When you get stressed, your brain responds by telling your adrenal glands to secrete the hormone adrenaline. This is the fight or flight hormone. If you get a fright, nature instantly turns on your survival response. Blood is diverted away from your digestion to your heart, brain and muscles; your heart and breathing rates increase, your muscles tense (ready for action) and your blood pressure goes up. All of this is designed to enable you to attack whatever is threatening you, or run away from it whatever your brain believes is the best option in the circumstances.
This is a biological hangover from earlier times, when sabre tooth tigers and marauding war parties lurked at the cave or castle entrance. The adrenal response is just as useful today in life threatening situations being accosted in a dark alley, being caught up in a natural disaster, getting stuck halfway down a cliff, finding a loved one underneath something heavy. There are many stories of people displaying incredible strength and presence of mind in such circumstances, feats that they would normally not be capable of. All thanks to the adrenal response.
However often the threat not quite so immediate or overt. Nonetheless your body still responds the way nature has programmed it to in times of danger adrenally. Good examples of this in modern times include: foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings; wondering if you can make your mortgage or rent repayments; fear of terrorist attack; the government deciding to forcefully resume your home to build major infrastruture; your boss threatening to sack you; worrying if you can feed yourself and your family; someone nearly running into you in your car; a violent or abusive relationship; bullying. You probably call these things stress. Your body regards them as threats to your survival.
In civilised society, it is deemed unacceptable to belt politicians, bank managers or bosses whom you believe are threatening your survival in the aforementioned ways. The police tend to take you away and lock you up, adding to your stress. Often, it is simply not possible to run away from the stress either. Which leaves your body all hyped up and with no place to go.
Normally, once the danger has passed, your body secretes another hormone to return you to your former relaxed state. However with these types of ongoing modern day stresses, your body remains in a state of high alert ready to fight or flee.
The physical effects of this in the short term include any of the following: high blood pressure, raised pulse rate, poor digestion, muscle tension, aggression, anxiety, panic attacks, lowered immunity and reproductive problems.
High levels of circulating adrenaline over an extended period of time can cause heart problems, thyroid imbalance, infertility, vulnerability to communicable diseases, auto-immune disorders and cancer. Stress can, potentially, have serious repercussions on your health and longevity. There are many natural remedies that can help. with stress. Australian Bush Flower Essences have two very good combinations for stress – Calm and Clear and Emergency Essence, available here.
Herbs that can be useful include the generally calming and soothing Chamomile Tea. Rosehips Tea, being full of Vitamin C, has a tonic effect on the adrenals and helps you to cope with large challenges.
Should these fail to help, professional herbalists have many practitioner strength herbs which will be of great assistance.
If your stress levels are high, or stress has been going on for more than a month, you really need to seek professional advice and not try to self diagnose or self treat.
Meditation, yoga, massage, exercising, spending time relaxing with friends or pursuing a hobby you enjoy, are all other excellent ways to alleviate stress. A good counsellor is also invaluable for helping you put things into perspective and for giving you tools to deal with your situation.
Avoid coffee and cigarettes. They make you feel better at the time because they give your adrenal glands a boot to produce more adrenaline. However ultimately they deplete your adrenal glands, leaving you less able to cope than ever.
The natural remedies listed above not only help you feel better in the short term, but actively build your reserve energy and strength.
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