Have you ever noticed that admitting you are stressed about work, life, money etc. seems to just increase your stress? It can seem like it is an endless cycle and sometimes can cause you to feel like the stress cycle will never be broken. I am about to probably raise that stress level in a moment when I discuss how that stress affects you but stick with me because I will also provide some ideas that have been shown to help people handle that stress.
When we are under a high amount of stress our bodies release the hormone cortisol from our adrenal glands. The reason for this is thought to be so that if we have an injury (stress) to our body the cortisol stimulates our body to release, glucose, proteins and fatty acids needed to protect the site of injury. One interesting side effect of the cortisol being released is that it actually blocks muscles and other tissues from absorbing glucose aka sugar. Now if we are constantly in a state of stress but we don’t have a true injury our blood sugar is going to be increased because the cortisol that placed it there is also blocking the absorption. Now lets add in something else that we tend to have with high stress…. High sugar in our diet. This combination elevates blood sugar even higher and because of the cortisol the hormone insulin is less effective in lowering the blood sugar level. This is known as adrenal diabetes.
Remember the effects of high blood sugar? Decreased immune system response, increased likelihood of dementia, Alzheimer’s, heart disease etc. This is me beating the dead horse and screaming it is not good!!!
We are all guilty of being a little too attached to our smartphones, computers, and tablets. We see these devices as being our life line to our busy lives. They tell us where our friends are, where our kids are, what our families are doing and they tell us where we are supposed to be. It would seem that they make our lives easier… right? Wrong. Research shows that the electronic age and multitasking is actually related to increasing our perceived stress and thus increasing anxiety and depression (Reinecke, 2017).
Research also shows that higher levels of perceived stress are linked to less sleep and lack of sleep is directly linked to more stress ( (Rimmele, 2015).
Let’s break the cycle!
Have you heard of being mindful? For some it is taking time to meditate and for others it is just simply taking some time every day to be grateful. Studies have shown that people who participate in these exercises report less perceived stress when exposed to a stress full situation (Bullis, 2014).
There are some great tools out there if you don’t know how to meditate and trust me it is not all about lighting incense and playing weird music (not that there is anything wrong with that if that is what you like). Headspace and Calm are two apps that can actually make your phones less stress inducing by leading you through some simple breathing and thought freeing exercises.
If meditation is not your thing though take two minutes at the end of your day as you lay in bed and write down 5 things from your day that you are grateful for. Taking this time in bed to put away electronics to be mindful has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults (Black, 2015).
Look back at our previous blog post and you will remember that two of the most important factors in your overall health are exercise and diet. Also, remember if you need help breaking the cycle schedule an appointment with us and we will be happy to help develop a plan the works for you.
Dr. Jeric Toney D.C.
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