We all know it well and have dealt with it more than we would probably like to admit. Stress!!! The daily emotion that is so hard to control. Unfortunately, if it isn't controlled, it will cause some pretty nasty effects on the body. Things like:
*Shrinking the brain! Yes you read that right. Chronic, unresolved stress can actually shrink the brain. This is a process called Glucocorticoid Neurotoxicity.
*Weakens the bones! High levels of stress hormones in the body have a negative effect on bones. This is caused by the chronic stress reducing the calcium deposits in the bone bank. It is called Stress-Induced Osteoporosis.
*Ages the heart! When stress isn't controlled it gives the body a bad case of the "highs". Things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Chronic stress causes the heart rate to be constantly elevated, which will eventually cause the heart to wear out. For example, the death of a loved one or personal loss are chronic stressors that can trigger heart failure.
*Stress can lead to diabetes! Stress hormones that are abnormally high, will raise blood sugar, which will then lead to insulin resistance.
*Stress is horrible for the gut! Stress that is prolonged can aggravate things like heartburn (reflux), ulcers and inflammatory bowel problems. This is why people with gut problems, will often have increased symptoms during times of stress.
*Stress makes you fat! Yes, it really does. It can literally change the shape of your body, by increasing belly fat.
*Stress is behind sleep issues! Because stress hormones are designed to give you energy and rev you up, there is no way you will get any sleep if you try to go to bed stressed.
Now that you have read a few of the negative things stress can do to the body. Here are a few things you can do to take control of the stress in your life.
1. If you can't change it, don't worry about it! Things that are beyond your control, just aren't worth stressing over. Often times our reactions to stressful situations can cause more problems than the situations themselves.
2. Focus on solutions, not problems! When a problem occurs, don't immediately focus on the "what ifs", instead focus on solutions.
3. Redirect negative and unproductive thoughts! Focus on positive thoughts instead. Think of happy things in your life, a better time or place. This is called mental imagery. And it works!
4.Take a deep breath! Deep, relaxed breathing turns up the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and turns down the SNS (sympathetic nervous system). This will have an amazing calming effect on the entire body.
5. Exercise! Move to clear your mind. Exercise is the most underused mood mellower.
6. Surround yourself with upbeat, positive people! As the saying goes, "you are the friends you keep". It's true! Positive people improve the moods of everyone around them.
You have the power to control what types of things you allow to affect you in a negative way. A positive mindset and surrounding yourself with positive people and a positive environment, has an amazing calming effect on the entire body.