Your Stress Response Is Like a Humvee
Your Stress Response Is Like a Humvee: Of Great Use In Life or Death Situations But Not Meant To Be Driven Around All Day Everyday
The human stress response is like our own personal built in humvee there for us to call on when we are in serious trouble. The problem is modern life has us breaking out the humvee all day every day: when we are cut off in traffic, oversleep, have a pressing deadline, receive an unpleasant text, or don’t have enough money in the bank to buy what we want. Our bodies doesn’t discriminate between physical threat (a lion chasing you) or a mental threat (how will I afford to pay this bill) and as a result we are calling on our stress response so often that many of our bodies are simply unable to shut the engine off. On the surface that may not seem like a big deal but let’s take a look under the hood. Here is what happens each time you call on your stress response:
1. STRESS OCCURS ( This can be physical, emotional, mental, environmental!)
2. Your Brain and Pituitary Gland release Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)
3. ACTH tells your Adrenal Glands to pump out catecholamines Cortisol, Epinephrine and Norepinephrine
4. The Epinephrine and Norepinephrine really get things going. They (1) Increase Your Heart Rate, (2)Increase Your Blood Pressure, (3) Constrict Your Blood Vessels to Pump More Blood to Muscles, (4) Reroute Blood Flow Away From Your Digestive Track, (5) Call on Your Liver to Release Glucose Increasing Your Blood Sugar, and (6) Decreases Hydrochloric Acid and Enzyme Production.
It really is no wonder I sweat when I’m stressed - my body is doin WORK! And so is yours. But think about this for moment: every single time you call on your stress response, this chain of events kicks into action. Over and over and over again throughout the day - rushing out the door in the morning, in a fender bender, or just in traffic, in stressful meetings, pushing through long bouts of cardio or intense exercise, breathing in chemical air fresheners, eating processed foods. It all adds up. This is what we refer to as chronic stress and it is NOT what our stress response or our bodies were built for. The result can be poor digestion, stubborn waistlines, fatigue, anxiety and a feeling of being completely fried.
My challenge to you today is to reflect on this chain of events the next time you start to get stressed out. Ask yourself if it is worth asking your body to fire on all cylinders over this. It might be life and death in which case GET IN THAT HUMVEE!! But more often than not, a text or purchase or traffic jam is not worth a massive biochemical-hormonal response