What is the stress response?
Stress is the body’s reaction to any situation that causes you to adapt to change . The effects of stress linger for an extended period of time à that means if the body is continuously undergoing stress the effects will compound therefore never truly letting the body unwind completely
Signs to quickly see if you are stressed:
- Are you breathing shallowly?
- Are your neck and shoulders tense?
- Are you clenching your jaw or fists?
If you answered yes to any of these question you may be undergoing stress. Try taking a deep breath and relaxing your shoulders, neck, jaw, or hands
The negative effects of chronic stress:
The human body naturally does a poor job of distinguishing between life-threatening events and day-to-day stressful situations. When the body repeatedly experiences the stress response it can be described as maladaptive, or unhealthy and cause many health problems.
The Importance of Stress Reduction
Evidence shows that chronic stress can gradually lead to the degradation of one’s health. Playing a role in high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, suppressing the immune system and may even hamper recovery time and speed up the aging process.
The opposite of the stress response is the relaxation response
The response must be regularly elicited in order to make beneficial changes last. It was found that the relaxation response is associated with the production of nitric oxide. NO helps dilate blood vessels, keeping BP under control
Many risks factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease are out of our control such as race, gender, genetics, and age.
- Chronic stress can contribute to all three of these aliments:
- Atherosclerosis accumulation of the fatty deposits on artery walls)
- Chronic inflammation plays a key role and cause artery blocking clots which can lead to heart attacks or even stokes
Studies show there is a greater chance of heart attack in people that are stressed.
High blood pressure hypertension
The release of stress hormones cause your heart to beat faster = higher blood pressure. A combination of stress management, exercise, and nutrition can help reduce the cardiac risk factorsGastrointestinal disorders:
Stress can cause:
- Abnormal contractions
- Increase in gastric acid release = heartburn and inflammation in the esophagus
- Stress and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Anxiety and depression
- Stress directly feeds into the negative emotions like depression and anxiety
Can stress management help?
Relaxation response techniques can reduce anxiety promoted by stressful situations. However, with depression CBT has been proven more helpful
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
It is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on examining the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
Short term stress has positive immunity function boosts the transfer of infection-fighting cells from blood stream to skin . Long term stress has a negative functionà suppression of natural killer cells etc.
Stress plays a clear role in many cases but the extent of the role is still being debated
Can stress management help?
Too early to say
Managing your stress through the relaxation response
How to perform the relaxation response:
1. Choose a calming focus= focus on your breath or a short prayer, positive word as you breath in and out
2. Let go and relax . Practice 10-20mins a day
Types of relaxation responses to try
- Breath focus
- Body scan
- Guided imagery
- Mindfulness meditation: Yoga, tai chi, and qigong