What is stress?
Is it good for you? Or bad for you?
We hear the word stress, or stressed so often that we become numb to it. But that is a dangerous numbness.
I must stress that I am not a physician, these are strictly my views, but I’m probably right. 😉
Stress is essential to life, it’s a mechanism of survival. It was intended by nature to create a chemical response to a perception of a situation and cause an action to aid the survival of the host.
Mouse see’s cat approaching, mouse senses danger, cortisol is released and mouse reacts and runs away, mouse survives.
Cortisol is the stress hormone, most cells in the human body have cortisol receptors. It can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation, and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.
All well and good then. What’s the problem!?
The problem is that too much stress, too much cortisol can affect things in a bad way. When we face the stress response over long periods of time and our cortisol levels stay elevated, the following are likely effects:
– Suppressed immunity.
– High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
– Insulin resistance.
– Carbohydrate cravings.
– Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
– Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly.
– Reduced libido.
I don’t know about you but I’ve certainly seen people carrying these effects. Round red face, always ill or infected, stooped back, extremely irritable. Etc etc
Not good at all.
So how do we alleviate this!?
The first step is conscious awareness. Becoming aware of the effects of being over stressed, but also recognising how often you are stressed, and to what degree. Is it useful stress, or chronicly debilitating? With the awareness you may start to recognise patterns, people, places, situations that raise your cortisol levels. And knowing the damage it can do to the body, I would hope you can remove yourself from the situation.
Here are a list of de-stressors that you can try:
– walking in nature
– spending time with good friends
Basically anything that involves moving your body, being mindful or doing something you enjoy. Doing something that incorporates all 3 is THE anti-cortisol.
Now, many people drink to relieve stress. How many times have you heard people say that!? I used to do it, but I’ve been thinking about this. And my conclusion is that its probably one of the worst things you can do, long term. Like I said earlier I’m not a physician, and these are strictly my views. But i can imagine that alcohol is a pretty poor chemist, when it comes to regulating the brain chemistry.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed since quitting drinking is how calm I am normally. And also how aware of my state I am when I am getting stressed. In the past I could do weeks and weeks at work feeling stressed and drinking at the wknd, and not actually realise what a loop I was in until I had a break, or went on holiday. Was I drinking because I was stressed, or stressed because I was drinking!?
Now I feel like i know when I need to go for a little run, catch up with an old freind or just mindfully regather my headspace. I just feel clearer, and more in control of my stress responses.
I do honestly think that alcohol and stress go hand in hand. That they feed each other. Stop one, and you go a long way towards stopping the other.
Towards a happier life 🙂