Stress survival

2012-06-13 10.26.50Modern living is full of all kinds of stress, not all of them are bad, but it is how we deal with them that can allow them to have a negative impact on our physical,mental and emotional wellbeing.

Prehistoric man needed the autonomic nervous system, the fright and flight response to stress……a imminent attack from something  would lead to cortisol being released from the brain triggering a surge of adrenalin. Adrenaline actions are to dilate blood vessels, get the heart pumping faster bring blood supply to the muscles away from the gut, eyes dilate our breathing rate increases and we start to sweat ….making us able to flee successfully , and hopefully live another day. Once the source of stress has gone the body returns to normal…if the cause is prolonged  the response goes into a second phase, called resistance or adaptation. This is the body’s response to long term protection, it raises blood sugar levels, and the adrenal glands produce corticosteroids.

Overuse of this ‘facility’ can lead to disease, if continued for prolonged periods of time without relaxation in between the person becomes prone to fatigue, concentration lapses, irritability and lethargy. The third  stage is exhaustion, the body has run out of its reserves. The body experiences adrenal exhaustion. Blood sugar levels decrease, leading to less stress tolerance, progressive mental and physical exhaustion, illness and possibly collapse!

So this constant stress response, with increased cortisol being released by the brains hypothalamus(primitive brain) exhausts the stress mechanism, leading to fatigue and depression. Cortisol interferes with serotonin production…the bodies own ‘happy ‘ drug. Continued high levels of cortisol actually supresses the immune system, making the body more susceptible to everything from colds to cancer.

Our modern stressors are often not things we can run from…our boss, mortgage,driving test, traffic jam, computer malfunction! So we need to think of other ways of helping our bodies and brains from disengaging form this negative spiral. How can we do this…

Well there are quite a few simple things that we can think about to counteract stress.

avoiding  over processed food, high sugar content, as these types of food only give a spike in sugar/ energy, followed quickly by crash, and the need to have more….better to eat slow release foods,things with a low glycemic index.

avoid alcohol as this is full of suar and again will lead to excess cortisol production.

Exercise more , every day….exercise releases serotonin into our blood stream, helping us to feel content and relaxed.

Practise some mindful meditation, yoga  to help relax , calm our breathing and help muscles function optimally.

Have regular treatment such as osteopathic, massage  or acupuncture to keep our body aligned and mechanically stress free. For your mental well being a good hypnotherapist can be a great way of helping you look at things from a different perspective. (Take a look at www.nicolamenage.co.uk)

from a mental perspective  be kinder to ourselves….stop the negative talking that we are apt to do…..it has been shown that e language we use changes our physiology…putting yourself down verbally makes you feel down, it releases cortisol….listening to pleasurable things releases serotonin…..so play your favourite music, sing out loud and whilst your at it have a dance!

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