When you think about stress, do you think of worry? That’s the mind, caught up in what hurt us in the past, and what possible pain waits ahead, and if and how we can avoid it. In terms of survival, that’s the minds job, to learn from the past and avoid future mishaps.
When your mind is doing this, your body is is producing hormones in response to your thoughts. You’ve heard of the “fight or flight response”, mostly it’s your adrenals pumping out hormones that will allow you to survive a threat. When we worry, or get stressed, our body gets prepared for fight or flight, but often there is no immediate action which is going to burn off this response.
For example, if you are hiking in the woods and a large grizzly bear approaches, your mind will recognize the danger, prepare your body for flight by increasing your heart and breathing rate. At the same time, blood flow to the digestive system will be reduced. You run like hell for the nearest tree, climb it and hang on for dear life until the bear goes away. Then you can relax.
But what real action can we take when faced with most of the dangers in present day life? Where do you run when the economy is bad and you or your spouse is wondering if they will have a job next week? Or if a loved one gets sick or injured. What if day after day you are busy at work, busy at home, and never get a chance to smell the roses?
There are many many examples, I expect you can add to the list above, but the problem created by stress is much the same from person to person. First, there is often no quick way to respond the stress, so your body doesn’t get a clear message from the mind that all is well, so you continue to reduce the blood flow to the digestion and other non-essential systems (non-essential that is, if you were fighting for your life with a bear, which you are not). Your muscles are getting all the adrenilin, so they are tense, prepared for action, with nothing to do.
If you are not digesting your food well, and your body is tense, there it is, you get sick:
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Bad backs: over time tight muscles imbalance the proper alignment of the spine, creating everything from soreness to bulging discs- and if you get in an accident that causes damage, it is much more difficult to heal properly.
Insomnia: excess adrenalin in the system prevents you from falling asleep or wakes you up at night. Once your sleep rythm is disrupted, the hormones you normally produce while you sleep don’t get made, and you become fatigued during the day, and it gets harder to sleep at night.
Weight gain: Adrenalin and insulin have opposite action- imbalance one, and the other is likely to follow. Blood sugar tends to spike and fall instead of remaining steady, causing hunger. Poor digestion means you may not be getting nutrients your body craves, and so you eat more. I am just talking about the hormonal effects here, stress will usually have other effects which will cause weight gain.
These are just examples of how stress causes illness: everyone is going to be a little different, so other effects could be headaches, fatigue, immune problems, the list goes on and on.
Join me at Yoga with Frances for a talk on the problems of stress and how we can work to combat its effects, followed by a yoga session. We will discuss how to promote better health through periodically (weekly or daily) giving our body the right message: to relax, feel good, and balance our hormones. We will do an hour of yoga designed to relieve pain, help you sleep and or lose weight at the end of the day. You will recieve a 20 minute practice to do at home on your own.
Wednesday October 24th, 7:30- 9:30 $25
Continuing for 4 weeks: October 31st, November 14th and 21st 7:30- 9:30
$25 each or $75 for series
Yoga with Frances at Centennial Retirement House, Ritson and Hillcroft in Oshawa