In our previous lesson, you learned why you should take things slow when you are looking to make a change or shift in your life. Now let's talk about stress and its lasting effects on the body.
This lesson is critical to understanding why it is so important to make a positive shift in your life now.
But, what I'm about to teach you in both this lesson and lesson 3 can get really scientific. And the last thing I want to do is to have your eyes gloss over, lose your attention, and have your mind floating off in Lalaland because it's too much information.
So I am going to cover the main points and keep this as high level as possible while still getting the information across. Sound good?
Let's start with a little background...the term "stress" was first coined by Dr. Hans Selye in order to define environmental factors that alter the flight-or-fight response.
The term "stress" is actually the most used word in the English language in medicine and physiology. This gives you an idea of just how prominent stress is in our lives.
But just because something is prominent or commonplace within society does NOT mean that you should accept it as the status quo or accept it as something that does not need changing or managing in a more healthy fashion.
Yes, stress is a normal part of life. It is bound to happen.
But with the body, balance is necessary. This is the case with EVERYTHING within the body.
Take water, for example. Drink too little water, and you become dehydrated. You feel thirsty, run-down, maybe even sick to your stomach. Really just all-around icky.
But become dehydrated frequently enough, and your brain will stop sending these signals to your body. Why? Because it's essentially given up on the fact that you'll take any action to remedy the dehydration, so it just focuses on something else.
But make no mistake of it. You are still dehydrated. This then leads to chronic dehydration, and this can very much be life-threatening.
On the flip side, drink TOO much water, and you risk flushing your body of your electrolytes. Your kidneys can't get rid of the excess water. The sodium content of your blood becomes diluted.
The abnormally low sodium content will cause the inside of your cells in your bloodstream to flood. In severe cases, you become water intoxicated which can lead to debilitating health problems such as seizures, coma, and even death.
Essentially you can drown yourself by drinking TOO much water.
And yet, water is essential to life. But there has to be a BALANCE.
Now let's talk about stress.
At the moment of stress, the heart and lungs can increase their response to 3 to 4 times above what is needed when functioning at rest.
Adrenaline and other stress hormones are released, your mind races, you feel nervous, your muscles tighten...you are on adrenaline overload.
This response is necessary because it tells your body that there is a perceived danger and to "get out now of fight." It's the fight or flight response.
And once the stress is over, you calm down, your heart stops beating so rapidly, and your breathing slows. Both organ functions return to their normal baseline.
However, much like your brain stops sending the signal of dehydration to your body, after repeated instances of stress, your body stops responding in the same physical sense.
You don't feel jittery or tense from high adrenaline. But you are now experiencing something called an allostatic load. This is the cumulative effect of too many responses to stress.
And high levels of exposure to this allostatic load over a long period of time becomes toxic to your cells.
Instead of the jittery, tense feelings, you associate with stress, you are now feeling things like chronic sleep problems, mood swings, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and frequent worry.
All of this causes inflammation within the body which affects the entire body and leads to an imbalance in a core process of the body called cellular communication.
This core process interruption can effect the brain, the heart, your blood vessels, digestive system, bones, skin, muscles, and your kidneys...essentially EVERYTHING within your body.
Some of the chronic diseases and issues that the imbalance can lead to are:
Inflammatory bowel disease.
High blood pressure.
Chronic kidney disease.
Now, none of this is meant to scare you. The good news is that you CAN change and reverse these reactions through something called epigenetics, which we will discuss in our next lesson.
YOUR TASK for today: think about and NOTICE how your body responds to stress. Do you get that jittery, tense feeling? Or do you have chronic sleep issues, mood swings, easily angered?
Write down what you notice most frequently.
In the next lesson, we'll discuss epigenetics, what they are, and how they allow you to change your future.