Many of us do, with our busy, modern lives. So just how does it affect us?
Stress is a response launched by our body in order to protect us from danger. It is our ‘fight or flight’ response. Our bodies launch a series of chemicals in our blood streams, mainly adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones release sugar into our bloodstream so that we can utilise it to run away quickly if needed, and shut off our digestive systems, and kill our libido. No one needs to digest a meal or be thinking about procreating when in danger!
A bit of stress is good, but the problem is when our stress response is constantly ‘on’. The high levels of blood sugar over time make us more susceptible to type 2 diabetes, and make it less easy to lose weight. This can also contribute to other factors such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Less digestive activity can lead to IBS type problems. The constant state of ‘high alert’ causes us to experience the symptoms of anxiety and sleep problems. Many illnesses, disease and modern maladies will often have stress as, at least, a contributing factor. Indeed, stress is one of the leading causes of work related disability.
Stress levels appear to be unique to the individual, and everyone has some sort of set stress tolerance. Go beyond that, and that is when you see the signs of ‘break down’. Stress can come in ‘macro’ (large) doses, or ‘micro’ (small) doses, and it seems to be how we manage, or limit those micro doses, which then controls our overall stress level.
How can we regulate our stress responses? For those of you trying to lose weight especially, it is going to be very difficult if we lead overly stressful lives. One suggestion is to establish a short morning routine that fits your schedule. Movement, meditation and mind-set can be a good way to approach this, for example, stretching, walking or exercising straight out of bed. Some sort of meditation for a time, and focusing on mind-set by reading, saying, doing or listening to something positive. Even the children/dog could join in! Master this part of your day by minimising the micro-stresses involved, and you will reduce your overall ‘stress’ levels.
What are your favourite ways to reduce your 'micro' stresses?