My Body Is an Alien: Why fighting stress is so important!
When we’re stressed … it doesn’t matter what kind of stress … mental (ie pressures at work), emotional (ie feeling depressed), or physical (ie illness, injury) …
When we’re stressed our bodies respond by creating cortisol the primary "stress hormone.”
In our body’s “hormone making hierarchy” it will preferentially make cortisol BEFORE it will make other hormones we need … like estrogen and progesterone.
So when we are stressed, our bodies make cortisol instead of the hormones we need, which results in hormone imbalance … and hormone imbalance often results in SYMPTOMS (for a big ol’ list of possibilities, click here), many of which are unfun and uncomfortable, some of which can go unnoticed (which actually isn’t a good thing … cuz we have SYMPTOMS as our warning signs … it’s our bodies talking to us, trying to tell us things aren’t good … it’s our bodies trying to tell us we need to fix “it.”
With “it” … going back to the stress and the preferential cortisol production … but that often gets missed. We often miss the stress as the underlying cause, cuz we like live with stress all the time and “do just fine.” It must be something else. … Well, it could be.
But honestly … if we’re living under stress all the time, we are not doing “just fine.” Our bodies are yelling at us, but on we go.
Okay. So that’s the first layer. Yep … we’re gonna onion right now.
So the first layer is stress of any kind promoting cortisol production instead of our needed estrogen and progesterone. And this causes hormone imbalance, which causes unfun SYMPTOMS.
Our second layer is when we experience prolonged stress (work, relationship, self-image, improper body weight, lack of movement in our bodies, toxicity in our foods, etc, etc, etc, … life), this prolonged stress results in prolonged production of cortisol … and this ain’t good.
Prolonged production of cortisol results in chronic inflammation. And chronic inflammation leads to really uncool health challenges (aka, disease: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, the Big C, … to name a few).
Right now, in the US, 60% of Americans suffer at least one chronic inflammation disease. And 40% of those Americans suffer two or more.
25% of US women will die of cardiovascular disease.
And studies are now showing that 44% of millennials are already suffering at least one chronic disease.
And here’s a fun fact … “chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the US, and they are leading drivers of the nation’s $3.8 TRILLION in annual health costs.” https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm
There’s a rant built into the above statement for me … but I’ll leave it at the following:
There is NO profit for others in your wellness.
There is very little interest in actually helping you to live well. If you live healthily in improved wellness, free from chronic disease, some very rich people will not be happy about their reduced riches.
Think about all of the unhealthy food, pharmaceuticals, and living that is constantly promoted around us on TV, everywhere, … it’s actually interlaced into the very fabric of our culture. Work harder, do more, buy more, be opulent, don't stop, be better, be the person everybody else wants to be, … whatever.
Depending on the chronic disease, person, and insurance (or lack thereof), the out-of-pocket expenses for an individual can be even in the tens of thousands of dollars, each year, if not more (for the uninsured/under-insured).
Back to our onion.
Layer three is … what happens when all that stress builds up … all that chronic inflammation goes unchecked … unhealed …
Well, for about 8 – 10% of Americans, it results in something called autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is when the body can’t tell itself (or bits of itself) from an invader and it starts attacking itself.
Some examples of autoimmune disease you may have heard of:
- Celiac disease
- Hashimoto thyroiditis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Okay … so here it is … the real ass kicker … 80% of the people who suffer from autoimmune disease are … you guessed it … WOMEN!!!
That, my sweet blossoms, is 100% an indicator letting us know that our hormones are playing a role. It’s our estrogen and progesterone the differentiate us from men.
And so if stress, leads to cortisol production, which leads to your body not making estrogen and progesterone, which leads to hormone imbalance, and this leads to SYMPTOMS, and this leads to chronic inflammation, which can lead to chronic disease, which can lead to autoimmune disease … doesn’t it make sense that the best thing to do is to love our mind, bodies, and souls, and reduce our stress??????
Also … sucky note: once a person gets autoimmune disease, generally speaking, there is NO CURE. Only doing your best to get and keep your body calmed and coping. “Controlling the condition and symptoms” with a prioritized need to reduce inflammation and pain.
Essentially, these 2 effects of persistent stress and elevated cortisol levels ... living life ... don't just reside individually in women - sweet blossoms, they generally compound one another.
Buuuuuuuuuuuut, so … you can stop autoimmune disease from happening, and you can help reverse chronic diseases … by guess what?
Yep, just like we’ve been talking about … reducing your stress (all kinds)!
Dr. Amy Myers talks about autoimmune disease in great detail, with so much wellness to offer, in her book, The Autoimmune Solution. In this book she talks about the “autoimmune spectrum.”
The autoimmune spectrum is essentially a path from no imflammation > some > mild > moderate > severe > and finally, achieved autoimmunity disorder. Simply being a women, a beautiful blossom, even if you lived the cleanest, healthiest, best-est, non-toxic, zero-stress life, just being a blossom, puts you on this spectrum.
Add in all the stuff of your particular life … and well …
The bottom line … the one that leads to wellness … reduce our stress!
Here’s some AMAZING, often times easy, and INCREDIBLY Helpful ways you can do that:
- Sleep well
- Eat organic, nutrient dense, whole foods - an anti-inflammatory diet - in all the colors of the rainbow
- Drink plenty of water
- Significantly reduce sugar in your diet, or eliminate it completely
- Get movement into your body
- Heal your gut (This one is super big and is interlaced over practically all of the other things listed here.)
- Laugh and play
- Spend time with people who you love and who love you
- Color and create
- Practice mindfulness
- Let go and let be
- Sit in the sun
Find your groove. What works for you. The goal is to get stress down ... A LOT! As if your life depends on it. Cuz, like your health does, and if your life relies on your health, then the math is simple. Stress Reduction is Vital!!!
As an additional personal note and thought ... I know stress can be hard to fight. I know the lists are long, the to-do's never ending. There are days (I've managed to get it down to occasional lil bursts of time ... a few hours, a day here or there), ... there are times when my body just buzzes with the stress of everything. I feel it in my chest. My limbs. My heart. My bones.
My groove ... what works for me ... I tell myself the truth. I'm stressed. This stress is hurting me. I need to love myself and take care of me, my mind, my body. ... I need to calm down. Find my peace again. ...
I get serious with my self care. I slow down. I slow down my breathing. I get on the mat and take my time, loving my yoga time as medicine for my life, wellness, and soul. I eat nourishing food. I spend mindful moments ... how much ever time I need to help calm down my stressy-buzz ... watching the nature outside my windows (I super love watching and listening to our bog and the nature ... the birds, the frogs, the gentle hum of it all!). I hydrate. I remind myself of what to do with the following statement: Focus on what you can do right now to help your body cope and heal.
I tell myself the truth ... I need this moment in time to heal and cope and get well again. Everything else can wait. Everything else has to wait.
I have people depending on me ... probably you have people depending on you, too ... it can be easy to say, I'll just push through until later ... I HAVE to help these people who depend on me right now ... except that the pushing through until later ... later never seems to come.
Honestly, sweet blossom, you can't help others after you fall. The peeps can wait. For 1 minute. 5 minutes. ... Take a day off here and there just for your rest and rejuvenation. Whatever your groove is. But find and grow your groove. So you can get your stress down.
I also acknowledge that in order to get to a place in my life I had to reevaluate my values and change how I lived. I had to reduce the stressy things on purpose. Find and grow peace into my life with active choice. Loving me. Prioritizing me.
This was and is my groove. You'll find yours. Only you can know. But I hope in sharing mine, it might just be helpful love and encouragement, even some guiding ideas, to help you find yours.
As I tell myself ... Nourish to Flourish!
Thank you for being here with me and sharing time! I hope you are well!
I invite you take this quick moment to smile big, hug yourself, and take a nice, big, juicy breath in ... let go ... and let your breath out slowly.
Big Love and Big Hugs!