Being busy has become the new fit tea, meaning it’s the new hot trend on the block. Not that I believe or support the “Fit Tea” movement and I think it has a pretty short shelf live, but the point is that it’s a trend. But, back to society being a bunch of busy bees. I mean, if we’re not busy, are we even doing anything valuable with our lives!? This busy society has lead to more stress, lower productivity (shocker, huh!?), and a lot of “burnt out” people. We know that stress isn’t healthy for us, but why exactly? To “be stressed” isn’t just a case of you feeling overwhelmed, it has really severe effects on your health. From heart disease to premature wrinkles. Read on to understand the stress and health connection and why it’s a health obligation to chill out.
What is stress?
Just as anything else that goes on in our bodies, stress is a chemical process. It’s the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, also known as the “stress hormones” (no shit, Sherlock..). Stress itself is actually a great thing and the right amount of it is, despite its bad reputation, very healthy for us. During stress our bodies prepare for action and enter hyper focus. To put one of those fancy biological labels on it, it’s a survival mechanism. Back in the days our ancestors used these stress boosts to hunt, run away from predators, or to get lucky with the ladies. Not sure if that’s true, but I can imagine our ancestor bro’s being pretty nervous about talking up our ancestor ladies. Either way, stress is actually nothing to be scared of. Unless we unleash the beast and become too stressed.
When stress becomes unhealthy
As with everything, too much of a good thing isn’t that great anymore. For stress, this is definitely the case. When adrenaline and cortisol is going bananas up in our system for too long our body starts to ask what the fudge is going on. It was fun for a while, but it’s time to chill now for fudge sake! (yes, I do have a fascination for fudge). Too much stress is almost like pulling a week long party trip to Ibiza. It’s all fun and games the first two nights, but the all nighters, alcohol, and lack of nutrition starts to take it’s toll on you around the fifth hangover morning. By day seven, you’re not as hyped anymore.
When our bodies hit this stage it will to anything to make you stress down. The way it handles it is usually to make you sick. You can probably relate to the situation where you’ve had a stressful time at work before vacation, and right as you enter vacay mode you fall down with a terrible cold? That’s the body telling you that “you’re not the boss of me!”.
Stress and the health effects on the body
Besides being sick, what other crazy things can stress do to us? Hold your horses because you’re in for a hefty reality check.
Stubborn belly fat
Are you working out 5 – 6 days a week, eating super healthy, but still can’t get that stubborn belly fat to go to hell? First of all I have to say that there’s nothing wrong with belly fat, it’s completely normal and no healthy person can achieve zero percent belly fat because then you’d be dead, but you get what I mean. Either way, stress is most likely the culprit behind holding on that extra fat especially around your tummy area.
Since stress puts us in a temporarily “survival mode” too much of it makes our body think that we might be about to die. Because of this it clings on to any access fat we might have just to make sure starvation won’t be our death sentence. It’s also very common to crave more fatty and sugary foods during long periods of stress. This is, also because our body doesn’t want us to die.
It seems like everything we do causes premature aging. I mean, to be fair, we age every second so it’s actually not that crazy… But, too much stress puts a toll on our body. The lack of sleep, bad eating habits, and less movement stress can cause are just a few reasons why we speed up the age clock. The process of our bodies producing cortisol and adrenalin for too long does itself damage or cells and makes us age quicker.
Stress and sniffles
A stressed body is in the war zone of becoming sick. Ever noticed how you feel fatigued and kind of not really “a 100” during stressed times? That’s the stress attacking your immune system. Another common situation which I think most of us can relate to is when you’ve had a lot of things going on before let’s say vacation, and as soon as vacation hits – BAM! Instead of enjoying a pina colada on the beach, you’re balls deep in tissues and Strepsils. Not really the vacation you were looking for!
More stress, less sex
Are you not doing your best in bed or might even not be in the mood at all? Stress is definitely someone to blame! While sex is a great way to relieve stress due to the serotonin boost, the stress itself makes it hard to actually even start thinking of getting down and dirty.
Are some people more sensitive towards stress? Yes, most definitely. One thing that has a large effect on our stress levels are stressors, the environmental causes for people to feel stress. Some of these outer stressors include noise, traffic, aggressive people, a sudden appearance of a clown in a horror movie, you name it! Basically everything that happens around us can cause internal stress. Individual habits also has the power to turn up our stress hormones.
Because of this we can’t compare stress to stress or treat people the same way when it comes to it.
Caffeine and stress
Having a hard time falling asleep at night? Does anxiety sneak in on you out of nowhere? Feeling a bit jittery and having a hard time collecting your thoughts? These are just a few side effects of drinking to much caffein, especially if you’re sensitive to it.
If you feel like you might belong in this category try to limit your caffein intake for a week and see how you feel. Don’t have any coffee or energy drinks late at night or before bedtime. If you still need that warm cozy joy of a cup of joe, try decaf or tea.
Working out too much
To get moving and make the body fluids flowing is one of the best ways to fight stress. But, too much of intense exercise can actually put our body into stress mode. High intensity training, or HIIT is super effective, but it also makes our cortisol levels go cray cray. Limit your HIIT workouts to 2-3 times a week, and fill your other sessions with low impact training such as weight training or a simple walk. Remember to always listen to your body. Take rest days when appropriate and don’t push yourself because of the pressure to exercise. In the long run it will cause you more harm than good.
Food allergies and a poor diet
Did you know that your gut is the one carrying most of the responsibility of what goes on in your head? Yup, it’s actually true. Our gut and brain connection is way more crucial than we’ve previously thought. To learn more about this connection, click here. An unhealthy diet filled with lots of sugar and processed foods, or consuming undiscovered food allergies (gluten, soy, dairy, etc) causes or healthy gut bacteria to put up a strike, leading to bad digestion, which in turn makes you stressed and anxious.
Yes, walking into a room blasting out the latest techno beats after a hectic day at work might not be the best thing to do for your stress levels. Of course, this will be very individual depending on what kind of person you are, but overall it’s a better choice to put on some sweet calming tunes to level out your hormones.
Messy living space
A cluttered mind is a cluttered body. In this world where we’re connected at all times, while being “so busy”, more people are turning to a minimalistic lifestyle. Less is more.
Now, I’m not saying that you should go all in minimalistic, but I am saying that you should try to always keep your living space clean and tidy. Get rid of unnecessary stuff that takes up space and you don’t even use. Not only does this help to stress your subconscious down, but hey, who doesn’t like to live in a clean place!? Come on people, get your shit together! (literally).
How to tackle stress
The simple answer to calm down your stressed self is to chill the fudge down. We all know this and it’s easier said than done. So let’s get down to some things you can start implementing into your life to start getting rid of that access stress.
Say no to stress and yes to health
For some reason, society has made us all people pleasers where saying no is a terrible thing. We can’t say no because we will hurt people’s feelings, we might disappoint someone, or we’re simply suffering from a large dose of FOMO (fear of missing out). I’m not saying that I throw out no’s all over the place like a rapper at a strip club, I am too, very bad at saying no.
Yo don’t have to be at every event, take on every task, or do it all at the same time. Nobody can do everything, at the same time, while managing to stay sane. Not even superheroes. Don’t feel bad for saying no to things you deep down know you won’t have either the time or the energy for. Your time is valuable, be stingy with it. I promise you that you won’t hurt anyones feeling for saying no once in a while. I challenge your to try it!
Give in to the Sandman
First of all, is that guy who tells children to fall asleep really called the Sandman!? I obviously had to google this, since we call him “John Blund” in Sweden. Directly translated to “John Shut eyes”, I guess..? To me, that name makes way more sence than the Sandman? Is it maybe because of the way your eyes feel when you’re really tired? Like sand..? Whatever! Huge off topic!
My point with the Sandman, John Blund, or whatever the sleepy mans name is – if you’re tired, sleep! Don’t fake feed yourself energy by overdosing on coffee and energy drinks to stay up in the late hours just to finish off stuff. Most of the time we won’t get the work done properly anyways when we’re tired. Sleep is one of the most important things any living being can do for themselves. Yes, that also includes you and me.
Prioritize and structure yourself
Since we do live in this modern world we can’t completely ignore stress. It has, unfortunately become a part of our lives. What we can do is learn to manage, structure, and prioritize. If you aren’t already, start planning. Yes, I do mean get a calendar and write shit down! Write down your goals and deadlines for each week and manage your time during the week accordingly.
By doing this you have an overview of what needs to be done, and the tasks and stress won’t pile up as the week goes by. In your calendar I also want you to write down your own time. Schedule in exercise, dinners with friends, events, or whatever it is that you need to keep yourself happy. The fact that you have fun things to look forward to during the week makes it easier to handle the stress around you.
Alright guys, this post really took a 180 and is way longer than my posts usually are. I hope it wasn’t too much reading for you and that it was worth your time. Remember, stress is healthy, but as with everything, too much of a good thing turns bad!