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Can You Afford to be Stressed

by Uddhava Ramsden

Stress is a Perceived Threat

Stress is a  perceived threat which leads a person to feel danger. This may include physical, social, and financial threats. Stress will be worse if the person feels they have no response that can reduce the danger, as this affects their sense of loss of control or hope. The body's way to respond to stress is by sympathetic nervous system activation which results in the fight-or-flight response. The body cannot keep this state for long periods of time; When and if the stressful situation resolves itself the parasympathetic system will return the body's physiological conditions to normal.

Three Stages of Stress

The body responds to stress in three stages - alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The fight or flight response occurs when the sympathetic nervous system releases the chemicals epinephrine and norepinephrine, which prepare the body for action by increasing heart rate, breathing, alertness, and muscle response, and the hormone cortisol, which speeds up the body's metabolism. These actions get the body ready to confront a threat physically, mentally and emotionally.

Body Enters a State of Exhaustion

The body usually adapts to a prolonged stress by entering the stage of resistance. During resistance, the body's systems return to normal, but remain alert. Following resistance, the body enters exhaustion, at which point it can no longer resist the stressor. Repeated exposure to this response can cause mental and physical damage.

The body automatically redistributes glucose to regions that need it most such as the brain and major muscles during a fight-or-flight situation. This response also automatically impacts most of the organs in a  fight-or-flight response.

Cortisol acts to suppress the body’s immune system. Cortisol's primary function is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, suppress the immune system and aid in fat and protein metabolism.  When the brain receives a distress signal it immediately goes into overdrive. Neural pathways begin to fire and rewire at hyper-speed to help the brain understand how to handle the task at hand. Often, the brain becomes so intently focused on this one task that it is unable to comprehend, learn, or cognitively understand any other sensory information that is being thrown at it during this time.

Prolonged Tension

Chronic stress is defined as a "state of prolonged tension from internal or external stressors, which may cause various physical manifestations – e.g., asthma, back pain, arrhythmias, fatigue, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and suppression of the immune system. Chronic stress takes a more significant toll on the body than acute stress does. It can raise blood pressure, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, increase vulnerability to anxiety and depression, contribute to infertility, and hasten the aging process.

A Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is an essential companion to any stress-reduction program. General health and stress resistance can be enhanced by regular exercise, a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, good fats such as peanut oil and by avoiding excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.

Exercise has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety, helplessness, hostility and depression, and to decrease muscle tension. Stretching and flexing the muscles of the neck, arms, shoulders, back, thighs, and midsection reduce the chance that these muscles will tighten up and produce common indicators of stress - headache, neck ache, and backache.

The participation in meditation, quietness, affirmations, being out in nature, breathing, spiritual self-awareness, positive thinking, yoga, serving others, being with joyful people will all help to regain your health.

You are a vital ingredient in solving your health issue.

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