I’m currently reading ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate. It’s an interesting and readable book about the effects of stress on our health outcomes. It describes not just the stresses we feel on a day-to-day basis, but also how our responses to stress might become hyper-reactive due to certain childhood experiences. Many people don’t even recognise their stress because it becomes part of who they are. This doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging however. He connects chronic stress (and our responses to it) as an underlying factor in every disease, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and Arthritis.
The problem with chronic stress is that over time it starts to negatively affect the body. Constant cortisol release puts the body in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means the body is in a state where it is ready to escape, so the focus is taken away from important systems such as:
– the immune system
– the digestive system
– the reproductive system
As a result, our body is:
– unable to digest food and absorb nutrients as efficiently as it should;
You might begin to suffer from more
– colds, allergies, food intolerances and other immune-related issues;
Or you might experience symptoms connected with hormone imbalances.
In high levels, cortisol becomes inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked with poor health outcomes.
Cortisol is also linked with energy and the sleep cycle. When it becomes dysregulated through stress you may start to experience symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue.
Taking more time to relax, meditate, and sleep well all have a beneficial effect on your stress levels, and ultimately your health. Put away your gadgets 90 minutes before bedtime too. You may use them as a way to relax, but they have proven detrimental effect on our stress levels.
There are also dietary factors that impact cortisol release, so remember, reducing stress is not only about what you do, and how you perceive and respond to stressors, but also include the quality of the foods (and drinks) you put into your mouth.