Stress is making you old, making you fat, impacting your productivity at work, affecting your relationships and getting in the way of you reaching your optimal health, fat loss and fitness goals.
We have stress mechanisms to help us in emergency situations. It is when these stress mechanisms become constantly switched on due to sleep problems, mental anxiety through work or relationships and worry about issues that we have no control over, that dangerous long term or Chronic Stress is produced.
Stress caused by emergency situations is called Acute Stress, which is our “fight or flight” response... a response to an immediate threat. Once you escape or win, the maximal physiological stress response ends and heart rate, blood pressure and hormones go back to normal. Restorative processes kick back on and tissue repair and healing occurs.
Chronic stress is where this response happens in the absence of an emergency and therefore for longer periods. The human psyche experiences feelings or insecurity and intimidation that cause our acute stress response to become chronic. By not turning off the stress response, we wallow in a corrosive bath of hormones.
Lets think of this in terms of a car’s brakes and motor. Acute stress would be when you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting something. The brake pads engage for the short time it takes to stop the vehicle. The brake pads then return to a static position away from friction and are used periodically when required allowing the motor to perform economically. Chronic stress is like driving with the handbrake slightly on: the brakes are under constant wear and the motor exposed to more strain.
Chronic stress will eventually wear out your adrenal system, as the cars brakes wear out the motor. Symptoms can manifest through feelings of anxiety, lethargy and fatigue during normal activities. Poor energy, poor ability to sleep and low sex drive are a few other common symptoms. In other words “your get up and go... got up and went”!
Furthermore, the corrosive hormones released through chronic stress can lead to increase blood sugar (and belly fat), high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome (increased risk of heart disease & diabetes) just to name a few.
Here are 5 tips for managing stress to optimise heath, fitness and vitality:
- Get A Lot of Omega-3s: A series of recent studies have shown Omega-3s will elevate glutathione hormone level, and they are particularly good at protecting the body when exposed to physical stress.
- Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Antioxidant-rich foods provide nutrients that the body uses to produce enzymes that effectively detoxify stress hormones providing an anti-stress boosting procedure.
- Do Yoga & Meditate: Yoga and meditation practice will help by providing a safe but structured time to get rid of mental stress.
- Massage: Massage releases endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system. Massage therapy is a proven to reduce chronic stress levels in the body.
- Laugh A Lot: Studies show genuine laughter make you more resistant to disease and stress in the same way high antioxidant levels do.
KiwiFitness, Phil Kelly’s Phnom Penh personal training service, uses a holistic approach. Courses booked through his website.