Stress, stress, stress. Stress has become a buzzword – at work, in the media, and now in our doctor’s office. Stress, according to Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being, is defined as “the experience of a perceived threat (real or imagined) to one’s mental, physical, or spiritual well-being, resulting from a series of physiological responses and adaptations” (Seaward, 2015, p. 3). These threats could be anything from imagining a shadow in the dark to the babysitter being late to being in a car accident.
The physiological responses that stem from a perceived threat are utilized to prepare us to act quickly. Our body increases heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, muscle strength, immune response, glucose availability, and free fatty acids availability (Seaward, 2015). Blood flow to our abdomen is decreased and digestion slows. After all, there is no need to digest food if you aren’t able to escape the immediate danger!
If these responses are prolonged, that is when disease begins to make an appearance – chronic low immunity, chronic muscle tension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic disease. Despite all the negativity surrounding stress, the truth is that it is not inherently bad. It helps us swerve the car to avoid hitting another vehicle. It helps us jump out of the way before a cyclist hits us. It helps us meet a deadline we procrastinate. The stress response is beneficial in the right amounts and the right way.
There are three types of stress: eustress (positive stress), neustress (neutral stress), and distress (negative stress) (Seaward, 2015). We all know what distress feels like. It is the kind of stress that burns us out and is accompanied by strong, negative emotions. Neustress is a neutral stimulus which is often unnoted. Eustress may feel similar to excitement. It helps motivate us, helping us achieve goals and tasks with gusto.
The key to stress, and weight loss, may be managing the duration and type of stressor. Relaxation techniques can help our bodies return to a state of ease and peace. When this occurs, digestion increases, blood flow returns to the abdomen, and metabolism changes. Positive, short-lived stressors can give us a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and the right amount of challenge.
Every body is unique and everybody lives a different lifestyle. If you need a helping hand to manage stress and chronic disease, The Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado has a medical team waiting to assist you.
Brooke Kollman is a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach and a Registered Yoga Instructor. Brooke was drawn to the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) because the center holds the same philosophies as she does. Each person is unique, dynamic, and multi-faceted, thus requiring a personally tailored approach to health and wellness.Call (970) 245-6911 to schedule a complimentary consultation or for more information
Seaward, B.L. (2015) Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC, an Ascend Learning Company.