Stress

Your brain only knows one way to react to stress, regardless of the type of stress or where it comes from. As human beings, we are wired to handle stress in short bursts, even if its very intense, and then recover just as quickly. This was how humans survived predators for thousands of years. In today’s modern society, we are all living under constant, low levels of stress (waking up to an alarm, traffic, getting the kids ready for school, work schedules, etc). These low-level stressors accumulate as physical issues over time and lead to the most common diseases plaguing human beings. We cannot avoid stress in our world – family, work, alarms, they will not just “stop”. So what can we do to change the relationship we have with these stresses and avoid succumbing to their negative outcomes? The first step is to become more aware of what stressors exist in your life.  

There are three main categories of stress: Physical, Chemical, and Emotional.

 

Physical Stress – 2 types

1.) High impact, quick event

This is your car accident, sports injury, slip and fall, concussion, birth trauma for the mother and infant. You know when these happen as they occur with inflammation and immediate pain.

2.) Low impact, repetitive over time

These are your lifestyle habits; sitting for work and your commute, walking and standing with poor posture, texting and using a cellphone or a laptop with your head down, being overweight and even sleeping on a soft bed, or in the same position night after night for years. You may not notice the immediate impact of these stressors, but one day, seemingly out of nowhere, your body will tell you it won’t maintain it anymore by sending you signals – the one being the most severe is usually pain.

 

Chemical Stress

This is what you put into your mouth or on your skin, or what you don’t.

Too much of coffee, sugar, gluten, dairy, food dyes, GMO foods, red meat, and/or not enough variety in your diet is a chemical stress to your brain and body. A lack of water (dehydration is the most common chemical stress), prescription and over-the-counter medications, not enough nutrients due to a poor diet, and a lack of vitamins and essential nutrients to help the body heal are also all chemical stressors that impact us negatively. All of our unique programs include individualized nutrition and supplementation advice, or a referral to someone who specializes in assessing and treating your specific chemical stressors. We work closely as a team to uncover your chemical stressors and help you to improve in these areas of your life.

 

Emotional Stress

Emotional stress can have a major impact on your brain and body health. You have work, family, children, friends, parents, etc. who rely on you. You also have your relationship with self-stress (are you your own best friend or worst enemy), commuter stress, lack of sleep stress, health stress, financial stress and many more. Negative thoughts can rob you of your health and happiness and we are here to help change that. The article titled Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity (Psychology Today, February 2014) documents the research out of Berkley, California. It states that “chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function”. The findings from this study explain why young people who are exposed to chronic stress early in life are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life, as well as learning difficulties. The researchers established that elevated levels of cortisol (our stress hormone) in adolescence change the expression of numerous genes linked to mental illness in some people. They found that these changes in young adulthood—which is a critical time for brain development—could cause mental illness (depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD).  It is never to early to have an evaluation and it is never too late because change, or neuroplasticity – the ability of our brain to create new patterns and connections, can happen at any age.

 

Why does stress and cortisol cause such havoc?

Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action—but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight to help balance and recover from this release. Are you racing down the streets screaming after your boss gives you a new deadline? Most likely not; thus, cortisol starts to build up in your blood. Ironically, our own biology—which was designed to ensure our survival as hunters and gatherers—is sabotaging our bodies and minds in our current sedentary and digital age.

Cortisol is believed to create a domino effect that wires pathways between the areas of our brain that control and handle stress in a way that might create a vicious cycle by creating a brain that becomes predisposed to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

Our integrative team works together to measure bio-markers of elevated levels of stress and, using the latest technology to measure Heart Rate Variability, we will assess if you are stuck in a chronic fight-flight/survival response that will dictate your individual care plan.

Why Brain Health?