Usually, we hear about the bad effects of stress. But it actually has a good side.If you’ve been challenged by a situation or a problem at work, you’ll work hard to find a solution. That’s stress. When you find the solution, that stress was productive, problem solved, you can stop your stressing, and recover. When you’re trying to build muscle, it must be stressed. You demand hard work of it, and then build it up with supportive eating and sufficient recovery. That muscle is larger than before, and you get two very positive outcomes of the stress: you are both stronger and more metabolically active.Stress used to be physical–having to flee from a wild animal or having to go for days without much food or having to carry or lift or drag heavy things. Our stress-coping system is designed as a physiological response to a challenge. Our brains crank out certain hormones. Our bodies move. But today, our stress doesn’t require a physical response. In fact, we’re usually stuck in a chair or a car seat. Our stress comes from getting cut off by some driver, or looking at our checkbook, but it produces the same physiological response. The body says, “MOVE!” But we don’t. And our stress is constant, we’re eating badly and not sleeping well. This stress is not simply bad. It’s downright ugly.If you’re trying to stay healthy and manage your body weight, chronic stress gets in your way. Your brain pumps out cortisol and it asks for immediate energy: fat and sugar. We eat some fat and sugar, and the brain sends insulin to deal with the glucose we’ve made. Insulin is a storage hormone. Since we’re sitting in a seat, we don’t need to use that glucose we just dumped into our bloodstream, so the insulin stores it in our fat cells.
Since we didn’t get enough sleep, our serotonin and dopamine levels are lowered. But the brain is always seeking balance, so it will demand fats and sugars to trigger instant release of serotonin and dopamine. Worst of all, in what seems to be our new “normal”, a stressed-out and tired state, we never get to “recovery”. Our body’s systems never heal, never return to true equilibrium. We remain in a constant state of systemic inflammation. So we are being damaged inside, slowly.
The message is clear. If you want to be healthy, you need to manage your stress
. Exercise, take baths, get massages, write in a journal, read, pray, practice deep breathing, participate in T’ai Chi, Yoga or meditation classes…whatever it takes! For some great stress-busting programs, including our new Body For Life
, call CoreMatters
at (404)435-6367 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. We’re small, we’re focused, and we can help.