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Natural Ways To Relieve Stress Part 3/5

Adaptation

A key factor in our stress response is adaption. The body is able to adapt itself to an amazing range of situations from long-term life situations to immediate reactions to potential dangers. The adaptive process directs the spending of energy in the most efficient way no matter what you are doing, where you are, or how you are using your body, so long as you stay within certain boundaries. This adaption takes place all the time with adjustments from one second to another. Adaption is an essential life sustaining activity and through it, the body is always trying to maintain its physical/chemical and mental balance.

The body’s response to stress is similar no matter what causes it because the purpose of a stress reaction is to activate systems in our body which enable us to perform on a maximum level, physically as well as mentally. Certain parts of the nervous system are triggered, stress hormones are released, and metabolic processes are boosted to free energy for the muscle and brain. The immediate reaction is the “fight or flight” response. This increases the function of the heart and lungs and sharpens the senses. There is also an immediate release of adrenaline. At the same time the hormone cortisol is released which helps the body breakdown sugar and fats to release the energy. Cortisol is often called the “stress chemical”.

Prolonged Stress Response

A prolonged stress response develops when the body continues to react on a chemical level beyond the actual event or circumstance that initially triggered the stress reaction. In our Western society this phenomenon is becoming more and more common as people are unable to cope with stress and increasingly maintain a stress response. As the high cortisol levels continue, the hormone begins to show negative effects such as:

  • Suppressing the immune system, making us more vulnerable to infections
  • Increasing blood clotting and the risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • Affecting the brain causing reduced memory, concentration and emotional stability and impaired ability to take action.
  • If a stressful situation continues for weeks or months, organs which experience an overload in coping with the initial stress begin to risk severe damage and severe illness may develop. The adrenal gland and immune system in particular tend to become exhausted and their functioning is impaired. This can manifest in development of ulcers, depression or cardiovascular issues along with mental issues. Adrenal exhaustion requires an extended recovery time and may take, on average, ¾ of a year to reverse.