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What is Stress Overdrive?

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August 6, 2019 | Published by


Do you find yourself feeling wired and tired? Consider yourself constantly under pressure? Experiencing anxiety or depression due to stress? It’s possible you’re feeling the effects of stress overdrive. (1)

Stress makes your stress response system, especially the adrenal glands, work hard to produce hormones that help your body cope with and adapt to the stressor. Adrenal hormone production requires a lot of energy and specific nutrients. The more stress, the more energy and nutrients required. (Read more on balancing your stress response)

Stress response control is primarily handled via your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis through which your brain regulates stress hormone production. To prepare you to respond/adapt to a stressor, cortisol fuels you for action by raising your blood sugar, blood pressure, heart and breathing rates, mental focus, and some aspects of immune function. (1)

 

Adrenal Stress Response diagram

 

When stress is frequent or chronic for extended periods of time, these sustained cortisol-initiated changes are no longer adaptive and start becoming harmful. High blood sugar, insulin resistance, increased abdominal fat, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and mood disorders, cognitive and memory impairment, sleep problems and an inability to relax are just some of the consequences associated with chronic stress overload and cortisol. (1)

With a chronically stressful lifestyle, your adrenals keep pumping out hormones that are really designed to prepare you for a “fight or flight” physical response to the stressor. These processes raise your blood sugar, insulin, blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety, and make it difficult to relax, think or sleep. They also suppress immune function and slow digestion and new cell growth as your body is channeling energy and resources into escaping the stressor. (2)

Since you usually can’t physically fight off or run away from typical daily stresses like dealing with kids, work, bills and chores, the internal changes created by your stress response just continue without getting rebalanced by physical exertion. Over time they start to cause blood sugar, cardiovascular, digestive and immune-related health problems. (2)

If you find yourself in stress overdrive, here are some tips to help:

  •  Laugh as often as possible – at least 1 belly laugh a day
  • Think of something pleasant before getting out of bed
  • Decrease daily sitting time – get up and move often
  • Eat more vegetables/fruit/plant protein (beans, seeds, nuts)
  • Eat less animal protein (meat/cheese) /salt/sugar/white flour products
  • Drink water/herbal tea instead if juice/sodas/caffeine/alcohol
  • Exercise daily at least 30 minutes in the morning, not at night
  • Meditate or do mindful breathing for at least 10 minutes before bed

References:

  1. Cortisol Stress Reset product pamphlet (click to download)
  2. Wilson J. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.

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