What is stress?
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"Don't ask me to relax, my stress holds me together"
What's flowing into our bloodstream and how we feel physically and emotionally has an undeniable connection
don't think there is such a definitive accepted definition of stress.
But it certainly seems to have a very strong influence on our
body and mind. A study showed
that an estimated 40 million working days were lost each year in the UK
as a result of stress. And more than six to ten visits to the
surgeries were also accounted for (1).
is a natural
mechanism that our body uses for survival, a healthy and much needed
response to danger, and other events exposing us to risk. In order to
understand stress, one needs to be aware of its mechanism in the first
place. Then only can one recognise when the body is under stress, and
address it in a more helpful way, to regain a balanced state again.
1- O'Hanlon, B., 1998. Stress- The common sense approach. Newleaf, New-York
first system involved in a moment of stress is the central nervous
system (our brain). There is an amazing mechanism put into place,
allowing a set of hormones to be sent from our brain to our adrenal
glands, as to release a warning signal to potential danger or fright.
Our adrenal glands, are the two tiny organs lodged on the top of our
kidneys (which if you want to know, are situated in your lower back
region). I very often come across clients who complain of lower back
pain, as they are going through a period of high stress (this is often
related to overuse adrenals, pushing them to exhaustion).
the brain commands our adrenals to supply our "stress hormones" such as
adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. Then the blood becomes a
"high-speed boat service" to bring these hormones around the body so we
can deal with the fright. We have very specific types of stress hormones
which get released into our blood, so they can wake up the necessary
organs that will make us react quick! They are simply the messengers to
the body organs needed in order to react quickly to a threat.
These hormones are extremely powerful chemicals and once released into
our bloodstream, they are on a mission! They must increase our heart
rate, blood pressure, respiratory functions and the rest of the
necessary resources needed toward fighting, running, exercising or some
form of physical activity. Some of them are acting as a short term
response (the adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones) while another one
(cortisol) is here to stay.
This is the one I call trouble! Cortisol.... We need cortisol
for survival, but too much of it for too long and it's bad news.
Cortisol has the most powerful influence on us for survival, and it will do
anything it can to keep your body going, even while you are asleep!
break down your muscle tissue and convert the proteins from the tissue
into energy if it has to, but leaving some fat for you to use later,
just in case you have no more fuel to run on. Yes, our body is that
And your blood will be completely flooded with cortisol as long as your body is under that stressed signal mechanism.
These stressful-related events can be anything from:
- Exposure to cold
- Excessive amount of exercise
- Emotional and mental stress
What's flowing in our bloodstream, and how we feel physically and emotionally has an undeniable connection. That is why I got into Live Blood Analysis as it gave me the visual tool I needed to connect the two, the food ingested and the stressful state I stayed in for too long, changing my blood's behaviour. Our white blood cells can overflow in our bloodstream if stress becomes chronic, sabotaging our health.
This situation brings our body into inbalance, and creates a domino effect as to simplify it, forming an acidic and inflammed environment, jeopardizing our food absorption and digestion for a start. It could even go further from an inflammed state, bringing you into a state of depression. Studies are now showing the relationship between chronic inflammation (pain) and depression (2).
2- Neuroscience Bulletin February 2015, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 61-74 Avaialbe at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12264-014-1486-4
Once we recognise the nature of our stress, it is crucial to look at our lifestyle, and make the necessary adjustments to regain balance or else, this is a list of what we might be experiencing at some point in our life from cortisol's intoxication:
- High Blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Muscle loss
- Aging of the skin
- Increased risk of bone fractures
- Weak immune system
- Prone to more viral infections
- Daytime "brain fog"
The autonomic nervous system explained
The Autonomic nervous system has two mechanisms which are in constant motion throughout the day:
sympathetic stimulus (“fight or flight”) prepares the body to deal with
exciting and stressful situations, such as various emotions, physical
effort, fear, embarrassment or rage.
Imagine walking in a park on a
sunny day when suddenly an angry dog appears in your path. Do you stay
and deal with the situation or do you turn and run away? It’s time for your
sympathetic nervous system to take action and to use energy. Your blood
pressure and heartbeats rise up and digestion slows down. This is when a
lot of your oxygen supply is diverted to these systems away from your
digestive system (who needs to have a digestive system in working motion
The parasympathetic stimulus
(“rest and digest”) slows down many body mechanisms but the digestive
system, as this stimulus speeds up digestion and absorption of food.
Therefore, the "rest and digest" stimulus, enhances the digestive process by allowing energy-supplying
food to be digested and absorbed. Imagine being on your day off and
walking in a park on a sunny day. You decide to relax and lie down on
one of your comfortable blanket that you brought along. You are now
switched onto the “rest and digest” mode and about to save energy. Your
blood pressure and pulse rate decrease and digestion can start.
two stimuli are needed in a balanced ratio in order to keep equilibrium
on the body’s demand throughout life. Digestion will only take place
properly if you are dominantly switched onto the “rest and digest” mode.
stress will be armless as the body will return to a balanced state
pretty rapidly. But let it become an ongoing stress, it changes the
body's way of coping with life. This might bring an array of issues on a physical and psychological level.
Chronic stress is one of the biggest toxic components
of them all! It poisons our body and makes it malfunction. It sabotages
everything we try to achieve. It makes life sometimes impossible, amplifying
our emotions so we become overwhelmed and unproductive. It causes us to eat the
wrong food and drink too much of the wrong type of beverages. It pushes us to a
roller-coaster that is hard to snap out of. A vicious circle!
Chronic stress is distractive to the point that it
stops us from finding the motivation of detoxifying! We need to keep our
detoxifying mechanism into shape throughout life or else, our body gets
extremely overwhelmed from it and becomes more toxic. Therefore, living in an
environment such as London, requires one to take action and engage into a
Detoxification protocol a few times a year or as often as our body
Each individual will need to tailor a Detox program relevant to
Ideally, escaping London’s stressful environment with its fumes, gases
and a diversity of temptations in every way, and enjoying a “back to
nature” type of Detox retreat in a purer air, calmer, warmer and sunnier
environment, would be the fastest and most rewarding way for a Detox to
take effect to its maximum. But being part of the rat-race, one has to
plan around such a way of living, not always being able to get away from
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Therapies offered at 4 Balance and
Health are not substitutes for traditional medical care by your GP, they
are complementary therapies that may be used in conjunction with
conventional medicine. Should you be aware of any reasons why these
therapies are contra-indicated to you or you have a serious health
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