FIGHTING A BEAR
According to research, the body doesn’t distinguish between modern-day stressors like deadlines or family disputes & life-threatening stress like fighting a bear. It reacts the same way to both – the so-called “fight or flight” response.
In times of stress, cortisol – the stress hormone – increases levels of fat & sugar in the bloodstream, in anticipation of an increased energy requirement – necessary if fighting a bear, but unnecessary if sitting at a desk.
Unless there is a surge of physical activity, which the body is expecting (to fight off that bear) all that extra energy in the form of fat & glucose will be re-deposited as fat around the middle!
Fat targets the middle to be close to the liver, where it can quickly be converted back into energy if needed. The more stress, the more fat is deposited!
If you store your fat around your middle there is a good chance you are insulin resistant. The constant high levels of circulating cortisol have confused your system. The cells have been bombarded with insulin for such a long period of time, that they no longer know what to do & fail to do what they are supposed to do – move glucose into the cells. As a result, glucose levels remain high & high insulin tells your body to store fat!
Insulin resistance can also trigger a host of other health issues & is frequently at the core of many serious diseases. The trick is, to treat the cause not the symptoms – this will reduce the risks.
Women are more susceptible to the effects of stress than men. The term ‘Hurried Woman Syndrome’ is experienced by women juggling the demands of work, family & home life – the never-ending ongoing kind of stress, that has no natural release.
Take a good look at the stress in your life & ascertain what you can & cannot control. If you cannot remove the stress, then devise ways to reduce the impact.
Tackle the stress by either:
1. Making some lifestyle changes or
2. Adopting coping strategies to lessen the physical impact.
• Prioritise tasks in order of importance, to reduce overwhelm
• Delegate daily tasks to others where possible
• Take time to eat – calms the mind. Chew slowly – signals the digestive system you are not under threat & your body can absorb the nutrients properly.
• Take time for relaxation – Meditation has been shown to be effective for both reducing stress & lowering blood pressure
• Nurture intimacy – a 20-second cuddle lowers adrenaline & increases oxytocin levels
• Keep laughing – even when you don’t feel like it. Smiling & laughing have a very positive effect on mood, increasing the supply of oxygen in the blood which influences feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain.
• Learn to breathe – when you are stressed you shallow breathe. Watch a baby breath – their whole abdomen rises & falls as they breathe. This circulates more oxygen around your body & also signals your body that you are less stressed. This will give you more energy & also active the calming relaxation centers in the brain.