There are different kinds of stress that impact our lives. Being aware of stress levels and proactively managing stress can make a world of difference to both your health and body composition.
Stress caused by emergency situations is called acute stress, which is our ‘fight or flight’ response — a response to an immediate threat. Fighting off an attacker, being chased by a wild animal, jumping out of the way of wayward Vietnam traffic or even competing in a sport like rugby, football, mountain biking, kite surfing or weightlifting can trigger this stress. But it’s not a bad thing; acute stress is an important safety mechanism that allows you to overcome an emergency situation.
Once you escape or win, the maximal physiological stress response ends and your heart rate, blood pressure and hormones go back to normal. Restorative processes kick back on and tissue repair and healing occurs.
The Body that Cried Wolf
Chronic stress happens in the absence of an emergency and thereforen for longer periods. We humans have amazing brains that interpret the world in very complex ways, which enable us to continue the stress response by fixating on problems or situations that we can’t do anything about. The human psyche experiences feelings of insecurity and intimidation that cause our acute stress response to become chronic.
Stress is the body’s way of responding to a challenge. By not turning off the stress response, we wallow in a corrosive bath of hormones.
Let’s think of this in terms of a car’s brakes and motor. Acute stress would be when you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting something. The brake pads engage for the short time it takes to stop the vehicle. The brake pads then return to a static position away from friction and are used periodically when required, allowing the motor to perform economically.
Chronic stress is like driving with the handbrake on — the brakes are under constant wear and the motor exposed to more strain. You will be able to continue driving, but sooner or later that friction and strain (chronic stress) is going to wear out the brakes and potentially destroy the motor.
Chronic stress will eventually wear out your adrenal system, as the car’s brakes wear out the motor. Poor energy, poor ability to sleep, low sex drive, lethargy and fatigue during normal activities are a few other common symptoms. In other words, your ‘get up and go’ got up and went! Furthermore, the corrosive hormones released through chronic stress can lead to increase blood sugar (and belly fat), high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes), just to name a few.
Here are 5 Body Expert tips for managing stress, to avoid adrenal fatigue and optimise heath, fitness and vitality:
Get a Lot of Omega-3s
Omega-3s will elevate glutathione hormone level, and they are particularly good at protecting the body when exposed to physical stress.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidant-rich foods provide nutrients that the body uses to produce enzymes that effectively detoxify stress hormones, providing an anti-stress boosting procedure.
Do Yoga and Meditate
Yoga and meditation practice will help by providing a safe but structured time to get rid of mental stress. You will be more body conscious and able to realise when you are in a stressed state.
Massage releases endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system.
Laugh a Lot
Studies show genuine laughter makes you more resistant to disease and stress in the same way high antioxidant levels do.