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The Mind-Body Connection: How Stress Impacts Your Health and What You Can Do About It

A Month-by-Month Look at Your Child's Development

Recent research implies that ongoing stress can negatively impact one's overall health and wellbeing. Stress on a chronic basis can be a contributing factor to physical health ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure and poor circulation among many other health related concerns.


In addition, researchers have found that high stress levels may also be a direct factor in the development of obesity. This is often due to stress causing individuals to eat more overall especially comfort type foods high in sugars, fat, salt and calories. Indirectly, stress may lead to lack of regular exercise and cause chronic sleep related problems. Ongoing stress is known to cause significant brain changes that may lead to increased depression episodes, greater anxiety levels, migraines and even serious problems with addiction.


The good news is that people can learn effective stress reducing techniques to act as a counter measure to the stress response according to a holistic doctor in Miami who practices integrative care.


Stress Reduction Techniques: Meditation, yoga, and other holistic practices

There are some simple and highly effective techniques that individuals can quickly learn to be a positive counteraction to negative ongoing or chronic stress response symptoms. Many of these stress-busting techniques are natural and holistic in nature.


Stress reduction techniques to try include:


Yoga, Guided Imagery, Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation

All help to focus the mind, calm stressful thoughts and emotions and incorporates purposeful concentration on breathing. This increases oxygen levels allowing the body to get needed blood supply and nutrients needed for fuel and energy. Mindfulness helps to keep us here in the present which has a calming effect on the mind, body and spirit.


Journaling

Keeping a daily journal to write down thoughts, feelings and specific things that may be causing you stress can help bring greater awareness. This allows individuals to take a thoughtful approach to identifying and changing bad stress increasing habits.


Get Regular Exercise Outdoors if Possible

Getting outside in the fresh air on a regular basis can do a lot to lower everyday stress levels. Working different muscle groups helps tone the body and aids in triggering the body's natural response to increased physical exercise which includes the release of endorphins the feel-good hormones.


Other Everyday Healthy Habits to Banish Stress

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet

  • Getting enough sleep and trying progressive muscle relaxation when stress levels begin to rise and before sleep

  • Use of stress decreasing supplements like B-vitamins, melatonin and herbal teas


Involve More Senses into Everyday Life Focusing on Peace and Joy


Here are some things to try including:

  • Aromatherapy to stimulate smell using stress reducing scents like lavender

  • Try scented candles, aromatic diffusers and adding essential oils into your bath water or use as a natural perfume.

  • Create something to spark joy

  • Try painting, making crafts, woodworking, drawing, cooking or anything else that makes you happy. Keeping your mind focused and your fine motor muscles and systems engaged helps to reduce stress through the body's natural mechanisms.

  • Speak positivity into your life by using positive affirmations and self-talk

  • Place positive quotes, sayings or happy visuals in areas where you will see them using post it notes, pictures or other reminders.

  • Eat slowly to enjoy your food selections and increase joy

  • Try cooking and eating with friends and family, taste different flavors and monitor your diet incorporating healthy foods. This can help to offset the body's stress response as it relates to eating.

  • Try music therapy .

    • Listen to music that makes you happy. Singing or humming elicits a natural response from deep within your throat and abdomen that can bring forth hormonal changes within the brain that helps to decrease stress and increase joy, happiness and feelings of well-being. Try playing an instrument.

  • Increase Laughter, Gratitude and Joy in your Life

  • Slow down to enjoy the simple things in your everyday life. Small positive changes can truly do wonders.

  • Interact more with animals and nature

  • Learn something new everyday

  • Develop a solid and strong support network

    • Get outside your usual comfort zone to meet new people with likeminded goals and aspirations. Seek professional help when stress becomes chronic or when dealing with a serious problem or life situation. Working with a doctor who practices holistic, concierge or integrative care may help you identify and gain understanding to how stress impacts your body and overall health.

  • Avoid negative people, places, and situations

  • Learn and practice new coping mechanisms and better time management skills


The Science Behind Stress and the Body: How stress affects your physical health.

Science shows that the human stress response, often called the "fight or flight" response, begins first within the brain. This stress response stems from a primal need to protect oneself from imminent threats and dangerous situations, and this response is a natural reaction meant to keep the body safe from harm.


Our senses take in everything going on around and within the body. We may see, feel or hear something that causes this sensory data to be transmitted to the emotional processing center of the brain called the amygdala.


The amygdala processes and interprets the information that comes from things we see, hear, touch, smell, sense or taste. When this brain center senses that danger is present and imminent, it will quickly send out an alarm signal to another area of the brain known as the hypothalamus.


Acting like the main command center within the brain, the hypothalamus will communicate with other areas of the body using the human nervous system. For instance, the stress response will activate the nervous system to ensure that the individual has enough fuel, or energy, needed to run from the danger or stand their ground and fight back.


Next, the hypothalamus will activate our sympathetic nervous system. This is done by transmitting various signals that travel through the many autonomic nerves. In short order, these signals reach our adrenal glands that are stimulated to send the main stress response hormone adrenalin, or epinephrine, flushing it rapidly into the body's bloodstream. As the adrenalin quickly circulates to various body areas, certain physiological symptoms and reactions will happen.


These physical reactions include:

  • Increased rapid heart rate

  • More blood being pumped with the heart into main organs like the brain, heart, lungs and large muscles

  • Pulse increases and blood pressure rises swiftly

  • Respirations increase too

  • Smaller airways expand within lungs which send increased oxygen to brain

  • Increased brain oxygen leads to hyperawareness and increased sensory response


At the same time, epinephrine then triggers a release of glucose, or blood sugar, and fats stored in temporary body spots into the bloodstream where it is distributed throughout the body. These are what the body uses for fuel to create energy needed to respond to the current threat. After this first surge of epinephrine begins to decrease, the hypothalamus then triggers the second phase of the body's stress response. This is called the HPA axis, and this is composed of the hypothalamus, the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland.


A sequence of hormonal signals enables the sympathetic nervous system to keep the danger alert response in action. When the human brain continues to interpret signals as ongoing danger, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)is released by the hypothalamus. CRH then is sent to the pituitary gland which activates the release of (ACTH) adrenocorticotropic hormone.


ACTH travels next to the adrenal glands which will release cortisol. This is how the body remains in a hypervigilant state. After danger subsides, those cortisol levels decrease. This causes the parasympathetic nervous system to lessen and stop the danger triggered stress response.


When there is a continued epinephrine surge response, this can damage arteries and blood vessels. This can then increase blood pressure which may lead to strokes or heart attacks. Continued high cortisol levels cause the body to react by creating and sending more energy to body areas where energy stores are depleted.


Over time, fat tissue builds up causing increased weight gain. Any unused nutrients are then stored for future use as more fat.


Creating a Stress-Free Environment at Home: Tips for fostering a calming space.

Creating a stress-free environment in your home spaces is key to managing everyday stress loads.


Below are some simple methods for creating a calm and peaceful living space.

  • Declutter and find a place for everything

  • A clean and clear space helps promote relaxation and decreases stress overall.

  • Keep a regular schedule

  • Don't let everyday chores and family or social obligations get out of hand. Doing a little everyday can go a long way towards reaching your stress-free home and life goal.

  • Add more green plants indoors or garden

  • Create a safe zone that's calm

    • Your home should have at least one area where it is always calm, clean and relaxing. This could be your bedroom, a small corner somewhere or a favorite chair.

  • Limit electronic time

    • Too much stimulation with electronic devices increases brain and stress overload. Limit screen time and create no-electronic family times where devices are turned off.

  • Use soothing colors in the home

  • Choose colors that relax you and bring you happiness.

  • Maximize natural light indoors

    • Natural sunlight can help curb depression and anxiety.

  • Get outdoors

  • Keep up with chores

  • Ask for help use delegation skills

  • Don't try to do things all own your own. Delegate to decrease stress.

  • Make your home cozy

  • Incorporate zones - home office, play area, laundry center etc.

  • Be more organized overall

  • Learn More About Stress and Its Impact on Health


Get in touch with experienced primary care doctor in Miami, Dr. Simoni Baid who offers effective and compassionate concierge care by clicking here.





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