Introduction to Stress
I am sure that most of you reading this article are quite familiar with stress in their lives. It is literally a part of our lives now. Many of us handle stress reasonably well and on the other hand many of us don?t. I think we can all benefit from a better understanding of what stress really is, what causes it and how we can manage it better. More than that is an even better way.
Better than stress management is life empowerment.
The two of course are different from one another but before we can have life empowerment we must first learn how to manage stress.
We will say more about that later in the article.
I also suspect that as life gets more complicated and faster; more stimulation, more information etc ? it all serves to increase our stress.
It certainly affects the quality of our lives, health and relationships.
It can also lead to depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and certainly to a large degree? unhappiness.
Stress is also contagious.
The more stressed we are the more stress affects the people around us.
We have a stressed society all bouncing off each other and adding to one another?s stress and it would appear to me we are going in the wrong direction.
In our clinic we have been testing stress and its effects on many things; not just on the mental side of our health but also on the physical side.
This has been well researched and well documented elsewhere.
It has been estimated that 70% of patients that attend a medical doctor do so because of stress.
It has been around a long time, and it is certainly not a new topic.
I thought it was time to review this topic and see if we can contribute to decreasing the stress in people generally and pointing them in an even better direction of life empowerment.
As many of you may be aware we do treat a very wide variety of conditions in our clinic and inevitably we find stress is one of the components contributing to these various ailments that we see.
Research has connected stress to many degenerative diseases including coronary thrombosis, brain haemorrhage, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, kidney failure, arthritis, peptic ulcers and even cancer. In our clinic, because we treat a lot of structural problems, we find that tension is a big factor pulling on the muscles of the spine and creating spinal problems which affect the nervous system and therefore affect the health of the body. As part of the treatment protocol we have to find ways to decrease the stress in our patients so that their problems don?t keep returning too quickly.
To reduce the frequency (or number) of treatments we inevitably endeavor to reduce their stress.
The two go hand in hand. Back pains, neck pains and headaches all tend to be aggravated by excessive tension in the muscles. Stress can have a big impact in your life and can also ruin your life and ruin other people?s lives as a result so it is worthy of investigation.
What is stress?
We want to keep things as simple as we can here so this will be a limited definition to help us keep things brief and easy to understand.
Usually when we use the term stress we are really referring to bad or negative stress which, may also be called dis-tress.
In some cases stress can actually have a positive effect.
For instance ? if you want to exercise or strengthen your body you stress your body by either increasing your heart and lung rate or lifting weights to strengthen your muscles.
Although this places stress on the body, the body will generally respond by becoming stronger to that stress but of course if the stress is excessive then you can injure your body and it can have the opposite effect.
When astronauts go into space they lose bone density and cardiovascular fitness because there is no gravity, which is a form of stress on the body.
Although we may think that gravity limits us in fact it assists our bodies by helping to maintain bone density and cardiovascular health.
Putting it in a more simplified way, if stress of any kind is excessive then it will have a negative effect on the body.
Excessive ? meaning we are not able to respond adequately to that stress that is placed upon us and so the body begins to break down.
That can be mentally, physically or even biochemically.
Even over-excitement or over-stimulation if excessive can be detrimental by exhausting your nervous system by that over stimulation, as can other activities, which shall remain nameless in the interest of good taste.
Medical Science and Stress
There is a medical doctor and professor by the name of Dr Hans Selye who spent most of his life studying stress and in the 1950s wrote a book called ?The Stress of Life.?
He also did a new addition of the book in the 1970s.
To give you an idea of the caliber of this man he actually has 3 doctorates; in medicine, philosophy and science as well as 19 honorary degrees from universities around the world; author of 32 books and more than 1500 technical articles; recipient of numerous honorary awards and medals.
So this man has very great credentials and his book is a classic; it is nearly 500 pages and is used by a lot of health professionals.
I am going to save you the effort of reading the book and summarize some of what he explains in his book.
What happens in the body when we are under excessive stress is that our adrenal glands (a gland sitting on top of the kidneys about the size of a 20c piece) are stimulated to release certain hormones.
These hormones actually help us to deal with the effects of stress.
Stress can come in many ways; it can come in emotional stress, physical stress and biochemical stress.
Either way the body has to respond to those stressors by releasing hormones and the adrenal glands go into what is called an adaptive phase or what he calls ?the GAS? (general adaptive syndrome).
The adrenal glands increase in their function, which they can maintain for a certain period of time.
However a very interesting thing he observed was that when the stress has been prolonged past a certain point the adrenal glands begin to decrease in their function as they can?t maintain their adaptive response to the stress any longer.
So they begin to decrease in function and when that happens obviously we find it much more difficult to cope with the stress and we become more stress susceptible.
This results in a breakdown either physically, mentally or emotionally.
I don?t mean a nervous breakdown, what I mean is a deterioration.
When we have a nervous breakdown the adrenal glands are usually not functioning or not responding and it has been theorized that once you have a nervous breakdown your adrenal glands are never the same again and you are never as stress resistant again.
What happens in chronic fatigue is that the body becomes so depleted that it finds it very difficult to recharge or renew itself on many different fronts, not just emotionally and mentally but also physically.
It is helpful to liken the adrenal glands to a battery in a car where there are many functions in a car that require the battery to be working at its best.
Naturally this tends to drain the battery but when the engine is run it recharges the battery and so as long as we are recharging the battery then the battery can continue to provide all of the functions that the car needs such as starting the car etc.
If the battery becomes faulty or is not able to be recharged then it stays flat and it cannot supply its functions in providing the needs of those we have just mentioned.
The same thing happens to the adrenal glands, if you do not give them a chance to recharge they simply do not function as well and may never come up to full function again.
Dr Selye stated that the adrenals have a limited life span and if we abuse them too much for too long then optimum function will be affected over the long term.
Another important point for us to remember is that most of us are not aware of the degree of the stress that we have in our bodies and that it can also sneak up on us.
What I mean by that is you can come down very suddenly with an illness or even with an emotional issue because we thought we were okay and functioning well but we didn?t realize that slowly but surely the adrenals were becoming depleted. Just like batteries that are becoming flattened and all of a sudden when it doesn?t work it comes as a shock.
We can find ourselves stuck somewhere that we don?t like.
It can take quite a while to get ourselves back up to a reasonable level.
If this sounds like doom and gloom I don?t intend it to be that way, it?s more of a warning; as always prevention is better than cure.
So we are going to look as some things that will help you to manage and reduce your stress so you don?t have to end up being a casualty.
I know a lady who when she was quite young (early twenties or late teens from memory), had a significant stressful incident occur in her life.
This person ultimately got rheumatoid arthritis and has had it all her life.
She is now in her sixties and has had this painful condition all her life as a result of one major stressful situation.
It has virtually affected her life in a dramatic way.
The adrenal glands actually secrete anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory hormones. So when our adrenal glands become depleted even temporarily then these hormone functions can also be affected.
Inflammation can run rampant in the body creating all kinds of damage because the anti-inflammatory hormone function of the adrenals is affected and therefore the body can?t control the inflammation. Now an important point here is that inflammation does play a very important role in the body but it must be kept under control.
Inflammation is for defense and repair but there must be a balance kept.
When the adrenal glands become depleted this balance can then be affected and inflammation can than create all kinds of damage in may different areas of the body.
Fibromyalgia is a good example of this.
In fact inflammation is the big buzzword among the health professionals these days and the claim is that inflammation is a major factor in most if not all diseases. Whether that is true or not is not important here but just simply to make you aware of the fact of what excessive stress can do to your body.
Menopause or ?The Change of Life?
As the ovaries begin to slow down and eventually stop manufacture of reproductive hormones the adrenal glands are meant to take over.
If the adrenal glands are already overworked or depleted due to stress they can struggle to perform the extra workload.
The result is all the excessive symptoms of menopause and low estrogen such as hot flushes etc.
Men can also get a form of this called Andropause which is simply insufficient male hormones that are normally manufactured by the Gonads.
Fortunately there are some good natural products that can be used in these cases.
The Zeta8 products EstR8 for the female and TestostR8 for the male may be helpful.
To be continued
Part Two of this article will be sent next month when the Stress Busters will be revealed
Dr Bill? Davison
PS. For those who would like more help or information go to www.empoweryou.com.au.
We recommend the Biocybernetics Life Empowerment Course for your self help and/or personal coaching available either within or outside of the clinic, or online.
You can also use our live or online seminars (see Zeta8.com).