Stress can get us down. But did you know that long-term stress can lead to a variety of illnesses?
Your body doesn’t really understand the difference between real stressors (a lion about to attack you, worrying about your stock portfolio or how you’ll pay for your child’s college, anxiety-producing relationships) and self-chosen stressors (worrying about your weight, beating yourself up about something you ate, thinking you’re not good enough… all of those negative thoughts we all have sometimes).
Regardless of the source of the stress, this is what happens physiologically to your body once its stress response kicks in:
– your digestive system shuts down (4x less blood to your gut, major decrease in enzymatic production, decrease in the body’s ability to absorb vital nutrients and minerals)
– sex hormones decrease
– thyroid hormones decrease (making you tired and slowing down your metabolism)
– cholesterol increases
– levels of cortisol rise (which then tell your body to store fat and burn muscle for fuel)
– insulin resistance increases (decreasing your body’s ability to safely process sugars)
Obviously, sometimes we can’t help being stressed — it’s part of everyone’s lives. But are there areas in your life where you can actively choose to relax a little? Take 10 minutes and do a mental inventory — where can you afford to loosen up a little and be more understanding with yourself?