Stress is one of many important internal functions in our bodies that allowed us to survive throughout history, as well as helping us navigate dangerous or intense situations today! Stress is an internal response that is triggered when our central nervous system reacts to a perceived threat and that a heightened response is necessary. The issue is that modern life has traded existential and physical dangers, for mental, psychological, and perceived danger.
Every day, people stress about work deadlines, relationship troubles, financial issues, health concerns, and the list seemingly goes on forever. In our attempt to keep up with life, we seem to trade one form of stress for another, rarely giving ourselves a much-needed mental break.
Jeff Hogrefe, RPh, AFAARM, of the Integrative Hormone Center and Pharmacy helps patients manage stress through a combination of nutraceuticals and functional medicine. The ‘patient-first’ approach to functional medicine emphasizes unique treatment, specific to your needs instead of one-for-all treatment.
Symptoms of Stress
Stressful situations can elicit a heightened response, giving you the ability to focus, increased awareness, as well as improved reaction timing. The main concern with stress is prolonged exposure. Constantly triggering the stress response can be mentally and physically draining and even lead to serious chronic diseases. The following is a list of symptoms associated with stress:
- Persistent headaches
- Chest Pain
- Lowered sex drive
- Gastrointestinal trouble
- Social avoidance
- Insomnia and sleep deprivation
- Brain fog or cognitive issues
How Stress Affects the Body
Stress can be categorized as an example of too much of a good thing. In small doses, adrenaline and cortisol can provide you with a life-saving boost, that gets blood circulating, heart rate elevated, immune system activated, and muscles activated. When this response is triggered repeatedly or for long periods of time, your health begins to decline as a result. Your body is attempting to run at 110% and like everything else, will begin to burn out eventually.
Continued stress will damage blood vessels and lead to chronic heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and all of the associated symptoms listed above. Studies have found correlations between high-stress levels and the early development of type two diabetes as cortisol influences how your body uses glucose levels. This 2017 study indicates that persistently high stress can cause structural changes in certain parts of the brain.
How to Effectively Manage Your Stress
Jeff Hogrefe of the Integrative Hormone Center utilizes his expertise in functional medicine to help patients manage stress effectively. It is a holistic approach that examines multiple areas of your life to determine where key stressors might arise, and realistic ways to cope or eliminate them!
The key to managing your stress is understanding that it originates in your mind. The way you perceive stressful situations determines your body’s response to it! If burning your toast in the morning stresses you out, chances are you’re already on edge. Managing stress begins with the foundations of a healthy life, and that is balance. Below are some introductory steps to manage your stress levels:
Get Enough Sleep
When you are tired, your decision-making is compromised due to a lack of mental clarity, and are more likely to react with emotion instead of logic. This can become a vicious cycle as you will stress about not having the mental clarity to complete a task, leading to frustration and stress.
Working out, or really any form of intense exercise, is one of the best ways to relieve stress. You exert pent-up energy, let out any aggression, and satisfy your central nervous system’s fight or flight response, allowing your body and mind to relax. This 2014 study found a link between routine exercise and increased resilience to stressful situations.
Limit Caffeine Intake
Caffeine stimulates many of the same systems that your stress response does. It increases your heart rate, provides a temporary energy boost and mental clarity. So excessive caffeine intake while you are also stressed can cause you to burn out faster or amplify the negative effects of stress.
Maintain Strong Social Interactions
Let it out! It is remarkable how cathartic and relieving it can be to vent and let all of your stress out. Having supportive friends and family is important for many reasons, of which communication and commonalities are important. Hearing that others experience the same struggles as you, or getting advice on how to handle it can be incredibly useful in managing stress
Make Time For Mental Health
We have work schedules, dedicated time for the gym, and set aside time to watch TV. Why shouldn’t mental health have a time of its own? It could be as simple as starting with 15 minutes a day where you are free of distractions, no cell phone or TV, just a calm and relaxing environment where you can breathe and allow your mind to relax.
Looking for Stress Management Therapy?
If you or a loved one is struggling to cope with stressful events in your life or have noticed that stress has become part of your everyday life, reach out to Jeff Hogrefe, RPh, AFAARM, at the Integrative Hormone Center in Centerville, Ohio. Take the first step towards living stress-free, call our offices, or book a consultation online today!