Managing stress is (or should be) one of the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle.
You could have the perfect diet and exercise routine, but…
If your stress levels are completely out of whack then you could still be in BIG trouble.
Threats in Modern Life
Stress is a normal physiological response to danger.
In our hunter-gatherer environment, real danger could be something like a hungry lion attacking us.
Stress activates our “fight or flight” response, which elevates hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
This makes our bodies prepared to either fight for our lives, or run our asses off.
In the hunter-gatherer environment, stress was both brief and rare.
Today, stress is everywhere around us. Pressure at work, school, financial problems, medical bills, all these things can be registered as stress.
These things do not cause us any immediate physical danger, but our bodies still perceive them as threats and the “fight or flight” response is constantly activated.
This is what we call “chronic” stress.
A constant low-level stress that raises levels of the hormone cortisol, but chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to all sorts of health problems, including obesity, heart disease (the #1 killer) and depression.
How Stress Can Make You Sick, Unhealthy and Fat
In the video below, Dr. Elissa S. Epel and Dr. Barbara A. Laraia explain how chronic stress affects the metabolism, raising cortisol levels and making the body hoard abdominal fat.
- High stress shifts our metabolism and behavior, leading to overeating.
- Chronic stress may lead to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
- There are a number of stressors in modern life that seem really threatening to the body.
- Stress causes many of the same signals as famine, turning on brain pathways that make us crave dense calories and store body fat.
The video is 7 minutes long:
What You Can do to Avoid the Dangers of Chronic Stress
First of all, if you’re a reader of this blog then good chances are that you’re already doing a lot of things to combat stress.
That’s because eating healthy and exercising are one of the cornerstones of stress management. Good news for us!
Ensuring that you get proper sleep every night is extremely important as well.
If you feel that you need something extra then there are plenty of ways to reduce stress in your life.
Connect with your family and friends, do something fun every week and stop taking everything so damn seriously. Your life may depend on it, literally.
Is there anything you’d like to add? What do you do when the stressors of modern life become overwhelming?