The biological nature of stress (II)

Transcript of the Feature Health Matters on Radio X  from 07 October 2013 (4)

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to another episode of Health Matters here on Radio X. In Health Matters I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing STRESS.

I hope you’ve been listening to the previous episodes of Health Matters. If you haven’t you can always go to the Health Matters section of the radio’s website

Today I like to take you once again to the biological nature of stress and more specifically into the world of neurons and hormones.

Stress is a response to stressors, a response when triggered for a short time leaves NO negative influence on our health. However when demands outweighs resources problems start and those problems have to do with the disrupted balance of our autonomic nervous system and hormonal levels.

When your stress response is in action mode the sympathetic nervous system is being activated. This nervous system is all about defense and getting yourself to safety with an action also referred to as the fight and flight response.

As soon as it’s activated it will stimulate the release of the hormone adrenaline that in turn will narrow blood vessels your skin, digestive system and in parts that are not immediately contributing to protecting you from danger. It will also contribute to the tensing up of muscles in neck, back and shoulders.

At the same time that this nervous system is being activated other parts of our brain are also being triggered like the amygdala, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland. Those parts are of the brain are responsible for sending a hormonal messenger to the adrenal gland to make even more adrenaline and cortisol.

Cortisol will release stored energy, help break it down to glucose and send it to where it is needed. It will also prevent that energy is being stored by preventing insulin to do its work… hence why stress can lead to diabetes.

In the meanwhile the other part of your autonomic nervous system the parasympathetic part which is responsible for relaxation, regeneration and recuperation and the release of serotonin and dopamine – hormones  that play part in mood regulation and feeling of joy and happiness will be put on hold…

Do you see the picture that is emerging chronic stress leads to overstimulation of one part of our nervous systems that prevents you from relaxing and recuperating, your muscles stay tense, heart rate and blood pressure high, blood flow to stomach and digestive system impaired and you stay on alert all the time which in time creates ware and tare and you get muscle aches and pains, become anxious, short-tempered, sleep deprived, your immunity becomes weaker and your concentration falters …

So what can you do? You need to help your body to reset itself and find balance again. How? By taking a break several times a day and practicing some relaxation exercises like the reaset breathing exercise I shared with you before. You have no time? Well, why not start applying this breathing technique when you have to wait in line at the checkout of the supermarket, for the bus or when stuck in a traffic, wait patiently and use that time to reset.

A few minutes here and there will really make the difference. Your body needs you, It needs attention in this time and age where the demands of our culture outweighs the bodies coping abilities.

I’m Tom Meyers and this was another episode of Health Matters. In the next episode l’ll talk a bit more about cortisol and the influence it has on our memory. I’m sure you’ll like that one.

In the meanwhile I wish you a great week and if you like more information on this feature then visit the website or go to where you’ll also find information on the upcoming conference Understanding and Managing stress at Cook and Book in Woluwe.


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