I am going to be completely honest here: the last few months have been completely and utterly stressful, and I have not been very good at practicing what I preach…
My mother has had some health challenges, my best friend and I have been in a bit of a Mexican Standoff, and, of course, it’s tax time… but the only self-care I have been doing is working out. Even then, I have been pushing myself hard, probably stressing out my adrenals a little too much.
We all have stress, but how we handle it and take care of ourselves is critical.
Stress is a factor in five out of the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, lower respiratory disease, and accidents. In fact, it’s estimated that a whopping 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related issues.
On top of that, chronic stress can also damage your gut, which, as you know by now, is the gateway to health, opening the door for a whole host of issues.
How Stress Damages Your Gut
I often talk about how the gut is the gateway to health, and how a damaged gut can impact other areas of your health, including your brain. But the brain and digestive system actually share a two-way connection, so not only does a healthy gut affect your mental state, but your mental state affects how your gut functions. Let’s take a closer look at how this connection works.
Your Body’s Response to Stress
When you experience any kind of stress, whether physical (slamming on your brakes), emotional (going through a heartbreak), or mental (overloaded at work), your body processes it the same – through the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands respond by creating a flood of stress hormones, including cortisol, which affect both your digestive system and your immune system (80 percent of which is located in your gut). Our stress response evolved primarily as a means of self-preservation from our ancestors facing immediate, life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, that response isn’t ideal for the type of chronic, ongoing stress we face today.
The Problem with Chronic Stress
The cortisol your adrenal glands produce revs up your immune system and is highly inflammatory. When you experience acute stress, such as a bear attack or the flu, your body’s natural short-term inflammatory response is exactly what you want to temporarily boost your immune system and give you energy to run.
However, in today’s world, we are all experiencing more long-term and chronic stress, such as always being available on our smart devices, working long hours, and over committing ourselves. We are not shutting off and unplugging, giving our bodies a chance to rest and recover. As a result, your body continuously cycles through periods of high inflammation, which can damage the gut lining, and a suppressed immune system, which leaves your gut vulnerable to pathogens you might be ingesting.
Furthermore, when your stress response kicks in, your digestive system shuts down. If you’re running from a predator, you need blood flow concentrated in your limbs for fleeing and your brain for problem solving, not in your gut for digesting your lunch.
Sustaining a high level of inflammation is also dangerous because it puts you on the autoimmune spectrum, and, if it continues over time, can trigger an autoimmune disease. Your body recognizes this, so it actually suppresses your immune system after a cortisol spike, leaving it anywhere from 40 to 70 percent below the baseline, to balance out the initial burst of inflammation.
Needless to say… I have been a mess! So, what did I do?
Well, I suck at meditation, so I tried this thing called HUSO.
HUSO begins with the human voice. Throughout history, the healing power of song and sound has been well researched and proven, over and over again. By delivering uniquely enhanced human toning sounds through headphones, as well as through pads placed on major acupuncture meridians, HUSO introduces specific modulated frequencies that are balancing and harmonizing throughout the body.
These powerful tones create a natural resonance in your body that counteracts the (harmful) EMFs, toxins and stress you are exposed to during the day while rebalancing the body leaving you with a clear head, improved health, better sleep, and a feeling of calmness and wellbeing.
Well it has worked wonders for me, but I realize not everyone is going to go out and purchase this machine, so let’s discuss some things you can do if you are one of those folks like me who can’t meditate!
Even if you love to meditate, these are still great alternatives:
- Knitting, crocheting, or other crafts
- Gentle exercise
- Sleep in or take a nap
- Pamper yourself
- Spend time in nature
- Make time for people and animals you love
Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, be it meditation or otherwise, is not that important. What’s important is that you find what works for you.
Have other great ideas? Let me know!
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Disclaimer: The activities and research discussed in these podcasts are suggestions only and are only advised to be undertaken following prior consultation with a health or medical professional. Fitness training, nutrition, and other physical pursuits should be tailored to the individual based upon an assessment of their personal needs.