STRESSSSS!!! Our life is filled with so many tensions and so many things happening so haphazardly that we don’t have time to think about how we should reduce it.
What happens if you’re stressed out?
So while we are stressed out our body goes in fight or flight response. This is due to release of a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps in functions like digestion, immune response, production of glucose, and boosting of energy to muscles by reducing insulin production and narrowing arteries by forcing blood to pump harder to aid in stress response.
Another hormone that is adrenaline increases the heart and respiratory rate, to expand airways to push more oxygen into muscles. Also, stress decreases lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system by increasing the risk of viruses like the common cold.
The fight or flight response is for a shorter time and is an adaptive response. In this case, the body goes into a temporary mode where the immune function is shut this state sets up the inflammatory response and causes inflammation which can lead to health problems.
So how are inflammations causing problems?
Inflammation is a response of the body to fight against any foreign invader like bacteria, virus or cancer. During any inflammation, the body sends pro-inflammatory cytokines to attack and after fighting they disappear. But in case of stress, these cytokines continues and doesn’t disappear and causes deleterious effects on the body that are responsible for many diseases.
Conditions that are linked to stress
Rheumatoid Arthritis – it is a disease that attacks the body’s immune system causing stiffness and pain in the joints and tissues. It is caused by a release of cytokines while being on stress. It can lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Cardiovascular Disease – during stress the blood vessels constrict and force the heart to work faster by increasing blood pressure and leading to the development of atherosclerosis. In people who are chronical, stresses may start smoking and it worsens the disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease - affects the gastrointestinal system, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both are caused by stress by affecting the secretion of digestive enzymes, inference with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Research suggests that corticotropin-releasing factor is activated while being stressed out and it affects bowel functions.
Depression – the pro-inflammatory cytokines are released during stress and it triggers depression by lowered mood, fatigue or lack of enjoyment.
Respiratory system – stress makes breathing harder by causing rapid breathing that can cause pain attacks in people.
Yoga, exercise and meditation – research shows that regular physical activity lowers the level of cortisol and reduces inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory Diet – this diet reduces inflammation by turning off the pro-inflammatory cytokine. It includes foods like
1. Removing processed junk food
2. Reducing the intake of carbohydrates
3. Taking healthy proteins
4. Including fruits and vegetables in the diet
Foods like spinach, peppers, beans, all berries, fishes, herbs; oils like olive, coconut etc are few anti-inflammatory foods.
Maintaining healthy weight
Practicing good sleep and good hygiene
Talking to family and friends
Taking out time to be involved in activities apart from work is a great way to reduce stress and also increases the work efficiency. It’s always best to maintain a balance between both because staying healthy will lead to more productivity.