If we weren’t already stressed enough before 2020, experiencing a mentally never-ending pandemic brought in another level of stress that many of us may have never felt before. If we were to research the most common similarity in almost all diseases and illnesses, stress is usually on that list. A scary thought for something many of us feel every single day. Yet, we don’t really acknowledge the fact and never navigate towards it in order to find out how we can overcome it. Which, in turn, has become one of our biggest problems in society.
Get to the office early and leave late to show your boss you are committed. Stress. Take on the family turmoil and do whatever you can to get around it. Stress. Have the kids in as many extracurricular activities along with your own workload and your minimal time for yourself. Stress. Lose all of that weight to look good for summer or gain all of the muscle to feel confident at the beach. Stress.
While the world tends to throw stressful situations our way, we also happen to induce them on our own. These stresses don’t just stay in our mind, but our mind essentially tells our body we are stressed and our body reacts accordingly. At first, our nervous system is unconsciously alerted, and we go into a fight or flight mode. Head back into the depth of your childhood and you’ll find out which one you default to. Next, your brain produces adrenaline which causes all of those stressed signals like faster heart rate, heavy breathing, increased blood pressure and flow to our muscles and organs. After that, our body releases cortisol which keeps us on high alert and ready to act quickly if necessary. The worst part of all of this, although our mind knows that we are stressed over a specific reason, our body has NO idea whether we are being chased by a bear or have simply forgotten something at home. When we feel these stresses consistently day in and day out, it starts getting harder for our body to go back into rest mode and can, in turn, affect the rest of our day. So, how does stress affect our bodies in our daily life?
Immune System Effects From Stress
How stress affects our immune system is a bit of a tricky situation to explain. This is because how our body reacts to short-term stressors can be beneficial for our bodies. Say if we hurt or injure ourselves, our body's healing response is activated to prevent infection and start the healing process. However, those long term, chronic stressors can impair the communication between our immune system and cortisol levels. This can actually make us more susceptible to infection and can cause chronic inflammation which is linked to many health issues like obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Body Pain From Stress
If you can take a second and recognize you are stressed, you’ll be able to feel your body tensing up. Along with the inflammation chronic stress brings, our stress can cause the worsening of pain in our bodies. Our pain threshold, which determines how much pain we can handle, decreases and we can even find our reaction to pain medication decreasing too. Those who already have conditions that cause pain can see stress constantly making their pains worse.
Digestion Effects From Stress
Our gut is one of the most critical parts of our body's system; as important as the brain and heart. Our gut is seriously affected when we are stressed out. As mentioned earlier, when we are stressed our body sends blood to our organs which takes away from our digestive tract causing a slow down in digestion. This causes inflammation, cramping, and most importantly, throws off the balance with the good bacteria in our gut. When our gut isn’t doing well, we cause many of the usual uncomfortable symptoms like constipation, bloating and heartburn, etc. But we also stop our bodies from absorbing the nutrients it needs from what we consume.
Sleep Effects From Stress
When we are too stressed, we can’t sleep, when we aren’t sleeping we get stressed. It’s the unfortunate infinite loop of stress and sleep and it can wreak havoc on our minds, bodies and every part of our day. When that release of cortisol becomes consistent, we decrease our chances of normal sleep. When we get into the rhythm of not sleeping normally, we potentially create some pretty heavy problems like high blood pressure, reduction in immune response, depression or cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Hormones Effects From Stress
Our hormones are going to be entering discussions more and more with future research. It seems that our hormones and how they function have a much larger impact on our well-being than we knew before. Stress induces a decrease in thyroid function, sex hormones, increases cortisol levels (of course) and overall throws our hormones out of whack. When our hormones aren’t balanced, we can find ourselves with painful periods, insomnia symptoms, weight gain, mood swings, skin issues, low libido and fertility problems. It’s a host of issues that our bodies really don’t need to be dealing with, especially in addition to everything stress-related above.
What To Do About Stress?
Stress, unfortunately, is inevitable. Life is far too wild for us to consistently live in a stress-free state. Because of this, it is important we take the time to not just brush off our stresses and ‘deal’ with them later, but to find ways in which we can reduce our symptoms and bring our minds back to the center. Some of these can look like:
Breathing To Reduce Stress
Breathe work is incredible for our minds. Being able to slow down and take deep, long and soothing breaths can make a world of difference to your stress levels.
Move Your Body To Relieve Stress
This can mean anything you want it to mean. Whether you like to go for a walk in the park, dance with the kids, go to the gym or jump into the ocean. Moving your body in any way can help to ease your mind of its current thoughts and move stagnant energy in the body.
Natural Remedies For Stress
Along with sipping on some chamomile tea or placing an ice pack on your chest for 15 minutes to regulate your nervous system, there are other herbs that can aid in stress management. Ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub from Africa and Asia, has been proven to be a powerful tool in alleviating stress but also aiding in inflammation, regulating our mood and leveling blood sugar levels. This natural herb is a great tool in supporting our hormones and of course, most specifically, the stress hormone cortisol. You can find our vegan friendly Ashwagandha capsules with all natural ingredients, GMO-free and lactose free. Providing you with a supplement you can trust.
Find Peace To Relieve Stress
If you are able to keep a level of peace inside of your body and look at things happening in your life as outside of you, you can produce an environment that doesn’t take on stress in the same way as before. You will be able to respond, rather than react and your inability to problem solve will be lifted into a more level headed response. Not an easy process to commit to, but one that can be truly beneficial in the long run.
Don’t let stress scare you. It is just an emotion we feel in our external circumstances. It’s how we combat the stress in our life that allows us to achieve harmony in our own little worlds. Conscious breathing, getting outside, using proven and natural remedies like ashwagandha and finding peace amongst the chaos will help immensely. It's up to you to find your balance.
Written By: Kristina Innemee