Post updated March 23, 2020
Do you feel stressed most of the time? Do you feel like you are stress idling? Are you more sensitive to stress than the people in your life? Do you have to work harder than others to stay grounded? According to research “individuals who are sensitized to stress become so over time through repeated exposure to external, as well as endogenous, stressors. As such, increasingly minor stressors maintain the disorder than were required to trigger its initial onset”.
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 interfere with normal body functions including the necessary communication for accurate immunosurveillance, immunoassessment and immunoresponse. Read more in my blog post YOUR BODY’S INTERNAL COMMUNICATION SYSTEM: Improving crucial messaging for better health. Stressors come in many forms and the combined physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stress load can take its toll.
According to research reported by the American Psychological Association article Stress Weakens the Immune System, “Managing stress, especially chronic or long-term stress (even if it’s not intense), may help people to fight germs”. Germs include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. The best action you can take to keep your immune system strong and able to handle ‘germs’, providing virus protection, is to manage your stress. FIGHTING AGE RELATED IMMUNE DECLINE: Implementing Strategies to Keep You Protected provides you with additional information.
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.
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 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/
Is your chronic inflammation caused by stress? How stress influences disease?
Study reveals inflammation as the culprit – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm
Is your body chronically reacting to foods and substances in the environment (physical stressors)? This constant reacting can weaken and interfere with your immune system response. Learn how to determine what makes you weak, potentially weakening your immune system by learning to read your body’s responses to triggers in my blog post HEALTH PROTECTION: Using Your Body Responses to Identify Health Challenges.
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 or stress resulting from your work 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. 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. Stress sensitization can cloud perception, logical thinking and judgement, without your awareness.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO COPE WITH STRESS:
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 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.”
Meditation and relaxation strategies are a must. You can find them in my book.
From the American Institute of Stress article by Jim Porter “My recommendation for stress sensitive people is to take up meditation. Meditation may actually help you rewire your nervous system. One study of mindfulness meditators (at the University of Wisconsin) showed that people who meditated for 30 minutes every day for 8 weeks were actually able to increase the size of their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for happiness and contentment.”
I listen to ultimate zen meditation music when feeling stressed, overwhelmed and while sleeping when needed.
Essential oil therapy via a diffuser and reflexology points can greatly relief stress symptoms.
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.
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 effects 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.
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.
I choose to remain cool, calm, collected and grounded in the midst (in spite of) of ____________________!
I choose to thrive in spite of _________________ (or everything)!.
Try this for a couple of weeks. It really works.
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 and a healthy immune response. .
 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.