This is the situation for many homes around the world. There seems to be an abundance of worst news with each update. At some point you can feel the shift in your mindset and body. You are trying to hold it together for all of those who rely on you, but who will help you to hold it together. We are only just starting the 2nd week of having to stay at home, and upon waking up you are already stressed out. Today we will be talking about stress, and the impact it has on the body.
What is Stress?
To be open, there isn’t a strict or simple definition of stress. Stress is anything that affects the body’s homeostasis. It is a reaction to a set of circumstances rather than an illness or a syndrome. In a New York times article, it states that “the stress response evolved as the body’s way of identifying potential threats, deciding how to respond and remembering where and when the danger occurred.” Stress is often times looked upon as a bad thing, but is it really always bad?
I would argue to say that there are times when a little bit of stress is the secret sauce needed to make things happen. In the case of covid19, there is no denying there is some angst and even stress around what is happening. If you are in a similar situation as described above, I can’t even begin to imagine how much stress you are under. None of us really knows how long we will be under a shelter in place order. We don’t know if people can return to the jobs they once had before everything shut down. Will the schools reopen? What we do know is that there is a lot of uncertainty.
Effects of stress
Our bodies have certain strategies to deal with severe short term stress or with moderate stress for a longer period of time. While these responses function to protect the body, if very stressful situations continue for a long time. These effects can be harmful. We can break down the body’s responses in to three stages. These are:
- Alarm: This is the immediate reaction or a short term reaction to a crisis
- Many people know this as the fight or flight response. This is when the sympathetic nervous system is activated. The brain sends a signal to the hypothalamus that action needs to be taken. The hypothalamus releases hormones to alert the pituitary, which in turn signals the adrenal cortex to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol
- Adaptation: If the crisis continues for more than a few hours, longer term metabolic adjustments start to occur.
- During this stage we have increased adrenal activity, gastrointestinal ulceration, and atrophy of the thymus gland and lymphatic system
- Exhaustion: Once the body gets to this point, vital systems start to collapse.
- Prolonged stress has been shown to lead to hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, exhaustion, irritable bowel syndrome, lowered immune functioning, skin problems, depression, and other psychological issues
Whew! I got a bit technical there, but in a nutshell, if you don’t find a way to manage your stress, it has the potential to not only cause real physical damage to your body, it can result in death!
Dealing with Stress
I recently shared a message on social media that stress is very much an individual experience, and that it can not be measured objectively. Stress is multifaceted in nature, but concentrating on even one area of it can break the stress cycle.
As a massage therapist, I want to get you on the table and add some aromatherapy to positively affect your body physically and mentally. There is a ban though, so we can’t do that 😭. As a yoga instructor I can absolutely help with poses that you can access on your own. Yoga really does have an impact on your physical and mental state.
I am not disillusioned or offering a feel good answer to anyone’s life problems. Obviously yoga doesn’t answer the questions:
- How will my bills get paid?
- Who is going to watch my children when I have to go back to work, and school remains closed?
- Will I catch coronavirus?
However, what I am suggesting is that by shifting some of your focus may allow you space to come up with pragmatic solutions. Taking deep breaths, and focusing on the positive does change the way you approach a problem. There are many yoga poses that help with stress relief. Here is a link to 8 poses that you can try.
How am I dealing with stress
Having grown up in The Bahamas, I think one luxury besides growing up in paradise is how we respond to stressful situations. I mean growing up the biggest stressors I remember was being able to get to the beach every week. Having moved to the United States was a complete culture shock for me. I had no idea how much stress I would be faced with. This coronavirus pandemic is not something I could have anticipated, so yay for new territories being explored!
What am I actually doing?
For starters I am reaching out to my personal and social networks to help keep the social aspect of my life somewhat sane. I am taking time each day to practice yoga, meditate, and really acknowledge where I am. The Rona Blogs was started recently to help me get some of my thoughts out of my head on to another medium. Other things I have done include:
- Updating my online shop
- Realizing I can’t physically perform massages, host yoni steam or yoga sessions, I have turned to adding items to the shop. In doing so, I am finding I am bursting with creative ideas for what to offer up next! I can’t wait to see all of my wonderful ideas come to life. Seeing those items sold or sold out excites me even more!
- Getting crafty
- I am taking some time to learn or refine new skills. Recently I made reusable paper towels. They are a hit with the family, and we don’t have to worry about running out of actual paper towels. One less thing to worry/stress about
- Gardening again
- To be open, I never stopped gardening, but now that I am sheltering at home, I have time. Not only does connecting with the earth do something for my entire being, I am seeing results! My vegetables are finally almost ready for harvest. My fruits tree are starting to bear leaves. Another concern (running out of food) that can be put aside for now.
How are you doing?
Bravo for making it all this way! 😂🎉🙌🏽 As you can see I can get long winded. There is just so much I want to cover, but enough about what I want or what I do. How are you doing? What are some things you are doing to manage the stresses in your life? I would love to hear from you because this would be an opportunity to learn. We are one community, so sharing how you are doing is a good way to stay connected. Please leave comment below with how you are handling in this current world of cover-19.
- Goode E. The heavy cost of chronic stress. New York Times, Science Section. December 17, 2002:D1
- Martin, Ingrid (2007). Aromatherapy for Massage therapists. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.