We’ve all heard it before. Stress (and its associated hormone, cortisol) wears us down. It lowers immunity. It makes us unhappy, tired, angry. It has us in a constant state of “survival mode.” And it could very well be the source of all illness.
Let’s take a look inside the body for a minute.
The body is an amazing, intelligent machine. It has healing powers rivaled by nothing in science or modern medicine. Your body knows what it has to do, but is typically hindered stress and/or energetic imbalances.
In order to understand stress’ affect on the body, one must understand the autonomic nervous system, which breaks down into two types: the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The PNS is responsible for the growth, healing, maintenance, and repair of bodily systems, without our being conscious of it. For example, when you eat a carrot, you don’t think much more about it–how it is being handled in the stomach, passed through various parts of the digestive tract, and having its nutrition extracted and sent to appropriate places in the body.
The SNS is different. Think of it as responsible for your “fight or flight” response; its like an alarm bell. There’s a fire in an office building, and everyone panics, dashes about, and either tries to put out the fire, or gets away safely. Normal office routines don’t continue. Papers are not being filed, calls are not being made.
When the body is in fight or flight mode, things don’t run the same way. Blood flow changes; there is less to the stomach for digestion, less to the kidneys and liver for cleansing, less to the frontal lobes of the brain for creative thought. The majority of the blood is directed to parts of the body that need it the most, in order to save your life (or family, or house, or career). Blood, its purity, its nutrient density, its concentration of red and white blood cells determines a major part of optimal health and functioning (and how efficiently blood is pumped, by a well trained heart and unobstructed arteries).
This redirection of resources, over a short term, is necessary for survival. But over the long term–due to periods of constant stress–it is detrimental to health. Lack of blood to the organs can ruin the immune system. It doesn’t matter how many good things you put in; if you can’t make good use of them, they are wasted. When the body is in fight or flight mode, cells don’t receive nutrition, sufficient oxygen, building blocks, etc. The cells also don’t eliminate waste products. Everything stops, except for what is necessary to “survive.”
Our fast-paced, high-tech, high-speed modern lifestyles are wearing on the health. Much of technology, which is supposed to make our lives easier, is making them busier, more jam-packed, more stressful. There are more things to worry about, more demands for performance, for our time. That’s stressful!
The name of the game is stress management. It’s about work-life balance. It’s about taking time for yourself. It’s about winding down. Rest, relax, recover.
Allow your body to heal.