, negative coping skills.
Oxidative stress – Environmental factors and unhealthy lifestyle choices influence oxidative stress in humans. An elevated oxidative stress is a contributing factor to many chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease, an autoimmune disorder, cancer, diabetes, thyroid problem and the list goes on. It is a state of your body in which excess of free radicals is present. A free radical, is a molecule in an unstable state, with a missing electron. To gain the stability it takes an electron from a nearby molecule. It can happen in any part of the cellular structure. Now the second molecule is unstable and in turn, it needs to gain its stability by taking an electron from another molecule. Now, a dominal effect of electron stealing begins! This process leads to the cellular destructions. Free radicals are the by-product of the metabolic process. The problem comes from the excess of free radicals produced which leads to oxidative stress.
Stressors that cause common stress:
- Too fast change of our environment that our genes can’t adopt.
- Educational stress on students.
- Workplace-Having too much responsibility and heavy workload, long working hours.
- The death of loved ones
- Traumatic events
- Toxic environment
- Toxic relationship
- Conflict with co-workers and family members
- Financial problems
Factors that cause oxidative/chronic stress:
- Poor dietary habits and lifestyle.
- Eating refined carb, sugar and fried foods
- Dairy products and poultry
- Imbalance of omega -3 and omega- 6
- Carbonated water
- Drinking and smoking
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Air pollutants
- Insecticides and pesticides
- Stress-emotional and physical
- Excessive exercise
- Some medications
- Radiations/UV light
Today’s irony is that when no tiger is chasing us then also we are most of the time in – fight and flight mode, even in our sleep. We are stuck on sympathetic dominance. A proper balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is the key to the good health!
The sympathetic nervous system is related to activities that require your mental or physical alertness such as work and exercise. The parasympathetic is related to more relaxing activities such as sleeping, eating, meditation, nature walks, Listening music etc.
We never have only one system working because both are necessary in order for the body to function.
Sympathetic is – fight and flight mode that prepares our bodies for action.
Parasympathetic is-rest and digest mode that produces a state of equilibrium in the body.
Fight and flight mode are not good for your health in long duration. It releases stress hormone- “Cortisol “which is a toll on your body. Cortisol produces free radicals which result in oxidative stress. Overproduction of free radicals can cause oxidative damage to biomolecules, (lipids, proteins, DNA), eventually leading to many chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetics, rheumatoid arthritis, post-ischemic perfusion injury, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular diseases, chronic inflammation, stroke …
Common effects of stress:
Indeed stress can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings and your behaviour.Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you jump on managing them. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many chronic health problems. Common effects of stress-
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Anxiety, anger, depression and restlessness
- Overeating or under-eating
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often
Effect of chronic stress/oxidative stress on your body:
- Coronary artery disease
- Cardiovascular problem
- Thyroid problem
- Autoimmune disorder
- Trigger depression
- Gastrointestinal problem
- Ruins your sleep
- Wreak havoc on your hormones.
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as –Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
- Fast ageing
Stress detoxification pathway:
When you get stressed, you get physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. Nobody wants too much stress in their life. Don’t let it dominate or overpower you. Let stress work as an agonist, not as an antagonist. Unlock your potential to handle your stress skillfully, otherwise, it will fill you with negative energies and promote a sense of failure, which can be devastating!
However, there are plenty of things successful people can do to counter a burnout and keep moving forward in life.
Act to manage common stress:
- Regular physical activity and work out. Exercises are to stimulate you and keep you active throughout the day. It boosts your happiness level and strengthens your immune system.
- Relaxation technique, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, getting a massage, listening music, meditative walk/forest bathing, gardening etc.
- Learn to Relax, Breathe and Take it easy. Simplify your life by doing less rather than more.Problem is that we are trying to do more and more things in less and less time and pay price in term of quality. Focus on quality of work rather than quantity.
- Get involve in creativity
- Set aside time for hobbies.
- Socialize with family and friends.
- Keep a sense of humour.
- Make sleep a top priority.
- Say” NO “more often. It will help you to focus on the most important project that matters to you.
- Unplug yourself from the technology. Decide a specific time to check your messages/emails. Don’t keep your gadgets all the time with you. Kill your darlings. Though technology has made our lives easier in a lot of ways, it can also increase the amount of stress people feel on a daily basis. Constantly checking your messages causes your brain to be overstimulated, leaving you hypoxic.Keep few hrs wifi free zone, it will increase your creativity and productivity! Utilize that time with your family, friends, in fulfilment of your dream project, self-healing, hobbies etc.
- Get in touch with your feelings and take time to listen to your body and emotions.
- Take responsibility for yourself.
- Adjust your attitude. Don’t fall into the trap of negative emotions that can quickly get out of control and only make us feel worse. Stress is a part of our life which cannot be avoided, but we can change our mindset! Instead of focusing on the negative, try to focus on the positives.
- Aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways may use to manage stress-such as watching television, surfing the internet or playing video games, may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long period of time.
Act to manage oxidative/chronic stress:
- Eat nutrient dense food
- Reduce acid load of your body by -Rainbow eating/Alkaline diet. Make sure your plate is enriched with colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts and real food.
- NO to dairy products and poultry.
- NO to the refined carb, sugar and carbonated water.
- A proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid.
- Avoid alcohol intake, tobacco use, smoking, excess caffeine and the use of illicit substances
- Get rid of unhealthy life choices
- Boost your daily dietary intake of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory food, phyto-nutrient, fibre, herbs and spices. Antioxidant such as-Turmeric,nuts,vitamin C,green tea,garlic,onion,cinnamon etc.
- Be on at least 10,000 step diet daily
- Do Metabolic relaxation day(Intermittent fasting) at least once a week. Better to do twice a week or every alternative day for fast healing from oxidative /chronic stress. You can design your own metabolic relaxation day according to your personal wellness goal. Make sure your feasting days are nutrient dense rather than calorie rich.
- Fluid balance.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables with hydrogen peroxide to get rid of insecticides and pesticides.
- Avoid over-eating.
- Listen to your body.Avoid excessive strenuous exercise.Give your body time to heal. Go for an intermittent burst of moderate to the high-level intensity with intervening periods of rest and recovery. High-intensity interval training sessions should be performed once or twice per week.Do different types of exercises to enhance your organic fitness and to avoid boredom, overuse injury, emotional burnout and high level of oxidative stress.
- Get at least 7-8 hours sleep daily.
“YOU CANNOT GO BACK AND START THE BEGINNING,BUT YOU CAN START WHERE YOU ARE AND CHANGE THE ENDING!”-C.S .LEWIS
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