These days many of us are living in fight or flight mode. We’re stressed. We’re overworked. We’re overscheduled. We’re overtired. You get the picture. So, what is this doing to our bodies and our overall health?
For starters all of this non-stop stress is depleting your adrenals, spiking your cortisol (which is linked to weight gain), adrenaline, and blood sugar, thinning out the lining of your gut and perhaps even more.
Our nervous system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system, which is our fight-flight mode when we are in danger and our parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest-relaxation mode where we should be when we are eating and sleeping. These days, most of us are in the fight-flight mode trying to eat and sleep and do everything for everyone however our bodies don’t function optimally in this mode and we feel the effects of being in a high cortisol state for a long period of time.
We get into this fight-flight nervous system mode from stressors in our environment such as emails, our in-laws, taxes, traffic, deadlines, etc. Our body thinks we’re getting chased by a tiger from our primitive days however there really is no danger in front of us; it’s all created in our mind. When you think about this, it’s fascinating to realize that your mind’s perception of stressors can put your entire body into a state of chronic stress, which is keeping you stuck in the sympathetic nervous system (fight-flight mode). This is when health issues start to form, symptoms start popping up out of nowhere and we start to feel fatigued, bloated, brain fogged, depleted and more. We may also be losing weight or gaining weight or dealing with headaches and insomnia. We are all very different, therefore our bodies react to stress very differently and everyone’s symptoms will be completely different.
Here are a few symptoms related to chronic stress that you may be experiencing:
- Anyone who is living with chronic stress will probably get sick more often because of a weakened immune system. That can lead to chronic inflammation which may increase the risk of developing more health issues.
- Weight gain: with the increase in cortisol being released due to chronic high stress.
- Memory loss
- Hair loss
- Grinding your teeth at night
- Constipation, loose bowels or even abdominal pain
So, how do you know you’re in this fight-flight mode? A few easy ways to tell your body is in fight-flight is that your hands and/or feet are always cold, your digestion feels off (bloating, constipation, diarrhea and more), you’re experiencing hormonal imbalances (such as PMS infertility or any type of reproductive problems), and your eyes are dilated. On a smaller scale you could simply be feeling anxious, overscheduled, exhausted, scattered, overwhelmed, drinking too much coffee, wired at night when you’re trying to sleep, etc. You get the idea. This is surviving. This is not how we should be living our lives. You are not meant to be surviving. You are meant to be living a beautiful life in the parasympathetic nervous system mode (rest-relation mode) and I’m going to share with you a few tips on how to do that.
The Connection Between Resetting Your Body & Your Nervous System
It is important to slow down and realize the connection between your nervous system and your overall health. Stress is a huge cause of so many health issues and we often overlook stress because many of us don’t even realize we are so stressed out! We need to learn how to slow down and reset ourselves so that our bodies can function optimally.
Here’s what you can start doing today to get your body out of fight-flight mode (sympathetic nervous system) and into your rest-relaxation mode (parasympathetic nervous system):
- Belly Breathing: Breathe in and out of your belly- not your chest. This is such an easy way to pull your body back into the relaxation mode. Place your hand on your belly to ensure you are breathing in and out of your belly and not in and out of your chest. Set a Google calendar alarm to check yourself to ensure you’re doing this a few times throughout the day.
- Sleeping with the circadian rhythm is such a huge part of our overall stress response because if we go to sleep too late and don’t get enough quality sleep, our cortisol (stress hormone) will increase and will lead to inflammation, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, digestion issues and so much more. Try to get into bed by 10PM and up by 6:30-7AM to get in sync with the circadian rhythm. This is the rhythm that your body wants to be on. You’ll feel so much better because you’re in tune with the natural rhythm of life.
- To get out of fight-flight mode, you must relax your nervous system, which means getting your body into the parasympathetic rest-relaxation mode where you will start to allow your entire body to relax. Disease and health issues cannot creep in when you are in this mode. This is why deep breathing, rest, sleep (at least 7 hours), meditation, being in nature and slowing down is so important. This is just a touch of what we’ll cover in my 30-Day Reset Program of how you can get your body out of fight-flight mode and get back to feeling your best.
Have you found an effective way to deal with stress? Leave a comment below!
Amie Valpone is the founder of TheHealthyApple.com and the best-selling author of Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body. She recently healed herself from a decade of chronic health issues such as Lyme disease, C-diff colitis, Hypothyroidism, Leaky Gut, Candida, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), toxic levels of mold and heavy metals, and more through detoxification and an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
The views expressed in this article are intended to spark conversation and highlight alternative studies and is for information purposes only. We are not here to diagnose or treat any health or medical conditions, nor should this be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, even if it features the advice of health experts, medical practitioners or physicians. When making any lifestyle or health changes, consult your primary care physician. The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Organic Authority, Inc..
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