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The Silent Strain: How Chronic Stress Deteriorates Your Body

The Silent Strain: How Chronic Stress Deteriorates Your Body

While stress is a natural response designed to keep you alert and safe, the prolonged strain of chronic stress acts as a silent strain deteriorating your body and harming your health. Stress is inevitable for many of us in the fast-paced world we live in. So, the key to managing your stress levels and staying ahead of any detrimental effects stress can have on your body and health is to understand more about chronic stress and how it shows up, its connection to burnout, and the role of the parasympathetic nervous system in maintaining your overall health. Keep reading to learn more.

The Nature of Chronic Stress

Stress is a physiological response that dates back to our ancient ancestors. It evolved as a survival mechanism, helping our predecessors react quickly to life or death situations. This “fight or flight” response floods the body with hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, preparing you to either confront or flee from a threat. Nowadays, you still experience this sympathetic, or “fight or flight” response in times of stress or perceived danger. However, it can become chronic if, for example, you’re in a high pressure work environment and putting out fires throughout the day, most days. 

In moderation, stress can be beneficial, enhancing our performance and boosting our responsiveness. Unlike acute stress, which is short-lived and often beneficial, chronic stress is persistent and ongoing. It can be triggered by various sources like work-related pressures, financial worries, relationship problems and health concerns. As you juggle these stressors day in and day out, your body struggles to return to a state of equilibrium, leading to a range of health issues.

Burnout is the Culmination of Chronic Stress

One of the most concerning outcomes of chronic stress is burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of stress. It often affects individuals who are deeply committed to their work or responsibilities, pushing themselves beyond their limits without allowing for proper rest and recovery.

The symptoms of burnout are multifaceted. Physically, you may experience fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. Mentally, you may feel detached, experience reduced concentration and exhibit signs of cynicism and negativity. Emotionally, burnout can manifest as a sense of hopelessness and a loss of motivation. Left unaddressed, burnout can severely impact your quality of life and your ability to function well both personally and professionally.

The Parasympathetic Nervous System: A Balancing Act

To understand the impact of chronic stress on your body, we must also explore and understand the role of the autonomic nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic branch. The autonomic nervous system regulates bodily functions that occur unconsciously, like your heart rate, digestion and respiratory rate. The parasympathetic nervous system acts as a counterbalance to the “fight or flight” response, promoting relaxation and restoration. It’s often referred to as the “rest and digest” response. 

When you experience stress, the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the “fight or flight” response, becomes dominant. This activation is vital for immediate survival, but it should be followed by a period of parasympathetic dominance to allow your body to recover and repair. It’s all about balance. 

Unfortunately, chronic stress can disrupt this balance. With the sympathetic system constantly in overdrive, your body doesn’t get the chance to return to its resting state, leading to a cascade of health problems.

The Physical Toll of Chronic Stress

Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems. It can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and diseases. Additionally, prolonged exposure to stress hormones like cortisol can lead to high inflammation, a known driver of various chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Increased heart rate and blood pressure, common responses to stress, can strain the heart and blood vessels, potentially leading to hypertension and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Mental and Emotional Ramifications

The effects of chronic stress extend beyond your body, or  physical realm, affecting your mental and emotional well-being. Persistent stress can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders and depression. And the constant activation of stress pathways in the brain can lead to structural changes that disrupt healthy cognitive functions, including memory and decision-making.

Mitigating Chronic Stress: Strategies for Resilience

The good news is that you can take steps to mitigate the impact of chronic stress on your body and mind. Building resilience is essential to navigate the challenges of modern life while preserving your well-being. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and reducing stress hormones. These techniques encourage you to be present, fostering a sense of calm amidst the chaos.

Energy Healing: Energy healing sessions also activate the “rest and digest” parasympathetic response in your body. The practitioner guides you into this deeply relaxed state, where the body is then better able to heal itself on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. 

Regular Exercise: Physical activity is a powerful stress reducer. Engaging in regular exercise helps you release endorphins, your  natural mood elevators. Exercise also provides a healthy outlet for your pent-up energy and tension. A daily walk is a simple way to start your exercise routine.

Quality Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for restoring your body and mind. Establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a conducive sleep environment can improve your sleep quality and help manage stress.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: A balanced diet and proper hydration can support your body’s resilience to stress. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can also contribute to better stress management.

Social Connections: Building and maintaining strong social connections can provide emotional support during challenging times. Sharing experiences and seeking guidance from your friends and family can alleviate feelings of isolation.

Your Next Steps for Stress and Burnout Relief

Chronic stress is a silent strain that has the potential to erode your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Understanding the effects of chronic stress on your body and recognizing the signs of burnout is crucial for taking proactive measures to protect your health. 

If you’re curious about the level of stress or burnout in your life and how detrimental it may be, take my complimentary “How Bad is My Burnout?” quiz to find out. The results will tell you the phase you might be in and what next steps to take to ensure your body’s health and wellbeing don’t deteriorate any further. 

Additionally, start nurturing your parasympathetic nervous system and adopting one or more of the stress-reduction strategies noted above. Practiced on a consistent basis, you can build resilience and have a healthier, more balanced life in an increasingly demanding world.

 

Photo by jeshoots – Unsplash

The Amethyst BioMat: Why Far Infrared Heat Therapy Might Just Be the Solution for You

The Amethyst BioMat: Why Far Infrared Heat Therapy Might Just Be the Solution for You

Far infrared heat therapy provides the therapeutic benefits of solar energy even on a cloudy day. Aside from what we can see as visible light, a large portion of the sun’s energy and benefits is in the invisible, a.k.a. the infrared part, of the spectrum.

And not like the high-frequency ultraviolet rays which can be damaging to the skin (think sunburn or skin cancer), far infrared rays don’t damage the skin. Far infrared can help us get some of the benefits of sunshine—even when we don’t have regular access to it like during long winter months.

Benefits of far infrared rays are numerous. First off, it’s a non-invasive and soothing experience – you’re likely to feel deeply relaxed during and refreshed and renewed afterwards. It can provide relief from various types of pain and discomfort, and supports muscle relaxation and increased local circulation. If used regularly it can even boost your immune system so you’re less likely to get sick.

It is an excellent therapy for promoting healing, reducing muscle soreness and soothing muscle spasms. Those with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or high inflammation can benefit greatly.

It can be a great option for anyone that wants to experience these types of benefits. Personally, I use both a far infrared sauna and an Amethyst BioMat (learn more about the Amethyst BioMat here), and have experienced an improvement in my skin, stress level, and in my chronic inflammatory condition (sarcoidosis), including a reduction in my joint and muscle pain. If I overdo it with a weekend activity or workout, I seem to recover quicker with far infrared treatments.

I also feel deeply relaxed and tend to almost fall asleep on the BioMat, and yet I feel energized afterwards. I typically use my sauna in the morning and tend to read at the same time, and it’s a great way to detox and get energized for the day.

Far infrared technology is a tool that could provide some relief for you if you have any chronic pain or chronic illness, like arthritis or low back pain, or with occasional joint and muscle stiffness or pain.

Even though it has numerous benefits, far infrared heat therapy may not be for everyone. Always check with your doctor, especially if you have any serious health conditions or are sensitive to heat or temperature change.

If it sounds like this could help you and any conditions or issues you currently have, give it a try. Far infrared heat therapy is commonplace at spas, gyms, some medical practices and other health facilities. As an energy healer, I offer Amethyst BioMat treatments during energy sessions and am a distributor for clients that want to purchase one for regular use at home.

I’ve used infrared saunas at gyms and spas in the past, felt the benefits and decided to invest in my long-term health with a small unit at home. It’s convenient and makes it easy to make sure I’m using it on a regular basis.

I love to hear about people taking charge of their own healing and the improvements and results that follow. Please share your experience with infrared heat therapy in the comments below.

 

Photo by Julia Caeser on Unsplash

Why You Need Energy Healing If You Have Chronic Pain

Why You Need Energy Healing If You Have Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is debilitating, and impacts every area of life – ask anyone that has it.

Not only is it a burden to your physical wellbeing, but it impacts your emotional and mental health as well. You feel different when in pain, less energetic, maybe even short-tempered or angry. For me, I felt and acted like a different person when in pain.

When I was very ill and had osteoarthritis along with other physical complications, I was miserable, but kept pushing ahead thinking one of these days I’d begin to feel better. I wasn’t happy, and definitely wasn’t enjoying life.

I had to cancel plans all the time. I couldn’t know how I would be feeling, some days were better than others, but because I couldn’t count on how I would feel, many times I just declined invitations in advance rather than cancelling last minute.

People close to me were understanding, but I did lose some close friends at the time who took my actions personally without considering what I was going through. I suppose that’s why we go are given these challenges in life, to learn and gain a clearer understanding of what’s important – and who is important – in your life.

Most people manage chronic pain through medication, just like I did initially. But it is also possible to reduce or eliminate your pain level through energy healing sessions. I wish I found energy healing sooner in my healing journey.

I suffered for almost 2 years addressing just the physical aspects of my illness, with conventional doctors, medication, etc. After only a few energy healing sessions, I began to experience a shift and after months of the energy healing combined with more holistic approach by my new naturopathic doctor, that’s when the symptoms and pain began to decrease.

Energy healing triggers the relaxation response in your physical body, releasing the energetic blocks stored in the body’s energy field, resulting in decreased stress levels and increased immune response. This is key to resolving chronic pain and other chronic issues that have manifested in the physical body over time.

And energy healing sessions balance not only the physical body, but also the emotional, mental and spiritual parts of you. It supports the body’s innate ability to heal itself and resolve imbalances on all of these levels.

It’s an integrative healing approach that looks at the whole person, including the mind, body, and spirit. The focus is on getting to the root cause contributing to chronic pain.

Another benefit of energy healing is that it can increase the efficacy of other types of healing modalities. It’s a safe complement to other types of medical and therapeutic treatments including Western medicine, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and homeopathy.

Here’s a list of the benefits of energy healing:

Energy Healing Benefits

Many people with long-term conditions say that they have learned to “live with their pain.” During my health challenges, I thought the same.

Do you think that too many people have resigned themselves to living with pain that could be relieved? Are you one of those people? If so, maybe it’s time to pursue energy healing.

 

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash