Let’s face it, we aren’t going to rid our lives of the stress that abounds. We can learn to say no and clear our calendar of non-essentials. But sometimes even good things – like the holiday season -bring stress!
For the next few days we will chat about ways to support our body’s systems, boost our immunity and manage the STRESS of the holidays! We will chat about some self-care tips along with tried & true methods for handling stress. I have verses to share, practical tips and encouragement to inspire you to be intentional about dealing with the stress that comes with living in the year 2017.
The Bad News
The bad news is, stress takes a HUGE toll on our bodies both physically and emotionally!
You’re sitting in traffic, late for an important meeting, or you’re waiting on the surgeon to find you in the waiting room for an update on your loved one, you just watching the minutes tick away. Or maybe, like me, even taking 3 little toddlers and babies into walmart is enough to raise your stress levels. I have vivid memories of feeling very panicky and so anxious that I had to leave walmart about 12 years ago when I had a 3 year old, 2 year old and baby. Crying babies, toddlers pooping on the floor and dinner being burned in the oven. Stress at work. Stressful relationships.
Call it stress, call it anxiety, call it what you will, it affects our health, our emotions, our sleep, our mood…our lives.
Stress is a natural God-given physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Even good things cause stress. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. God created our bodies to work in this way! Stress can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being.
Stress Affects Every System of Our Bodies
Our natural “fight or flight” response to a stressful situation is actually a God-given good thing. However, it’s when we STAY in the stressful mode that our bodies begin to have problems. Stress becomes a problem when it becomes chronic stress.
The stressful situations cause our body to release stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones sort of rev up the parts of your body that need to kick in for the stress. This is good. But, when the hormones continue to be released time and time again, day after day, our bodies are impacted.
We breathe faster, our heart rate is faster, our muscles tense. When our bodies react in this way continually, we are more likely to experience heart trouble, stroke, or chronic pain. Our heart has been working too hard for too long. Our blood pressure is elevated but then doesn’t go back down as a result of the chronic stress.
Your digestive system is also impacted. Maybe your stomach is upset, maybe you can’t eat or maybe you overeat. Under stress, your liver produces extra blood sugar (glucose) to give you a boost of energy. If you’re under chronic stress, your body may not be able to keep up with this extra glucose surge. Chronic stress may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Your immune system is also weakened by chronic stress. Over time, stress hormones will weaken your immune system and reduce your body’s response to foreign invaders. People under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu and the common cold, as well as other infections. Stress can also increase the time it takes you to recover from an illness or injury.
The Good News
Hang in there, friends! I know today was full of bad news. However, it’s good for us to have the empowering knowledge that stress does impact every area of our lives.
From headaches to disease, from anxiety to depression and irritability, stress impacts our health, our emotions, our relationships and our mood.
The good news is that there are things WE CAN DO to help MANAGE the stress of our lives! We can be intentional, we can be proactive and we can make wise decisions that will help us to not fall apart (physically and emotionally) under the weight of the stresses of life.
In the next few days I am going to share with you 10 Verses for the Anxious Heart, 10 Essential Oils to Help with Stress, 9 Suggestions for Stress Management and more!
In the meantime, if you want to begin to get your heart focused in the right direction, grab a blank journal and begin writing down what you’re THANKFUL FOR. The big things, the little things, write them all down. Turning our focus from our problems to our abundance plays a HUGE role in how we manage stress!
I recently did a Facebook class on this topic, here is the video where I talk about what STRESS does to our bodies!
Stress Management Series