"Stressing" The Nitty Gritty Truth
One of the more complicated chronic health issues plaguing our society today is stress. Even if the tangible indicators of health appear to be in good shape, achieving a true quality of life is simply impossible with stress.
Stress can impact every part of our lives, not only taking a toll on emotional and mental wellbeing, but physical wellbeing thereby contributing to many physical ailments. Stress inevitably affects our actions, relationships, finances, and friendships.
Stress Changes Everything
In 2004, researchers conducted a meta-analysis to develop a comprehensive picture of the impact stress has on immunity. Based on findings from approximately 300 independent studies that took place between 1960 and 2001, researchers found that long-term stress breaks down immunity and has damaging consequences.
Chronic stressors beyond one’s control, such as permanent illness/injury or caregiving for dementia patients, were linked with the greatest immunosuppression. Nearly all measures of immune function are negatively affected in these instances, and the more prolonged the stress,the more one's immune system experiences detrimental changes.
The Nitty Gritty About Cortisol
Educating your coaching clients about stress and its effects can provide motivation for some to create lifestyle changes, so here’s the nitty gritty:
The impact of stress on the body has a lot to do with hormone levels secreted by the brain. Our iPEC certified professional coaches learn in our Coach Training Program about cortisol, the primary stress hormone – a hormone we associate with catabolic (or constricting, draining) energy.
The influx and outflow of cortisol triggers a chain reaction, just like a drop of a coin in a drink machine. It increases sugars in the bloodstream, enhances sugar metabolism, raises your heart rate, curbs nonessential functions, contributes to obesity, decreases libido, and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes. Higher and more prolonged cortisol levels have an even broader impact, thus leading to chronic issues, such as higher blood pressure, impaired cognitive performance, and decreased immunity. All of this from ONE hormone!
Stress – Who Is Immune?
No one is completely free from stress. In fact, a 2013 snapshot has adults reporting increasing stress levels during the past five years. In upcoming posts, we’ll explore ten different ways stress occurs, its impact on behavior change, and how relatively simple lifestyle choices and behavior decisions will reduce stress and control your cortisol levels, and in turn, put you on a pathway to wellbeing.
While 61% of adults say stress management is important to them, only 35% are doing a good job managing stress. Further, more than half of Americans say they receive little or no stress management support from providers. This is where the 7th Level Wellbeing™ System for Healthcare becomes an excellent program in large organizations seeking to reduce stress while increasing high performance in the workplace. It's where iPEC Certified Professional Coaches can make a difference.
How might your ability to understand the tie between catabolic energy, stress, and wellbeing help you differentiate yourself as a coach? Or quite simply for your own individual benefit? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.