If you cannot switch off the body’s stress response
….. you will not have restorative sleep
….. If you don’t have restorative sleep you won’t clean the toxins from your body and brain
….. your immune system is undermined (weakened)
…. relationships suffer as you cannot function psychologically, emotionally or physically at optimal levels. .
The net result…. your risk of ill-health and every disease increases.
All symptoms are compounded by chronic stress
The effect of stress over time
We can often be aware of our reduced performance and that STRESS is the problem, but we are unaware of what is happening within our bodies and at the cellular level.
All of us will undertake risky behaviours.
Everything is consigned to the future:
We eat junk food and sugar knowing that any risk of diabetes is way into the future.
We smoke a cigarette knowing that the risk of cancer is way into the future.
We spend a long time in the sun not worrying about melanoma
We put up with stress and insufficient sleep knowing that the consequences might be way into the future.
However, life moves onwards and the consequences of poor health choices accumulate until it is expressed as an illness.
Over time we begin to notice that the body is stiffening up, our memory is not as good, our concentration is less precise and it takes longer to learn new skills. If we monitor blood tests over time there is a subtle but steady downward trend in many of the key markers that indicate health The underlying cause of this is likely to be chronic inflammation.
The body is finely tuned to deal with acute stress.
We have a range of stress hormones that in the emergency situation activate multiple systems in the body to deal with danger.
Cortisol, adrenaline and other brain neurotransmitters direct blood away from the internal organs, such as kidneys, adrenal and thyroid glands, gastrointestinal tract and liver, to the arms and legs. The internal organs are responsible for detoxification, excretion, nutrient absorption and regeneration of cells. In the acute stressful situation, these functions are put on hold.
In a chronically stressed state, these protective systems do not turn back on. The body no longer has the reserves to block infections and cancer cells. Chronic stress causes us to age faster than our biological years.
What can we do?
Prevention is the key, the key to understanding and taming the stress response. We can do this by understanding how to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the relaxation response that is driven by the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
All our body functions are modulated by the autonomic nervous system and it is the balance between the sympathetic nervous system- fight and flight response and the parasympathetic nervous system –the rest and restore response that determines our state at any one time.
Chronic stress can be viewed as a deficiency in the parasympathetic nervous system.
The Vagus nerve
The Vagus nerve is the conduit for the two-way communication between the brain to the body. In the state of chronic stress, the parasympathetic nervous system is down-regulated and the sympathetic nervous system is upregulated. Put simply there is no rest or restoration occurring.
The purpose of this blog is to wave the “emergency flag” and to shout out “wait a moment. I need to get balance in my life”.
If you balance the autonomic nervous system you improve the quality of life and almost certainly increase both your health span and lifespan.
How to achieve balance in the autonomic nervous system
There are many ways to balance the autonomic nervous system and techniques can be as simple as this easy-to-do box-breathing technique. Controlled breathing is the most rapid way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which can be done almost anywhere and at any time.
Breathing techniques coupled with meditation can be a powerful combination to reduce the impact that stress has on mind and body functions.
The More Than Meditation Course
This course is structured in a way to allow you to simply incorporate breathing and meditation effectively into your life.
It is not possible to reduce all the stress that comes your way but you can learn ways to manage it and reduce the impact it has on your healthspan and lifespan.
Many highly stressed participants over the past 16 years have learnt how to bring balance to the autonomic nervous system.
The course has been refined over time in line with advances in neuroscience and here is some recent feedback from participants from the recent courses.
The courses run four times per year. Click here for details of the next course