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Chronic Long Term Stress: Wearing down your systems each day

The chemicals produced by long term stress affects these systems (hint – the whole body!):

Musculoskeletal – muscles and joints

Cardiovascular – heart and blood vessels

Respiratory – lungs and control of breathing

Endocrine – adrenal glands, liver and thyroid

Gastrointestinal – esophagus, stomach and bowels

Reproductive – male and female

Nervous system – sympathetic “fight or flight” system stays turned “on” affecting all of the above including sleep, energy, emotion and concentration.

TEMPORARY STRESS is not the issue here.  Temporary is like sitting in traffic late for a meeting, a visit from a difficult family member, waiting in the principal/attorney/doctor’s office, or missing your flight.  These situations should resolve. But REPEATED TEMPORARY STRESS has the effect of CHRONIC LONG TERM STRESS and affects your health negatively.

CHRONIC LONG TERM STRESS: being unhappy at work, carrying excess weight, eating inflammatory foods, taking care of a family member, not managing your time, talent or treasure sensibly, over-exercising… things you do each day that the body has to deal with… for years.

TOLERANCE varies for each of us.  What is “stressful” to some e.g. rock climbing may be “relaxing” to others.

The DEEP RELAXATION of meditation or massage gives us an idea of how de-stressed we can be.  Some of us can barely get up off a massage table or fall asleep.

Shifting our daily living PATTERNS to much less stress and adding more daily de-stressing behaviors helps all of the systems listed above… and decreases the risk of a sudden system FAILURE: heart attack, stroke, liver or kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes and immune problems.

What you can do NOW:

CHOOSE not to stress –  work on it every day… in a way that works for you.  If you try to pack in too much, back off. If you are always running late, leave 15 minutes early – it might help you not get sick later.  If you hate waiting, go for a walk.  Whatever feels stressful – find another way… including reducing your expectations.  Life throws curves so curve with them.

DE-STRESS daily –  Instead of watching TV or “staying connected” via internet or phone, switch it off and work on deep relaxation/meditation.  Retire to bed 15 minutes early, slow and deepen your breathing. Read.    Park further out at the store – build in short walks.

DE-STRESS deeply - Treat yourself to a massage, take some longer walks or hikes, add in some hills, or sign up for a regular yoga/dance/gym class that’s more of a challenge.

DE-STRESS differently –  Take a vacation, even a mini-vacation with an emphasis on rest, rather than seeing all there is to see.  Stay in and use the spa.

DE-STRESS your nerve system – Keep your Chiropractic care appointments.  It reduces biomechanical and neurological stress – muscles, nerves, joints… the whole body appreciates it.

DE-STRESS your mind -  Be aware of what you are thinking and focus on the present.  Be mindful of your current task.  If you feel wound up, find tools (like slowed deep breathing) to reset and de-stress.

Get COACHED –  Buy a book, a tape or use a professional to help guide you to better less stressed habits.

STRESS OF CHANGE is temporary.  Don’t expect making different choices will feel comfortable.  But if it’s helping in the long run, it’s worth it.

The saying is “pay now” or “pay later”.  De-stress now so you don’t pay later with chronic diseases.

Resources:          American Institute of Stress:


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