A constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, an essential multiple purpose hormone, affecting the body’s ability to regulate its natural inflammatory responses. While producing cortisol is a common biological necessity and helps stay motivated and responsive to our environment, abnormally high cortisol levels in the system can become a serious health risk and lead to chronic diseases.
Uncontrolled stress and chronic high cortisol production are associated with inflammatory responses (often silent) and ailments including weight gain, gastrointestinal disorders, faster cellular aging, anxiety, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, skin disorders, and other health conditions. There is a link between stress and diabetes, dementia, depression, heart disease and cancer. For this reason, stress is described as “public enemy number one”. Stress is a silent killer.
If chronic psychological stress compromises your health, longevity and wellbeing, how long you will live and how well you will live may be determined by you. Not all individuals respond to stressful events in the same manner and stress is not prevalent in all societies in the world or, at least, not to the same extent. While stress seems to affect most people to some degree, how each individual reacts or responds to outside events influences the internal chemistry of the body.
In other words, chronic stress is not universal and it is not an unavoidable reality. Whether it is a reaction or a conscious response to challenges and perceived threats, it is a phenomenon that happens within the individual. The trigger factors may be external, but the choice of response is within. Changing perception or perspective, can alter the response. Thoughts and emotions generate different chemistry. Learning to maintain relaxation can directly affect the internal chemistry of the body. Exercise, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, Tai Chi, breathing exercises, prayer, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep, massages and taking time to reflect on what is important can improve or suppress stress in your life.
The threat is within. Understanding and eliminating stress is more than an option. It is a responsibility. It is your ability to respond.