Stress takes a cumulative toll on one’s health. Properly managing stress can prevent long-term health issues.
When was the last time you experienced stress? Chances are you are under stress right now – are you worried about the time, your kids, an upcoming deadline, or what to put on the dinner table? Our modern society continually feels the effects of chronic stress; we rarely slow down. Stress is greeting us around every corner.
Although stress is inevitable, it is mandatory; it is a driving force to help us accomplish various tasks. Stress has a profound cumulative effect upon the well-being and vitality of one’s body. In a society rampant with diseases such as obesity, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, and depression, we must examine the effects our stressful lifestyle has upon our bodies.
The Stress Response
An immediate danger or an upcoming deadline places one’s body in the mode of fight or flight, or the stress response. Fight or flight deals with hormones being released from the adrenal glands – epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. The release of these hormones results in dilated pupils, decreased digestion, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and the shunting of blood to muscles for anticipated increased activity.
If an individual experiences a continual amount of stress without sufficient time to heal, the body remains in a destructive state of fight or flight; the body never regenerates through the opposite response of resting and digesting which is vital for healing and repair. Our body demands homeostasis – a state of balance; one’s body maintaining a continual balance of undergoing stress and then healing in preparation for the next stressor. This balance is essential to avoid the “fall off the balance beam” (chronic disease) of stress left unchecked.
The Adrenal Glands
As previously mentioned, the adrenal glands produce and release the hormones associated with the fight or flight response. The adrenal glands are one of the most important organs of the human body – if they fail to function properly during times of stress, an individual would die! The adrenal glands are factories that work around the clock; they never rest or take a break. In fact, the adrenal glands are so vital to human survival that the body chooses to steal raw materials from elsewhere in the body (i.e. the thyroid, thymus, and ligaments) to support their continual function. This robbing of raw materials from other vital organs of the body results in gradual health decay and chronic disease.