We all have some level of stress, it’s normal. It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic). Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances and can even be life-saving. Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, the body goes back to a calm state and all is well.
It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day and you find yourself on a constant state of alert, then that can have a huge impact on your health. Allow me to go a bit deeper into the "stress mess."
Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed first. Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin. Reason number one to reduce your added sugars intake.
Mess #2 - Immunity
Do you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, headaches or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed? Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut"
Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
The stress hormone cortisol plays a part in opening tiny holes on your gut lining and loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other, thereby compromising the integrity of your gut. This spells autoimmune issues in the long run if not taken care of! More on that here.
Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind. And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, food choices and mood. I certainly remember going through all this when my boys were babies. Once the boys started sleeping through the night, I started sleeping and lot’s of things fell into place for my health, it was miraculous!
I would caution you that there’s no such thing as ‘catching up’ on sleep because sleep is a cyclical process that depends heavily on light. The best thing to do is try to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up naturally the next morning, even on weekends. Also make sure you are sleeping in a dark and cool room.
More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favors, so please, prioritize sleep to help lower your stress level, I wrote more about that on this post..
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
● Put less pressure on yourself?
● Ask for help?
● Say "no"?
● Delegate to someone else?
● Finally, make that decision?
No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:
● Deep breathing
● Walk in nature (beach, forest, barefoot)
● Unplug (read a book, take a bath, put down your phone!)
● Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
● Listen to music
● Connect with loved ones – community plays a major role in lowering stress
Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize. Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep. There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also improve your response to it. You can ditch that stress mess and I want to help you do just that.
Join my FREE Kick sugar for good challenge to help reduce cravings that go so hand in hand with stress so you can start feeling fantastic even sooner...
You can make a hot cup of chamomile tea by simply steeping a bag in hot water, or you can cool it, add a peach, blend and turn it into a refreshing stress-busting drink, like in the recipe below:
Chamomile Peach Tea
1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled
1 peach, diced
Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.
'til next time!