The body can adapt to stress quite nicely, but there are times when the body goes into a “flight or fight” response when stress occurs.
An example of this would be if you were to meet a bear in the woods, your physical body would go through a number of changes to prepare you to either fight or flee this situation. Your blood would be redirected from your extremities (giving you cold hands and feet), from your face (pale look) and from your digestive system to the large muscles to help you to run or fight. Your pupils would enlarge to help you see better and your hearing would become sharper. Your breathing and heart rate would increase, as well as your blood pressure would rise. The adrenal glands would secrete adrenalin and other hormones to create a heightened state of arousal. Glucose and oxygen would be increased to the organs such as the heart, brain and skeletal system for more energy.
Once the brain perceived that the threat was over the body would reverse this reaction to a more calm state. Blood would go back to the extremities and digestive system, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure would go back to normal, etc. This bear in the woods situation is not of course a daily occurrence; however humans can have mini stress responses like this on a chronic basis. This consistent physical reaction can lead to disease such as heart disease, heart attacks, insomnia, high blood pressure, low energy, anxiety, weight loss or gain and depression to name a few. Experts say that chronic stress can affect the immune system which can lead to frequent flu’s and colds.
The body reacts just like the extreme physical response described above but on a lesser scale when continual stress is experienced. These consistent mini reactions can wear the body down and take years off our lives.
What can we do about the little annoyances of life that haunt us every day? Deep relaxation exercises can save us from the turmoil of stress. There are many relaxation techniques that you can do on a daily basis to help you lead a more stress free life.
Breathing techniques work wonders. They can slow the brain waves down and help you think more clearly. One breathing technique I do regularly is the following: many people breath too shallowly into their lungs. Practice abdominal breathing. Lie or sit down and put your hands on your abdomen. Breath in deeply and feel your abdomen rise. If you are feeling your chest rise instead, breath in more deeply until you feel your hands rise on your abdomen. Once you have this down, start to do a few minutes of abdominal breathing. Breath in SLOWLY through your nose to the count of three or four (whatever is comfortable). Hold your breath for a second or two and then breath out through pursed lips (as if you are going to whistle) SLOWLY to the count of six to eight (double the intake count). Do this for five to ten minutes a couple times a day. This will definitely relax you!
Exercise is a great stress reliever and is a must! Exercise produces endorphins, a source of pleasure. It can help to lower blood pressure as well. There are many other relaxation techniques you can try such as meditation, progressive relaxation, imagery, etc.
Watch yourself talk. This is the talk that goes on in your mind all day long. Try to be more understanding and forgiving of the little irritations or people who frustrate you. They may have just had a fight with their spouse or heard some bad news and are in a bad space.
Be positive and stop any negative thoughts in their tracks.
Get out with friends so you have balance in your life.
Laugh! Buy funny videos. Laughter is great for health!
Talk out or write down things that bother you, don’t keep them bottled up inside.
Enjoy life, as it is too short to get ourselves all tangled up in anger and frustration.
Practice relaxation methods and you will see a huge difference in your life.
To learn more about stress and how you can cope.
Contact Dr Michael Roth DC 805-644-0461