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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are some of the health concerns of chronic stress?

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    Timothea Goddard

    HealthShare Member

    What Happens to The Brain and Body
    During Chronic Stress?
     
    The stress response involves a strong Sympathetic nervous system arousal – the flght/flight response - which effects every part of the body. The Sympathetic branch of the nervous system is energy mobilising for immediate action. This stress reaction is a fantastic short term strategy which has evolved to assist our survival – when our major stressors were physical threats to our existence. The Parasympathetic branch of the nervous system is energy conserving and facilitates our ability to rest, recuperate and for the body to carry out cell maintenance and repair. For optimum health, we need these two branches of the nervous system to work in a balanced way so that we can respond effectively when we need to mobilise our energy, and then calm down quickly afterwards.
     
    Impacts on body and brain of chronic sympathetic arousal
    Muscles and bones
    Ongoing muscle tension leads to chronic joint and spine strain, posture problems and can eventually effect breathing and other organs. We can also be more prone to injury when we are chronically over-aroused.
    Immune system
    Initially in the stress reaction, the immune system kicks in to send clotting cells to the extremities – skin. However when the stress reaction is chronic, immunity is impaired diminishing the ability of the body to make antibodies and natural killer cells – which destroy cancer cells.
    Heart
    When we have a balanced nervous system, the heart rate changes slightly as we breath in and breath out, (ie HRV - Heart Rate Variance). People who can flexibly move from sympathetic to parasympathetic systems, have a natural shift in their heart rate when they breathe – over a life time this is very healthy for the heart. If you are always in sympathetic arousal, the heart is constantly beating faster than is needed, and causes cardiac strain.
    Digestion
    Chronic arousal of the sympathetic system disturbs digestion so food is not digested properly leading to acute, chronic and sometimes serious digestive diseases. Eg: diarrhoea, constipation, malabsorption, inflammation etc.
    Sleep
    While we need both kinds of sleep, when we are chronically stressed we have more Rapid Eye Movement sleep and less slow wave sleep. Slow wave sleep is needed for cell maintenance and repair and recuperation of the brain and body systems.
    The brain and nervous system
    Ongoing chronic production of cortisol and other stress hormones are neurotoxic to parts of the brain – ie they kill brain cells and prevent new ones from being formed, preventing new learning from happening. Areas affected are: • Hippocampus: effecting memory, especially details of episodic, autobiographical, memory, spatial
    awareness and contextual awareness • Amygdala: becomes over-aroused resulting in increased fear and threat, negative bias • Cingulate cortex: reducing capacity for attention and concentration • Prefrontal cortex: causing less effective executive functions, planning, decision making
    Ongoing stressful negative experience strengthens these neuronal associations in the brain. The neurons which “fire” together in negative experience are strengthened, so that they are more likely to be fired the next time.
    So the very action of chronic stress, undermines our brain’s capacity to:
    • regulate our emotions • open to positive experiences • concentrate • make decisions well • attend to new information and learn • remember accurately • remember positive experiences
     
    Hypothesised long term cognitive effects of chronic stress
    • Mental ruts (rumination, replaying) • Negative mood • Negative bias in attention • Negative bias in attention
    • Trouble remembering • Difficulty making decisions • Inability to learn new associations • Inability to learn new ways of coping • Inability to see things in a new way • Jaded
     
    Hypothesized long term physiological effects of chronic stress
    • Thyroid/endocrine burnout • Brain damage: neuronal death and lack of new neuronal connections • Obesity/diabetes • Monoamine depletion • Anhedonia • Immune suppression • Autoimmune stress related diseases • High blood pressure • Heart disease, cardiac failure • Infertility
    Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – MBSR - is an eight week evidence-based experiential course which can help deal with and transform chronic stress.  It engages people physically, emotionally and intellectually. It uses mindfulness meditation training as the basis of a program which is practical, inspiring and transformative. It has been widely researched over the past 25 years and is at the cutting edge of integrative and preventative medicine.
    Two decades of published research indicates that the majority of people who complete the course report:
    - Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms
- An increased ability to relax
- Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain that may not go away
- Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
- Improved self-esteem
- An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.
    The practice of mindfulness allows you to pay close attention to the present moment, noting your thoughts, feelings and body sensations with an attitude of curiosity and non-judgment. This observing, non-reactive perspective enables one to consciously respond with clarity and focus, rather than react out of a habitual pattern. It opens up the possibility of working more wisely with difficulties in life and to choose what is nourishing to ourselves and others. Mindful awareness is about being awake – open to the present – rather than being caught dwelling in the past or anticipating the future. In contrast, you’ve probably encountered moments of “mindlessness” — a loss of awareness resulting in disconnectedness and a sense of living mechanically and with a lack of purpose.
    Mindfulness is an innate resource able to be cultivated in the service of learning, growing and healing.

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    Want more love and connection in your life? Want to experience lasting positive change? COMPELLING NEW RESEARCH IN SELF-AWARENESSWe can give you new information that ... View Profile

    What are some of the health concerns of chronic stressChronic stress is a continuous and prolonged experience of being disconnected from a loving space within your self. Our true essence, loving energy, is the spirit that vitalises our body and holds all this collection of water and a little protein into the form we call “me.” To disconnect from the flow of this essence within us is to reduce the supply of energy that we have available to exist!
    Stress is fear, fear is the opposite of love, and fear is a disconnection from the flow of love within our selves. Chronic stress in the workplace, in relationships, in family environments and stressful communication styles can be debilitating and have devastating affect on our lives, our bodies, and our relationships. It is bullying to ourselves and bullying to others.

    Less energy available for our system translates into:

    ·         Fatigue, laziness and tiredness
    ·         Low energy levels, even exhaustion
    ·         Less ability to hold our individual body cells together and shield ourselves from exterior physical or verbal invasion
    ·         More open to infection, virus attack, illness, and deformed cell growth such as cancer
    ·         Higher prevalence of chronic illness such as heart disease, type 2 Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue,  Irritable Bowel Syndrome
    ·         Higher prevalence of allergies such as Gluten intolerance, asthma, eczema, and other food intolerances
    ·         Poor sleep patterns – love is peace, and peace is sleepy and restful. No love = no peace, no peace = no sleep, no sleep = no recharge, no recharge = no resilience.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg! Medical science is discovering more and more the debilitating effect of stress on our lives. Health funds are recognising this and pouring more resources into prevention such as exercise and fitness membership rebates. Stress costs our businesses billions of dollars in lost time, lower productivity, less inspiration, staff absenteeism, the loss of skilled individuals from your workforce team, and having to maintain a pool of temps.

    More affects of Chronic Stress include:
    ·         Lower ability to self regulate your internal affect
    ·         Short temper and internal irritability
    ·         Frustration and mental confusion
    ·         Inability to connect to your higher Wisdom for affective answers

    Your self defence system was designed to keep you safe, but when it is hyper alert, your health and wellbeing can pay the price dearly. Our bodies are hard wired to react aversively to stress. While our environments have changed considerably over the last couple of centuries, our bodies have not evolved sufficiently to cope with the ever increasing triggers for stress. We are faced each day with increasing work loads, family demands, budgeting, staff management, (not just one person to help dig a post hole, but teams of 100’s). Dealing with mass customers who are all hard wired to react to stress just the same as you are! Sound like a recipe for imminent self destruction? This archaic method of reaction is no longer viable.

    It is a good thing that we now have the ability to change our hard wiring! That’s right, we can actually re-program our minds, and this has an ongoing affect on our bodies that reverses all the effect listed above! With the help and support of skilled counsellors, coaches and mentors, such as the team here at Ron Cruickshank Relationship Transformation Centre, you can design routines, systems, affirmations, meditations, and a host of interpersonal skills that are all custom designed to help you to re-wire your reaction system. Re-wiring this system changes it from a space of reaction and self defence, to a space of connection, reflection, and loving response.

    The benefits are immense:
    ·         Inner peace and self calmness
    ·         Greater resilience to infection, virus attack, visibly younger more youthful bodies and skin
    ·         Higher energy levels to lead with inspiration and vision
    ·         Reduced likelihood of chronic illness, heart problems, cancer and dietary problems developing
    ·         Great sleep patterns leading to efficient recharge
    ·         More love and enjoyment in your life
    ·         Greater ability to play, be happy, and have fun!
    ·         Fantastic interpersonal relationships at work, with the family, with your community.
     
    So let’s get started! Who is it that is really in charge of your inner peace?
    Take a sample of your current stress level on a scale of 1-10 where 10 is highly stressed.
    Just stop for a moment, take a few deep breaths right down into your diaphragm….. picture yourself walking along your favourite path… you are surrounded by nature, your favourite plants, some cute furry animals, bird song…. Breathe in the scent… feel the warmth of the sun on your back…..you step forward easily and feel deeply relaxed….. you come to a clearing and sit on the bench seat there…. Just soak up the warmth, the love, the peace……..
    What happens within you as you do this simple exercise? Has your stress level reduced? What is your scale rating now? Repeat this simple meditation again and see if it comes down further.
    That’s right, you are in charge of your emotional stress levels and the level of love flowing through you is simply your choice. If you don’t make the choice it doesn’t happen! It’s up to YOU! But there is a benefit in making this choice to choose loving thoughts only. Just like learning to ride a horse, eventually the mind becomes retrained with a whole new set of reflex reactions so that you don’t have to waste time thinking up the choices. It all becomes automatic, 10 times faster than you can think!

    Just imagine what your life would be like with a whole new set of reflexes that are feeding you love, peace, calmness and joy all the time from a deep unconscious level within you. How amazing would you feel? How amazing would you look? How amazing would your relationships be?

    YOU DESERVE THIS! GET STARTED NOW.

    Make the first choice to connect with us and get started on custom designing your vehicle to peace, love and richness. FREE GIFT GIVEAWAY http://www.counsellinghobart.com/gift/

  • Want more love and connection in your life? Want to experience lasting positive change? COMPELLING NEW RESEARCH IN SELF-AWARENESSWe can give you new information that ... View Profile


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    Chiorpactor based in Glen Iris Victoria, Special intrest in family care, pregnancy, chiropractic for children and rehabilitation. Holistic approach to health with addition emphisis on ... View Profile

    Chronic Stress effects our health on a multiple of levels.
    The major concern comes from an increase in cortisol levels in the body.

    Acute stress or pumps of adrealine are great for our body, however constant stress causes many problems and can be a pre-cursor for more additional problems.

    To keep it simple and not over complicate the other answers here are a couple of points about chronic stress and some simple solutions to get you kick started in the right direction…

    Chronic stress will:
    - Eventually decrease your metabolism, leading to weigh gain
    - Decrease Energy levels
    - Decrease the amount of oxygen your body can pump through your arterial system
    - Inhibit you breathing properly with your diaphragm
    - Make your body ACIDIC! This will lead to a weakened immune system as your pH levels (acid/alkaline) are just as important as your body tempreature with resepct to how your enzymes and immune system functions.
    - Crave sweet foods due to the acidity

    What you can do
    - Simple breathing exercises, or diaphragmatic breathing(stomachbreathing)
    - Keep alkaline with a product such as Vital greens or chlrophyll
    - Eat plenty of fresh foods, especially green veggies
    - Get the stress out of your body and nervous tension out - see a Chirorpactor and/or Qualified Massage therapist
    - Start using incantations or affirmations to change your outlook on why you stressed/depressed (if your telling your brain and sub conscious a story YOU NEED TO CHANGE IT)

    Hope this helps

    Regards

    Dr Craig Skicko
    www.signaturewellbeing.com.au
    Glen Iris Malvern Chiropractor

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