All around us, people are coping with stress–our friends, our family, our co-workers–even our children. But what is stress? And what about stress debilitates us so much?
As mothers, we are particularly susceptible to stress because of the many and varied responsibilities we carry. As I write this, I am trying to build a website, monitoring the kid’s homeschooling, planning what clothes they need for winter, preparing myself for my next client, ignoring my dirty house, making sure we have what we need for dinner, mediating my children, and, to top it off, today I am trying to plan a yoga class so I can relax. Am I prone to stress? You bet.
What is Stress?
The term stress is used popularly to describe two different things.
The first definition of stress is the events, environments or stimulus which we perceive as endangering us and which cause us to react. These can more accurately be called “stressors”. The second use of the word stress is about our bodies’ and minds’ reaction to the stressors, and can more accurately be called “stress reaction”.
The distinction between stressors and stress reaction is important because we are always surrounded by stressors, yet we don’t always go into a stress reaction.
Once we recognize this, we can begin to manage our bodies’ stress reactions.
Stress + Modern Life = Chronic Disease
Most of the time, we recognize stress by our outer symptoms–headaches, sore muscles, irritability. It’s important to understand that these symptoms are not the only results of stress, but are, in some cases, the least significant effects of stress. Constant, unabated and chronic stress is a lead player in our modern melée of disease.
Diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, and colds all can result from chronic stress. And while stress may not cause many other diseases, it can set the stage for inflammation which can then cause disease.
Stress forms a partnership with many factors of our modern life (poor nutrition, lack of exercise and toxic overload) which leads to chronic disease and conditions which we now view as inevitable or expected.
Your physical body is not the only victim of stress. When our bodies are under stress, the chemistry changes and this can so deeply affect us that we can not control our emotions any more than a pregnant woman can keep from bursting into tears. Our bucket is full.
One extra drop and we spill over, wetting everything and everyone around us.
When chronic stress takes its toll, our health, our jobs, our relationships and our sanity are at risk.
To learn about Stress
Chronic Stress: Chronic stress results from bodies ill-adapted to modern sustained stress environments.
Stress Cycles: Stress cycles around and around, creating more sensitivity to stressors and therefore increasing our stress.
Stressed Moms: Stressed moms have unique challenges to begin to relax. Why is it so hard to take time to slow down?