Stress and the New Year

Friday January 6, 2012 comments

In contemplating the topic of Stress and deciding what to write about, I wanted to provide an overview and framework  that I could build on.  The concept of stress, and the way we use the term, is very generalized. We say, “I did that because I was stressed” or “ I feel this way because I am stressed.”  Stress becomes a garbage can filled with events, feelings, moods, emotions, and outcomes that we throw away and chalk up to stress.  But what really defines stress? Is it a subjective overall feeling or is it scientifically characterized into specific components?  Although the former is how we perceive stress, the latter becomes the framework by which we can build a model that can lead to healing. 
Stress Defined 
     How is stress defined or more importantly, what conditions does our body perceive as stress?  Stress is defined as the body’s reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental, or emotional adjustment or response.  Many things can cause the above responses like jobs, bills, kids, spouses etc. but is there more? The answer is, yes.  There are many other things that our body considers stress eg. toxin overload(mercury, lead, BPA, aluminum, uranium, household and work place chemicals etc.), metabolic stress (sugar dis-regulation),  surgeries, injuries and injuries resulting in chronic pain, post traumatic stress, deaths of loved ones, caregiving, etc.  You can see that the list can go on and on. Many people experience multiple issues simultaneously, which further compounds the problem.  So how does stress manifest itself in the myriad of different symptoms both mental and physical that so often accompany it? 

Stress- A Symptom, Not A Cause 
    Stress is primarily a hormone response.  Our brain perceives stress and initiates a complex string of chemical reactions which lead to the production of various hormones.  One of the most important of these is Cortisol.  If you look at the pdf file that we have on our website listing symptoms and hormone dis-regulations you’ll notice many symptoms under Cortisol.  Elevated or deficient levels of Cortisol can cause a wide variety of symptoms that can seriously erode quality of life. In some extreme instances it can even cause death.  With the New Year upon us many people are making resolutions on weight loss.  In my next blog I will discuss some of the issues relating to stress and weight gain.  There is a direct connection, which we will explore.  
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