I am grateful to have been interviewed recently in Forbes as stress relates to health outcomes. Here's the extended interview you didn't get to see.
What Is Stress?
Stress is any state that impacts the nervous system and tells our body we need to act fast - either fight, fight or flee! Interestingly, stress does not always equal negative things. We can be equally stressed in our body by the most positive experiences in our lives, such as a wedding, birth of a baby, success in our business! Our body cannot distinguish between a happy stress or a negative stressor and it is up to our mind to mediate that and tell our body how to respond based on whether we see something as a challenge or a threat.
Chronic vs. Acute Stress
Acute stress is good! The body's mechanisms of fight/flight/flee are intended to protect us from the "tigers and bears" in front of us to keep us alive. Of course, we are no longer in the cave-days and therefore the "bears and tigers" today might be starting a new business or getting into a fight with our significant other or boss. The body responds in the same way despite the bear or fight with the partner - it becomes activated and that is important because it helps us manage the immediate stressor effectively. Our eyes become wide to take in new information, our body becomes energized to run away if needed, our mind shuts off so we just act on instinct. All of that is exactly what we want in the immediate stressor to survive. However, in the long term, these mechanisms lead to burnout and wear-and-tear on the body. Our mind becomes exhausted and our body starts to attack us leading to long term inflammation. This is seen in something called general adaptation syndrome noted by psychologist Dr. Seyle a long time ago!
How Does Stress Impact the Body?
We can end up experiencing general adaptation syndrome (GAD) where the body alarms in immediate stress to pump adrenaline to fight the bear/tiger, then in the resistance stage the body continues to try to repair itself from the pumping stress hormones. In some people, they continue to experience the stress longer than the system is made for and therefore the body is undergoing changes to try to accommodate it. If the stress reactions are not slowed then the body eventually becomes exhausted. This can lead to long term blood pressure changes, body inflammation, anxiety/panic disorder or depression and other conditions that negatively impact our health.
Illnesses and Conditions Caused by Stress
This is no joke! The science strongly supports the link of stress and negative health impacts. Stress has been associated with anxiety disorders, PTSD which has links to memory changes and brain changes, high blood pressure, cardiac changes, body inflammation, and many others!
Tips on Managing Stress
Try to look at situations in terms of a challenge versus a threat. That is very helpful to the body and body. Ask yourself what supports you have to manage this situation. Plan down time in your day as part of your schedule and start to see that downtime as just as important as any business meting you might have. Ask yourself, what would I recommend to someone I care about or how would I treat my child - then do that! We often treat others with more compassion and care than we do ourselves. Finally, simple things like square breathing and grounding (5-4-3-2-1) can be helpful to manage stress in the moment. Seek help if your stress has invaded your life. Professionals are there to assist whether it be psychologists or doctors!
OPEN DISCUSSION REGARDING TODAY'S HOT TOPICS!
Dr. Kelsey explores the actual science behind today's "hot topics". She also explores deep dive behind some of her featured media topics. Come aboard to see the simple solutions to complex problems!