Stress. We can’t see it, or touch it…but we can feel it’s effects, and stress plays a major role in weight imbalances and a myriad of other health issues.
Lets look at how stress affects us physically.
Our body’s autonomic nervous system (ANS) has two sides – the parasympathic nervous system (PNS), which is sometimes referred to as our “rest & digest” side, and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is considered the “fight or flight” side.
When our body perceives a threat – our SNS kicks into gear – our blood sugar spikes, our stress hormones get released, heart rate increases, the blood vessels constrict – increasing blood pressure and volume. Back when we were hunter gathers, all of that enabled us to have the energy and strength to run from a predator. During a stress response, digestion, fertility, immune system, detox, sleep, and repair take a back seat when the SNS is engaged, because survival is always the priority. When the threat is gone, our ANS can return to a state of homeostasis, or balance.
The issue today is that many of us are functioning in a stressed out state all of the time. We aren’t running from sabre tooth tigers, we are dealing with the daily stressors of life, that don’t go away: deadlines, traffic jams, family and work dynamics, health issues, being available 24-7 by text, computer and phone. Even just turning on the TV or scrolling our feeds can cause our stress levels to rise. And I don’t think we realize that poor diets, eating on the run, and even over-exercising can be a source of stress as well.