If you ask a group of typical Americans for the definition of stress, you will get the same response a majority of the time. Money, kids, job, relationship, bills… the list goes on. The reality is that this only a small portion of the problem and does not define what stress actually is. Stress is the bodies’ reaction to its environment. Your nervous system consists of two opposing controls that respond to environmental change, “Fight or flight” and “rest and digest”.When you experience stress your body goes through a cascade of events that can be triggered by three main causes: Physical, chemical, and mental stress. Interestingly, the body responds in the same way to each different stressor, and when in combination, the results can be deadly.
Most people have felt their body react to stress before and they will recognize the symptoms with this easy example. If a tiger were to jump in the room most people would not respond calmly. They would react in a very specific manner, probably involving running and screaming while their body prepares to “fight or flight.” What happens is your senses heighten, pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, palms start sweating, and multiple hormones are released. An adrenalin kick starts this cascade, this triggers noradrenalin and cortisol, which shunts blood from your G.I. to your extremities to prepare for running, and increases sugar production to supply the fuel.
This cascade happens every time there is a stress. The major concern is not that you have all these stress hormones affecting the regulation of your body, but that when your “fight or flight” system is turned on, the “rest and digest” system is turned off. Down-regulation is the technical term when one system overrides the other in order to preserve life. The least recognized and the most serious side effect of stress is that the functions occurring during “rest and digest,” are limited and eventually halted. Concentration, digestion, immune function, hormone regulation, sleep patterns, and sex drive, are some of the things that are down-regulated during a stressful situation. Think about it… Do you need to fight infection, memorize or sleep if a tiger is chasing you?
The body will react to ALL stress in the same manner that it responds to a tiger. Be aware of the stressors in your life, your body perceives them as threats and will do whatever it takes to protect you. In our office we approach stress from a physical and chemical standpoint. Are you being down regulated? We can be of assistance, please give us a call at 281-251-3531.