Our ancestors had a much simpler problem, they only had to find food and survive between meals.
Today we load ourselves up with a multitude of daily tasks; work, family, social, there are financial pressures and pretty soon once we’ve been stuck in traffic arrived somewhere later than we wanted our bodies are in the same state as our ancestors trying to out run the saber tooth tiger.
You see our bodies chemically or hormonally handle those totally different situations in the same way. Our hypothalamus gland signals our pituitary gland which in turn tell our adrenal glands to fire adrenaline and cortisol into our blood streams so we can cope or handle the ‘stress’ our brains perceive. The adrenaline’s job is to signal the release of glucose from the liver into our blood stream and the cortisol is the anti-inflammatory that comes along for the ride to assist with repair.
Adrenaline drops away pretty quickly but cortisol remains in your system for longer mopping up any damage done by the intense movement needed to evade the saber tooth tiger. But today there are no tigers!
We get our bodies into a distressed state but we don’t have the ongoing need for the cortisol. If we keep this unhealthy pattern up for too long it can become chronic.
The tiny adrenal glands regulate many body processes, including digestion, the immune system, mood and emotions, sex hormones, plus energy storage and expenditure. If they are continually asked to operate, without rest, at some point they will burn out just like a water pump keeping up with a dripping tap.
So back to the beginning – where to start? Where do we look to try and manage these stresses so we don’t get into that chronic state that can push so many of these important bodily systems out of whack.
- Lifestyle – things like; food, drink, movement
- Mental and emotional – Work pressure, worry, lack of balance
- Environment – chemical exposure (in&on body), smoke, mobile phone
- Metabolism – Infections, antibiotic use
Once you can identify where the dominant source of stress is coming from you can take steps to reducing or eliminating it from your life.
Having help with this process is often useful as these things can become ingrained into everyday life. Changing behaviour patterns takes practice and patience as they bed in over time. Seek assistance, find someone you trust and get them to help you with these lifestyle changes. Don’t let stress manage you!