This spring, I wrote a 3-part blog series called “3 Confessions of a Vibrant Living Advocate.” Our fantabulous vibrant living community seemed to really enjoy that series, partly for it’s subject area and partly because the whole 3-part thing can be fun. SO, over the coming weeks, I’ll be dishing up a 3-part blog series on the important area of STRESS and how to keep it from ruining your day, and eroding your health. And, yes, you’re on to me… this is craftily timed to help you have a more enjoyable upcoming holiday season!
First, I interrupt this program with a special announcement. We still have a few seats available at the Power of Compassion event with Kim Barthel on next Thursday, Nov. 9th in Medfield, MA! This is going to be an eye-opening, informative, connective, special day. Click HERE to learn more and grab one of those remaining seats for yo’self! Please email me before you pop your registration check in the mail, so you don’t waste time sending a check when it sells out. Also, please include your email address with your check. Thank you!
Okay, back to stress. I give entire (long) lectures on this topic, as this is one of THE most important areas to create life-long habits, that support your health and well-being. What I find in my coaching and teaching work is that, before someone is ready to invest their time making changes, they need to truly UNDERSTAND why on earth it’s worth their effort. To avoid overwhelm, I’ll provide you today with the top 5 things that unmanaged stress does to damage our health (next newsletter, we’ll discuss the top 5 things you can do about it).
Top 5 Health Insults from Unmanaged Stress
- Contributes to weight gain
- Contributes to disease (cancer, heart disease, T2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc)
- Suppresses our immunity
- Compromises our digestion
- Creates chronic symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, irritability, fatigue, etc.
Here’s the deal. The Stress Response, also affectionately known as “The Fight or Flight Response,” is created by any real, OR IMAGINED threat. Why did I put the word “imagined” in all caps? Because most of what folks (at least, folks with a computer to receive this email) are grappling with today is imagined stress. And our mind doesn’t know the difference between “my report is going to be late to my boss,” “I haven’t sent out my holiday cards yet and it’s December 31,” and “I’m pretty sure that oddly large, snarling cat standing in front of me on the path is a mountain lion.” I’m not joking: if we PERCEIVE it as a threat (OMG!!!), then we invoke the Stress Response.
Mind says “threat” and body immediately responds. Biochemically, this involves an influx of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and an increase in blood sugar (and blood sugar hormones). And, in the case of chronic unmanaged stress, these hormonal changes pull other hormones out of balance. Hormones are staggeringly powerful, and imbalances negatively affect…well…most everything to do with health. It also affects our ability to think, be productive, and be creative, among many other things (stress is anti-Mind Savvy®). Looking at the Stress Response from a physiology standpoint, blood flow is being shunted away from digestion, reproduction, and other non-immediate-survival systems, and toward our muscles and breathing.
This is all great and helpful if we’ve just run into a mugger or have stumbled across a mother bear in the woods with her cubs. Not so great and helpful if we’re just constantly stressed about everyday life. Very damaging, actually. Our body is going into dysfunction, our mind is compromised, and our spirit has a hard time shining through all that STRESS!
Without pussy-footing around, unmanaged, chronic stress is a killer. I would go so far as to say that the constant stress we feel today in our driven, round-the-clock-connected, fear-laced culture is more detrimental to our health than a lousy diet. Can you believe I just said that?!?! It’s true.
So, I encourage you to re-educate your nervous system in how to respond to all of the perceived stresses that are part of our modern lives (part 2 of this series), and learn how to become stress-proof (part 3 of this series). One of the stress-managers that I’ll mention in the next post is meditation. No, it’s not just for monks and woo-woo people! Over the next couple of weeks, I encourage you to check out the Headspace website, and it’s accompanying app 🙂
Let’s aim for true HAPPY holidays! Stay tuned for the next blog post, on Nov 14th, which will outline some some powerful ways to mitigate the effects of stress.
p.s. On a more cheerful note, looking for a healthy Halloween treat for yourself tonight? Check out THIS blog post!