Stress - A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances/situations.
The moment stress is activated:
- Heart Rate increases
- Blood Pressure increases
- Respiration quickens
- Adrenaline, non-adrenaline and cortisol is release.
- Blood flow is routed away from digestion and moved to the arms and legs.
- Digestive system shuts down.
This is simply your body trying to keep you alive, literally going into survival mode. Now, this is all great in the instance you are running from a bear. However, our body can’t differentiate the stress you feel from running away from a bear, and the stress you feel trying to get your books done before tax season is over.
When you are under stress, your body redirects blood flow straight to your limbs and heart, because your body perceives that you are under attack. The body is preparing itself for fighting or fleeing. Therefore, the digestive system isn’t receiving enough blood flow, and cannot function at an optimal level.
This is most unfortunate, because typically in these times of “high stress” we tend to reach for unfavourable foods (chips, muffins, alcoholic beverages, etc). The combination of a weak digestive system and convenience foods can result in weight gain.
4 WAYS INDIVIDUALS EXPERIENCE STRESS:
1. Biological / Chemical - in the processes of the body.
2. Mental / Emotional - in thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
3. Spiritual - in our sense of connection.
4. Structural - in our bones and muscles.
I could tell you how to reduce stress, but I believe that this is very specific to each individual. What helps me relax, might not benefit another the same. However, here are a few suggestions.
Take a Hot Bath
This always helps me relax. A hot bath and a cup of tea. This is all about YOU time. Time at the end of the day to relax, get ready for the evening and be alone.
Picking up a Book
This is the biggest one for me personally. In times of high stress. Evening taking a half hour to escape my world, and enter a different world is extremely therapeutic for me.
Attend a Yoga Class/ Get in your Exercise
Exercise in general is a HUGE stress reliever and is used by so many people for that reason alone. If a high tempo gym session doesn’t do it for you. Yoga is a relaxing, soothing and spiritual stress reliever.
Eating Healthy and Whole Foods
This seems strange seeing as we are talking about the cycle or stress and poor eating habits. But healthy eating can actually keep the weight of your life off your shoulders. If you body is functioning optimally and you feel good, it can relieve stress for you.
These are just some suggestions. But, take time for yourself and figure out what works best for you. Don’t let stress get the best of you and your BODY.
Happy Friday Fit Fam!
ACE Certified PT
ISSA Specialist in Sports Nutrition