How Stress Affects our Health and Wellbeing

  • By Sharon LaCroix
  • 04 Dec, 2016

Stress Can Be Good - and Bad

How to beat stress
Stressed out!

Stress can really be ramped up during the holiday season, and even without this “happiest time of the year”,  it is a part of our everyday lives . Whether you are a stressed out student cramming for final exams, an entrepreneur, stay at home mom, or CEO of a corporate company, we all experience tension and pressure to get everything done in an all-too-short day.

What is Stress?

Stress can be best described at a state of mental tension. While stress affects everyone in different ways, there are two major types of stress: stress that’s beneficial and motivating — good stress — and stress that causes anxiety and even health problems — bad stress. We need some level of tension in our lives and as such stress can be a motivator needed to get us going, or to help us perform better. For example, most athletes tend to perform best when they have just the right amount of stress. Too little stress decreases our sense of urgency, but too much can paralyze us with anxiety. The happy-medium is when stress is balanced, allowing us to function optimally.

Benefits of Stress

According to experts, stress is a burst of energy that advises you on what to do. In small doses, stress has many advantages. For instance, stress can help you meet daily challenges and motivate you to reach your goals. In fact, stress can help you accomplish tasks more efficiently. It can even boost memory.

Stress is also a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. When the brain perceives some kind of stress, it starts flooding the body with chemicals like epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. This creates a variety of reactions such as increased blood pressure and heart rate. And the senses suddenly have a laser-like focus so you can avoid physically dangerous situations — such as jumping away from a moving car.

A little bit of stress has other benefits. Researchers believe that some stress can help to fortify the immune system. For instance, stress can improve how your heart works and protect your body from infection. In one study, individuals who experienced moderate levels of stress before surgery were able to recover faster than individuals who had levels too high or too low.

Bad Stress

Yes stress is key for survival, but too much stress can be detrimental. Emotional stress that stays around for weeks or months can weaken the immune system and cause high blood pressure, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even heart disease. In particular, too much epinephrine can be harmful to your heart. It can change the arteries and how their cells are able to regenerate.

When an individual’s level of stress is too high, it can lead to anxiety, decreased productivity, and health issues. Our bodies and minds are intimately connected and have great effects on one another. So what happens when our stress levels are too high? What happens to our bodies?

Weight gain and unhealthy weight loss

Have you noticed that our diet and mood are closely linked? While many turn to food for comfort in upsetting situations, others lose their appetite. Either way, this is not good for our bodies. If you overeat, this can lead to an increased body fat percentage, which leads to other health issues such as unbalanced blood sugar, high cholesterol, and type II diabetes. But if you don’t eat enough, you will be depriving your body of essential nutrients needed to function optimally. Think of nutrients as fuel for you body, if you don’t have fuel, your body doesn’t run properly. This can lead to fatigue, muscle atrophy, and malnutrition.

Increased risk of heart disease

Heart disease is serious and today is the leading cause of death in women. To decrease the risk of heart disease we can incorporate exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep. This also means watching our stress levels as ongoing tension can affect cardiovascular and heart health. When you are stressed, your blood pressure elevates as well as your cholesterol, both exerting more tension on your heart. Prolonged high blood pressure and cholesterol add stress to your heart and increases your chances of having cardiovascular problems including heart attacks and heart disease. 

Digestive Issues

Did you know your cardiovascular system is closely linked to your digestive system? Increased heart rate and rapid breathing can upset your digestive system. If you are stressed, you are more likely to develop problems like acid reflux or heartburn. Stress also affects the way food moves through your body and can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach-aches and constipation or diarrhea. And while stress does not cause stomach ulcers it can cause any existing ulcers to flare up. 

Immune System

Our immune system is vital for a healthy body. It helps us fight infection, disease, and aids in the healing process. When you are stressed out, your immune system is stimulated and the hormone cortisol is released into your bloodstream. Cortisol is also known as the “ stress hormone ” and aids in the regulation of blood sugar, anti-inflammatory actions, blood pressure, and heart and blood vessel tone and contraction  Cortisol is essential for optimal bodily function but prolonged increased levels of cortisol can also damage our immune systems by creating chronic inflammatory conditions, lowering the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and heal. And stress results in lower amounts of protein which is critical to signaling other immune cells. 

Sexuality and the reproductive system

Stress can negatively affect your sexual drive along with your reproductive system. For women, stress can cause irregularities in their menstrual cycle and can even lead to absence of menstruation. Or stress can lead to heavier and more painful periods. But males are at risk too. Prolonged stress levels can cause men’s testosterone level to drop leading to decreased sex drive, sperm production, and cause  erectile dysfunction . It can also cause the urethra, prostate, and testes to become more prone to infection.

How to achieve a healthy balance

Watch out for signs of stress overload.  Symptoms of too much stress can be physical, emotional, mental and behavioral. While everyone is different, some common signs are: memory problems, trouble concentrating, racing thoughts, irritability, anger, sadness, headaches, frequent colds and changes in sleep or appetite.

Know what triggers your stress.  Think about what causes you stress, how you react or respond to it and figure out some solutions. Decrease those stress activators.

Exercise.  All forms of exercise reduce stress hormones, flood the body with feel-good endorphins, improve mood, boost energy and provide a healthy distraction. from your dilemmas. Find physical activities that you enjoy and devote 20-30 minutes each day to moving your body.

Relax.  As a result of chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol being released in response to stress your heart rate and breathing speed up and your digestion slows down. This tires out the body. Find out which relaxation techniques work for you — like yoga, napping, breathing exercises, meditation and visualization. Schedule brief relaxation breaks into every day.

Time Management.   Never seems to be enough? First, make a list and focus on one task at a time. Multitasking rarely works. Prioritize your list and break projects into single steps or actions.

Don’t over-commit.  Pulling yourself in different directions will only stress you out, so watch for over commitment and learn how to say “no”.

Don’t self-medicate. Some people use alcohol, drugs, tobacco and other unhealthy habits to cope with stress. Over time these behaviors can negatively affect your mood and physical health, ramping up your stress levels even more.

Reach out. When you are stressed out, talk to your friends and family. If you feel like you can’t handle the stress on your own, schedule an appointment with a professional

BonVie Weight Loss - Ideal Protein

By Sharon LaCroix 22 Mar, 2017

Whether you are currently on the Ideal Protein protocol at our ´╗┐BonVie clinic, or are a graduate, or just curious about why the method works so well, this article will help answer your questions. ´╗┐

By Sharon LaCroix 19 Mar, 2017

Now why would I even say “mostly”? 

Because depending on your personal metabolism, and the kind of alcohol, and - the quantity of alcohol you drink, it could be “maybe”.  But do understand this – that maybe will either vastly slow down the rate of your fat-burning weight loss, or - stop it altogether.

By Sharon LaCroix 01 Mar, 2017

At this time of year lots of people are exploring different types of diet programs. The Ideal Protein method we employ at BonVie Weight Loss & Nutritional Wellness is a medically designed, 4 phase-weight loss program focused on pancreas and blood sugar balance, resulting in rapid and safe fat loss. This protocol spares muscle mass, lowers high blood pressure, high insulin and high cholesterol.

The Ideal Protein protocol is a short coarse of weight loss, moving you quickly and safely through 3 active phases into the 4th maintenance phase. We focus on rapid fat burning for energy, rather than relying on glucose and muscle stores for energy. You never want to burn down muscle on a diet because muscle uses fat for fuel.

By Sharon LaCroix 17 Jan, 2017

Now for a not-so-uplifting post holiday prediction: most people are not going to keep their resolutions all year long. We start out with the best of intentions but the worst of strategies. By the end of January, a third will have broken our resolutions, and by July more than half of us will have lost our way.

Most people fail because we eventually run out of willpower. As it turns out from scientific studies that willpower is a real form of mental energy, powered by glucose in the bloodstream which is used up as you exert self-control.

By Sharon LaCroix 11 Jan, 2017

After the overindulgences of the season have you been thinking of how to lose weight for the new year?

Here are some tips to help you effectively lose weight. And, if you want to lose 10 lbs by Valentines Day, give us a call! Here at BonVie Weight Loss we offer dedicated coaching support and accountability to make your effort even more successful. 

But if you want to lose weight on your own, here are the top ways to reach your goal.

By Sharon LaCroix 31 Dec, 2016

For many of us the ‘Happiest Time of the Year’ ends with a feeling of not being so happy with the weight we’ve gained over the past year – and especially after the holiday consumptions. I want to share how you can lose weight fast with a few simple tips. AND if you want even faster results come see us at BonVie Weight Loss & Nutritional Wellness for coaching support!

By Sharon LaCroix 15 Dec, 2016

Do you believe that eating “zero sugar” or “sugar free” foods (like diet soda) will not make you get fat, or even that sugar-free will help you lose weight? Sorry to say, that belief is nothing more than a diet myth.

I’m here to tell you the truth about artificial sweeteners.

By Sharon LaCroix 10 Dec, 2016

You’ve heard all about Kale being a superfood right? But can it REALLY be that good for us?

YES and YES again! And - did you know that eating kale can even help you lose weight?

By Sharon LaCroix 04 Dec, 2016

Stress can really be ramped up during the holiday season, and even without this “happiest time of the year”,  it is a part of our everyday lives . Whether you are a stressed out student cramming for final exams, an entrepreneur, stay at home mom, or CEO of a corporate company, we all experience tension and pressure to get everything done in an all-too-short day.

By Sharon LaCroix 01 Dec, 2016
The holidays are festive and full of rich foods, parties and special libations for the holidays, all of which can wreak havoc on your waist line. And who wants to start off 2107 with more girth than you had this previous year?

Weight gain over the holidays is not obligatory! Follow these easy steps and keep your pre-holiday figure just the same.
Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients  you need but be wary of overconsumption of carbohydrates and excessive calories.
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