(Podcast #5 Transcript)
How many times have you said “I’m stressed” or “I feel stressed”? Ten? A hundred? maybe a million?!.
When we talk about stress I find we're usually referring to what we're feeling emotionally. For example you’ll say things like your mum is stressing you out, you’re stressed with your job, you’re stressed because you’re so busy, you’re stressed because you have no time to fit in all the things you actually agreed to do.
The psychological stuff is BIG and it may well be holding you back in many ways. However stress is not only the mental and emotional stuff. I actually see 3 types or categories, and actually to be more accurate with terminology I'd say they are stressors. I call these 3 categories of stressors, the triangle of health.
The intention for this episode is to give you an understanding of these 3 categories. Because awareness and knowledge is the first step, and being aware gives you the opportunity to decide whether you want to do something about it.
And this is really important because as a person who wants to make a difference in the world, how can you show up as your best self, positively impact others and achieve your dreams when you’re suffering with the immediate and longer term effects of stress? We really must put our own oxygen mask on first!
It all starts with self.
So, what is stress?
Well its actually a response. and as such its called the stress response. It’s what happens in response to various types of pressures and demands known as stressors. So we don’t actually HAVE stress, our bodies and minds create it. Stress is not something that happens to us, rather something that happens within us.
The stress response is a natural one and for short periods of time it can be very necessary and beneficial. When we were cave men and women the surge of adrenalin and cortisol that we got when there was threat (which is the fight or flight response) this was amazing, it would to help us run from being eaten by a lion, or ill help us if we are injured.
Nowadays it can benefit us in scenarios such as public speaking, as it can get us really focused and alert. The challenge we have however is that there are many different stressors continually triggering a stress response within us and that stress is toxic and detrimental to our health and ultimately our performance in life.
The human body and mind are just not designed to experience continuous long term stress
So, the 3 categories of stressors are
1. Psychological stressors - this is the mental/emotional that Ive already mentioned. and its quite obvious
2. Physical stressors, a bit less obvious
3. Chemical stressors, which are more hidden and under the surface
All these different stressors interact with each other (theyre all all interconnected) and effect certain genes in our bay - they express genes that help us to feel great or ones that make us sick. Stressors ultimately result in body system imbalances which then result in common but not natural symptoms such as
- mood issues
- aches and pains
- digestive issues
- storage of fat especially around our belly
- headaches & brain fog
- issues with memory, focus and concentration
Ultimately stress creates inflammation in the body and brain, which limits us in many ways, and then if we experience it for a prolonged period of time it leads to more serious conditions and is responsible for most cases of chronic illness. For example we don’t “get” cancer, we develop it.
Soon ill be recording an episode with a friend of mine who knows a lot about inflammation and we will be going a lot deeper into the topic, in a straight talking way of course. We’ll be covering what it is, the mechanics of how it actually happens, how that leads to various consequences and importantly how we can take control.
Over time stress changes us at a cellular level and creates more and more damage to our physical and mental health. Putting it really bluntly, stress makes us fat, sick and stupid.
Lets go into each type of stressor in a bit more detail
1. Psychological stressors: There's of course major life events such as divorce, illness, death, and relationship break ups. And then there’s past trauma that’s not been dealt with. Beyond that there’s the day to day stuff; things not working out as we wanted them to, social media and all which that entails, consuming the news, toxic relationships or being around negative behaviour, overwhelm of stimuli and information, being surrounded by clutter, being disorganised, trying to fit too much into the time you have, demands that others pace upon you, being around negative people, and loneliness, which is a really big one.
These can effect how we FEEL emotionally and also effects our biology (as in our physical body and brain function).
I've mentioned them before and I'll mention again - Dr Bruce Lipton, and Dr Joe Dispenza, because I love them, and the work they do is very much about the power of the mind and its ability to change our biology. Then there’s also Gabor Mate who I have massive respect for. They all talk about how trauma and our beliefs and thoughts create cellular changes, effect the expression of genes, and create disease over longer period of time.
Emotional stressors can also cause instant physical issues eg you get that dreaded feeling in your tummy and need to run to the bathroom, perhaps you feel nauseaus, or you get a headache. BUT thankfully we can change how we perceive and deal with these stressors which then changes how we feel and how our bodies respond.
2. Physical (internal) stressors - the big factor here is what we put into our bodies, with diet being a big one eg eating sugar literally jacks up the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. The same with foods we’re intolerant to. then theres Pharmaceuticsl medications. The quality of water you drink also matters (lots of chemicals in tap water), poor quality sleep, parasites or bacterial overgrowths that we may have, and exercise. Excess exercise or the wrong type of exercise for your needs can be damaging. and then theres also Chronic pain or injury
3. Chemical stressors: This is toxins from the environment outside of us which disrupt our normal cell functioning. This includes light, electronics and EMF’s (electromagnetic fields), environmental pollution and fumes emitted from vehicles, chemicals we breath in from non natural cleaning products and home fragrances. Chemicals in toiletries, perfumes and makeup that we put on our skin (which then gets absorbed into our bodies), toxic mold, toxic cookware such as non stick teflon and aluminium pans, plastic packaging and storage containers, un-natural physical surroundings, viruses, sleep problems and hormonal imbalances. Thats not a completely exhaustive list but it gives you an idea. These are often the hidden things were not aware of but they’re there.
All of these different types of stressors I've mentioned are interconnected and it's the combined and cumulative effect of these over time that causes most of our mental, emotional and physical health challenges.
Here’s a simple analogy to demonstrate this. I call it the bathtub of stress….
Lets say you have a large bathtub with many different taps over it. Each tap represents a different demand or toxin - a different type of stressor. The drain represents our physical and mental ability to deal with these stressors.
If there’s just a few taps on, with only a little water coming out, and the drain is clear, it just flows away. If you turn more taps on and more heavily and maybe the drain gets slightly blocked then the bath is slowly going to fill up. This represents our toxic stress load. Eventually it will start to overflow a little and then there will be leaks and some damage and then eventually the whole house will be wrecked.
So ultimately for a healthy high performing body and mind we want to minimise the amount of water going in, and maximise the drainage. Its a two pronged approach which in real life means;
1. minimising the demands in all three categories where possible.addressing and
2. releasing stress and trauma from the past and building emotional (and physical) resilience for the future. This is imperative because realistically there will always be unexpected events, various demands, challenges and toxins we are exposed to. This is the reality of the modern world. We can however change how we respond to these by addressing our beliefs, thoughts and mindset, (which I call the inner work) This is how one person can be exposed to a certain situation and take it in their stride whereas another person faced with the same thing has a total meltdown.
We really can gain control over this and achieve freedom from the clutches of stress. It’s a journey I've been through myself and a topic Im really passionate about supporting others with.
I encourage you to ask yourself how many stressors are you exposed to or experiencing on a regular basis, just to get clear on where you are currently at. Is your bathtub overflowing or nicely under control? How many taps are on? And how full on are they? Maybe you’re even already seeing the damage?
Ultimately your health is determined by whats going on in that bathtub, and in future episodes you’ll learn more about the different stressors and real world solutions to actually minimise and overcome them.
I hope this episode has been of value to you. If so be sure to spread the word and help me help more people and if you’re listening on iTunes you can show your support by leaving a rating and feedback. As usual you can connect and interact with me via my website www.laurajanebolton.com or social media
Thank you so much for listening and have a vibrant day!