Health is much more than drinking green juices and hitting the gym. If you never catch your breath, wake up feeling tired, anxious, emotionally drained, and can’t rid stubborn abdominal fat, chances are you’re chronically stressed.
Not all stress is bad. Good stress is our best friend, spurring us into action and saving our lives in acute fight-or-flight situations. It helps us when we need to perform our best.
But our body doesn’t differentiate between good and bad stress: it can only respond in one way. It’s the chronic stress and our body’s natural, evolutionary response that’s causing all sorts of health problems, including weight gain.
So, What Exactly Is Stress?
Much more than an emotion, stress is a hard-wired physical response travelling throughout your entire body. An acute stress reaction instantly activates our HPA-axis while our body quickly releases Cortisol and Adrenaline. These hormones urge our lungs to quickly pump oxygen into the blood stream, raising our heartbeat and blood pressure to deliver the energy we’d need to escape the stressor.
Stress requires so much energy that the body puts all other things on hold. You stop repairing your tissue. You stop renewing your cells.
Now, if our ancestors would escape a lion, they’d return to their daily activities, and their acute stress response would shut down.
But nowadays, we’re living in a world with an overdose of non-stop psychological and social stress. We worry about our jobs, arguments at home, upcoming tax bills, annoying colleagues, traffic jams, mortgage, the health of our loved ones, unanswered emails and climate change.
In addition to that, we are collectively overworked, trying to get more done than we’ve got time for while constantly blurring the line between private and professional spheres with our mobile gadgets.
As a consequence, we consume more sugar than ever before, and live in an overwhelming information age that we can’t properly deal with.
This chronic stress is the evil kind of stress but triggers the exact same primitive fight-or-flight response in our bodies as running from a tiger! No matter if good or bad; our bodies know only one way to respond to stress.
It’s All About Energy
Chronic stress kicks our natural energy distribution out of balance.
Let’s say you are stressed over the course of three months. That means your immune system will steal energy from other systems for three months to feed your innate survival of fight-or-flight response. All so that it has enough fuel to feed your muscles, heart and breathing until you ‘escape’ your stressor.
There’ll be no energy left for other essential systems – such as your digestion and reproduction – which is why chronic stress leaves you to feel irritable, forgetful, overwhelmed, isolated and sleep deprived.
Ideally, your immune system only awakes for an acute stressor and isn’t in constant action during the day. Unfortunately, nowadays we shoot in stress mode too often and too long for our bodies to handle. During those typically long episodes of stress, our energy distribution is completely thrown off, resulting in all types of health problems.
What Does Stress Do With Our Bodies?
Our bodies aren’t evolutionary prepared to deal with the relatively unfamiliar stressors of modern life. In fact, our human DNA only changes 0.1% every 10.000 years. We haven’t been able to genetically adapt to the circumstances we’ve created since the industrial revolution.
- Chronic Stress Makes It Impossible To Lose Weight
The stress hormone Cortisol increases your appetite not just because of the body’s extra need for energy, but also because a stressed body can only run on sugar and metabolise carbohydrates to get energy.
During a stress reaction, Cortisol increases your blood pressure and together with Adrenaline helps accelerate your heartbeat and breathing. This sends glucose to the blood to help free up enough energy for the muscles and the brain. Consequently, a fuel shortage arises, and sugar guarantees a quick energy fix, making us excessively crave sweet foods.
Comfort foods and drinks have become the quickest solution to our stress-related energy dips.
Exhausting Your Insulin Factory
You need insulin to get glucose (sugar) out of your blood and into your cells. Unfortunately, stress hormones make it difficult for your pancreas to secrete insulin. But it gets worse: the overload of sugar (that you consume to make up for the energy shortage during a chronic stress reaction), makes your pancreas hyperactive. Over time this hyperactivity disturbs your cells in the pancreas to such a degree that it won’t be able to produce sufficient insulin anymore.
Our absurdly high sugar intake eventually exhausts the pancreas, our insulin-factory, which explains why obesity and diabetes-II have become a silent epidemic of our time.
- Chronic Stress Shrinks Our Brains
The impact of stress stretches beyond the shape of your body. High levels of Cortisol over long periods of time wreak havoc on your brain literally causing it to shrink in size! Chronic stress shrinks your pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for regulating behaviours like concentration, decision-making, judgement and social interaction. It also kills, shrinks and causes loss of synaptic connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the part of your brain that is vital for learning, memory and stress control.
When the hippocampus weakens, so does your ability to manage stress, as well as to learn and remember things. Shockingly, chronic stress eventually sets the stage for more severe mental problems, like depression and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.
- Chronic Stress Makes Us Sick
A chronic stress response not only changes your brain but also damages many of the other organs and cells throughout your body. It lowers immune function, disrupting the body’s ability to heal itself, making it vulnerable to infections.
The Adrenaline pushes your heart to beat faster and heightens your blood pressure. Too much of it eventually results in hypertension. At the same time, an overdose of Cortisol disrupts the function of your artery walls, one of the contributing factors of cholesterol plaque in the arteries and even arteriosclerosis. These two processes combined become a ticking heart-attack-and-stroke time-bomb.
Chronic stress also disrupts your intestinal nervous system, which is responsible for moving food through your gut, leading to irritable bowel syndrome. It can also increase your gut sensitivity to acid, making you more prone to heartburn. Stress even negatively affects the quality of your gut bacteria, upsetting your digestion and leading to poor overall health.
Most alarming though is that Cortisol makes us store a dangerous ‘visceral’ fat layer around our organs. Visceral fat increases the production of your immune system’s ‘Cytokines’, which further increases your risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.
Stress even accelerates the ageing process by shortening telomeres (the ends of our chromosomes). Telomeres are responsible for the preservation of your genetic code during cell division. With each cell division, the telomeres get shorter which is why we naturally age. But when telomeres become too short too quickly, a cell can no longer divide and it dies, resulting in accelerated ageing.
Other health problems linked to chronic stress are anxiety, ulcers in the stomach, headaches, acne, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, fatigue and irritability.
Start Reversing The Effects Of Chronic Stress
There’s no need to get stressed about being stressed! There are many ways to reverse the effects of chronic stress! Of course, life will always keep throwing challenging situations at you, but what matters is how you cope with them.
I encourage you to start valuing stress reduction in everyday life; it’ll change your life in all sorts of positive ways. And think of it this way:
You cannot be there for your loved ones, team or clients, if you don’t put on your own oxygen mask first. You’re of no use to this world when you’re burned out, depressed, in a constant state of anxiety, and when you lose your health.
Alpha FM Meditation- The Most Powerful Stress-Busting Tool:
Need to calm down and get a hold on your stress? Alpha FM Meditation – The Most Powerful Stress-Busting Tools. Music can enhance many experiences. From helping runners keep up their pace to helping writers to stay focused. It can even play a key role in mindfulness practices such as meditation. And that’s what we’re going to focus on here in this post.
Weaved into the most popular apps, courses and many more meditation practices, meditation music is becoming increasingly popular as a way to derive more value from the sessions.
Meditation music was initially introduced to heighten the senses during a mediated state and since then has been further researched to reveal a host of benefits to the practice of meditation. The scientific term given to meditation music is psychoacoustics.
Psychoacoustics is, by definition, a branch of science dealing with the perception of sound and how sound affects an experience.
Understanding the science behind all of this will help increase your confidence in the practice of meditation and also provide you with a few recommendations to improve the sensations you feel during a meditation session. Unlike popular music, meditation music has been carefully crafted to fit certain meditation practices and provide as much sensory value as possible.
Basic meditation music simply provides a way for an individual to go deeper with their meditation by adding a new layer to their experience.
Scientific exploration in meditation music has been going on for many years now, providing us with data and insight into how this affects the brain’s activity and mental health of the individual.
By progressively relaxing the body first and then the mind and with some inputs you can educate your brain to lower its frequency from Beta and bring it down to the Alpha Level. You can reach this level by a very Simple Music Driven Relaxation Technique. At this level you will be in touch with your subconscious mind and you will be able to access all the wonderful powers hidden there, waiting to be unleashed!
- Alpha Calming Practice is known to relieve stress automatically and make goal achievements very easy.
- Practicing Alpha regularly will help you to improve your intuitive powers and enhance clear thinking, self confidence and courage.
- Your performance levels will increase as the power of focus enhances, and you will be able to deal very effectively with any situation in life.
The Alpha Level of our mind enables us better access to unleash that potential. Soon after attaining Alpha, pleasant changes flood our lives where we may soon realize that it is not merely coincidences but the power of our subconscious at work. Practicing Alpha Relaxation regularly helps us retain energy, increase performance levels, relieve stress and enable us with clarity of thought and self confidence. An individual is empowered with better intuition or the “gut” feeling as it is referred to, to deal with any and every situation in life. These include situations at work and at home.
The Alpha State of the Mind surely helps change our thought forms from negative to positive thereby help to transform our energy levels. Problem solving once the mind is in the Alpha state, can be just a few minutes away.
It is surely one of the best known Mind empowering methods. It is the need of the hour! You surely can realize and tap the Magic in your Mind.
The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
Meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.
A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.
Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.
Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health. Trying out a style of meditation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.
Professor Dr Usha Mohan Das
Chief Coach,CEO I Dr Ushy’s Wisdom Works