Stress is a part of life – paying bills, work responsibilities, family expectations. But little do we realize how the way we deal with stress on a day-to-day basis can affect our health.
Stress is our body’s primitive fight-or-flight mechanism – our basic, instinctive survival mechanism. Our body perceives a threat (think Tiger attack), and it liberates a great deal of energy in preparation for fighting or for running away.
Your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol are quick on the scene to help make some swift and critical changes.
This means your heart rate and blood pressure rise to get the energy to your limbs to have the juice to survive. It means your body ramps up it’s cholesterol production to be able to make more stress hormones, and to help re-grow cells that will die and get lost in your impending battle. It means that insulin receptors on your cells shut down, keeping blood sugar levels high so we can have energy to run or fight. It means our sense organs are in high alert so we can detect if there are any predators coming after us.
Indeed, there is a great deal of intelligence to our bodies. We are programmed for survival. We are either using up our energy to protect ourselves, or grow. We can’t do both at the same time. This intelligence and wisdom can easily turn against us if we don’t get the message.
That same wisdom, during a tiger attack, shuts off digestion, reproduction, and immunity. That energy is better used for something more important – survival, protection. Those systems get shut down for the greater good.
Whether there is an actual tiger chasing after you, or there is a fear of the tiger attack, your body reacts the same. So if you are feeling sluggish, depressed, anxious, you have a chronic illness like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or your digestive system isn’t working properly, you have tension in your neck and back, sleeplessness, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – chances are your body is working quite normally. You would do your body and mind a favour by looking over your shoulder and checking if there is an actual tiger there. If not, then chances are you’re tricking your body into thinking there is one.
Hectic schedules, deadlines, feelings of loss, traumas of the past we can’t seem to overcome are our tiger attacks of the modern day.
Deal with this by becoming pro-active:
• exercise burns off the adrenaline and cortisol we accumulate throughout the day. Make it a part of your life, not just for weight loss,but to save your life;
• eating real foods – not chemically processed – is critical to give your body building blocks to re-create itself in a healthy way (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, organic meats);
• take mental health time—hot baths, meditation, gratitude journal, alone time to switch your nervous system to allow you to rest and digest.
Dr. Nima Rahmany is a chiropractor and mind/body health and wellness expert and teacher at Westgate Wellness Centre.