STRESS IDLING: A Modern Day Health Challenge

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Where does your stress meter hover? Stress is not necessarily a bad thing, it motivates – allowing you to achieve your goals. Ideally your HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal) axis will correctly mount and return your body to its normal healthy shutdown point – allowing relaxation and healing on a regular basis. Being chronically stressed out and stress idling indicate that the body’s the stress response is flawed. This can lead to compromised body functions including a compromised immune response. A number or of factors, including interference, can modify normal stress responses. You may be suffering from a case of life imbalance which can really play havoc with your stress response. For more on assessing and restoring  your life balance read LIFE BALANCE: The Well-being Root – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=140. So what does a normal healthy stress response look like?

First, your body (brain/hypothalamus) makes a judgement whether a situation is stressful based on sensory input and processing (what your body sees, hears, senses) and stored memories (past stressful events and how your body responded).

Secondly, your body (HPA – hypothalamus to pituitary and adrenal medulla) mounts a stress response, ideally equivalent to the threat.

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Thirdly, the  HPA stress response ideally returns to its normal healthy shut down status, allowing ongoing relaxation and healing.  

Recent research carried out by Rachel Yehuda into the intergenerational effects of trauma reveals that descendants of people who survived the Holocaust have different stress hormone profiles than their peers; perhaps predisposing them to anxiety disorders and inability to cope with life’s stressors. If your family’s generational history reflects major past trauma you may have an altered stress hormone profile – possibly inadequate levels of cortisol, the hormone that allows the body to return to normal after trauma, and inadequate levels of the enzyme that breaks down cortisol. You may need more stress management strategies to maintain calm and balance and an ability to cope with life’s stressors. You can read more about the study in the March/April 2015 Scientific American Mind Magazine article Epigenetics: Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/descendants-of-holocaust-survivors-have-altered-stress-hormones/. For more information on how harmful chemicals, stress and other influences can permanently alter which genes are turned on without changing any of the genes’ code read The Case for Inheritance of Epigenetic Changes in Chromosomes by Michael K. Skinner – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-case-for-inheritance-of-epigenetic-changes-in-chromosomes/

The following is an excerpt from my book THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION on the health impact of chronic stress and stress idling.

“Although a normal part of every person’s life, chronic or unmanaged stress in your personal life, caregiver stress[1] or stress resulting from your work[2]  can be detrimental to overall health. Understanding, monitoring and dealing with your body’s stress response is crucial to whole person well-being. The human stress response was designed to provide protection through the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in situations of grave danger. An appropriate amount of stress is a healthy and necessary part of life. In modern day, the stress response is kicking in on an ongoing basis due to accumulating psychological stressors. Although your car needs to idle at a certain rate to avoid stalling out; you can be hurt by a chronically idling stress response, which keeps you ‘ready to go, ready to run.’ In today’s culture of ‘I need it now,’ fast food, commuting, problem solving on the fly, climbing the work ladder, running the kids to and fro, technical devices, social platforms and juggling finances; it can be a challenge for your body to restore the stress response to its default stand-down position. During times of stress, energy is diverted from the parasympathetic to the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the ‘flight’ reaction.[3]  The parasympathetic nervous system strives to maintain homeostasis after periods of pain or stress by getting the body to relax. An idling stress response can take the leap into a full-blown fight or flight response during a crisis, with dire consequences. Even if a full ‘fight or flight’ response does not kick in, the chronic stress idling with its ongoing, harmful dose of hormones can have detrimental effects on health including stress sensitization. In his Psychology Today article, Stress – It Is Worse Than You Think, John Carpi highlights the harmful effects of chronic stress as well as how we can become sensitized to stress like a lobster coming to boil in a pot[4]. Stress sensitization can cloud perception, logical thinking and judgement, without your awareness.”

 

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STRESS IS COMPLEX: Major life stressors are inescapable. I had to learn new strategies to manage them. This is an excellent video: How does stress affect your heart? Watch this 7 minute excerpt from the brilliant documentary “Statin Nation” as Dr. Paul Rosch explains. Follow this link: http://ow.ly/hY3AW,

“Any therapies or activities that promote calm and relaxation like deep breathing, meditation, visualization, yoga, tai chi and nature walks assist in shutting down the stress response and restoring homeostasis. Chronic stress can damage the parasympathetic nervous system so that deep breathing does not reset the stress response. Eliminating caffeine, which amplifies the stress response, is a must for those that run on adrenaline and other stress hormones. Various herbs and essential oils contain nervines[1] which enhance relaxation and restore the stress response back to its default stand-down position. See Rejuvenate, Self–Help Therapies & Tools, Stress Management on page 136 for stress-buster tools.” Excerpt from my book THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION.”

Essential oil therapy via a diffuser and reflexology points can greatly relief stress symptoms.  For more information go to ESSENTIAL OIL THERAPY FOR SYMPTOM RELIEF: Skip Harmful Drug Side Effects For Healthy Longevity – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1380 and SYMPTOM RELIEF: How To Get To 100% Symptom Free Naturally – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=1155. Contact me to get you started.

Chronic stress idling with it’s dose of stress hormones disrupts  your body’s overall hormone profiles. Unmanaged life, work, classroom and homework stress can cause chronic stress idling.

HPA disregulation is associated with depression.

HPA Axis Dysregulation

Body scan visualization #4 in THE WHOLE PERSON WELL-BEING EQUATION can help your body to restore your normal, healthy and accurate HPA stress response and shut down. 

Implementing strategies to restore and maintain life balance will help store a normal, healthy and accurate HPA stress response. Find out more by reading my blog post LIFE BALANCE: The Well-being Root

Affirmations can help to offset the negative affects of stress. The following affirmation is just one that I use with my clients that helps them to diffuse stress and anxiety about traumatic situations.  It acknowledges the situation, but diffuses or neutralizes any negative impact. Some clients were quite skeptical when I suggested they use it – thinking I was crazy that this could possibly help – but it did. Use this affirmation whenever you start to feel anxious or stressed or overwhelmed. 

Neutralizing Affirmation:

Although ‘A’ (situation, circumstances that are out of your control, and how you think or feel about them), I am okay, I will continue to be okay; and I will not allow ‘A’ (situation, circumstances) and my thoughts and feelings about ‘A’, to have a negative affect on me. 

Try this for a couple of weeks and send me an email when you get your results. It really works.  I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. . Venting, rehashing and reliving the past, and negative thinking will interfere with the power of affirmations and restoring and maintaining a normal, healthy stress response.. 
An essential oil diffuser with a custom blend of essential oils provides improved calm and ability to cope, as well as improved sleep. It would be an excellent add on at home, school and the office to dissipate stress and improve productivity and mood. Contact me to get you set up. 

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P.

Holistic Wellness Practioner, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca elisabethlhines@gmail.com

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[1] Christopher Hobbs, Lac, AHG, Herbal Nervines, healthy.net, www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=950, accessed April 29, 2012.

[1] Igor Grant, M.D., Caregiving may be hazardous to your health, ©1999, American Psychosomatic Society, http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/reprint/61/4/420.pdf , visited March 2007.

[3] Christopher Hobbs, Lac, AHG, Herbal Nervines, healthy.net, www.healthy.net/scr/article.aspx?Id=950, accessed April 29, 2012.

[4] John Carpi, Psychology Today, Stress – It Is Worse Than You Think, published on January 01, 1996, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199601/stress-its-worse-you-think, visited March 2007.

Images – Google images