Ahhh… Stress… The plague of the 21st Century. A pandemic that affects over 2.4 million Aussies every day and is believed to be responsible for approximately 70% of all illnesses.
But what exactly is stress?
According to MedicineNet....
Stress can be described as a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. It initiates the ‘Fight or Flight’ response, a reaction of the neurological and endocrinological systems to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.
It’s pretty scary stuff.
During times of stress, the adrenal organs discharge a flood of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Although these are necessary in short spurts, it becomes damaging to your body over time by increasing blood pressure and blood sugars, lowering your immune system and causing premature aging!
Over time if stress is not treated it can become chronic, your energy levels become depleted and you crave fat and sugar-laden foods to keep you going. Escalating levels of cortisol sends excess calories to the abdomen, where they get deposited as fat. This area is the perfect location, as abdominal fat has privileged access to the liver, allowing for it to be quickly mobilised for energy.
The thing with stress is, that it comes in all sorts of different forms, it’s very sneaky. Sometimes it appears as negative self-talk, other times it comes in the form of external things like work, relationships and other commitments. Sometimes it manifests as trauma from our childhood that we didn’t even know still existed. But no matter how it appears in our life one thing is for sure... stress is exhausting. The energy of stress actually weighs heavily on our body and our organs and can cause a sense of dis-ease, which later in life may manifest as an actual disease.
That’s why it’s important, when it comes to losing weight, that we approach meal times in a calm manner. When we are rushing our body automatically assumes that we’re stressed so our sympathetic nervous system kicks and begins shutting down digestion. When this happens, the stomach produces fewer digestive enzymes, and we excrete nutrients without absorbing them. When this happens, there are not enough enzymes in the stomach to break down our food and we can often have heartburn - simply from eating too fast, which causes more stress on the body. It’s a vicious cycle.
The good news is there is an antidote to all of this.
The even better news is that it’s free, it’s natural and it can be strengthened over time.
The antidote is… The Relaxation Response.
To activate the Relaxation Response all you have to do is practise breathwork. When we are in a relaxed state our body's metabolism begins to balance out and our digestive system works to process and assimilate food to nourish the body.
One of the techniques that I thoroughly enjoy and recommend is inhaling to the count of 2, exhaling for the count of 3. Then inhale to the count of 3, exhale for the count of 4, and so forth until you reach somewhere between 8 and 10. This is a great way of calming the mind and focussing on the breath.
Always remember that the state of mind in which we consume our food plays a key role in how the food we eat is used throughout our body.
If you’d like some help coping with stress please do not hesitate to reach out.