Monday, February 27, 2017

3 Big Ways Stress Wereaks Havoc in Your Life

Dramatic title, right?  But it's totally appropriate.  We're taught all this stuff about how to lead "healthy, happy lives"--eat this, never eat that, always work out, count your macros, get strength and cardio, work all the muscle groups--but the whole "reduce your stress" thing is a trend that, while popular, is particularly difficult to subscribe to.  Meal-prepping seems markedly easier to accomplish than lowering your cortisol levels does, especially in our fast-paced world of PRESSURE PRESSURE PRESSURE. (Okay, maybe I overdid it on the capital letters.)
The thing is, even with all these "wellness rules" that are designed to help make our lives more, well, lively, stress continues to be a major contributor to chronic un-wellness.  I know you've heard this a million times before, but this time, please listen.  It's almost springtime.  Spring clean your life this year!  KICK. STRESS. OUT.

  • Stress damages your skin.  There is a direct correlation between my forehead and lower jaw and exams.  I can actually feel myself actively breaking out when I'm taking a test. When your body releases cortisol (the hormone stress causes), your immune system activity is reduced, and you need a high-functioning immune system to keep blemishes and inflammation at bay. But stress isn't just connected to acne.  Long-term stress can also affect the length of telomeres, the caps at the end of DNA that protect if from degradation.  If telomeres decay, then cells decay and age, and that means wrinkles and lines.
  • Stress messes with your metabolism.   When you're stressed, your body enters "fight or flight" mode, which is great if you need to outrun a zombie but not so great if you're just trying to have a happy day.  To give you energy for fight or flight mode, your body pumps glucose into your blood stream, and insulin resistance ends up impaired, so you're blood sugar goes on a wild ride that can leave you fatigued and metabolically down: "even if [people] don’t actually comfort-eat to deal with stress, their metabolisms slow down, their energy expenditure decreases, their hormones get all off-kilter, and their blood sugar regulation goes down the drain."
  • Stress can make you miss out on quality sleep.  We all know how important sleep is for everything from encouraging cell growth and repair (#beautysleep) to helping you process and store things you've learned (#studying)., but when we're stressed out, getting the quality 7-9 hours we need to function at our best is a lot more difficult.  Our minds are racing with all the things we need to get done, so we can't drift off into that wonderful REM space of recharging and restoring, and we're so full of stress hormones that our bodies don't relax enough to be refreshed in the morning.
I've been paying more attention lately to just how easily I get stressed out and just how prevalent stress is in my everyday life, and I'm encouraging those around me to do the same.  My mum, for instance, is one of the most hardworking and caring people I know, but stress is a big issue for her because she has a tendency to give give give and never rest rest rest.  But you can't expect to be well if you don't try to prioritize health!  

<3 Frances

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