It’s 6:30 in the evening and my son is asking me a math question . . .
But instead of taking the time to sit down and work through it with him, I quickly snap back a barebones response and leave him to muddle through it.
My mind isn’t here. It’s on an upcoming deadline I’m worried about. It’s on bills breathing down my neck. It’s on the 99 things I have to get done in the next few hours before hopefully I can get to bed and get some sleep.
My home office is tugging at me with all the tasks I didn’t get done today. And then I have my pile of mail on the counter, the kitchen is a mess and I really have to call the health insurance company tomorrow at all costs.
My breath is short. I’m feeling my neck muscles straining. I’m tired. I’m cranky and I have a strong craving for something sweet and starchy.
We all go through these times.
Sometimes it’s just the accumulation of small things that pile up to become a big snowball bearing down on you.
Sometimes something hits out of the blue that throws your life in disarray. And yet you still have to keep going. And keep things going.
Whatever the specifics, stress is a doozy.
In fact, anti-aging expert Dr. Nicolas Perricone states that the biggest hazard in our 21st century lives may well be stress. An estimated 75% of visits to the doctor are for stress-related health problems.
And to make it worse, when we stress, our children stress. Stress in children is linked to diabetes, obesity, learning problems and more.
The more I understand the physiological consequences of stress, I have to agree with Dr. Perricone. Stress is a health hazard not to be ignored.
Your Stress Response System
The truth is your stress response system in itself isn’t a death threat.
As I’ve written about before, allowing our children and ourselves to wrestle with challenges and stress is a healthy part of living and growth.
Stress is the trigger that spawns evolution and adaptation. There’s an old saying – what doesn’t kill you make you stronger. In biology this is called hormesis. Hormesis describes how stress helps organisms change in reaction to their environment so they can survive even better.
It’s a term applied to the relatively controlled stress of exercise. When you stress your body with exercise, it’s forced to build muscles, change your use of oxygen to be more efficient.
Research has shown that physical stress can help your brain grow new neurons.
The stress of exercise makes you stronger, smarter and more adaptable.
Stress also includes the ecstatic feeling you experience during happy events – when you get married or secure a new job. This giddy feeling is also a part of stress. This good kind of stress is called eustress as opposed to the bad stress in life called distress.
Finally, stress – specifically our stress response – serves a valuable lifesaving purpose.
Generations ago it helped us evade or fight off a marauding predator coming too close to us. Or safeguarded us as we took a risky climb up a cliff to get some wild honey.
Essentially, when your body sets off the alarm for danger, stress changes your physiology to rally all your forces so that you can react quicker.
Your adrenal glands release the hormone adrenaline. And this signals your body to increase breathing and heart rate as well as flood your bloodstream with sugar so your muscles have easy access to fuel.
These changes do a good job of preparing your body to run, jump or fight.
Why Stress Today Does So Much Damage
But you can’t run away from your deadline . . .
You can’t jump up on the couch to end a squabble between your kids (although it might distract them for a moment) . . .
And although I love practicing jiu jitsu and kickboxing with my husband, you certainly don’t want to start brawling with your spouse for real over a marital problem.
But even though you don’t take these physical actions – your body prepares you for them.
When you’re stressed, your body goes through tremendous physical changes. But you’re not able to put these changes to use physically.
So what happens? As stress expert, neuro-endocrinologist Robert Sapolsky, author of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” describes it, we end up marinating in stress hormones.
This edgy chemistry rankles inside of you. These metabolic changes sit inside of you, wreaking havoc.
Physically our body wants to put them to use and move dramatically. But we don’t and so our chemical changes backfire on us causing harm rather than helping us defeat danger.
Research shows that chronic exposure to stress increases our risk for plaque build-up in our arteries . . . makes digestion an ordeal . . . increases your risk for cancer . . .
Chronic stress can shrivel our brains . . . and it throws our immune system into disarray.
But there is help . . .
And once again, it comes in the form of exercise.
Two Ways Exercise Helps You Deal With Stress
In my module on stress for The Healthy Home Biz System I cover a number of different ways to tame stress – and use it to your advantage.
But the best one by far is to physically move.
As I just explained, your body’s physiological response to stress is really preparation to physically react.
So if you really want to help your body work through the physiological changes of stress . . . move!
Feeling frustrated with a project, drop and do a few pushups. Feeling like you’re going to explode during homework time? Take a break and go outside for a quick round of tossing the football – your kids will welcome the release as well.
By physically moving your body you can actually put these physiological changes brought on by stress to use.
But managing stress with exercise preventatively works even better . . .
Research has shown that when we exercise regularly, our stress response is less severe in general. We produce less stress hormones, our stress centers in the brain are less active and our immune system stays more on course.
Simply by exercising regularly, you make it easier for you body to weather major challenges when they crop up.
While we need stress to grow and become stronger, stress also kills.
Our crazy, busy, information-overloaded, plugged-in, stressed-out, high-pressure 21st century lifestyle is literally putting us through the wringer with the wrong kind of stress.
And we’re getting less and less of the best stress management technique out there – exercise.
If you’re feeling stressed about how to fit more exercise into your life, I’ll show you how to sneak it right into your very workday. Sneaking Fitness In gives you one of the best strategies for making the most powerful antidote to stress – exercise – an integral part of your routine.
Sarah Clachar has built a thriving health copywriting business from scratch while being a mom . . . nurturing a strong marriage . . . and running a small homestead farm. Along with a BA in biology, she’s got two decades of experience teaching and researching about natural health. Her articles have been published in Life Extension Magazine, Health, Mothering, A Taste For Life, Nutrition Business Journal, and Natural Foods Merchandiser.
Over the years, she became keenly aware how important strategically working to maintain her health was for her business. And even more importantly, how good health factored into enjoying the rewards of having a successful business.
At Your Healthy Home Biz, Sarah has combined her expertise in health and her experience running a freelance health copywriting business into a special resource for home biz owners, freelancers and solopreneurs. Your Healthy Home Biz provides inspiration and a system for transforming your workday so you can run your home business without running yourself into the ground.
Want More Details On How To Energize And Transform Your Work Day? Sarah’s created a FREE report just for you: The Simplest Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Business, Your Waistline And Your Life. Go get your copy now!