We are going through stress activation several times a day now with more stress than we were ever supposed to have and very few interim base levels of calm. We are constantly “tuned in”. Diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, weight problems and sleep problems can all arise due to this chronic activation of the adrenaline and cortisol we are experiencing living in this chronic survival mode.
We also tend to think about stress as emotional, physical or psychological stress however stress can also be found in hidden forms such as in the form of loneliness. In a study of 11,000 women, loneliness was found to increase the risk of heart attack by up to two times and increased it more than diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and smoking combined.
Then there are also the other stressors such as exposure to environmental chemicals, frequent use of antibiotics that disrupts the gut microbiome, lack of adequate sleep and nutrition all of which can cause significant levels of inflammation which activates the stress response.
The stress response is non-discriminatory – when adrenaline is activated it is still going to cause anxiety and a move into fight or flight mode regardless of the nature of the root cause. Equally too much cortisol can cause anxiety or depression. It can then become a vicious circle – a stressed state can itself perpetuate the stress response.
- Unable to Sleep
Stress can trigger people to become hyperactivated. We need 7-8 hours sleep per night for our optimal health however at least 49% of women are unable to sleep due to stress. This is turn can cause us to become over dependent on caffeine and sugar just to get through the day.
Sleep effects everything, weight, mood, immunity, cognitive functioning. One of the common symptoms of adrenal disrupted sleep is being tired and wired i.e. tired but can’t shut down to sleep. Cortisol disruption can also cause us to wake up not feeling refreshed again leading to a vicious circle of crashing and then being unable to sleep.
- Digestion Issues
Stress obviously also disrupts our digestion; we all know the phrase “butterflies in the stomach”. Stress hormones disrupt digestion and delay or accelerate elimination, can cause constipation, diarrhoea, gas, bloating, IBS. Stress can also cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and leaky gut.
- Anxiety and depression
Another problem that can be significant with adrenal disruption is anxiety and depression. Too much adrenaline can lead to anxiety and hyper vigilance which is great in an emergency but in the long term can cause anxiety, panic attacks and also sleep problems. Women experience major depression twice as often as men, one in four women are on anti-depressants and women are two and a half times more likely to use an anti-depressant drug than men.
Chronic stress also depletes dopamine, a brain hormone that makes us feel good, which means there is an increased risk of addiction when we are under stress as certain drugs and food increase our dopamine as they make us feel better and calm the stress response in the short term.
- Immune system issues
Chronic stress, frequently repeated stress or unending stress can increase the frequency of colds and infections, increase herpes outbreaks, reactivate Epstein-Barr virus for example if you had Mono in the past. It can cause chronic inflammation which can show up in all kinds of ways, puffiness, weight gain, to aches and pains to fatigue to depression. It can also over time lead to autoimmune disease – Hashimotos, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Lupus all have a disrupted immune component that can be the result of exposure to chronic stress over time or severe stress over a short period of time.
- Hormonal issues
Cortisol can cause you to skip periods, inflammation is associated with PMS. High or chronic levels of stress can trigger blood sugar disruption, inflammation, PCOS, Endometriosis, immune disruption, fertility and pregnancy challenges, premature menopause and severe perimenopause symptoms.
- Brain fog and lack of focus
Stress / increased cortisol can also affect the mind. Cortisol effects memory and cognitive function and so does adrenaline. Adrenaline puts you into immediate primal reactive mode which by its nature disrupts your calmer more “executive” function. Your body is in stress response and feels it is in danger (even if it’s not) and the entire function of your brain is to make you safe. Adrenaline will increase your intensity of focus however if you remain in a situation of stress over time it can lead to burn out. Increased cortisol can cause brain fog and issues with focus.
- Willpower and diet
Heightened levels of stress can make us go offline with our intentional or executive functioning, which can also affect our willpower.
Stress can negatively impact our willpower which can affect our ability to follow through in particular with self-care or with changes that urgently need to be made in life such as a lifestyle, relationship or career change because of stress issues.
Being in a state of chronic stress can also affect our decision making and our ability to say no things so we may make bad decisions regarding relationships, food and work when under stress.
The stress response / flight or fight or survival mode is also a major driver of fat, sugar and salt consumption because the body is literally storing these energy foods in case of an emergency.
As such increased levels of stress and cortisol can literally make us crave sugar and fat and carbs.
Also intense amounts of stress can cause willpower fatigue which causes us to start to fall off on keeping our key healthy habits such as exercise or diet.
The experience of willpower is not just important for the purposes of maintaining healthy habits but also because as women we are particularly hard on ourselves and make ourselves feel guilty if we cannot maintain a certain regime which in turn creates more stress.
Stress – What we can do about it
If you feel that you are suffering from stress, consider what you can do right now to help – see:
- An easy 2 Step Planfocusing on (1) simple lifestyle changes to bring you back into balance and (2) the specific natural herbal based protocol that you need to support and nourish you through this process.
- A Work From Home Planner Bundle and a Project Planner Bundle to help you alleviate your stress by getting more organised.
- Sleep Journaland Habit Tracker.
- ADDED BONUS:A 6 Day Getting Out of Corporate Challenge to support you if you feel that you need a complete lifestyle change.
The program is normally $99 but for members of our community for a limited time it is only $29!
For more details and to see the program click here
And don’t forget, if you need a quick fix to take the edge off a tough day of work stress, why not treat yourself to our NEW Bespoke Aromatherapy Service
Each session consists of a one-hour online consultation where we determine and tailor an aromatherapy product which is then created to meet your individual needs.
Examples include bespoke tailored blends made especially for you to deal with work stress, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue a lack of focus and concentration or PMS relief. The service is being offered at a special introductory price for a limited time.