It seems as though everywhere you turn, someone is talking about the importance of stress management.
Take deep breaths…
The tips and tricks are endless, and many of them are useful (when put to use). But why bother?
It’s well established that stress is linked to chronic disease, but if you’re like me the words “chronic disease” bring to mind something vague and in the distant future. Do you ever wonder how your stress is impacting your health NOW?
Let’s explore how stress can impact your concerns today, rather than the ones you might have one day far from now.
We cannot talk about stress without considering the function of your adrenal glands. This walnut sized gland sits on top of your kidneys and produces a number of hormones: catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline), cortisol, and DHEA.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline (aka: epinephrine and norepinephrine) govern your body’s response to acute or immediate stress. They control your body’s fight or flight response. When your body is flooded with catecholamines, your eyes dialate, your heart rate goes up, and blood flows away from your center and into your arms and legs preparing for fighting or flighting.
Cortisol is released when the stress becomes chronic and your mental state is better described as resigned than anxious or exhilerated. Among other things, cortisol decreases your immune response and increases your cravings for simples fuels (hello sugar cravings!)
DHEA is not specifically related to stress, but it is produced by the adreanals. DHEA is the precursor for your reproductive hormones: estrogen and testosterone, and it has an indirect impatact of progesterone levels.
stress, food, and mood
Now that you have some background, let’s connect the dots on stress and your every day challenges…
Your adrenals, through a complex web of processes involving the above mentioned hormones, govern your blood sugar balance, influence your immune function, and play a huge role in monthly (ie menstrual) mood swings. That means that your blood sugar, immunity and mood are all intricately connected.
When you consume a diet high in sugar or simple carb, your adrenals have to work overtime to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible. When working overtime in this area, they are less available to keep your reproductive hormones in tact, which can exacerbate mood swings.
Likewise, when stress overtakes your life, your adrenals are orcestrating a fine balane between the catecholamines and cortisol, which throws your immune system, mood, and blood sugar into whack!
Then, in response to mood swings, you’re even more likely to 1- feel stressed and 2 – crave sugar; which only adds fuel to the fire.
All of this is to say that chronic health concerns are not for old people. They are not a distant, imagined future occurance that none of us needs to worry about right now. Chronic health is about today. It’s about your daily, weekly, and monthly concerns.
And the reality is that stress management and adrenal support can make a huge difference in your every day quality of life.
Better sleep, deep breathing, and simplifying your to do list to avoid multi-tasking can have a real benefit in your adrenal balance. That balance will pay dividends in the form of decreased cravings, better energy, mental clarity, and balanced moods.