EFFECTS OF STRESS AND NATURAL WAYS TO FIGHT IT
No one is immune to stress. In our day to day lives, we encounter all kinds of situations, some of which have the power to negatively affect our wellbeing. Stress is our body's response to situations which we view as harmful, whether it be getting fired from a job, or losing a loved one. What may cause stress for you may not necessarily cause stress for someone else. How we perceive a situation is ultimately what determines how much stress it creates in our lives.
A little stress can be good if it gives us the push to get things done. However, when stress remains at elevated levels it starts to take a toll on our health, causing problems such as adrenal fatigue, memory loss and difficulty controlling emotions.
Why else is stress bad?
It Affects your Love Life
For many, sex is an enjoyable and effective way to alleviate stress. But surprisingly, one of the reasons that you may experience a drop in the mood for sex is stress. Studies have shown that there is a significant drop in a man's testosterone levels when he is under stress. Testosterone is the primary hormone that controls a man's desire for sex. Estrogen, which is the hormone that keeps a woman's reproductive system in working order is also affected by stress. When this happens there is a dip in sex drive. Therefore, if you are having problems in the bedroom stress may be the culprit.
Research has found a connection between stress and weight gain. This can be traced back to ancient times when humans lived as hunters and gatherers. Harsh conditions forced ancient man to eat more when food was plentiful so that they could store up for when food got scarce. Modern times are plagued with all sorts of economic and social problems that bring out this compulsion to eat. As a result, we are seeing more people becoming overweight or obese. Consider monitoring your stress levels when trying to lose weight.
This is probably the most surprising effect of stress on our bodies. Stress causes a spike in androgen hormones that contributes to hair loss. This effect is visible months after an overly stressful situation. Fortunately, this hair loss is usually temporary and clears up after you get rid of the stress.
Effect on your Immune System
We often undervalue the connection between our mind and body yet this connection is clearly visible. For instance, you might have noticed that you are more likely to suffer from a cold during stressful times. This is explained by the high toll that stress puts on our body's defense system, leaving us more susceptible to colds and other infections. If you find yourself fighting frequent colds, applying stress management techniques may be the best approach to heal your immune system.
Stress Makes You Look Older
Though the connection between stress and aging is a bit complex, there is no doubt that chronically stressed people show signs of early aging including skin wrinkling, poor eyesight and weak muscles. A research carried out by the University of California found out that stress shortens DNA telomeres, structures found on the ends of chromosomes, making the growth of new cells slower.
Damage to the heart
During stressful times, your body releases hormones such as cortisol (stress hormone) that are responsible for engaging the fight or flight response. When this happens, your heart rate increases and blood vessels constrict. This makes your heart work a lot harder and blood pressure increases. If nothing is done to relief the stress, your heart starts to suffer damage.
Let's look at some natural ways we can use to combat stress before it causes irreversible damage to your body.
Modern life has restricted our lives to cubicles and offices where we spend the whole day working that we hardly get enough exercise. Exercise helps your body regulate insulin levels, release endorphins and improve hormone levels. In addition, it also helps you get rid of excess stress-causing hormones. It is therefore essential for you to set aside some time for exercise to keep stress at bay.
Stress depletes your body of nutrients, especially when it becomes chronic. Eating a healthy diet alone is not enough to replenish lost minerals, vitamins and nutrients. Taking supplements provide your body with the exact balance of minerals and nutrients that your body requires to beat stress. Beneficial natural supplements include:
L-Theanine - an amino acid found naturally in green tea that helps the body and mind relax with the exception of sedative effects.
Ashwagandha- an ancient herb that carries a variety of potent properties that relieve stress and anxiety, improve the nervous system and brain function as well as your general wellbeing.
Valerian- helps manage sleeping disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Sleep is an important activity that helps beat stress.
Chamomile- is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs that have a calming effect that helps with sleep.
GABA- is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in regulating the depressive neuroactivity of the brain. It helps your mind switch to relaxation mode.
Supplements such as this one, by Ajna Wellbeing, contain a blend of these ingredients, which I have found to be very helpful in combating anxiety caused by stress.
Lemon balm, phosphatidylserine, melatonin, magnesium and niacin are also some other natural supplements that relieve stress.
Our bodies are programmed to sleep when it gets dark and awaken at sun rise. This gives our bodies enough time to restore our bodies and remove toxins. With current technology, it is almost impossible for us to fall asleep before 10 P.M. When this happens, we sleep less and accumulate toxins, fatigue and memory problems are often the result. This causes even more stress as we are unable to function properly during the day.
I recommend using a program on your computer and phone that blocks out the blue light emitted, that is responsible for keeping you awake. F.lux is a good one that adjusts your screen according to the time of day.
Meditation Or Yoga
If you spare as little as 10 minutes a day to practice meditation or yoga, you will find it a very effective way to free your mind and combat stress.
The next time you’re at your favorite drug or grocery store and you’re wondering what kind of vitamin supplement you should get, seriously consider buying some probiotics. You've likely seen them advertised before, but don’t feel bad if you’re not exactly sure what they do.