Stress is one of the most prevalent health concerns affecting people today, and its effects on the body can be detrimental. Stress, especially prolonged chronic stress, puts the body into a defensive “fight-or-flight” state in which cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone, is released. Over time, chronic stress can interfere with your body’s most important functions. It can also lead to a number of health problems, including anxiety and depression, headaches, heart disease, memory and concentration problems, problems with digestion, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and much more.
Stress also has a very negative effect affect on the immune system. The immune system is a collection of billions of cells that travel through the bloodstream and move in and out of tissues and organs, defending the body against foreign bodies (antigens), such as bacteria, viruses and cancerous cells. The main types of immune cells are white blood cells, of which there are two types of white blood cells – lymphocytes and phagocytes.
When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, which makes us more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid that is released can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking, smoking, overeating, etc.
The Effect of Stress Hormones on the Body
Cortisol and other stress hormones have their place, as they help us in dangerous situations, however, when these hormones are released on a frequent basis over time, it makes us susceptible to illness and disease because these hormones not only gets us ready for emergency situations but severely depresses our immunity at the same time. Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The way it does this is by triggering chemical reactions and flooding the body with cortisol that, among other things, decreases inflammation, decreases white blood cells and NK cells (special cells that kill cancer), increases tumor development and growth, and increases the rate of infection and tissue damage.
Stress is a psychological disturbance with a lot of very physical effects on the body. It comes from our thinking, our perception, and our ability to respond to life situations. If we are easily stressed, overwhelmed, or live in constant fear and anxiety, we are going to be harming our bodies and our health significantly. It is worth observing what causes you stress, how often you are stressed, and how it is you respond to daily tasks and events, so you can learn to think and act in ways that lead to peace and well-being rather than stress and illness.
If we’re not able to change our response to daily stressors, we’ll find ourselves in a constant hormonal battle that will lead to serious health issues like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Because the effects of stress are cumulative, even ordinary, day-to-day activities can eventually lead to more serious health issues. So, it’s important to be aware of the simple daily stress in our lives.
How to Respond to Stress and Lower the Negative Effects
There are many ways that we can learn to better respond to situations and to reduce the amount of stress in our lives. Relaxation exercises are one excellent method. The link between the mind and body can be strengthened by specific relaxation exercises such as meditation or by consciously breathing deep and relaxed breaths. If we make these exercises a normal part of our lives, they become a buffer that guards against stress and the effect it has on our organ systems. Positive thinking, changing negative habits, spending time in nature, and having friends and social support we can share and express with, are all supportive ways to manage and reduce stress.
The Beneficial Effects of the Adaptogenic Herbs
Just as the mind has a direct effect on the body, the body has a direct effect on the mind, and we can also help ourselves reduce stress by through utilizing adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are a select group of herbs that support the body’s natural ability to deal with stress. They are called adaptogens because these herbs aid our bodies in adapting and responding to, or recovering from, both short-term and long-term physical or mental stress.
Adaptogens work at a molecular level by regulating a stable balance in the hypothalamic, pituitary, and adrenal glands—all of which are involved in the stress response. Essentially, they work by “hacking” the stress response in the body.
When we face a stressor, whether physical or mental, our bodies go through what is called general adaptation syndrome (GAS). GAS is a three-stage response: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens help us stay in the resistance phase longer, via a stimulating effect that holds off the exhaustion. Instead of crashing in the midst of a stressful moment, task, or event, we attain equilibrium and can move through it.
To help support the body in reducing stress, our team formulated the Relaxation Blend, a high-quality adaptogenic supplement created to serve as a remedy for many modern ailments—including stress, anxiety, depression, mental imbalance and instability, supporting immune function, sleep deprivation, adrenal fatigue, and a range of other physical and psychological issues.
Supplementing with adaptogenic herbs, whether by themselves or in a synergistic formula like our Relaxation Blend, is an excellent way to support your body and mind in reducing stress. When used in combination with relaxation exercises, positive thinking, time in nature, and a healthy lifestyle, it can significantly reduce psychological stress and lead to much greater feelings of happiness and well-being.
Stress is something that all of us have to deal with from time to time, but if we allow ourselves to live in a constant state of stress, it will have very damaging effects on our bodies. It is important that we recognize our levels of stress and actively focus on reducing stress, and improving our relaxation, peace, and mental well-being. Not only will we feel better psychologically, but it will improve our health physically, and will strengthen our immune system to continue protecting us from the many bacteria, germs, and viruses that we come in contact with on a daily basis.