Stress Effects and Stress Management

Psychological stress can cause psychological and physical disorders.

Stress weakens the immune system and has other serious effects on the brain and body such as cardiovascular problems, and mental illness such as depression.

Stress also kills brain cells and lowers your learning abilities or capabilities. Specifically, long periods of stress destroys brain cells in the hippocampus and learning and memory capabilities can be greatly reduced. Another factor is that the brain absorbs information better when it is relaxed, in a positive state of mind, and receptive to the information.

A tactic that is sometimes used, to break a person down psychologically and physically, is to induce as much stress as possible for a long period of time.

The key is the immune system. It can be weakened to leave the person vulnerable to serious illness like cancer or it can be strengthened to fight off powerful invaders and even cancer it's self.

Acid-Base disorders, caused by high levels of stress and sleep deprivation, leads to osteoporosis or bone loss.
Cushing’s Syndrome, caused by high levels of stress and sleep deprivation, leads to muscle loss or muscle wasting.
Sleep deprivation prevents the growth hormone, which builds muscle and bone, from being released in the sleep cycle.

Humans developed survival instincts. Things that threaten our means of subsistence, being part of a group, and finding a mate can induce a lot of stress. Things that can be perceived as danger or a threat and environmental factors such as elevated sound levels or elevated illumination can cause stress. Stress can be defined as a person’s physiological response to a stimulus that triggers the fight-or-flight response. In times of stress the body responds with what is called the fight-or-flight response. The body releases the stress hormones into the blood stream such as adrenaline (epinephrine), norepinephrine, and cortisol. These stress hormones increase in response to stress. The result is that it prepares the body by making a person stronger and faster and ready for action. Stress can lead to many disorders such as anxiety, withdrawal (isolation), and depression.

Adrenaline (epinephrine)and catecholamine hormones do some of the following: Accelerates the heart, inhibits the digestive system, inhibits sexual response, inhibit tear production and salivation, constrict the blood vessels in many parts of the body, and hearing and vision loss (tunnel vision).

Norepinephrine accelerates the heart and also affects a part of the brain that is responsible for attention or focus and where responding actions are controlled.

Cortisol is a corticosteroid hormone and is created by the adrenal gland. It is sometimes referred to as the stress hormone. Cortisol suppresses or weakens the immune system. Cortisol also plays a part in the regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular functions. Cortisol can increases blood pressure, blood sugar (glucose) levels (gluconeogenesis), causes impaired cognitive performance, hardening of the arteries, increased fat storage especially on the abdomen, lower growth hormone and testosterone production, hyperglycemia, osteoporosis (bone loss), muscle loss, inhibits protein synthesis, loss of collagen in the skin, and inhibits collagen formation, and also associated to abnormal ACTH levels, depression. It increases the effectiveness of catecholamines. Long periods of elevated cortisol levels cause damage to the brain and memory. The hippocampus, a part of the brain, is damaged and this reduces learning abilities.

Sleep deprivation can cause cortisol levels to increase by over 50%. It causes the depletion of neurotransmitters, mood regulating hormones, and this has the effect of making people more vulnerable to or to become more easily depressed. Impaired cognitive ability, out of check emotions, and poor judgment or poor logic also results from sleep deprivation. It causes a disconnect between the amygdala between the brains frontal lob, the region that controls reasoning, rational thought, and decision making and this means that the person's emotional response in not being kept in check or under control. The brain MRI pattern becomes similar to people with psychotic behavior. The brain has high per active response in emotion centers when shown negative or disturbing images. It can also lead to pre-diabetes or diabetes. The drop in leptin level tells the person that they are hungry and it contributes to obesity. Sleep Deprivation and Stress (ketoacidosis - Acidosis)

Premature Aging. Cell aging is controlled by a part of the DNA, the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres. As we age the telomeres get shorter. When it gets disrupted by stress the telomere frays away and the cell dies.

Mental Illness. Long periods of stress and sleep deprivation can lead to or cause mental illness.

Common examples of stressors are:
Environmental factors such as sound levels, physical exertion, extreme temperatures, and a cluttered environment.
Life events and conditions such as births, deaths, personal relationships, marriage, marital or family conflicts, divorce, new employment, unemployment, and poverty.
Work related events such as responsibilities, disorganization, work deadlines, excessive competition, and over work.
School related events such as exams, term papers or project deadlines.
The thymus gland plays a key role in our immune system by producing t-cell lymphocytes, cells called macrophages, which kill off bacterial invaders. The hormone Cortisol weakens Macrophages.

Long periods of stress and the release of Cortisol can disrupt your blood sugar metabolism, lead to weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, decreased levels of testosterone, muscle and bone loss, decrease sexual function, women can develop new facial hair growth, skin disease, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison's disease, headaches, asthma, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, eye problems, anxiety, insomnia, memory problems, trigger emotional problems, irritability, burnouts, depression, premature aging, and cancer. The adrenal glands can shrink and reduce production.

The stress hormones have been shown to be directly toxic to memory centers and also kill brain cells. Chronic stress disrupts neuro path ways and also kills brain cells.

Oxidative Stress, referred to as rusting, is the production of reactive oxygen species which include free radicals and peroxides. Free radicals can cause high levels of cellular damage, DNA damage, and cell death. It causes premature aging. Oxidative stress is associated to diseases such as atherosclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Anti-oxidants reduce oxidative stress damage.

Post-traumatic stress disorderis when an individual recalls past events and memories, past trauma, that induce the stress response or the emotions felt at that time.
PTSD - High levels of stress and sleep deprivation, macromineral deficiency, and high levels of cortisol can lead to PTSD.

Immune System Suppression Caused by Stress (Psychoneuroimmunology)
Stress decreases the number of helper T cells, suppressor T Cells, cytotoxic T cells, B cells, and the Natural Killer cells (NK). It also decreases T cell function, T cell proliferation response to phytohaemagglutinin [PHA] and concanavalin A [Con A]. Cortisol prevents proliferation of T-cells by rendering the interleukin-2 producer T-cells unresponsive to intereukin-1 and unable to produce the T-cell growth factor. Naturalistic stressors are also associated to increases in number of circulating neutrophils.

Macromineral Deficiencies and Acid-Base Disorders
High levels of stress and sleep deprivation can cause macromineral deficiencies and acid-base disorders (PH imbalance) in the blood called acidosis and alkalosis.
The effects of macromineral deficiencies and acid-base disorders can be very serious ranging from depression, delirium, hallucinations, joint pain, muscle aches and pain, and heart failure.
Referred to as the "Real Silent Killer" by some. Macromineral Deficiencies and Acid-Base Disorders

There are two factors which contribute to a pH imbalance. The first is the person’s diet and the second is the person’s emotional well being. Stress and anxiety are the principal acid generators aside from the diet.
Sleep deprivation also increases acidity levels in the body.

To help your body maintain a good or balanced PH, you need to take buffer supplements calcium & magnesium (citrate or chelate) and potassium.
ex: (CalMag 1:1 and Potassium Chelazome) Other pH balance products: Buffer pH and Tracelabs Alcabase
Taking calcium alone can deplete your magnesium levels.

Symptoms of Acid-Base Disorders (acidosis and alkalosis)
insomnia, sore muscles, creaking joints, bursitis, drowsiness, hypertension, night cramps, asthma, chronic indigestion, night coughs, vomiting, menstrual problems, water retention, recessed eyes, arthritis, migraine headaches, low blood pressure, acidic perspiration, constipation, dry hard stools, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, halitosis, burning mouth sensation, bumps on the tongue or roof of the mouth, over excitation of the nervous system, hyperventilation, protruding eyes, rapid blood clotting, prostatis.

Stress Management and Reducing Stress

Stress management involves understanding the psychology behind or that is causing the stress and finding strategies to deal with, reduce, or eliminate the stress.
Stress can result from viewing yourself or your situations negatively or with insecurity. Stress reduction results from managing or viewing situations in a positive way, taking action, organizing, planning, and finding solutions. By doing this you will also feel a sense of control over the situation and your life.

When your mind starts negative or insecure thinking, go to positive thinking such as planning or your plan to deal with the issue, finding and brainstorming possible solutions, and focus on any possible positive results. This may become reflexive after a period of time.

Laughter and Humor are very powerful. It has great health benefits such as reducing the stress hormones and strengthen the immune system. It also releases endorphins, the feel good and happy hormone, in the brain. Your point of view of a situation can change the way it affects you. For example if you are in a threatening situation but view it in a humorous way or as a challenge instead of a threat it can greatly reduce the stress it causes. The emotions of other people and their attitude of being negative or positive can affect you. For example a person that is pessimistic or always views things and interprets things negatively or a person that is always joyful and laughing can rob off on you and can change you. Remember the expression "Laughter is contagious". (Negative to Positive)

Stay away from Anger and emotions that promote the stress hormone.

Crying because of grief is an emotional release and helps us deal with loss or the emotions we have and relaxes the person and the body.

Stress Management strategies

Cognitive Therapy, Laughter and Humor, Conflict Resolution, Meditation, Positive Affirmations, Guided Imagery, Visualizations, Hypnosis, Autogenic, Social Interaction and Support, Organizational and Time management, and Anger Management.

Exercise, Deep Breathing, Yoga, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Relaxation Techniques, Sex, Biofeedback, Aromatherapy, Relaxing Music, and Massage Therapy

Nutrition and Natural Supplements

Ways of reducing stress, it's effects, and help maintain good mental health.

Always stay calm and speak to others in a positive and respectful manner.
Learn about time management, get organized, create a to-do list, and tackle your tasks or issues one at a time.
Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health, and hope. Keep a positive attitude.
Physical exercise is the best way to relieve stress. Aerobic exercise and physical activity help reduce the effects of stress on the body.
See a comedy show or movie.
Take vitamins such as a daily multivitamin. Periods of stress can cause the body to deplete nutrients more quickly.
Take supplements of calcium&magnesium and potassium. Periods of stress can cause the body to deplete nutrients more quickly.
Vitamin C has been shown in research to reduce the effects of stress.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are essential to brain function.
Frequent breaks with stretching and massages help reduce tension.
Stop or limit caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Eat regularly scheduled, healthy, and well balanced meals.
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Rest as much as you can. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep and go to bed at scheduled hours.
Laughter is a good way of reducing stress.
Live in "day-tight compartments."
Clear your desk and keep it organized.
Speak to your friends and family.
Speak to a qualified professional.
Consult a human resource representative.

Physical exercise helps with stress, anxiety, and depression:
Physical exercise releases chemicals that can help counter the effects of stress and depression. Short (20 minutes) time efficient and high intensity interval training on a tread mill can help and can also be repeated daily. To be able to repeat this training daily the key is not to over exert yourself in one training session. Keep it short and intense so that you are able to recover quickly. This counters the effects of the stress hormone, releasing chemicals, burning the adrenaline and cortisol, pushing blood to the brain, and returning the body to a relaxed state. You should always warm-up the body and heart before intense exercise.

Laughter is great medicine:
Laughter releases chemicals, endorphins, in your brain that can help with stress and depression and many people advocate laughter therapy. It also lowers the stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. The simple act of smiling releases good chemicals.

Get a therapeutic massage:
A therapeutic massage stimulates the skin and releases chemicals in your brain, linked to affection, that can help with stress and depression. (massage therapy and touch therapy)

Take Omega 3:
Omega 3's have beneficial effects on the brain and many research articles also claim that it can prevent or help with depression. They are good for the brain, the heart, prevent cancer, and help you lose weight.

Food and supplements that are rich in anti-oxidants can help reduce oxidative stress and the effects of stress on the brain and body.

Take a hot bath with scented oils.
Taking a hot bath and adding scented oils (Aromatherapy) before bed time also relaxes you and your body and should help you sleep better.

see Depression and Suicide Prevention for more.
"Happy and hopeful thoughts had an overall calming effect on the brain, while negative thoughts inflamed brain areas often involved with depression and anxiety."

"You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. That's right, it's up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and optimize your brain."

"Caffeine constricts blood vessels and has been shown to decrease brain activity.... Stay away from substances known to be toxic or those that decrease brain activity."

''In a similar way, sleep deprivation also decreases brain activity and limits access to learning, memory, and concentration. A recent brain imaging study showed that people who consistently slept less than 7 hours had overall less brain activity. Sleep problems are very common in people who struggle with their thoughts and emotions. Getting enough sleep everyday is essential to brain function."

"Caffeine constricts blood vessels and has been shown to decrease brain activity.... Stay away from substances known to be toxic or those that decrease brain activity."

Today Japan laughs away stress 04/05/2009

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