10.24.2012

Where Do You Find Serenity?

Stress runs our lives on most days. We just live through it and sometimes do not give it a second thought. But unfortunately, stress does a lot more to our bodies than we think. Of course there is an emotional side to stress, but there are many physical reactions our bodies do to respond to stress and to prevent our physical body from being affected by stress. Yes, stress can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, can cause fatigue, disrupt sleep, and decrease or increase appetite. In thinking of these, those are just the apparent physical responses, what is happening on the insides of our bodies?  If stress is plaguing you for an extended period of time, this could be happening:

*Your brain releases the chemicals epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol that can impair memory and learning. Cortisol will also increase belly fat.
*Stress hormones trigger the liver to release more blood sugar for increased energy. This could put you at higher risk for diabetes
*With increased stress, you might find your breathing unregulated. This strain on your respiratory system could make you more susceptible to respiratory infections.
*Your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke all increase with long term stress because it weakens the arteries and can elevated cholesterol levels.
*Your immune system breaks down, increasing your risk for illness and infections. Also, skin disorders intensify, eczema, psoriasis and acne can all become more troublesome.
*Your GI tract will take a hit and things will become irregular. You may experience and upset tummy, GI distress, diarrhea or constipation on a regular basis

Whoa!  That is a lot of things you may have never thought of!  When working with individuals, I always ask about their stress level. I can get a good understanding if it is short or long term and then also discuss how it is affecting the health of their body. I also try to work with people on finding "de-stressors" in their lives, that they take the time to find serenity at least a few times a day. One of my favorite stress busters is having a picture of something you love with you at all times, something that is all about you. Not your spouse, child, grandchild, not a person, but something that means or has meant the world to you. If it is something or someplace that you have positive thoughts about, it can help calm the stress inside your body.  Put it in your office in a frame, in your wallet, in your car, wherever you might find yourself needing that minute to just stare at it and find the stress-reducing serenity you need at that moment. Your physical health will thank you for it!