From work and career to family and relationships, not to mention trying to balance them all and maintain a bit of time for yourself, it is no wonder we are stressed out!
And while having some stress in life is necessary and important, as it keeps us engaged and helps us learn how to deal with stressful situations, having chronic stress can lead to chronic problems.
Here’s what your stress might be causing for you:
Whether it is just a regular case of the blues, It feels like every day is Monday, or you find yourself becoming increasingly irritable around your boyfriend, husband, family or kids, stress could be at the bottom of it. Constant release of the stress hormone means your body is not properly regulating other hormones, as many of these are easily disrupted by the presence of cortisol. This means your feel good and self-motivating hormones, including serotonin and dopamine, are not properly produced and you suffer the negative outcome of it as a result.
One of the things that happens when we are stressed is that the stress response shuts down or suppresses other standard activities and functions within our body. It suppresses our digestive system, it reduces our immune function, reduces our sleep function and more. When it instigates the slowing down of digestion, this can result in several symptoms, including bloating, gas, upset stomach, slow digestion, and in many cases, constipation. Unexplained changes in bowel movement patterns can be linked to increased stress.
The combination of increased stress hormones, poor digestion, elimination and detoxification mean that your skin might pay the price of your high level of stress. The lymphatic system is a detox system within the body, and removes toxins, which otherwise may get pushed to the skin’s surface. Stress however, impairs proper function of this system and in a bid to release toxins from our body, may send them to the skin in the form of pimples and breakouts. This issue is further exasperated by poor digestion and an unhealthy gut biome.
As mentioned above, part of the stress response is a suppression of certain systems of the body, and one of these systems is the immune system. The immune system is very demanding on the body when it comes to optimal function and requires a great deal of energy and resources. If the body is stressed however, it sends those resources and energy elsewhere and does not allocate them to immunity, to building up immune cells or to checking in on immune function within the bodily systems. This results in a gradual breakdown, where you feel rundown, fatigued, and eventually end up getting – and staying – sick.
If this sounds like you, and you feel like you are dealing with these issues, check in on your stress level. And if you know it’s high, think about how you can start to bring it down and get it more under control!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH