What is stress?
What happens to our bodies when we have stress?
The nervous system
The autonomic nervous system, the one we have no control over, can be divided into the parasympthetic and the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is bascially the gas of our car and the parasympathicus the break.
Normal stress response
The sympathicus releases adrenaline within 0,05 seconds during acute stress. When the danger subsides, our body restores and the sympathetic nervous system takes over. We recover and our body settles down.
In chronic stress, to function we need more man power. We call for resources and we include the brain. The hypothalamus produces ACTH and signals the hypofyse, whom will produce CRH. These hormones will travel to the cortex of the adrenal glands and will release cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol is the stuff we need, it takes about 20 minutes before it enters the bloodstream, now we can keep this speed going.
Cortisol is a stress-response hormone made out of cholesterol. It is an utter most important hormone during stress. It compensates for the earlier dosage of energy used by adrenaline and noradrenaline, by suppling you with even more energy. It is an immune suppressor and inhibits infections, makes you almost immune for pain and it sets your day/night rhythm. Every inch of you is complete submissive to the stressor.
Effects of stress on the body
The effects of prolonged stress and constant use of this system, are not to be taken lightly. It can make you feel very uncomfortable both physical and emotional. When cortisol levels remain high, we remain high so the speak. There is no time for sleep, no reason to fight infections, to digest and to restore your energy. Physical symptoms may involve insomnia, stomach aches such as constipation, flu-like symptoms, tiredness and burned out all together. You may feel agitated, clumsy, forgetful and can suffer from mood swings.
How to relax?
To reset this system and fallback in relaxation there are several things we can do. The first thing to do is get your body moving. Stroll around the park, take a long walk on the beach. Try to implement 30 minutes a day to get outside and start some light walking. By doing this we help the body to break down the stress hormones and reset. Simultaneously it will activate the parasympathic nervous system. Don’t underestimate the power of nature and movements.
Second is have some plain good old fun. Do one thing a day you enjoy. Ask yourself at the end of the day, what was your picture perfect moment. Imagine you had a big room that tells the story of your life, what is the picture you would frame today. Doing the things you love will get your endorfines running, these guys will make you feel good. They will also decrease your stress levels.
Breathing exercises are highly effective. This can ctivate the nervus vagus and parasympathetic nervous system. Mindfullness, meditation and yoga are all very effective when it comes to stressmanagement. Studies show that neuropaths significantly decreas when doing this overtime.
Last but not least we have adaptogens, neurotransmitters and vitamines whom can support and correct imbalances, like our destress pack. Co-factors and adaptogens are needed in order to rebuild hormones and help you adapt to the stress you might have experienced.