Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives. Work, relationships, personal goals and expectations, all can cause stress. Should we worry about what stress impacts, and is it affecting my health? The short answer is, yes and absolutely!
If you are like me, you start your day in a rush. Alarm clock ringing, anticipating traffic, wishing you had just 1 more hour to sleep. Maybe you have time to eat. Or, maybe, you just get your caffeine fix, and your off to the races. Sounds to me like you’re normal! So why should you be concerned?
What is stress doing to my body?
Chronic stressors in our lives can affect our appetite, sleep, metabolism and digestion, (just to name a few).
I don’t know about you, but when I have a lot on my mind, my food choices tend to be less healthy. I’m tired, I’m not sleeping well, I don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen! So, I grab for convenient, quick and often processed foods.
Well, it may stand to reason, that bad food in, means irregular digestion. Food is fuel for our bodies. If you want well-oiled machines, you need to feed it the good stuff! So now our poor food choices, are causing sluggish digestive systems.
So, you’re not sleeping well, you haven’t been eating well, what’s a body to do! Your body will want to compensate for your poor choices. And here comes the Cortisol! Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. It acts as a protectant for us. Our bodies secrete it when we feel threatened, or frightened. However, when you are under chronic stress, higher levels of this hormone are sent out, impacting fat storage, glucose balance and can decrease your metabolism.
The easiest method is to breathe! We have to do it anyway, might as well use it! Slow, methodical breathing, inhaling deep in our bellies, and out slow and controlled, is proven to lower heart rate. Doing this right before bed, has been shown to improve quality of sleep.
That brings me to the next tip, SLEEP! Here we are again, talking about sleep. A steady, consistent sleep routine trains our brains to rest when needed. A good night’s rest helps our bodies regulate hormones and metabolism. Regulating those systems, gives us a better chance to cope and handle stress.
My final piece of advice, exercise!! As I’m sure you have guessed, moving our bodies provides unlimited benefits. Exercise increases metabolism, coping skills, lends to healthy eating choices, encourages sleep, regulates hormones, increases libido, evens our mood and more! A regular exercise regimen can change your entire outlook.
We all know that stress is part of life. It’s all around us. Being armed with the proper skills, and anticipating when to use those skills, is what’s pivotal. Breathe in and out, move your body daily, surround yourself with healthy relationships, and you will be a well-armed, well-oiled machine!
Thanks for reading,
Head of Nursing Services