The Scoop on Stress.Written by Deborah Caruana RN, MES, CPT
Stress is defined as a response by your body to any demand made upon it and a 'demand' means a change. Did you know different stress levels have names? For example “Neutral” stress is amount of work it takes to maintain normal body function. If we give stress a scale of 1- 10 where Neutral stress would be 1. Lets take a look at Success and what it implies. Believe it or not success is a stressor, called “Eustress”, which stems from word euphoria. We can give eustress a quantitative number like 5 because it is a high intensity feeling and brings many ramifications and changes. Now we'll take a brief peak at failure. Failure means challenge, or worst of all defeat. So failure can generate what is called “Distress”, which, we’ll give a number of 5 because it’s implications for change are compound and also intense. I’m relinquishing good and bad judgements on stressors and trying to quantify them based on change from homeostasis-the norm perspective. If our highest stress level is 10 this is when we experience all of classic “fight and flight” signs of our body preparing for action. Hormones, like adrenaline, surge. 6 Your heartbeat and blood pressure soar. Your palms sweat. 7 Your short of breath. Your hair stands on end. 8 You’ve got a flock of geese flapping in your belly. Your blood sugar rises and your muscles tense. 9 Your mind is focused on fighting or flighting. If you get to 10 you’ll probably mess your knickers because your system has gone berserk from over stimulation and your body will surrender. Though odors may stop your adversary from taking that first bite. These effects, up to 9.9 unchanged for thousands of years, helped prehistoric humans survive! The problem here is that physical and emotional manifestations of stress response are designed to dissipate when immediate physical threat is over. But when they don't, over time, these over used hormones cause heart disease, hypertension, suppressed immunity, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and even depression. The greatest defense against these physical manifestations is to realize they are caused by your hard wired prehistoric emotions. For instance, if you're late for work and you've just missed last subway. What do you do? You can either panic, or you can just accept situation. Relax, take a deep breath and wait for next one. If you can change a situation, do it, if you can't, then you adapt. Understanding stress and its effects can help you use it to your own advantage, and turn potential "stressors" into positive challenges. Something I have always believed and now seems to be coming to light with scientific evidence is fact that stress can actually be good for you! The Latest Study on Stress This is a study done recently with mice in a stressful situation. What researchers did was they take a bunch of mice that were bullied repeatedly by a nasty mouse for a couple of hours for six consecutive days. At end of that period researchers infected picked on mice with a strain of influenza that also infects humans. Other mice, not subjected to bullying, were also infected so scientists could measure effects of stress. The bullied mice were actually better able to ward off virus than ones that had not had to deal with an aggressive foe. So scientists changed name of stress test to “repeated defeat.". By whatever name, stress apparently improved memory of special "T cells," that run immune system. Low levels of stress produce hormones that help us meet various challenges, so a little of a bad thing can be good. Of course, there's still some question about whether humans will react same as mice, but mouse immune response is comparable to that of humans and that's why they chose mice.
Bye Bye HolidaysWritten by Deborah Caruana RN, MES, CPT
Hoping everyone had a fun, fantastic, exciting and relaxing melange of Holiday eventfulness or lack thereof. Whatever it was that you did, that it most suited your moods and needs. Since holidays were shortened into one compact week, Saturday to next weeks Sunday, there was no time to languish. You had to seize that holiday time with both hands and feet to get most out of it. Holidays for me mean visiting family, since they live in another country (Canada) this is only a biannual event and therefore more meaningful. I have to inhale everyone to their essence and then painfully let go. Because it's a large family it takes concentration and a lot of energy, especially because there are a growing number of children and I certainly don't want to miss any of details of their development. I also want them to remember me meaningfully until next time I see them in six months. Holiday shopping helps. With family being central focus of holidays all other holiday concerns melt away. Though in end after we arrived back in New York and I stepped back on my weight scale and I realized something very important. I'm sure you remember my first "diet" experiment which was ' Atkins' and its terrible results. I have since brought carbs back into my daily regime focusing once again on healthy, whole grains, veggies galore plus lean proteins. Also I am trying to eat more meals with smaller portions for blood sugar regulation, meaning no blood sugar spikes that trigger insulin which triggers cortisol causing fat storage around abdomen. I can usually make time for four meals a day. So this years results from Holiday foods were astounding because my weight hadn't changed at all. Whereas last year when I had stopped Atkins I had gained four pounds over holidays. Here's reason why I had such different results. It wasn't because this time around I was more disciplined and controlled. It also wasn't because I avoided food. It was because my body was used to carbs which are a necessary component of daily nutrients so I didn't have this overreaction with water retention to extra carbs.