Over 30% of Americans say they are stressed out. According to Popular Science, “ 30 % of U.S. adults say stress strongly impacts their physical health; 33 percent say it strongly impacts their mental health.” Would you say you’re among this group? I’ll bet many of you are. And I wonder if those who say your aren’t, are just so used to feeling this way, that you think it is a normal way to feel all the time.
Stress is a killer. That’s because the hormones we secrete in our body through feeling stress, affect us on a cellular level. We are wearing out our cells and it shows up in the doctor’s office.
Day in and day out stress can affect our blood pressure by increasing the pressure of our veins and arteries and also by contributing to participation in behaviors that compromise our health. We think these behaviors help us to relax, but the opposite is true. Smoking, using alcohol to calm ourselves, prescription drugs to help us sleep or maybe slugging through depression in a cycle of work and spending and deep debt. All these can be laid at the door of stress.
Even if you’re in a job you love, you can be highly stressed. Many of us suffer pressure from work we feel is rewarding. Nurses, doctors, Hospice workers, teachers and let’s not forget Moms and Dads all feel stress. You can love what you do but still feel the pressure of what you do.
And how about when the work day is done? Are you feeling any stress at home? What about getting the kids to all their activities on time? Parent teacher conferences, birthdays, sleep overs, sports, music and just up, awake and to school on time. Not to mention housekeeping and chores. Dividing up the work of your household alone can be a stressful activity. Are you happy with the division of work in your home? How about the way your spouse spends the family’s income? Money and family can be a big ol’ stressor.
And all these things cause us to be in that stress mode all day long. Our body is only meant to access that Fight or Flight mode for occasional emergencies, not all day long. Defusing stress can be a lifesaver for us and I want to show you a few ways that I can help you do it.
A great way to bust up that stress killer is to exercise. Physical activity tires you and brings down your blood sugar; soothing that stressful load of insulin you’re carrying. Exercise strengthens your body which is a good thing. A strong body can have a stronger immune system to fight off disease and a strong body will be key, if you happen to be injured in any way. when you are strong, you can heal quicker and support yourself during the healing.
Extra sleep is another great way to fight stress. You can think of extra sleep just like you think of exercise. Your body and mind need it to recuperate. It relieves and cleans up stress hormones so we can regenerate healthy cells. Extra sleep is key to our health.
Nutrition is another stress fighter. You wouldn’t put sugar in your car’s gas tank. You know your car cannot be fueled by sugar. Your body cannot be fueled by low quality nutrition, either. Fuel your body with premium food. Your blood sugar will fluctuate less and that means less insulin rises and dips which are stressful to the physical body.
Now, I’m going to suggest Mindfulness. Mindfulness brings our thinking back into the present moment instead of dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Practicing Mindfulness several times a day in short little spurts, reduces stress hormones in the body. Less stress hormones in the body means that all of our circulation is sent to the correct body functions.
Did you know that when the body is in a stressful state, fight or flight or freeze, that we are literally bathing all our cells in stress hormones like cortisol? When your body prepares for danger, it moves resources into the muscles and brain in order to prepare to run very fast or stay and fight. It takes blood and food away from part of the body and sends it all into the limbs so you can deal with the threat. That means that only the minimum amount of nutrients are left in the areas like digestion. Your digestion cannot work at optimum without these resources so it does the smallest amount of work just to keep up. The minimum amount of work may mean that more foods than normal are stored as fat. That’s all the energy there is, so the digestive system does the best it can.
What we learned today is that stress has many ways to kill you. Stress contributes to:
1) higher blood pressure as our cells deal with stress hormones.
2) behaviors to “calm” ourselves such as smoking, alcohol consumption, sleeping aids
3) pressure from job and home, cranking up the pressure.
We also learned there are ways to combat the stress:
1) exercise works out the stress hormones and strengthens our body.
2) extra sleep allows our body to restore health and flush out the tension
3) Mindfulness practice greatly reduces our stress throughout the day, dropping our body back to a state of wellness and peace
What you learned today is that you may be experiencing more stress than you even knew you did but you can control that. When you come to me for Mindfulness training and hypnosis, I’ll teach you all the small exercises for focus you can use throughout the day. Hypnosis is one way to truly relax and find peace in the physical body. I also teach you self-hypnosis. This daily practice can change your overall physical wellness and bring a peace to you that you may not have had in your life before.
A graduate of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, Angie J. Hernandez, C.Ht., has her private practice in Milford, Indiana. She is certified in hypnotherapy by the Hypnotherapist's Union Local 472. Angie is the author of "Weight Loss Epiphany: The Workbook" and "The Pretty & Smart Planner. You can find out more about Angie and how to schedule private sessions by calling (574) 658-4686.
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