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Dr Kathleen Hartford

Dr Kathleen Hartford

HOW CHRONIC STRESS HARMS YOU (AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT)

Everything that happens in your body or your environment creates a response from your nervous system.  The foods you eat, the thoughts you think, the temperature in which you live, the speed at which you do life. Everything is a stimulation, which creates a response from you nervous system.

Your nervous system continuously functions to adapt the body; every cell tissue and organ, to its environment. If you are in a hot environment the body will open its pours to perspire, releasing life-threatening heat. If you are in a cold environment the body will create goose bumps to maintain your internal heat and keep you warm. Stimulation and response activities are occurring every nano-second of every day in your body, and your nervous system is the great conductor of this beautiful symphony.

When the symphony is harmonious and we are exposed to a stressor our bodies will respond with an appropriate sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system response. Once that stress is resolved we will experience an appropriate parasympathetic (healing relaxation and repair) response. In other words we respond to the stressful situation with our sympathetic nervous system and then regain our balance through our parasympathetic nervous system.

The Fight or Flight response was created within the human body as a protective response to a perceived threat. Thousands of years ago when humans lived in the wild with recurring threats, this response saved lives. We would get the necessary energy and musculoskeletal response to fight the perceived threat or to run like the wind to get away from the perceived threat.

Now let’s think about that today. The nervous system is responding to stress created by the continuous stimulation of a 24-hour news cycle, a demanding job, a smart phone that keeps us connected to the outside world and our office 24/7 while managing our children as they move in multiple directions at one time. In other words we never really switch off to allow the balancing, relaxation, healing and repair, response of the parasympathetic nervous system.

This Chronic stimulation/response can have devastating effects on our health and our emotional wellbeing. It taxes our hormonal system and depletes our adrenal gland, leading to exhaustion, a diminished immune system, digestive disturbances, increased cortisol, increased abdominal fat deposits and anxiety.

When the fight or flight response is activated many things happen:

  • Our heart rate increases
  • Our digestion slows down
  • Our blood is shunted to our extremities so that we can fight or run
  • Our adrenaline & cortisol levels spike contributing to cell wall resistance (metabolic syndrome) belly fat deposits and adrenal burnout/exhaustion.
  • Sleeplessness
  • Often times feeling wired yet tired

Structurally in our physical bodies we:

  • Clench our jaw
  • Twist our ribcage
  • Torque our pelvis
  • Experience shallow breathing
  • Experience tunnel Vision

A wide variety of emotions can be present and persistent under chronic stress:

  • Fear
  • Paralysis
  • Collapse
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Frustration
  • Lashing out at loved ones

Effects on your overall health can include:

  • Irritable bowel
  • Gastric Reflux
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Spinal, back or neck pain
  • Grinding of teeth
  • TMJ
  • Melancholy/Loss of energy
  • Emotional Instability
  • Constipation and/or loose bowel
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Belly Fat deposits seemingly for no reason
  • Hypoglycemia/blood sugar destabilization

If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms or simply from prolonged stress, join us for our ‘Is It Your Stress’ workshop where we will explore your symptoms, if they could be stress related and what can be done to provide relief.

We have wonderfully effective therapeutic approaches to normalize your stress response,  from your neurological system, to your hormonal system. Adaptogenic stress support along with gentle body therapies can help you regain your health and vitality. In fact we can even stop the accelerated aging caused by this lifestyle!

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