Monday, October 6, 2014

A little about Anxiety and Stress

It is CRUNCH time! I have been planning an event, Oysterfest, for the past six months. We are now a week out. I feel a little overwhelmed and worried that I am missing something crucial but because I have so much going on I can not think of anything that seems out of place. Only seven days separates me from the moments when I will be standing and staring at 1,000 hungry oyster fans.

This will be out forth annual Oysterfest. It is amazing how many people love oysters in this landlocked state. Until you have planned an event for 1,000 people you really don't understand how many details go into throwing a festival. Especially in the last couple months my life has consisted of checklists,  emails, permit meetings and tons and tons of guest phone calls. With all the hoopla that goes a long with planning a large event my anxiety and stress levels have skyrocketed. Bedtime gets confusing... I am either exhausted and struggling to keep my eyes open or I am sitting up waiting for my brain to finally stop running through all my "to-do" lists. The lack of sleep leads to other issues... My need for comfort food has risen to an all time high. I know we have talked about listening to your body and trying to appease your cravings but lately my body has been screaming BUTTER, CHEESE, BREAD and DESSERT, way too often.

My complexion has also suffered during this stressful time. I often get breakouts when I am going through bouts of stress but lately it has been a lot worse. I don't go a day without a major breakout which is not only frustrating but also extremely painful. Both of these issues add to both my stress and anxiety which in turn leads to more breakouts.... it is a vicious cycle.

Our country was founded on the idea that we will all work our way to the top. We put such a strong emphasis on working hard that almost all of us forget that there is more to life than our jobs. We shouldn't let our jobs define us. We should work to sustain but only to allow us to lead more enjoyable lives outside of our work. Isn't that essentially why we have jobs? If we are spending so much time focused on creating a life for ourselves but never living what is the point? With all this work and no play stress starts to rule our existence.

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Being "stressed" is often looked at like a temporary state that will soon have an ending but if you are constantly surrounded by stressful situations and people there could be no end in site. Stress is a lot more dangerous that most people seem to understand.

Because our society has the pleasure of being plagued with this overwhelming need to work there has been many scientific studies conducted to examine what stress and anxiety can do to your body.

Here is a list of some ways stress can be dangerous:

1. Stress makes it hard to control your emotions

"Flying off the handle" is one of the first signs of being under extreme stress too much.  Everyone knows that when pressure builds there is a point that there is too much pressure and that it just needs to be let go... and in certain circumstances it causes an explosion.

I mean just think of when a "traveled" bottle of champagne or sparkling wine is opened. If there is too much pressure or "stress" put on those little CO2 bubbles the wine swells and pushes against the cork which can go flying and can potentially cause significant damage. Our bodies if over "traveled" can have this same problem.

Our bodies become conditioned to be under pressure and it just keeps building and the littlest set back  can cause problems.

In study by neuroscientists at New York University they found that even mild levels of stress can impair our ability to keep a grip on our emotions. When in that fight or flight state caused by the body making too many stress hormones we forget how to control our emotions because if we were fleeing there would be no need for suppressing our emotions.

2. Stress can bring out disease

Some people are more prone to certain diseases, and chronic stress can give your body the green light. Stress has been linked both directly and indirectly to lung disease, cancer, fatal accidents and cirrhosis of the liver.

Researches at John Hopkins University say that children that are exposed to extreme stress have a higher chance of developing menial illness if they have a genetic predisposition.

3. Stress can affect your love life

While sex may be a good stress deliver- being under stress can keep you from keeping healthy sexual relations. Stress may alter your feelings towards sex and can keep you from engaging with your partner.

4. Stress can breakdown your teeth

Grinding your teeth can be a very big problem for those who are often under
stress and in a state of anxiety. While often down unconsciously or during sleep, it can do lasting damage to your jaw and wear your teeth thin.

5. Stress can put a strain on your heart

Stress can physically damage your heart muscle. Stress damages your heart because stress hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. This forces your heart to work harder and increases your blood pressure.

According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks and sudden death increases after major stress-inducing incidents, like hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.

6. Stress can make you gain weight

When under constant stress your body tends to overproduce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and is the hormone that helps your body go into that "fight or flight" mode. It increases blood sugar and releases energy into your body so that you have the right stuff to fight off whatever predator you are facing.

Repeated elevation in cortisol can cause weight gain. One way is an increased storage of visceral fat. ne way is via visceral fat storage. Cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells (those under the muscle, deep in the abdomen). Cortisol also aids adipocytes’ development into mature fat cells. The biochemical process at the cellular level has to do with enzyme control , which converts cortisone to cortisol in adipose tissue. More of these enzymes in the visceral fat cells may mean greater amounts of cortisol produced at the tissue level, adding insult to injury (since the adrenals are already pumping out cortisol). Also, visceral fat cells have more cortisol receptors than subcutaneous fat.

Also,  high blood glucose levels along with insulin suppression lead to cells that are starved of glucose. But those cells are crying out for energy, and one way to regulate is to send hunger signals to the brain. This can lead to overeating. And, of course, unused glucose is eventually stored as body fat.

7. Stress can weather your appearance

Stress is a huge contributor to premature aging.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco discovered that stress shortens telomeres—structures on the end of chromosomes—so that new cells can’t grow as quickly. This leads to the inevitable signs of aging: wrinkles, weak muscles, poor eyesight, and more.

8. Stress can weaken your immune system

Cortisol functions to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time, these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppress the immune system. Chronic inflammation, caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, helps to keep cortisol levels soaring, wreaking havoc on the immune system.

It is likely that some or all of these are taking place inside of me right at this moment. It does scare me a little bit that lately I have been neglecting myself for work. I know that it is almost impossible for me to step back from my job. I have been working since I was 15 and I have a tendency to forget that my life would be a lot more enjoyable if I would spend more time relaxing.

Later this week Danielle will be outlining some ways to curb your stress and anxiety. I will definitely being checking back to see how I can help myself! I hope all of you out there who feel like I do will also be back to start getting more out of your lives.


Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.
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