This article has been researched and written by Arelang Naturals® in-house writers.
“Stop stressing!”’ “Relax and take a deep breath!” “Everything will be okay!” If you were paid for each time you heard those words, you would probably be a millionaire. These words of comfort are all too familiar and can often be annoying. They don't help put us out of our misery and stresses us out even more. But why do we get so stressed? And what makes people tell us not to stress? Why is stress such a problem?
Well, it’s not always a problem. Stress is nothing but your body’s survival mechanism. When put in an unfamiliar situation, your body produces stress hormones like Adrenaline, Cortisol and or Norepinephrine, which make your heart pound harder, elevate your blood pressure and make your breathing faster. This is known as the fight-or-flight response. These well-planned reactions to stress evolved to help people and animals react faster when put in life-threatening situations. So stress, naturally, isn’t the worst thing to happen to us. It's just our body’s way of keeping us safe. So then what is the problem? We, humans, are unable to differentiate between life-hampering situations (physical) and less important situations (emotional) like a deadline at work or an impending conversation with a friend. This puts our body’s stress reactors into motion more often than required. This chronic stressing takes a toll on the body and is the real culprit.
Chronic stress is capable of wreaking havoc across all systems of your body. This first begins when your brain perceives impending ‘danger’ and sends a signal to the central nervous system and activates responses to the adrenal, pituitary, and hypothalamus glands (HPA Axis) to release adrenaline and the norepinephrine hormones into the bloodstream. Once this happens and the blood circulates throughout the body, it switches on a lot of physiological change buttons. The heart starts beating faster, pushes lots more blood to all the muscles, your blood pressure and pulse rate start to spike, your lungs start to breathe more and push more oxygen to the brain, your body releases more blood sugar and fats from temporary storage sites to give your body that extra energy.
The next hormone released is Cortisol, also produced by the adrenal gland. It takes a little more time to get released into the bloodstream. This is the real stress hormone and controls your mood, motivation, and fear. Cortisol plays a vital role in your body by controlling how your body used carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It helps reduce inflammation, regulates blood pressure, increases glucose release in your body, controls your circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycles) and boosts your energy during stress and restores the balance after.
See? You thought stress was just stress, but it’s a whole lot of work for your body.
Chronic Stress kicks in when we are unable to put a brake on the stress. After the danger or the stressor has passed, the cortisol levels should calm down and bring your body back to normal. But when you are undergoing chronic stress, cortisol continues pumping - it's like an alarm button in your body that just can't be turned off. When our body constantly has to function outside of normal, here’s what can happen:
Damage blood vessels | Increased Blood Pressure | Increased risk of strokes and heart attacks | Increased Blood Sugar Levels | Weight Gain | Risk of overeating and obesity | Risk of autoimmune diseases | Reproductive Issues | Skin Conditions | Depression & Anxiety | Memory and Cognitive Issues
Wait, is this stressing you out too? Don’t worry, luckily there are multiple ways to curb chronic stress, it just needs a little bit of work, with no deadlines thankfully, phew! For example, triggering the relaxation response in your body. Like everything that is a yin and yang, our body also has a relaxation response that brings in a sense of calm after the stress. Most people that go through chronic stress are unable to release hormones that counter the ill effects of the stress hormone. The ‘relaxation response’ is a form of therapy that focuses on a combination of things like deep abdominal breathing, yoga, tai chi, visualizations, etc that help kick start relaxation in the body. Barring this, here is what you can do to ensure you can curb stress and save your body!
- Physical Exercise: known to release muscle tension, helps focus, releases endorphins
- Focus on the food: What a lot of people tend to forget is that nutrition has a huge role to play in how you feel on a day-to-day basis. A lot of our diets lack essential nutrients and vitamins that trigger more than just ill effects in the body. There’s nothing like a well balanced, nutritious meal to make yourself feel better
- Try adaptogens. Adaptogens are natural plant-based substances that can help the body cope with physical, emotional, and mental stress. They are known to kickstart the body’s stress response system and return it to a balanced state. We’ve done a whole blog about why adaptogens are revolutionary in helping with stress.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: We tend to set unrealistic goals and expectations for ourselves that tend to put too much pressure on our minds and body. Live each day with peace, achieve as much as you can, life is not a race, your body needs to rest. AMEN
- Consider Supplements: Not all of us can focus on the food. No matter how hard we try, our lifestyles just don’t permit it. So it becomes essential to supplement. The most important ones for stress as magnesium, ashwagandha, B vitamins, etc.
- Add some fragrance: Did you know certain scents can be especially calming. Try buying candles and incense sticks that use fragrances like lavender, rose, bergamot, sandalwood, orange, etc.
Don’t let stress conquer your mind and body. Indulge in some self-love, start on this list ASAP and seriously bust stress like you would ghosts.