Friday, 6 April 2012

Stress - Vicious Circles


The start of another stressful day.  Just thinking about when you have to wake up can lead to stressful sleep. No sleep, no energy to fight the next day’s round of stress.


FIGHT OR FLIGHT

In human history, the “fight or flight” response has been a main tool of survival. Stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine (adrenalin) and 1.25Hydroxyvitamin D3 allowed our ancestors to fight off or run away when faced with an attack, either from wild animals or other humans.

   Nowadays, it’s against the law to hurl a spear at people or situations that cause us stress in the workplace or at home. However, our fight or flight response still has the same effect on the body - higher blood pressure, faster heartbeat, higher blood sugar levels, etc. If we tend to react to stress like this too often, the effects on the body become chronic. In other words, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol levels all remain elevated.
  
Stress often has a vicious circle effect on the body. Stress causes destruction which leads to more stress which causes more destruction...

Let’s look at some of the ways this happens in the body -

THE HEART

Heart Rate - speeds up. The heart pumps faster. This constricts blood vessels.

Blood Pressure - rises. If this becomes chronic, there will be damage to the walls of the blood vessels.

Blood Sugar(glucose) - rises to make up for the breakdown of glycogen, fat and protein stores. Long term stress can lead to insulin resistance where the body is unable to use insulin effectively, a primary factor in diabetes.

Blood Clotting - changes. The blood becomes stickier. (Remember, our ancestors were dealing with sabre-tooth tigers - and needed blood clotting action fast). Sticky, thicker blood can eventually lead to stroke or heart attacks.

Heart Rhythm - can change.  In the case of people who already have heart rhythm problems, this can be deadly.

Fat Molecules -stress slows down the clearing of fat molecules, raising cholesterol levels. And with the blood vessels already constricted, it’s even harder for the blood to circulate.  More stress on the heart, greater chance of stroke and arterial disease.

Cytokines - Chronic stress helps produces cytokines which can lead to damage to the arteries.

THE VICIOUS CIRCLE

Elevated heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. leads to more stress which in turn leads to...elevated heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc which leads to?...until something gives.  And that something is always your health.

The martial arts are full of stress-busting techniques. I will continue to share them with you!



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