You may be feeling stressed lately – did you know chronic stress hurts your beautiful body? You are beautiful by the way (in case you didn’t know). Maybe it’s been going on for a long time. Can you remember the last time you didn’t feel stressed? You might be thinking:
‘That’s life eh?’
‘Everyone is stressed – I’m not the only one.’
‘Stress motivates me – helps me stay on top of the game.’
Well, that may be true. But chronic stress can run you into an early grave. Stress, on it’s own, in short bursts, is a good thing. It pushes us outside our comfort zone, allowing us to learn and grow. But constant stress, all the time (except that once a year holiday), is called chronic stress. I’m writing this in the hope that you listen. Take note. Slow down. If not for yourself then for your loved ones. Here are four ways chronic stress hurts your beautiful body.
1) A short fuse = high blood pressure
When you’re chronically stressed you’ll find it easy to anger – you have a short fuse. Even little things irritate you and you feel frustrated a lot of the time. So of course, you snap – at your colleagues, friends, partner and children.
Can’t they see you’re busy?
These little spats might turn into full blown arguments, affecting your relationships. In fact, people will start to avoid you. They can see you don’t have time for them and they really don’t want a confrontation, so they’ll stay away. If you notice them doing this, it might annoy you, or even make you feel paranoid. They’ll be worrying about you because you’re not really yourself these days. But they don’t know how to approach you to tell you they’re concerned, because guess what? You’ll snap at them!
This pent up frustration and anger takes it’s toll on your mental health. Your brain knows you’re stressed, so it will do it’s best to try to stop you, by making you overthink until you do something about it. The brain has a fight/flight/freeze/fawn response that can’t tell the difference between a lion running at you and that looming work deadline. Stress hormones course through your body preparing you for action, but all those hormones are doing is raising your blood pressure and putting a strain on your heart. Have you started getting palpitations yet?
2) Rushing around = sleep problems
Chronic stress hurts your beautiful body by zapping your energy levels. It’s likely that you start the day in a rush and don’t eat breakfast – am I right? Constantly running on empty, your body is trying to keep up with your brain being on high alert. As those hormones course through you, you might feel a kind of nervous energy. You might notice you move around more quickly because you’re always in a hurry to keep up with the endless list of tasks you set for yourself – often setting high expectations for yourself and others, because you know you can all work harder (and accomplish more) if you try!
With all this energy being used up, it’s likely you’ll feel tired all the time – exhausted even. But it’s also likely you won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep. It takes so long to come down off that high that by the time you’re finally asleep, the alarm is going off for a new day. Have you noticed that when you’re on holiday, it takes a few days to settle into relaxing? Lack of sleep leads to many other chronic health problems, like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke and depression.
3) Less relaxing = lower immunity
This leads me onto the next way chronic stress hurts your beautiful body: your immune system. When you get a good night’s sleep or relax during the day, your body replenishes and repairs. This gives your immune system a chance to ‘restock’. When you refuse to relax, to truly switch off, there’s a constant tension in your body.
You might notice you pull muscles easily – maybe it’s a crick in your neck, or back or shoulder pain. You might think you have repetitive strain injury, when in fact you just struggle to allow your muscles to relax. You’ll get more headaches or even migraines. If you’re already a sufferer of a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, eczema or irritable bowel syndrome, you’ll get regular flare ups.
Your immune system is so busy trying to keep up, that the moment you have a break, you succumb to illness – catching colds and viruses. It’s your body’s way of saying ‘I can’t keep this up any more, please, please, slow down!’. It works like this because when you finally do relax, the brain sends out a message telling the body that the threat is gone. High alert setting is deactivated and the body now has a chance to replenish. But at that moment, if you’re exposed to any viruses, there’s no time to build it up before they attack!
4) Feeling stressed = habit forming
Chronic stress hurts your beautiful body in other ways too. What happens when you feel tired? You buy coffee or tea, yes? When we wake in the morning, our body already has higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, to help us wake. This is supposed to decrease as the day goes on, so we can sleep at night. Often, feeling tired, coffee is the first thing people turn to. Coffee and no food. So the body feels threatened and stress hormones rise even higher! Before long, you’ll have a habit of buying a coffee on the way into work, and you might find you don’t eat until the afternoon (speaking from personal experience here – no judgement).
Coffee might not be the only habit though. Maybe you cope better with small fag breaks throughout the day where you can have a quick smoke or vape? When you feel stressed, what better way to unwind in the evening than to have a glass or three of wine? And since you didn’t eat much during the day, maybe treat yourself with some late night snacking?
Habits can make us feel in control. Comforted. A little bit of relief in a busy, stressful life. But over time, the impact of those habits affect our health. Too much caffeine isn’t good for the heart. All that wine isn’t good for the liver. Those late night snacks aren’t good for blood glucose levels. Everything is fine in moderation. But when you have a habit, you’re likely to consume way more than a moderate amount! You can try to overcome your habits. But the underlying cause has to be addressed too.
What can I do about it?
Now you know four ways chronic stress hurts your beautiful body. None of these are alien to me. I’ve suffered from all of them. In fact, because I didn’t listen to my body, I suffered burnout and a breakdown. It changed my life. But enough of that! What can you do to combat this stress?
Well, it’s going to take a long hard look at your life as it is. And choosing to cut things out. To say no. To slow down. For some of my clients, the only way has been to change jobs. But the underlying cause of stress is never the workload. It’s your approach to it. Listening to your body. Taking breaks (proper, stare out of the window, looking at nothing breaks). Dealing with those thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself that really aren’t doing you any favours.
The great news is that I can help you! Here are a few ways:
- You can head over to read 5 surprising ways to cut stress
- You can click on the link below to watch a group hypnosis replay with lots more information and a lovely relaxing hypnosis to de-stress session
- You can book a call with me to discuss having 1-1 hypnotherapy
The choice is yours.