Stress is an inevitable part of every day life. Bills that appear unexpectedly, meetings or presentations with senior staff, kids falling over and injuring themselves are all good examples of your body going into acute stress.It is relatively easy to deal with short term mild stress., but serious health problems are possible when stress is severe and chronic.
You’ve saved up all of your leave or finally made it to school holidays and it’s time for a family vacation. You love adventure so you decide to go on safari. After a long day in the truck, you want to stretch your legs so you get out and go for a wander. After a few minutes, you hear a roar. You freeze, trying to locate the animal and quickly notice a large lion slowly moving towards you…
How do you feel?
If you’re anything like me, just picturing that scenario is enough to get your heart racing. The idea of a lion, tiger or crocodile looking at you like a nice big juicy steak is enough to scare anyone!
What’s interesting though, is how your body responds to the danger. Your heart racing is caused by the adrenaline flowing through your body because your adrenal glands have detected an immediate and sudden stress. In fact, your entire sympathetic nervous system is active, preparing your body to decide whether to run away from the danger, yell out for help or fight. Or if you’re really scared, stay completely frozen and hope you discover how to make yourself invisible. At the same time, your parasympathetic nervous system which controls digestion is sitting on the sidelines quietly so that all your energy can be used to keep you alive. In this stage, your body is running on pure adrenaline so you are in a fast metabolic state.
Since we know you’re probably not likely to end up staring a lion in the face, it can be hard to picture how this would apply in every day life. Bills that appear unexpectedly, meetings or presentations with senior staff, kids falling over and injuring themselves are all good examples of your body going into acute stress.
So what makes this stress so bad?
If your body stays in a state of acute stress, there are a number of health problems which you may be more at risk of.
- Heart problems such as heart attacks
- Irritable bowel and diarrhoea
If you’re concerned that you may be trapped in a permanent state of phase 1 stress and believe it may be harming your health, why not book an appointment with our resident GP/Naturopath Dr Pete to discuss your concerns and work on a strategy to get you feeling happier and healthier?