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“Stress is not a state of mind… it’s measurable and dangerous, and humans can’t seem to find their off-switch.” Dr. Sapolsky
In 2018, stress is a part of life. Occasional moments of stress that quickly diffuse will always be a part of being human. What’s not normal is constant on-going stress conditions that have prolonged, detrimental effects.
Many of us talk about feeling stressed-out or refer to stress as an on-going condition that we are powerless to change. The assumption that it’s a normal part of life contributes to the increased impact stress has on our health. Did you know there is now a medical speciality to specifically treat stroke victims? It is a Neurological Stoke Doctor. (Yes, strokes come from elevated blood pressure brought on by stress.) This is an example of how prevalent harmful levels of stress has become as a part of our society.
When you understand what is happening it is easy to recognize that being in a near constant state of stress is risking your health with serious consequences.
Understanding the Stress Response
There are 3 stages of stress.
Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older. Dr. Selye
Dr. Hans Selye developed the adaptation syndrome to explain how humans respond to stress. Here’s what happens. I can assure this will be familiar to you.
The Alarm Stage
This is our fight or flight response. It might happen if you are frightened by a stranger, or in a near-miss car accident. Here’s what happens:
- Your brain sends a signal to your body that you are in danger
- Your heart rate accelerates to provide more blood and oxygen to your arms and legs
- Your adrenal gland releases cortisol (the stress hormone)
- A boost of adrenaline is also common to provide a quick energy boost
The Resistance Stage
Once the initial fight or flight response ends, our body will begin to counteract the stress response. It’s common to physically stay on high alert for a while, even as it begins to repair itself. When the stressful situation has passed, your body will continue until hormone levels, heart rate and blood pressure return to a pre-stressed balance.
- Cortisol release is lowered
- Heart rate and blood pressure will decrease and normalize
- You will notice a decrease in the hyper-focus of the fight of flight period
If stress continues or repeats for extended periods of time, your body will adjust to deal with the on-going stress. Cortisol will continue to be released and your blood pressure can remain elevated.
If this continues without a break for your body to offset the impact of stress, it can lead to the exhaustion stage.
How can you tell if you are in the resistance stage? You can suffer with irritability, frustration and a lack of focus.
The Exhaustion Stage
This is where you land when you have prolonged stress. Eventually, your body will no longer have the strength to fight stress for you. Damage has already begun but if you haven’t been listening to your body, this may be when you realize there’s a problem.
Exhaustion symptoms can include:
- Fatigue – that sleep won’t alleviate
- Burnout and increased frustration
- Decreased stress tolerance
Today’s stress responses can come from anything including a job loss, medical problems, financial worries, relationship or family issues or emotional trauma.
The longer you deal with stress, the more harmful it becomes to your overall health and well-being. It can put you at risk for:
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Higher risk for cancer and infections
- Weaker immune system
Eliminating all forms of stress is not possible for most of us. That’s why it’s important to recognize your personal signs of stress. Then you can take steps to lower your stress levels, manage your responses and decrease the risk of long-term complications.
You don’t have to continue to suffer from the effects of stress. You can learn techniques to help you keep stress in check, and methods to ensure that when stressful situations arise you are prepared to handle them.
It’s time to take charge of your stress!
Discover a way of life that makes sense. Learn how you can experience a state of peace and mindfulness.
Join me on the FREE Take Charge of Stress Webinar to learn how you can counteract the weight of life the next time you feel it begin to take over. Because stress will happen to all of us. It’s no longer if but when we experience it’s effect. You can take charge of your stress! Find out more here: Take Charge of Stress Management Webinar .