Stress. We all have it. Especially parents! And expatriates all the more so! Unfortunately, the body cannot separate good stress (e.g. planning a wedding, relocating to another country) from bad stress (e.g. bereavement, money worries, communication & language barriers, or challenging times with children). It simply reacts to all stressors in the same way. Your body’s reaction is also influenced by whether you “perceive” the stressor to be good or bad. We can all view things differently.
The body releases the stress hormones adrenalin & cortisol from the adrenal glands (little triangular shaped glands that sit on top of your kidneys) in order to manage your body’s stress. This is fine when the stress is short-lived. Such as the immediate stress you feel when you set up a new business or start a new job in a new country, plan your move, then eventually move and settle into your new home! But most people are living in a constant state of stress whether they realise it or not. Simply managing your work/life balance, keeping your child(ren) happy, and earning enough money to live the lifestyle that you want can be very stressful!
It is important to know that excess stress hormones are catabolic (break tissues down). And when the body is catabolic for a prolonged period of time, the immune system weakens and becomes susceptible to pathogens such as yeast, fungus, parasites and harmful bacteria. These bugs can easily make a home in your immune-lowered body, causing symptoms such as chronic energy depletion, depression, anxiety, and/or weight gain.
Our most common stressors today tend to be emotionally driven. Our psychology (our thoughts and emotions) drives our physiology (our physical body). Can you remember a time when you felt really nervous about something? Maybe a job interview, your child’s first day at school, your first parent-teacher meeting? Recall the emotion; now see if you can physically feel how you felt at the time. You may have had sweating palms, a sick knotted or churning feeling in your stomach or tension and discomfort in your neck and shoulders. This may be an extreme feeling, but many people experience this on a daily basis.
When the body/mind is experiencing stress, certain key functions in the body become impaired and in the case of prolonged stress, may eventually halt! Why is this? Well stress initiates a response called fight or flight. This is a protective in built mechanism, a way of the body coping with a perceived stress.
Now bear with me here, but I want you to imagine that you are back in ancestral times, you are out hunting for your family (normally the man’s job, but he is lying in the cave with a headache , a.k.a. manflu!). You are searching for food and to protect yourself you have a spear. Suddenly you come across a wild cat, you realise that you are no match to FIGHT the cat, so instead you wisely choose to take FLIGHT !
Now in order to flee (run fast!) form the cat, your body diverts blood to the peripheries (arms & legs) and away from your vital organs, at the expense of the digestive, detoxification & reproductive systems. This means poor digestion, low energy, PMS, low libido, constipation, headaches, to name a few (labouring women may also note a halt to labour!).
Our modern day wild cats may be screaming children, unreliable tradesman, arguments with our spouses, pain from injury, food intolerences, unknown surroundings, fear in general, etc. Now you can see how these can quickly add up to quite a stressful situation.
There are 6 different groups of stress, take a look at this list and make a mental note of which may apply to you.
- PHYSICAL = body pain, injury or structural imbalance;
- CHEMICAL = toxins in our water, foods and personal care products;
- ELECTRO-MAGNETIC = pollution from X-rays, scans (including U/S), our mobile phones and laptops;
- MENTAL/EMOTIONAL= negative thoughts, over working, worrying about income security;
- NUTRITIONAL = under- or over-eating, eating the wrong foods for your body type, vitamin-mineral imbalances;
- THERMAL = sunburn or severe cold.
Are your scores adding up? Read the ACTION LIST for successfully managing your stresses.
Want to learn more? Try a FREE talk on “How To Reduce Your Stress & Balance Your Hormones Naturally“, sessions held regularly in Chavannes-de-Bogis and Bussigny.
This blog was contributed Jennie & Peak-of-Wellbeing an MiV Sponsor