By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
The holidays are right around the corner, and before we know it, everyone will be running around trying to get organized, buying gifts, planning family dinners, etc. A combination of these events can often cause the “s” word…STRESS.
Unfortunately for many of us living such crazy, busy lives, chronic long-term stress can be a major health concern. It was different for our ancestors. When in the face of danger they ran or fought their way out of it (if they were lucky), when this occurred their adrenal glands produced a surge of hormones that stimulated extra sugar to the cells, increased circulation to the muscles and brain, supported clear sharp fast thoughts, stimulated more energy, allowed faster breathing and stimulated the heart to pump faster. Once out of this danger, these hormonal surges normalised and things went back to normal.
Today we are often in the face of constant stress and this has an enormous effect on our health. Stress hormones are made predominately by the adrenal glands which influence weight, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, energy and immunity.
To work towards better stress management strategies, relaxation & lifestyle technique choices and knowing when it’s time to slow down and re-prioritize, it is important to be aware and to recognise WHAT OUR OWN BODY’S responses and symptoms to stress are.
Here are some stress symptoms that are important to be mindful of:
1. Poor Sleep
People often experience disturbed sleep patterns. Difficulty falling asleep because your mind is racing with thoughts. Wakefulness during the night because you wake with catastrophic worries. Have you ever noticed things seem much worse during the middle of the night? You wake feeling unrested and as though you have not slept at all. ‘Wired and Tired’. This is normally because you slept lightly as adrenalin and cortisol stimulate the body rather than allow rest. Here are some great ways to help get the best night’s sleep.
2. You Have More Energy Late at Night
This is due to irregular adrenal hormone control. Cortisol becomes more elevated at the end of the day or into the evening rather than earlier in the morning as it should. It’s important to work on relaxing at night and getting adequate exercise and sunlight in the day to help regulate your hormones as well as using stress management techniques.
3. Catching Every Cold and Flu
Our immune systems are suppressed from the excess hormones that support the fight or flight. Long-term immunity gets the back seat in the flight or fight situation. Do your best to prevent getting sick naturally.
4. Chronic Tiredness
Muscle lethargy, aches and pains – no matter how much you sleep or don’t you are never energetic enough. You always feel that simple tasks are a struggle. This is normally termed ‘adrenal fatigue’, this may be caused from excess hormones over a longer period of time then become suppressed so you feel overly tired all the time.
5. Feeling Irritable, Moody & Frustrated
Stress unfortunately may make us feel that things are not as they should be. We may be either anxious and overwhelmed due to excess adrenalin or depressed due to long-term stress that may have worn us out.
6. Poor Digestion
Constipation, diarrhoea, reflux, nausea, dry mouth and feeling as though food is not digesting as it should be. Digestion is not an immediate survival system so blood nutrition and energy are normally sent to other survival organs so our digestion suffers as a result.
7. Rapid Heartbeat, Racing Thoughts, Slight Shaking & Sweaty Palms
In more acute intense stressful times these are indicative of the increase in hormones that pump the heart faster, increase energy and circulation to the extremities and the brain.
8. Intense Carb & Sugar Cravings
You use food to suppress feelings of stress. Refined carbohydrates and sugar have a short term sedative action, while slowing releasing healthy carbohydrates will have a longer sustaining effect.
9. You Have No Libido
Stress in both men and women has a strong effect on our sex hormone production and reproductive health.
10. Gaining Weight Around Your Middle
Cortisol loves to pad the body out for up and coming stressful situations.
It is important to learn how to cope with stress in a more positive fashion, learn relaxation techniques, get support, practice sleep hygiene, exercise, eat a healthy diet or plan a Reboot, re-prioritize what’s really important to you and remember to ‘change what you can and forget the rest’.
For more on what stress does to the body and simple techniques to assist!
Practice Relaxation techniques such as Meditation and Yoga. These techniques have an enormous positive impact on reducing excess stress hormones! So enjoy! Here is a great post about how to meditate with relaxation recordings with Dr. Russell Kennedy and 5 reasons to do more yoga!
It is always best to talk to your doctor or health professional if symptoms persist to ensure that other health concerns are not being overlooked.