Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chain Reaction

Every body reacts to stress. And while each of us may be on a sliding scale of potential risk, every body is vulnerable nonetheless. When a stress occurs, the brain releases hormones and neurotransmitters (including adrenaline) that set off a biochemical chain reaction to stimulate and suppress different biological functions throughout the entire body. This chain reaction can send a signal to suppress activity related to short term memory such as the ability to focus and think rationally. It can also increase heart rate, blood pressure and put tremendous pressure on blood flow. Blood flow interacts with and affects every system in the body including the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, reproductive, musculoskeletal and immune system. If some systems require more blood flow during the stress response, others temporarily slow down or shut down. Finally, when the stress calms down, so does the body. Hormones and neurotransmitters return to their normal levels and internal balance is restored. Or is it?

The body is engineered to handle the biochemical back-and-forth shift of short term stress but when stress is chronic, or erratic in intensity, it doesn’t always rebound in the same orderly manner. This is when we are most vulnerable to health risks and, over time, to irreversible organ damage. In order to maintain good health, the body needs the proper time to stabilize and, most importantly, it needs to complete the stabilization process. Chronic stress can keep the body in an abnormal state of hormonal activity. Erratic stress will send the body on a biochemical rollercoaster. Either way, the prolonged strain will result in greater wear and tear on emotional, mental and physical health. Rest assured, wear and tear will wear you down and tear you apart.

The goal is to manage stress, not to eliminate it or to succumb to it. Once you acknowledge the biochemical chain reaction caused by stress, you can use RELAX. SET. GO. to help minimize strain and restore balance. Manage . . . Minimize . . . More to come . . .

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Denise for that great article. I know my affirmations have been a big help in keeping my stress in check! You are so right about managing and minimizing our activities in our life. I'm going to take your words of wisdom and RELAX, GET SET AND GO!