Is Stress Making You Sick?

Is Stress Making you Sick?

There is no way to avoid stress, but when stress is unrelenting it not only affects your emotional well-being, it can also impact you physically. Left unmanaged, stress can make you sick!

Our bodies are wired to react to stress and to use specific fight and flight hormones reactions to kick into gear when there is a potential threat to the stability (homeostasis) of the body. The hypothalamus, a tiny area in the brain sets off your internal alarm system. And through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, your stress response system prompts your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones to fight off the perceived threat, including adrenaline and cortisol.

The body’s stress response system is supposed to be limited to the perceived threat and once it has passed, hormones return to normal.   But when the stressors are consistently present the stress response system never turns off. The autonomic nervous system begins to accept this heightened stress as normal and continues to produce high levels of stress hormones well after the stressful event has passed. The ongoing overexposure of cortisol and other stress hormones disrupts your body’s processes including your immune and digestive system.

Chronic stress negatively impacts the immune system

When the body is always under stress the immune system does not function optimally since the hormones that are released during the stress response (adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine, and cortisol) decrease the body’s ability to make lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria). Studies have highlighted the general immunosuppressive effect that chronic stress places on the body leading to an inability to initiate a timely, efficient immune reaction (Salleh MR. 2008).

Chronic stress negatively affects the digestive system

When the brain senses stress it sends a message to all cells in the body. It also sends messages to your “intestinal” brain which can disturb the natural rhythm of the gut. This causes food to move through the digestive system too slowly, resulting in gas, bloating, cramping and diarrhea.

It can also exasperate bowel conditions such as IBS, IBD and Crohns. Stress can negatively influence digestive acids causing indigestion and worsening acid reflux disease and, change the composition and structure of your gut bacteria which presents furthercomplications for digestive health and disorders. Unsure of the brain-gut connection? Think about how you feel when you have “butterflies” in your stomach or when you refer to your “gut reaction” to a situation.

Some individuals, when stressed, resort to unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, drinking, and drug use (recreational or prescription), to cope with stress. These activities may lead to other health conditions like headaches, infectious illnesses, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, and gastric ulcers.

Signs your immunity is low may include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Catch cold and flu easily
  • Frequent cold sores
  • Suffering from a chronic condition
  • Hair loss

How to Manage Chronic Stress

Identify the source of your stress. Carry around a small notepad and when you start to feel the symptoms of stress coming on (increased breathing, holding your breath, clenching jaw, tighten muscles, headaches, nausea, etc ) write down what is happening and what caused the reaction. By keeping a journal of your stress responses, you may find that what you thought was causing the stress is something entirely different. It can also confirm what you are feeling.   In some cases, just recognizing your response to a situation may help you manage it differently.  

Work your body and mind- Find a positive outlet for your stress, such as physical exercise, Research shows just taking a walk can increase your feel-good hormones and realign your stress hormones.  

Set boundaries for your life, work, and balance. Teach those around you what your boundaries are and be willing to say no.

Stay engaged- staying social with family and friends can provide an outlet for stress but also strength to help you overcome a stressful situation

Manage Your Stress Response  -Provide the right nutrients for brain-body balance

These approaches have important benefits for your mental health and can form critical building blocks for a healthy lifestyle. If you need help managing your stress response, consider adding these well research supplements to your daily regimen

3 Brains Stress Less -Looking to relieve mental fatigue and symptoms associated with stress? 3 Brains Stress Less is a comprehensive formula that targets the brain-gut connection. It supports cognitive function and promotes a healthy response to both physical and mental stressors (ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Panax ginseng extracts). Green tea extract helps support mental focus and stamina and provides antioxidants that help defend against free radical damage.

Womensense AdrenaSense - AdrenaSense offers natural support for the adrenal glands to help relieve general fatigue and improve mental and physical performance. This herbal complex (ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Suma, Siberian ginseng, and Schisandra), helps decrease cortisol (the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands), and relieves general debility

St Francis Herb Farm – Ashwagandha – It’s easy to love ashwagandha and its adaptogen properties to help manage stress and produce a calming effect. It also eases stress, anxiety, nervousness, or insomnia. It can increase strength and endurance and enhance memory and sexual performance.

Natural Factors Mental Calmness  -A delicious l-theanine chewable that works wonders when you need to take the stress edge off and help calm the mind (without drowsiness). Derived from green tea, theanine helps increase focus and concentration and improves sleep quality.

St Francis Herb Farm - Deep Immune  Stress impacts the immune system. Why not choose Deep Immune - a formula that supports and fortifies the immune system by restoring balance with the use of eight powerful adaptogenic herbs. A great option for those with an underactive immune system looking to prevent viral infections. Colds and flu.

Genestra - HMF Immune Probiotic 30 Billion HMF combines probiotics with vitamins C and D to maintain immune function and reduces the risk of developing upper respiratory tract illness in physically active adults. Each delicious once-daily blackberry chewable tablet offers 5 research-driven probiotic strain.


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