How do you define stress? We all know it, feel it, live it, but what does it mean? In today’s modern world, it’s almost a badge of honor. It’s tied to “keeping up with the Jones”, trying to be everything to everyone (while usually neglecting ourselves) and the word SHOULD. I should exercise more, drink less, sleep more, work less, spend more time with my family, less time at my job, I should. I should. I should. It’s also a gap between what we think we want and what we have and all the things we need to do to try to get there. If I just had more money, then I’d be happier. Stress. If I just lost 15 pounds, then I’d be happy. Stress. My relationship isn’t like Beyonce and Jay-Z. Stress.
While we all define stress differently and experience stress through different triggers, there is an underlying current and that current is the feeling of a lack of control and about not feeling safe. Lack of control is always stressful. If we can control everything then we would have everything, be everything and experience everything exactly as we want it. See? No stress. The feeling of not being safe can be conscious but it can also be from our subconscious systemic responses caused by physical or emotional stress.
There is good stress and there is bad stress. Good stress used to be running from a tiger. Now, good stress is training to run a marathon, the holiday season, family milestones or being nervous as you prepare to interview for your dream job. That stress doesn’t last. In today’s modern lifestyle, stress is often triggered more from psychological triggers than physical. Bad stress is everything that was described above that doesn’t go away. And when it doesn’t go away, it eventually manifests as physical symptoms related to your health. We all talk about “stress management”, but doesn’t that usually get us back to “I should” do more? The stress just builds and builds and builds without giving our bodies and our minds a break to drop a gear, to recover, to RESTORE. We all have a different tipping point and warning signs where too much stress turns into bad stress and becomes a serious issue. If you think about stress as a bath tub, eventually a slow drip will fill up that tub and it will start to overflow and cause a flood on your floor and drip down below and start to cause significant damage to your home.
What we don’t pay attention to, often until a major event happens, is what that overflowing bathtub is doing to our health. And, most of us don’t realize the value of our health until we’ve lost it. It often takes a heart attack, cancer diagnosis or mental breakdown to wake us up. According to the CDC, between 75-90% of physician office visits are for stress related ailments. Hans Selye in 1936, defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Selye noted in multiple experiments that while lab animals were subjected to different stress stimuli, all exhibited the same pathological changes of shrinkage of the lymphoid tissue, enlargement of adrenal glands and stomach ulcerations. He further proved that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases like those seen in humans. Stress can present as tension in the neck, crying, anger, trouble concentrating, difficulty controlling emotions, increased use of alcohol and drugs, an inability to sleep, headaches, skin conditions, depression and anxiety, heart issues, stroke, auto immune diseases and diabetes. The list goes on and on. The American Institute of Stress lists over 50 symptoms caused by stress.
Increased stress accelerates the aging process. And we aren’t just talking wrinkles. Chronic stress generates an inflammatory response. When you have chronic, systemic Inflammation, you are going to feel aches and pains especially where you have had prior injuries. Have you been in a car accident and experienced a whiplash? Concussions from the sports you played? Inflammation is going to bring those symptoms to the surface in the form of unexplained headaches, neck pain, brain fog, difficulty focusing, and sleep disruption. Systemic inflammation is an amplifier of what is already there. This chronic, systemic inflammation is responsible for most age-related diseases.
So how do we get it under control?
We might try to take a meditation class, or exercise, or if we are lucky both! But then how are we living the other 22-23 hours a day? We have to put our oxygen masks on first. We have to take time for self care. Intellectually we know that we SHOULD be eating better, sleeping more, taking more time to rest and enjoy our loved ones, but the harsh reality is we don’t. And, so, how can we manage that part of it? We are all trying to do the best that we can every day, but often it isn’t enough.
At Restore, our goal is to help our community drain as much water as we can out of the bathtub. We are offering services designed to try to neutralize the devastating effects of stress—mostly inflammation—that wreak havoc on our health. We all need some help to keep ahead of the overflow. Fortunately, there are safe, natural therapies and services that are available to help us to “biohack” and get ahead of the stress game.
Whole Body Cryotherapy relaxes the mind, naturally boosts your energy levels, eliminates systemic inflammation, provides a better-quality sleep and boosts our metabolism to fight all the stressors bombarding us all day every day.
Our infrared sauna helps to detoxify the body and eliminate heavy metals that get stuck in our tissues from the fish that we eat and the products we use. It also helps us to eliminate the pesticides and pollution from literally the air and dirt around us.
What else? Eliminate “should” from your vocabulary. We all should be doing a lot of things that we would need 72 hours for every 24 we all have. Keep trying to do the best that you can every day because every little effort towards your health is worth it. Take a moment to just breathe and congratulate yourself for trying. Remember to be grateful for what you do have. Tomorrow is a new day. And, if you need a little help, we are here!
Questions? Dr. Gray is here to answer them! You can call her at 610-341-9300 any time.