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It’s so hard to find any time to actually stop these days, let alone relax. From the moment you start school to the moment you retire is non-stop rushing to your next point in life. It’s a domino effect…when you think you can finally relax after that final exam, you realise you have to do ten more just to secure that job place. And when that job isn’t enough for you anymore, you take more exams just for the qualification…for a slightly higher salary. But that’s life right. However, when you are always is this state of stress, your body’s fight or flight response kicks in from all the adrenaline and stress hormones. Your body always thinks it’s in danger, so it prepares us to get away.
Fear…stress…anxiety. All these shut down our immune system. Stress hormones are so effective in doing this that doctors give patients these hormones before transplanting an organ. For example, corticosteriods can be given as part of a kidney transplant patients immunosuppression treatment. This allows the body to accept the new organ before the immune system activates. Now imagine living everyday in stress. You are suppressing your own immune system. What does that mean? It means as you go through life you could develop health problems like autoimmune diseases. Why do you think illnesses like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are difficult to cure…it’s because the immune system is so weak. Your body’s natural defense system can’t even defend itself and causes the body to attack its normal cells by mistake. If we are continuously stopping our immune system from doing its job. How will it fight diseases and destroy cells like cancer.
Don’t get me wrong we need some of this stress, especially to escape certain situations. BUT, our problems today aren’t the same as our problems that we had CENTURIES ago. There are no physical treats like a “lion jumping at us”. All the pressure and urgency in life 24/7 is our big problem. And all that caffenine we have to reduce the effects doesn;t really help either. In fact it just makes it worse… building more on all the cortisol and adrenaline.
How can we control this?
It’s funny to say this but its actually because of our perception of life. The way we think is how to see the world. We CHOOSE to be like this. I know it probably doesn’t make sense right now, but if you stopped and thought about life, you would realise our bodies aren’t made for this much stress. It’s probably not so normal to get serious health problems at any stage of life. It just doesn’t make much sense.
From the minutes we wake up to the minute we go to sleep we can’t really “switch off”. Everyday we wake up and see our day as difficult. We think its urgent…from our perspective it probably is so we can earn money and keep our job. But from a much larger picture it probably isn’t as urgent as you may think. That’s when our sympathetic nervous system shows up (fight or flight).
Overall, we CAN control this by finding what’s actually important in our lives. Where can we make time for ourselves, instead of the need to go out and have fun to release this stress, calm your mind. By this I mean any form of self-care is great. Meditation is a popular choice as it not only calms the mind but also helps it focus, so when you start your day you know exactly what you are doing and not panicking on all you think you should be doing within a certain time. Your mind will be less cluttered, and more organised.
Have a daily routine. It could be waking up at a specific time, making room for some meditation, yoga, exercise, breakfast, ANYTHING…but some time out for yourself only. You could also make some time when you come home for school/work or before bed. A skincare routine before bed is also a relaxing way to get ready for bed these days. But, always remember to STAY PRESENT.
When you feel the emotions like anxiety and depression, your mind and body is knocked out of balance and the stress response is turned on. Blood pressure increases which is a major health concern for so many people nowadays. Blood is directed to the arms and legs to get out of danger instead of our digestion system.
Your most important organ: THE GUT
One of the worst places in our body to get affected by stress is our gut. We really don’t know how much damage we do to our gut. From all the GMOs in our foods to processed foods, no wonder why more people are getting sick eventhough we are the modern generation. More children now are seeing more problems, especially hormonally. Our whole bodies are out of balance. There is also a connection between the gut and mind, which also makes sense as to why more children and young adults are developing mental health issues easily. It’s our lifestyle.
DID YOU KNOW? About 90% of all serotonin in your body is in your gut and the other 10% is from your brain, along with other neurotransmitters. It’s normal to feel worry and anxiety, however your gut bacteria is able to lower this. Which is why it’s important to maintain healthy gut bacteria. When this good bacteria is missing, the effects of depression and anxiety are more prevalent in society. There is a lot more the gut microbiome does for your health and body, but long-term stress can and will reduce the benefits for you.
Tips to reduce stress:
- Practice Mindfulness, a form a meditation which allows you to be present; thinking about the past or future will just increase stress
- Minimise phone/computer use/screen time
- Reduce Caffeine intake
- Practice self-care
- Spent time with Family and Friends
- Follow a healthy diet
- Spent time in nature/take up Gardening
- Get a pet
- Follow a daily routine
- Don’t procrastinate!